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

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

Wilkes is an ancient Anglo-Saxon name that is derived from a medieval given name, a short form of William. Wilkes is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Many patronyms were formed when a son used his father's personal name as a surname, while others came from the personal names of famous religious and secular figures. In this case, the surname was originally derived from the popular medieval surname William, which became even more popular after the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066, led by William the Conqueror.


Wilkes has been spelled many different ways, including Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Wilkes, Wilke, Wilks and others.

First found in Bedfordshire (Old English: Bedanfordscir), located in Southeast-central England, formerly part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, before and after the Norman Conquest in 1066.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wilkes research. Another 300 words(21 lines of text) covering the years 1665 and 1732 are included under the topic Early Wilkes History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 38 words(3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wilkes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Wilkess to arrive on North American shores:

Wilkes Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Wilkes, who came to Virginia in 1653
  • Thomas Wilkes, who arrived in Virginia in 1653
  • William Wilkes who arrived in Virginia in 1654
  • John Wilkes, who landed in Maryland in 1664
  • William Wilkes, who landed in Maryland in 1675

Wilkes Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Eliza Wilkes, who landed in Virginia in 1702
  • Henry Wilkes, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Joseph Wilkes, who landed in Virginia in 1714
  • Rudolph Wilkes, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1727
  • Elizabeth Wilkes, who settled in New England in 1745

Wilkes Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Bartholomew Wilkes, aged 27, arrived in New York in 1834
  • Gerh Wilkes, who landed in America in 1843
  • George Samuel Wilkes, who arrived in New York in 1857
  • Louis Edward Potter Wilkes, who arrived in Colorado in 1885


  • Charles Wilkes (1798-1877), American naval officer, known for The United States Exploring Expedition, commonly known as the "Wilkes Expedition"
  • Jonathan Wilkes (b. 1978), English television presenter, actor and musician
  • John Wilkes (1727-1797), English politician, declared an outlaw in absentia, but that charge was later overturned, eponym of Wilkes County, Georgia and Wilkes County, North Carolina
  • Sir Maurice Vincent Wilkes FRS, FREng, DFBCS (1913-2010), English computer scientist, Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the Royal Society
  • William Harry Walters Wilkes (1865-1940), English cricketer
  • Mrs. Ellen Wilkes, aged 47, English Third Class passenger from Penzance, Cornwall who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived in the sinking in life boat 16
  • Benjamin Wilkes (b. 1749), English artist and naturalist
  • Debbi Wilkes (b. 1946), Canadian gold, and three-time bronze medalist former pair skater
  • Frank Noel Wilkes AM (1922-1977), Australian politician, Leader of the Labor Opposition in Victoria (1977 to 1981)
  • Colonel Mark Wilkes FRS (1759-1831), Manx soldier and administrator, Chairman and Speaker of the House of Keys, Isle of Man


  • Wilks and Young Families, Texas Pioneers by Doris Ross Brock Johnston.

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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  4. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  5. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  6. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  7. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  8. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  9. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  10. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Wilkes Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Wilkes 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 14 February 2014 at 10:15.

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