Waech History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought many new words to England from which surnames were formed. Waech was one of these new Norman names. It was specifically tailored to its first bearer, who was a watchful or vigilant person having derived from the Old Norse word vakr, meaning watchful. [1]

A broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character. There is however, much discrepancy over the origin of the name. One source claims the name originates with Hugh Wac, lord of Wilesford, Lincolnshire. Another claims the name originated with Hereward le Wake (fl. 1070-1071) during the time of Edward the Confessor. Apparently, an outlaw, there are "a few references to him in the chronicles and an account of his possessions in Domesday are all that we really know of him. But his exploits in defending Ely from the Normans caused the generation succeeding his own to regard him as the popular hero of the English resistance to their French conquerors." [2]

"It thus seems clear, that the first authentic appearance of the name of Wake in the descendants of Hereward was through an intermarriage with a Norman family nearly one hundred years after his death." [3]

Archbishop Wake disowned the Norman ancestry thinking the name was originally Le Wake, or the Watchful, a skilled military commander. [4]

And another source claims that the individual by the name of Wake recorded in the Roll of Battle Abbey was weary of Harold's rule and fled to Normandy and while there "invited" Duke William to conquer Britain. Lord Wake who died in 1156, was founder of the Abbey of Brun and was claimed descent from Sir Thomas Wake, a gallant knight who fought with the Black Prince. He was sheriff of Northamptonshire under Edward II for many years. [5]

Early Origins of the Waech family

The surname Waech was first found in Lincolnshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the manor of Wilsford (Wivelesforde) and under tenants of Godfrey de Cambrai, and represented by Le Sire de Wake. Hugo Wach was listed there in the Pipe Rolls of 1176. [1]

"The Wakes are mentioned by Brompton as in the immediate train of the Conqueror; but it is the opinion of antiquaries that the individual of the name of Wake recorded in the Roll of Battle Abbey, was one of those who being weary of Harold's rule, fled into Normandy, and invited Duke William; hence the family is supposed to have been of importance prior in the Conquest." [5]

Other early records include Baldwin Wake, Lord Wake, (died 1282), as a famous warrior and progenitor of the following early line of nobles: John Wake (died 1300), 1st Baron Wake of Liddell and his son Thomas Wake (1297-1349), 2nd Baron Wake of Liddell, an English baron; and daughter Margaret Wake (c. 1297-1349), wife of Edmund of Woodstock, 1st Earl of Kent. This line belonged to the Lincolnshire family which also had lands in Cumberland.

In Yorkshire, one of the first records was that of William le Wacce who was a Knights Templar in 1185. [1]

"Baynard's Castle, in the East Riding [of Yorkshire], was among the multifarious possessions of the Wakes; and there is a local tradition that it was burnt down by the owner on the very night that he had received intimation of the coming of Henry VII. The King, who was then at Hull, signified his intention of paying him a visit and Wake, who had a remarkably handsome wife, and was unable to decline the proffered honour, preferred the loss of his house to the risk of the King's admiration." [3]

Early History of the Waech family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Waech research. Another 165 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1349, 1580, 1632, 1657, 1737, 1716 and 1737 are included under the topic Early Waech History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Waech Spelling Variations

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 Wake, Waik, Wayke and others.

Early Notables of the Waech family (pre 1700)

Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Waech Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Waech family

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 Waech or a variant listed above: John Wake, who settled in Jamaica in 1690; William Wake settled in Barbados in 1697.



The Waech Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Vigila et Ora
Motto Translation: Watch and Pray


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  4. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.


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