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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Origins Available: English, German

Where did the English Wise family come from? What is the English Wise family crest and coat of arms? When did the Wise family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Wise family history?

The name Wise is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Wise was a name used for a wise or learned person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old English word wis, meaning wise or knowledgable.


Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Wise include Wise, Wyse and others.

First found in Devon where they held a family seat anciently as Lords of the manor of Greston, at the time of the Conquest in 1066.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wise research. Another 211 words(15 lines of text) covering the years 1648, 1687, 1668 and 1676 are included under the topic Early Wise History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 53 words(4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wise Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Wise family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 115 words(8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Wise were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Wise Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Humphrey Wise settled in Massachusetts in 1620
  • Thomas Wise, who arrived in Virginia in 1634
  • Nicholas Wise, who landed in Virginia in 1638
  • Joseph Wise, who arrived in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1643
  • John Wise, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1652

Wise Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Charles Wise, who landed in Virginia in 1705
  • Peter Wise, who arrived in Virginia in 1718
  • Jacob Wise arrived in Philadelphia in 1729
  • Andreas Wise, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1732
  • Andrews Wise, aged 22, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1732

Wise Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Johan F Wise, aged 36, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1805
  • Christian Wise, aged 28, arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1823
  • David Wise, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1837
  • Sebastian Wise, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838
  • William Wise, who landed in Mississippi in 1840

Wise Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Dorris S. Wise, who arrived in America, in 1903
  • Adele S. Wise, aged 9, who arrived in America, in 1905
  • David Wise, aged 27, who arrived in America from Johannesburg, in 1906
  • Czer Wise, aged 25, who arrived in America from Kobrin, Russia, in 1907
  • Agnes Wise, aged 30, who arrived in America from Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1907


  • Mark Brian Wise (b. 1953), Canadian-born, American theoretical physicist, science consultant for the film Iron Man 2
  • Robert Earl Wise (1914-2005), American four-time Academy Award winning sound effects editor, film editor, film producer and director, president of the Directors Guild of America from 1971 to 1975
  • Staff Sergeant Homer L Wise (1917-1974), American soldier, awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1944
  • Robert Ellsworth "Bob" Wise Jr. (1948-2001), American politician, 33rd Governor of West Virginia (2001 to 2005)
  • Brownie Wise (1913-1992), American saleswoman who was instrumental in the success of Tupperware through her development of the "party plan" marketing system
  • George Douglas Wise (1831-1908), U.S. Representative from Virginia, delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1901
  • George Douglas Wise (1816-1881), American Union brevet brigadier general during the period of the American Civil War
  • Glenn Miller Wise (1896-1991), American secretary, statistician, and politician, Wisconsin's first female Secretary of State (1955 to 1957)
  • Henry Alexander Wise (1806-1876), United States Congressman, 33rd Governor of Virginia (1856-1860), general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, US minister to Brazil (18431847)
  • John Wise (1808-1879), American balloonist who made over 400 flights during his lifetime, his balloon The Jupiter made the first official airmail delivery run for the US Post Office in 1859



  • History of the Wise and Wyse Families of South Carolina by Sybil Harmon.
  • Looking Back: A Family History and Genealogy of and by Hazel Wise Huffman by Hazel Wise Huffman.
  • The Wise Family Chronicles by Ronnie W. Wise.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Sapere aude
Motto Translation: Dare to be wise.



  1. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  2. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  3. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  4. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  5. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  6. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  10. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  11. ...

The Wise Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Wise Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 28 September 2014 at 14:09.

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