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

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

The distinguished surname Wiles emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. Occupational surnames were derived from the common trades of the medieval era. The surname Wiles is an occupational name for a person employed in trapping fish. The surname Wiles is derived from the late Old English word wil, which means trick and was used to refer to mechanical devices such as windmills or traps. This derivation of the name Wiles is supported by the existence of the Old English word wyle, which refers to a wicker trap for catching fish, particularly eels. Historians also suggest that the surname may have also been a nickname applied to a cunning man or someone "of many wiles."

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Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Wiles, Willes, Wyles and others.

First found in Sussex where they held a family seat from early times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wiles research. Another 115 words(8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wiles History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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

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Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Wiles were among those contributors:

Wiles Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Bishop Wiles who came to Virginia in 1607
  • Bishop Wiles, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1607
  • John and Phillip Wiles settled in Maine in 1616

Wiles Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Thos Wiles, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Mary Wiles, who arrived in Virginia in 1719
  • Robert Wiles, who landed in Virginia in 1719
  • Jonathon Wiles arrived in Philadelphia in 1795

Wiles Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • James Wiles, who arrived in Maryland in 1850
  • John Wiles, who landed in Indiana in 1854

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  • Lemuel Maynard Wiles (1826-1905), American landscape painter
  • Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948), American artist
  • Jason Austin Wiles (b. 1970), American actor
  • Maurice Frank Wiles (1929-2005), English Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford University (1970-1991)
  • Simon Peter Wiles (b. 1985), English footballer
  • Sir Andrew John Wiles KBE, FRS (b. 1953), British mathematician, co-winner of the 1995/6 Wolf Prize
  • John Wiles (1925-1999), British producer of the popular science fiction serial Doctor Who


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  • Wiles: 300 Years in America by Marie Davis Wiles.
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  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  3. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  4. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  5. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  6. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  7. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  8. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  11. ...

The Wiles Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Wiles 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 21 May 2014 at 13:49.

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