Willet History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms 

Of all the French names to come from Normandy, Willet is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived at a place in Normandy, called Ouilly-le-Basset in the arrondissement and canton of Falaise in Calvados. The name is adapted from the French word "oeil," meaning "eye," which was used metaphorically to refer to the source of a spring or fountain. [1]

Early Origins of the Willet family

The surname Willet was first found in Normandy (French: Normandie), the former Duchy of Normandy, where this distinguished family held a family seat in the honor of the seigneurie of Ouilly-le-Basset in the arrondissement and canton of Falaise in Calvados.

Of this family Robert D'Ouilli, the son of Foque D'Aulnay, who was descended from D'Alnay, the first Duke of the Normans of Loire 895-905, joined Duke William of Normandy in the Conquest of England in 1066 A.D. He is referred to by Wace, the chronicler of the Battle of Hastings, as "E cil d'Ouillie," and received the castle of Wallingford in 1067 and possessed sixty-one manors with forty-two habitable houses in the county of Oxford of which he was the Constable.

Wallingford was an ancient Roman castle and Robert D'Ouillie, at the command of William the Conqueror, rebuilt the castle in the Norman style, an impregnable edifice which would play a most significant part in history. He gave much of his estates to Roger D'Ivri, his sworn brother in Arms. This Robert also ceded to Roger his Barony of St. Valery.

René Ouellet, born in 1642, son of François and Elisabeth (née Barre), was one of the first people found in Canada with the name Ouellet. René first married Anne Rivet on 8th March 1666 and he later married Thérèse Mignot on 6th February 1679. Throughout his two marriages René had six sons that carried on the family name of Ouellet. René was buried on 15th January 1722 in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatière, Quebec. [2]

Important Dates for the Willet family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Willet research. Another 46 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1066 and 1067 are included under the topic Early Willet History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Willet Spelling Variations

History has changed the spelling of most surnames. During the early development of the French language in the Middle Ages, a person gave his version of his name, phonetically, to a scribe, a priest, or a recorder. Some variables were adopted by different branches of the family name. Hence, there spelling variations of the name Willet, some of which include Oueilly, Oueilly, Ouilly, Ouele, Oueillade, Willet, Willett, Williot, Wille, Willette, Willi, Oulette, Ouellet, Oullett, Wellett, Oullette and many more.

Early Notables of the Willet family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Willet Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Willet migration to the United States

By 1643 there were only about 300 people in Quebec. Since immigration was slow, early marriage was desperately encouraged amongst the immigrants. The fur trade attracted migrants, both noble and commoner. 15,000 explorers left Montreal in the late 17th and 18th centuries. By 1675, there were 7000 French in Quebec. By the same year the Acadian presence in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had reached 500. In 1755, 10,000 French Acadians refused to take an oath of allegiance to England and were deported to Louisiana. The French founded Lower Canada, thus becoming one of the two great founding nations of Canada. The distinguished family name Willet has made significant contributions to the culture, arts, sciences and religion of France and New France. Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Willet were

Willet Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Willet, who settled in Plymouth in 1630
  • Thomas Willet, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1630 [3]
  • Tobie Willet, who landed in New England in 1632 [3]
  • Henry Willet, who settled in Virginia in 1640
  • Peter Willet, who landed in Virginia in 1649 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Willet Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anna Cath Willet, who immigrated to Charleston, South Carolina in 1764
  • Joseph Willet, who arrived in Boston in 1765
Willet Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Gilbert C Willet, who landed in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Christian Willet, who landed in America in 1854 [3]
  • Mary J. Willet, who settled in Massachusetts in 1860

Willet migration to Canada

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Willet Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Philip Willet, who was living in Ontario in 1871

Contemporary Notables of the name Willet (post 1700)

  • Gerald L. Willet (1934-2017), American politician and businessman who served in the Minnesota Senate from 1971 to 1988
  • Slim Willet (1919-1966), born Winston Lee Moore, an American disc jockey, musician, and songwriter, inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1994
  • William Willet (1869-1921), American portrait painter, muralist, stained glass designer, studio owner and writer
  • Marinus Willet (1740-1830), American politician, Mayor of New York City, New York, 1807-08 [4]
  • Commodore William Willet, Private Secretary to Prince Phillip
  • Willet I. VanDemark, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Ulster County 2nd District, 1887 [5]
  • Willet E. Hoysradt, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from New York, 1916 [6]

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Citations

  1. ^ Dauzat, Albert, Morlet, Marie-Thérèse, Dictionaire Étymologique des Noms et Prénoms de France. Paris: Librairie Larousse, 1987. Print.
  2. ^ Olivier, Reginald L. Your Ancient Canadian Family Ties. Logan: The Everton Publishers, Inc., P.O. Box 368, 1972. Print
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 2) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 27) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
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