According to the book "Dictionary of British Surnames" the original spelling of Woolvett was either Ulviet or Ulfiet mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1086, the name is Anglo-Saxon meaning Great Wulf. The spelling of the name has varied quite considerably over the ages the following being the variants I have found.
WOOLVETT, WOOLVITT, WOLVIT, WOLVET, WOOLVET, WOOLVIT WOLVETT, notice they vary by only a letter or two, as part of my study I have also included the following although apart from Woolfitt no connections have been found.
WOOLFITT, WOOLFOOT, WOOLVERT and the same variations in spelling as for Woolvett.
The link I mentioned for Woolfitt is a one Emily Ann Woolfitt as spelt in the St Catherine House Birth Index, but is spelt Woolvett on her actual Birth Certificate.
Woolvett appears to be mainly of Essex origin and the south of England, Woolfitt more in Lincolnshire and Woolvert in Berkshire. The various spellings were obviously due to illiteracy up to the late 19th century when the name stabilised as Woolvett, variuos documents I have ie. Wills etc are signed with an X the mark of ?.
The earliest reference I have found is on Oct 9 1541 at Chelmsford Essex John Wolvet singleman married Jone Parker singlewoman, since then there has been quite a few mentions in the assizes for various misdoings.
The Woolvett's in the 17th century had varied occupations mainly on the land as Labourers or Gelders, there were a few Fisherman but it wasn't until the 18th century that the Woolvett's really took to being Fisherman and Mariners which continued on to the late 1800's.
So far there seems to be 2 distinct line of Woolvett pedigree, one line stems from Christefer Wolvit who was born circa 1578, he married Elizabeth Mills in Bradwell in 1598, there is a continuous line from them to Roger Davey (who decends from Christefer and supplied the information on this line). The other line is my own which is from Joseph Woolvett born circa 1756 and was married to Susan Parsons in 1776 at Brightlingsea in Essex. Because of the close proximity of these two lines both Roger and myself believe they tie in, (but where oh where!).
Until the late 19th century Woolvett's were fairly stable in where they lived, Essex being the main focal county in England with the 2 distinct lines previously mentioned located in the main around Brightlingsea and Bradwell, these townships are seperated by the "Blackwater". Towards the middle of the 19th century probably because of the increased mobility of people the Woolvett's started to leave the sea, and apart from a few odd ones (my Great Grandfather Henry) who drifted off to Wales they seemed to be attracted to the big city London.
Around 1912 one branch of the Woolvett's started feeling restless and thought Canada would be a good place to move to, Walter Maurice (b. 9 April 1890) was the pioneer who encouraged some of his family to emigrate to Canada, this they did in 1915 sailing from Liverpool the day before the ill fated Luisitania sailed and was sunk . William (Walter's father) and his family then set up in Arkona Canada where they operated the Rock Glen Powerhouse until it's closure in 1926.
Since those early pioneering days the Woolvett branch in Canada has spread considerably extending down into the USA and with my own branch into Australia, I along with my parents migrated here in 1962 from London England.
This is a brief overview of the Woolvett history eventually it would be nice to write a book on the subject but more information would have to be accumalated before that could be done, to this end any information you the reader can add would be greatly appreciated.
Adelaide, South Australia