In the Domesday Book, the record of who owned what throughout England, compiled by William the Conqueror in England in 1086-1087, are the following four places called Wingfield:
Wighefelda aka Wineberga in the Fief of the Bishop of Thetford. [Suffolk]. “In Wingfield 1 free man by commendation and soke [held] 28 acres and 3 bordars.”
Wineberga [as above] in the Hundred of Bishop [=the Bishop of Thetford]. [Suffolk]. “A free man over whom St.Aethelthryth had commendation THE held Wingfield with 2 caracutes of land and 7 bordars. Then 2 ploughs [US: plows] in demesne, now 1. Then as now 2 ploughs belonging to the men. 11 acres of meadow. Woodland for 140 pigs. Then 2 horses now 1. And 1 ox. Then 60 pigs now 20. And 20 sheep and 2 hives. A church with 24 acres. Worth 4 shillings.13 freemen with 80 acres. Robert Malet’s predecessor had commendation over 1 of them. Then 4 ploughs now 3. Then it was worth £4.13s.4d, now £4. Roger Bigod claims this of the King’s gift but the Abbot of Ely has established his title against him. Now Roger holds it through a postponement. The soke is in Hoxne. 1 league and 2 furlongs long and 4 furlongs broad. 11 1/2 d. in geld. Others hold [land] there.” [Folio 385, Suffolk].
Winefel in the Land of the Bishop of Coutanes. [Wiltshire]. “The [same] bishop holds “Wittenham” in Wingfield the same bishop holds Wingfield & Roger [holds] of him. Azur held it TRE, and it paid geld for 3 1/2 hides.”
Winnefelt was in the land of Walter D’Aincourt. [Derbyshire]. “In Pilsley [in North Wingfield] and—[?] Owlcotes and Williamthorpe Swein Cild had 2 caracutes of land less half a bovate, to the geld… The soke belongs to [?north] Wingfield.” Etc. [Today Pilsley is 4 miles south of North Wingfield].
Winefeld in the land of Roger de Poitou [Derbyshire]. “In [?South] Wingfield Alnoth [had] 2 caracutes of land to the geld. [There is] land for 3 ploughs. Robert holds it of Count Alan under William Peverell, and has 1 plough. There is a priest and 8 villans and 2 bodars with 3 ploughs. Ther are 4 acres of meadow. It was and is worth 20 shillings.” Etc. [Folio 274, Derbyshire].” [Footnote: A “bordar” was a villein who “held his but at his Lord’s pleasure”; a “caracute” was used as a unit of taxation (divided into four quarters totalling 120 acres) used in shires settled by Danes; “d” denoted “denarius” (the old penny); a “demesne” was a manor house with an estate not let out to tenants; a “furlong” was 220 yards; “geld” means money”; a “hide” was a measure of land, variously estimated at 60, 80 and 100 acres; “shilling” was 5% of a pound; a “soke” or soken” was a district held by tenure of “socage” i.e. held against performing certain services; “TRE” denoted “Ternpore Regis Edwardi” or in the time of King Edward the Confessor (1042-1066, i.e. pre-Conquest); a “villein” or “villan” was originally a free villager (later, in the 13’h century it meant a serf, free in relation to all but his Lord and not entirely a slave. The Wingfields above are respectively on pp. 1254, 1258, 166, 750 & 744 of “Domesday Book, A Complete Translation” by Dr. Ann Williams & Prof. G.H.Martin, Penguin, 1992].
Surnames in England came from eight basic sources: characteristics (like Short), nicknames, Christian names, patronymics (like Robinson), occupations (Smith), one’s “master’s” name, the name of one’s father’s Manor (estate), or — 50 to 75% of them – from a location.
These locative names were used until c.1400 preceded by “de” (“of” or “from”), and “atte” (“at the”). Normally only one family at any one time took their surname from the same place. From the mid-1200s to the mid-1300s a man from Wingfield, when he had moved away, might call himself “de Wingfield”.
Names were often corrupted ; and our Wingfield ancestors spelt the name in about 150 ways!
Here is a list of possible origins, the first nine being in the Domesday Book:
The Wingfields were presumed to have been Saxon and living in England before William the Conqueror arrived in 1066. The Domesday Book of 1086 lists Wingfield (Wighefelda) in Suffolk, but the first Wingfield for which there is any record is Robert de Wingfield in the year 1100 according to “Muniments of the Ancient Saxon Family of Wingfield” written by Mervyn Edward Wingfield, 7th Viscount Powerscourt published in England in 1894 and republished by the Wingfield Family Society in 1987.
In medieval times, literacy was limited and when the name was given verbally to recorders, it was often spelled the way it sounded. Once recorded, it often stuck, or sometimes it was deliberately changed to designate a difference in the family. Just because our family members or clerks did not spell the name your way, does not mean these are not relatives. Nor should these names be overlooked as you do your family genealogy research. It is understandable that differences would evolve over the centuries.
Some of the spellings known through the centuries are:
Wynkfeld, Wynkfyld, Wyngefyld, Wngefelde, Wingfyld, Wynfield, Wyngefeld, Wyngefelde, Whinfell, Winfeld, Winfelde, Windfield, Winckfield, Winfield, Winkefelde, Whinfield, Wigfield, Wiggfield, Winnefelde, Winnefield, Winnefeld, Whinnfield, Wingfeild, Wingefeld, Wynefeld, Winkefelde, and of course, Wingfield.
Descendants of the English and Irish Wingfields have immigrated to Australia, Canada, France, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Switzerland, United States, Zimbabwe and undoubtedly many other places.