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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The origins of the Anglo-Saxon name Whisenant come from its first bearer, who was a wise or learned person. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old English word wis, meaning wise or knowledgable.


The surname Whisenant was first found in Devon where they held a family seat anciently as Lords of the manor of Greston, at the time of the Conquest in 1066.

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Whisenant has been spelled many different ways, including Wise, Wyse and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Whisenant research. Another 211 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1648, 1687, 1668 and 1676 are included under the topic Early Whisenant History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Another 32 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Whisenant Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Some of the Whisenant family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 115 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Whisenants to arrive in North America: Humphrey Wise settled in Massachusetts in 1620; Hanna Wise settled in Virginia in 1655; Christopher Wise settled in Barbados in 1680; Will Wise settled in Georgia in 1755.


  • Edgar C. Whisenant (1932-2001), American NASA engineer and Biblical author who predicted the Christian Rapture would occur in 1988
  • Thomas Peter "Pete" Whisenant (1929-1996), American Major League Baseball outfielder and coach
  • Matthew Michael Whisenant (b. 1971), American former Major League Baseball pitcher

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: Sapere aude
Motto Translation: Dare to be wise.


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    Other References

    1. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
    2. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
    3. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
    4. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
    5. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
    6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. 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. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
    9. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    10. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
    11. ...

    The Whisenant Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Whisenant 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 29 July 2016 at 17:47.

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