From a Latin name, meaning ‘of the woods’. It was borne by various early saints, most notably by the first pope to govern a Church free from persecution (314–35). His feast is on 31 December, and in various parts of Europe the New Year is celebrated under his name. The name has been continuously, if modestly, used from the Middle Ages to the present day.
English, Scottish, and northern Irish: occupational name for a maker of machinery, mostly in wood, of any of a wide range of kinds, from Old English wyrhta, wryhta ‘craftsman’ (a derivative of wyrcan ‘to work or make’). The term is found in various combinations (for example, Cartwright and Wainwright), but when used in isolation it generally referred to a builder of windmills or watermills.