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

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

Woolley is a name whose history on English soil dates back to the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066. The Woolley family lived in Cheshire, at Woolley.

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A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Woolley, Wooley, Wooly and others.

First found in Cheshire where they held a family seat in Longdendale. The name was anciently spelt De Wolegh, or de Woley. Woolley is also located in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. These place names are derived from the Old English words wulf + leah and literally means "wood or clearing frequented by wolves." Two of the places are listed in the Domesday Book as Ciluelai in Cambridgeshire and Wiluelai in West Yorkshire. [1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Woolley research. Another 159 words(11 lines of text) covering the years 1622, 1675, 1695 and 1771 are included under the topic Early Woolley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 103 words(7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Woolley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Woolley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 33 words(2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Woolley or a variant listed above:

Woolley Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • William Woolley settled in Virginia in 1636
  • Wm Woolley, who landed in Virginia in 1636
  • John Woolley arrived in Jamaica in 1663
  • Christopher Woolley, who landed in New England in 1666

Woolley Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Anne Woolley, who arrived in Virginia in 1703

Woolley Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • J Woolley, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850

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  • John Wickersham Woolley (1831-1928), American Latter Day Saint and one of the founders of the Mormon fundamentalism movement
  • Monty Woolley (1888-1963), American stage, film, radio, and television actor
  • Jordan Woolley (b. 1981), American actor
  • Beverly Woolley (b. 1939), American politician, Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives
  • Mary Emma Woolley (1863-1947), American educator, peace activist and women's suffrage supporter, 11th President of Mount Holyoke College from 1900-1937
  • Alma S. Woolley (1931-2005), American nurse, nurse educator, nursing historian, and author
  • Bennie L. "Chip" Woolley Jr. (b. 1963), American Thoroughbred horse racing trainer, best known for his conditioning the 2009 winner of the Kentucky Derby "Mine That Bird"
  • Geoffrey Harold Woolley VC (1892-1968), English recipient of the Victoria Cross
  • Frank Woolley (1887-1978), English cricket player
  • Bruce Woolley (b. 1953), English writer, performer, record producer and composer

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  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)

Other References

  1. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  2. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  5. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  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. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  8. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  9. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...

The Woolley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Woolley 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 22 April 2014 at 14:30.

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