What is the origin of the last name Woodward?

The last name Woodward has English origins and is a variant of the ancient Anglo-Saxon name "Wuduweard," which consists of two elements: "wudu" meaning "wood" or "forest," and "weard" meaning "guardian" or "protector." This suggests that individuals with the last name Woodward may have had ancestral ties to the woods or were considered guardians of the forest. Over time, the name underwent various phonetic and spelling changes, resulting in the modern surname Woodward.

Countries of origin for the last name Woodward

The last name Woodward holds historical significance and traces its origins back several centuries. It is predominantly found in the United States, where it has become a fairly common surname. The name is largely associated with England and has English roots. Here is an in-depth analysis of the meaning and history of the last name Woodward:

Woodward is an occupational surname, deriving from the Middle English word “wode,” meaning “wood” or “forest,” and the Old English word “weard,” meaning “guardian” or “protector.” The combination of these words suggests that individuals with the last name Woodward were originally associated with the management or protection of forests.

The earliest records of the name Woodward can be traced back to medieval England. During this period, England experienced a surge in population growth and agricultural development, resulting in an increased demand for timber. As a result, the management and protection of forests became essential, leading to the emergence of the surname Woodward.

The first instances of the name Woodward can be found in English records dating back to the 13th century. One of the earliest recorded individuals with this surname was a certain Roger Woodward, mentioned in the Rolls of Parliament in 1265. The surname gained prominence over time and became more widespread as individuals employed in the forestry industry passed down the name to their descendants.

Woodward is primarily an English surname; however, it has migrated to other parts of the world through emigration and colonization. As a result, the name can also be found in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. The surname’s prevalence in the United States can be attributed to British migration during the colonial period and subsequent waves of immigration.

Several notable individuals with the last name Woodward have made significant contributions in various fields. For instance, Bob Woodward, an American journalist, gained fame for his investigative reporting on the Watergate scandal. His work, alongside Carl Bernstein, led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Additionally, Joanne Woodward, an American actress, achieved success in her career and received an Academy Award for her performance in the film “The Three Faces of Eve.”

The meaning and history of the last name Woodward reflect the deep connections between individuals and their ancestral ties. The surname’s association with the management and protection of forests provides insights into the historical context and occupations of earlier generations. Although many details have been unearthed about the origins of the name, there are undoubtedly further avenues for exploration and discovery.

Interesting facts about the last name Woodward

  • The surname Woodward is of English origin.
  • The name is derived from the Old English words “wode,” meaning “wood,” and “weard,” meaning “guardian” or “protector.”
  • Woodward is an occupational surname that originally referred to someone who lived and worked in or near a wood or forest.
  • The name first appeared in written records in the 12th century and was originally spelled as “Wyward” or “Wodeward.”
  • Woodward was a fairly common name in medieval England, as forests and woodlands played a significant role in the economy and daily life of the time.
  • Several notable individuals with the surname Woodward have made their mark in various fields.
  • Bob Woodward, a renowned investigative journalist, gained fame for his coverage of the Watergate scandal, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
  • Edward Woodward was a well-known British actor who starred in films like “The Wicker Man” and the television series “The Equalizer.”
  • The name Woodward is also associated with various place names, such as Woodward, Oklahoma, and Woodward County, Oklahoma.
  • Woodward can be found as a surname in other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, due to migration and settlement.

Name Rank


There are around 36764 people with the last name Woodward in the US

Related Names

Related Regions