Recorded in various spelling forms including Whiteland, Whitland, and originally Whetland, this is a locational or residential surname. It is probably English but may be Welsh, as there is a place called Whitland in the county of Carmarthenshire, in West Wales, although there is no proven evidence that this place did provide any nameholders. However equally the gazetters of the past centuries do not reveal any place called Wetlands or Whitelands in England or Scotland, which would suggest that either if a place so called did exist it does no longer, and is therefore one of the three thousand or so "lost" medieval sites of the British Isles, of which the only remaining memory in the 20th century is the surviving surname, or the surname is topographical and describes a person who was resident by "wet lands". These were usually water meadows, which flooded in winter and provided grazing in summer after they dried out. The on-going draining of the marshes which started in the 12th century, has ensured that few "wetlands" now survive. In this case though we have been able to establish that the surname was well recorded in the diocese of Greater London from the 16th century. These early recordings include Stephen Whetland, a witness at St Mary Magdalene, Bermondsey, on October 20th 1583, William Whiteland, the son of Roger Whiteland, who was christened at St. Mary Whitechapel, Stepney, on November 13th 1613, and Elizabeth Whitland, the daughter of Roger Whitland, christened at the same church on May 2nd 1619. It would therefore seem that the said Roger was responsible for two spellings of the surname!

Surnames reference. 2013.

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