Show ContentsWhaley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Whaley came to England with the ancestors of the Whaley family in the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Whaley family lived in Lancashire, in the township of Whalley while Whaley is a small village in Derbyshire.

"The name of this great parochial division is Saxon, signifying the "Field of Wells," expressed by the word Walalæh. The village is chiefly celebrated for the venerable ruins of its abbey. In 1296 Henry de Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, having given the advowson of Whalley to the White monks of Stanlow, in Cheshire, they removed hither, and founded an abbey of the Cistercian order, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin it was consecrated in 1306, and additions were made to the buildings for more than 140 years after that time. The remains are still considerable, and possess much interest, exhibiting portions in the early, decorated, and later English styles." [1]

Early Origins of the Whaley family

The surname Whaley was first found in Lancashire where they were descended from Wyamarus Whalley, who accompanied William the Conqueror, from Normandy, and was the Standard Bearer at the Battle of Hastings. The Conqueror gave him the lordship of Whalley in the county of Lancaster. In 1296 an Abbot and about 20 monks arrived in Whalley to create a church that would become Whalley Abbey. One of the census records of the name was Robert de Whalley who died before 1193 and was listed as the rector of Rochdale. [2]

The church of St. Michael in Aughton, Lancashire would be an important ecclesiastical stronghold for the family. For it was there that a long tradition of rectors in the family was established. The first was Henry le Waleys who was rector in 1292, followed by Thomas le Waleys in 1303, Gilbert le Waleys in 1317, John le Waleys in 1318 and Henry (son of Richard) le Waleys in 1337. [3]

The first of the tenants of Litherland, Augton "was Richard le Waleys, who also held a third of the manor of Aughton. In 1212 it was found that he was holding a ploughland in Litherland for 10s. He died in 1221, and his son and heir Richard agreed to pay 40s. -four times the annual rent-as his relief, and was placed in possession. After the death of Richard, a Robert le Waleys appears to have been the principal member of the family; (fn. 10) possibly he was a brother and held some part of the manor, acting as guardian to John le Waleys of Litherland, the son and heir of Richard, who lived on till the beginning of the next century, and was after his death said to have been a 'centenarian.' " [3]

Early History of the Whaley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Whaley research. Another 120 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1499, 1583, 1499, 1607, 1675, 1660, 1686, 1719, 1718 and 1719 are included under the topic Early Whaley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Whaley Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Whaley are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Whaley include Whalley, Whaley, Walley, Whally and others.

Early Notables of the Whaley family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Richard Whalley (1499?-1583), an English politician, born about 1499, the only son and heir of Thomas Whalley of Kirkton, Nottinghamshire. "He was no doubt related to the Whalley of Screveton who was physician to Henry VII, and some of whose medical receipts are extant in the Bodleian. He is also said to have been related to Protector Somerset. " [4] General Edward Whalley (c. 1607-c. 1675), was an English military leader during the English Civil War, one of the regicides who signed the death warrant of King Charles I of England. At the Restoration...
Another 134 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Whaley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Whaley Ranking

In the United States, the name Whaley is the 1,189th most popular surname with an estimated 24,870 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Whaley family to Ireland

Some of the Whaley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Whaley migration to the United States +

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Whaley, or a variant listed above:

Whaley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • George Whaley, who settled in Virginia in 1663
  • Peter Whaley, who arrived in Maryland in 1665 [6]
  • Anthony Whaley, who arrived in Maryland in 1665 [6]
  • John Whaley, who landed in Maryland in 1666 [6]
  • Shadrach Whaley, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682 [6]
Whaley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Lewis Whaley, who landed in Virginia in 1702 [6]
  • Elianor Whaley, who arrived in Virginia in 1706 [6]
  • Joseph Whaley, who arrived in Virginia in 1722 [6]
  • Elizabeth Whaley, who landed in Virginia in 1722 [6]
Whaley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Edmund Whaley, who landed in Mississippi in 1842 [6]
  • William Whaley, who settled in Boston in 1847
  • Henry Whaley, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [6]
  • Whaley, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1892
  • A. Whaley, aged 4, who immigrated to the United States, in 1892
Whaley Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • C. F. Whaley, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Celile G. Whaley, aged 35, who settled in America, in 1908
  • Arthur G. Whaley, aged 42, who landed in America, in 1908
  • Bessie W Whaley, aged 24, who immigrated to the United States, in 1909
  • Albert G. Whaley, aged 45, who immigrated to the United States, in 1911
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Whaley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Whaley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Whaley U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]

Australia Whaley migration to Australia +

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

Whaley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Whaley, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Ann" on August 1809, settling in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Mr. William Whaley who was convicted in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 24th March 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. David Whaley, (b. 1790), aged 41, Irish groom who was convicted in County Tyrone, Ireland for 7 years for stealing, transported aboard the "Captain Cook" on 5th November 1831, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1842 [10]
  • John Whaley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1839 [11]
  • William Whaley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Asia" in 1839 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Whaley migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Whaley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Francis Whaley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Owen Glendowner" in 1864

West Indies Whaley migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [12]
Whaley Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • William Whaley, aged 24, who arrived in Barbados in 1683 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Whaley (post 1700) +

  • Ruth Whitehead Whaley, the first African-American woman to be called to the bar in New York in 1925
  • William "Bill" Carl Whaley (1899-1943), American Major League Baseball player
  • Michael Whaley, American film and television actor
  • Paul Whaley, American drummer best known as the drummer for rock band Blue Cheer
  • Robert Whaley (b. 1982), American professional NBA basketball player
  • Robert H. Whaley (b. 1943), United States federal judge
  • Richard Smith Whaley (1874-1951), American Representative from South Carolina, and chief justice of the United States Court of Claims
  • Frank Whaley (b. 1963), American film and television actor
  • Benjamin S. Whaley, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of South Carolina, 1947-53 [13]
  • Benjamin C. Whaley, American politician, Prohibition Candidate for Michigan State Senate 28th District, 1948, 1950 [13]
  • ... (Another 25 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Robert William Whaley, Canadian 2nd Class passenger from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania (1915) and survived the sinking [14]

The Whaley 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: Mirabile in profundis
Motto Translation: Wonderful in the Depths.

Suggested Readings for the name Whaley +

  • Heritage, the History and Genealogy of the Donaldson and Whaley Families of Bath County, Kentucky, and Their Descendants by O. Clyde Donaldson.
  • Consignments to El Dorado by Thomas Whaley.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. 'Townships: Scarisbrick', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3, ed. William Farrer and J Brownbill (London, 1907), pp. 265-276. British History Online [accessed 21 January 2017].
  4. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  6. 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)
  7. 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
  8. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Ann voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1809 with 200 passengers. Retrieved from
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from
  10. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th December 2020). Retrieved from
  11. State Library of South Australia. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) ASIA 1839 from London with Captain Benjamin Freeman and 245 passengers, arrived Port Adelaide on 16-07-1839. Retrieved from
  13. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 7) . Retrieved from
  14. Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from on Facebook