Surnames in England were originally largely derived from one of three sources. The location they were associated with, their occupation or the given name of their father. My Whitaker ancestors are no exception and fall into the first category of location based names.
This long-established surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is locational from any of the various places so called in England, though the derivations of the placenames are slightly different. In one case derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century “hwit” meaning “white”, and “acer” meaning cultivated land; hence, “white field”, and in the other their first element from the Olde English “hwaete”, wheat, and therefore mean “wheat field”.
Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling. Whittaker, Whitacre and Whiteacre are some of the other common variants.