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

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

The Westlake history begins in Cornwall, a rugged coastal region in southwestern England. Quite distinct from Devon, the adjoining county, Cornwall had its own spoken language until the late 18th century. The Westlake history began here. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames were derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. The Westlake family originally lived in Devon.Westlake is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. The name Westlake indicates that the original bearer lived by the westernmost of a group of lakes.


Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Westlake, Westlock, Westloke, Weslake and others.

First found in Devon where the place name, Westlake is still found today near Langbrook and Marjery Cross. Ironically, the place name is not near a lake. Today there are no fewer that seven places named Westlake in the United States, and one each in Australia and New Zealand.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Westlake research. Another 163 words(12 lines of text) covering the years 133 and 1333 are included under the topic Early Westlake History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Westlake Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Discovered in the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Westlake:

Westlake Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Phillip Westlake settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Philip Westlake, aged 20, arrived in Virginia in 1635
  • John Westlake, who arrived in Maryland in 1664
  • Magdalen Westlake, who landed in Maryland in 1664

Westlake Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • William Westlake settled in Maryland in 1775

Westlake Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • George Smith Westlake, who landed in New York in 1847
  • Richard Westlake, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1849
  • William Westlake, who arrived in Schuyler County, Illinois in 1860


  • Donald Edwin Westlake (1933-2008), American writer and novelist, who specialized in crime fiction, three-time Edgar Award winner, grandmaster of the Mystery Writers of America in 1933
  • John Westlake (1828-1913), English international lawyer
  • Professor Henry Westlake, University of Manchester
  • Nathaniel Hubert John Westlake (1833-1921), British artist specializing in stained glass
  • Martin Westlake, Secretary-General of the European Economic and Social Committee
  • W. James Westlake, Canadian Group Head, International Banking and Insurance for RBC
  • Gregory Westlake (b. 1986), Canadian Para-Alpine Olympic medalist


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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  5. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  7. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  8. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  9. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  10. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  11. ...

The Westlake Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Westlake 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 5 October 2014 at 22:10.

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