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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Wilburn is a name that first reached England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Wilburn family lived in Lincolnshire. Their name is derived from the Old English word welle, meaning well, and the Old Norse word brunnr, meaning stream or spring, and indicates that the original bearer lived near a well by a stream or spring.


The surname Wilburn was first found in Lincolnshire where they were Lords of the manor of Welbourn and conjecturally descended from a Norman noble, Robert Malet, who was granted the church and mill by King William the Conqueror in 1066. The ancestry of Robert goes back to Graville near Havre in Normandy in 990, where he was descended from Algar, the seventh Earl of Mercia.

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Wilburn 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 Wilburn include Welborne, Welborn, Welbourne, Welburn and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wilburn research. Another 83 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1605 and 1929 are included under the topic Early Wilburn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Another 26 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wilburn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


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 Wilburn, or a variant listed above:

Wilburn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • G Wilburn, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • William Wilburn, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1860

  • Tom Wilburn (1928-2015), American hospital executive, founder of TriHealth
  • Leila Ross Wilburn (1885-1967), American early 20th century architect
  • Captain Newton Jasper Wilburn (1874-1927), Kentucky National Guard officer who played a crucial part in ending the Black Patch Tobacco Wars
  • Jimmy Wilburn (1908-1984), American racecar driver inducted in the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1994
  • Barry Wilburn (b. 1963), former professional American football player
  • Walter Wilburn, American Republican politician, Supervisor of Bedford Township, Monroe County, Michigan, 2007-09; Defeated in primary, 2012
  • Jake Wilburn, American Libertarian politician, Candidate for Missouri State House of Representatives 130th District, 2012
  • Eugene Wilburn, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Georgia, 1948

Wilburn Historic Events

Arrow Air Flight 1285

  • Mr. Darnell Wilburn (b. 1954), American Staff Sergeant from Chicago, Illinois, USA who died in the crash of Arrow Air Flight 1285 on December 12, 1985 in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada

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    Other References

    1. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
    2. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
    3. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
    4. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
    5. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
    6. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
    10. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
    11. ...

    The Wilburn Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Wilburn 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 4 January 2016 at 08:41.

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