Wesley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Wesley was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Wesley family lived in Cambridgeshire, at Westley or at Westley Waterless a small village and civil parish in East Cambridgeshire.

Early Origins of the Wesley family

The surname Wesley was first found in Cambridgeshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the manor of Westley Waterless. The place name dates back to the pre-Conquest times when it was first listed as Westle in 1045. By The Domesday Book of 1086, it was known as Weslai. [1]

Conjecturally the family are descended from Hardwin, a Norman noble of Scales, who held the village of Westley from the Countess Judith at the time of the taking of the Domesday Book. William de Westle was Archdeacon of Durham (1362-1369.)

However, Westleigh in Lancashire may be the origin of the family. "A family of the local name is mentioned [here] in the reign of Richard I." [2]

Early History of the Wesley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wesley research. Another 99 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1800, 1636, 1678, 1662, 1735, 1669, 1742, 1596 and 1680 are included under the topic Early Wesley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wesley Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Westly, Westley, Westle, Westles and others.

Early Notables of the Wesley family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was John Westley or Wesley (1636-1678), an English nonconformist minister; his son Samuel Wesley (1662-1735), English minister and poet, father of John and Charles Wesley...
Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wesley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Wesley migration to the United States +

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Wesley or a variant listed above:

Wesley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Charles Wesley, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1736 [3]
Wesley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Stephen Wesley, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1840 [3]
  • George Wesley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1850 [3]
  • Joseph Wesley, who landed in Arkansas in 1885 [3]
  • Jan Wesley, who landed in Arkansas in 1896 [3]
  • John Wesley, who arrived in Arkansas in 1896 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Wesley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Frank Wesley, who landed in Arkansas in 1904 [3]

Canada Wesley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Wesley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Andrew Wesley, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1773
  • Mr. George Wesley U.E. who settled in Kingston, Ontario c. 1784 [4]

Australia Wesley migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Wesley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Catherine Wesley, (b. 1836), aged 20, Cornish domestic servant departing from Plymouth on 10th September 1856 aboard the ship "Medway" arriving in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 13th December 1856 [5]
  • Mr. Martin Wesley, (b. 1858), aged 19, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "St. Lawrence" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 8th June 1877 [6]
  • Mrs. Ann Wesley, (b. 1826), aged 51, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Commonwealth" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 22nd June 1877 [6]
  • Miss Josepha Wesley, (b. 1858), aged 19, Cornish servant travelling aboard the ship "Commonwealth" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 22nd June 1877 [6]
  • Mr. Andrew Wesley, (b. 1856), aged 21, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "Commonwealth" arriving in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on 22nd June 1877 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Wesley (post 1700) +

  • John Wesley (1947-2019), American actor, best known for his work on the television series, Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad
  • Cynthia Wesley (1949-1963), American Baptist parishioner who was killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award that the U.S. Congress can award a civilian
  • Rutina Wesley (b. 1979), American film, stage, and television actress, best known for her role as Tara Thornton in the series True Blood
  • Paul Wesley (b. 1982), born Paul Wasilewski, an American actor best known for his role as Stefan Salvatore in The Vampire Diaries
  • Fred Wesley (b. 1943), American jazz and funk trombonist, best known for his work with James Brown
  • Dante Julius Wesley (b. 1979), American NFL football cornerback
  • Charles "Two Sides" Wesley (1896-1944), African-American baseball player in the Negro Leagues
  • Richard Wesley (b. 1945), American Drama Desk Award winning television and film playwright and screenwriter
  • John Wesley (b. 1962), American singer, songwriter, and guitar player
  • Charles Wesley (1707-1788), English preacher from Epworth, Lincolnshire, son of Samuel Wesley, leader of the Methodist movement and writer of over 6,500 hymns
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


Suggested Readings for the name Wesley +

  • 1514 Memoirs of the Wesley Family by Adam Clarke, Ancestors and Descendants [sic] of Francis Wesley and Lucinda Elmira (Shearer) Cornbower by Harry A. Diehl.

  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  5. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_victoria.pdf
  6. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 19). Emigrants to Australia NSW 1860 -88 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/nsw_passenger_lists_1860_88.pdf


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