Show ContentsWhistler History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Whistler family

The surname Whistler was first found in Somerset where Osbert le Wistler was listed in the Assize Rolls of 1243. [1]

"This surname is derived from a nickname. 'the whistler,' one who was constantly whistling. The sobriquet would readily fasten itself upon the bearer, and as it denoted a cheery spirit would not be unacceptable to the nominee." [2] [3]

Alternatively, some sources note that the name could have been an occupational name for someone who "blew a pipe." [4] [5]

Continuing our quest through early English rolls, we note that Thomas le Whistlar was listed in Somerset, 9 Edward II (during the ninth year of King Edward II's reign) [6] and the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 includes Johannes Whisteler as holding lands there at that time. [2]

Early History of the Whistler family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Whistler research. Another 210 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1327, 1607, 1608, 1619, 1626, 1648, 1652, 1653, 1654, 1659, 1674, 1678, 1682, 1683, 1684 and 1800 are included under the topic Early Whistler History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Whistler Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Whistler, Whissler, Whistle, Whissle, Wissell, Wisseller, Wisseler, Whistle, Wisle, Wissel, Wisel, Wissell, Whisseller, Whissel, Wistlecraft and many more.

Early Notables of the Whistler family

Distinguished members of the family include

  • Daniel Whistler (1619-1684), an English physician of Elvington, Oxfordshire, Gresham Professor of Geometry (1648), President of the College of Physicians (1683.) He was the son of William Whistler of...

Whistler Ranking

In the United States, the name Whistler is the 17,490th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [7]

United States Whistler migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Whistler Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Jacob Whistler, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1755 [8]

Australia Whistler migration to Australia +

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

Whistler Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Whistler, aged 39, who arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Olivia" [9]

New Zealand Whistler 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:

Whistler Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss C. E. Whistler, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Aorangi" en route to Wellington, New Zealand on 23rd July 1892 [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Whistler (post 1700) +

  • James Abbott McNeill Whistler RBA (1834-1903), American-born, British painter whose mother was the model for his painting "Whistler's Mother"
  • Dr. William McNeill Whistler (1836-1900), American Confederate soldier and surgeon, younger brother of artist James McNeill Whistler
  • Wayne Arthur Whistler (1944-2020), American ethnobotanist, academic and writer
  • Anna Matilda Whistler (1804-1881), (née McNeill) American mother of James McNeill Whistler and subject of the famous Whistler's Mother
  • George Washington Whistler (1800-1849), American railroad engineer, best known for building steam locomotives and railroads, credited with introducing the steam whistle to American locomotives, father of American artist James McNeill Whistler
  • G. L. Whistler, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Richmond County, 1912 [11]
  • Hugh Whistler F.Z.S., M.B.O.U. (1889-1943), English police officer and ornithologist who worked in India
  • Reginald John "Rex" Whistler (1905-1944), British painter, designer and illustrator, who was killed in action in the Second World War
  • General Sir Lashmer Gordon Whistler GCB, KBE, DSO & Two Bars, DL (1898-1963), known as "Bolo", a British Army officer who served in both the world wars
  • Catherine Whistler, British art historian and curator, specialising in Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, awarded the British Academy Medal in 2018
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  5. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  6. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  7. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  8. 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)
  9. South Australian Register Tuesday 15 November 1853. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Olivia 1857. Retrieved
  10. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  11. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from on Facebook