Wilby History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Wilby was brought to England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Wilby family lived in Lincolnshire, in the parish of Welby.

Early Origins of the Wilby family

The surname Wilby was first found in Lincolnshire at Welby, a village and civil parish in the South Kesteven district, historically in the union of Grantham, wapentake of Aswardhurn. The place name was first listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 at Wellebi [1] and literally meant "farmstead or village by a spring or stream," from the Old English word "wella" + the Old Scandinavian word "by." [2]

A far as the surname is concerned, while there is no doubt the family came from this local, there is question about the original progenitor. One reference cites that John, the Lord of Castleton, around the time of William Conqueror's invasion of England in 1066 A.D. and another cites Sir Thomas Welby, who held the manor of Frieston with Poynton Hall c. 1216. [3]

Sir William Welby was also listed as possessing property between 1307 and 1327. He married the heiress of Multon of Multon and that became the principal family seat until the end of the 16th century. [3]

Robert Waldby (d. 1398) was an English divine, Archbishop of York and claims descent from Waldby, near Hull. "John Waldby (d. 1393?), was English provincial of the Austin friars, and wrote a number of expository works still preserved in manuscript in the Bodleian and other libraries, is said to have been a brother of Robert Waldby. " [4]

Early History of the Wilby family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wilby research. Another 163 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1216, 1307, 1573, 1397, 1471, 1492, 1561, 1574, 1638, 1572, 1573, 1636, 1570, 1592 and 1801 are included under the topic Early Wilby History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wilby Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Welbey, Welby, Welbie, Welbye and others.

Early Notables of the Wilby family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was several who were Sherriffs of Lincolnshire, beginning with Roger Welby in 1397; followed by Richard Welby in 1471, Thomas Welby in 1492, and Richard Welby in 1561. John Wilbye (c.1574-1638), was an English madrigal composer and "probably a native of the eastern counties, where the name was common. A John, son of John Wilbye or Milbye, was baptised in St. Mary's, Bury St. Edmunds, 15 Jan. 1572-1573; and another John, son of Thomas Wilbye, on 27 Sept. " [4] Henry Welby (d. 1636), was the English author of 'The Phoenix of these late Times,'...
Another 105 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wilby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Wilby family to Ireland

Some of the Wilby 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 Wilby migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Wilby or a variant listed above:

Wilby Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • George Wilby, aged 16, who landed in New England in 1635 [5]
  • John Wilby, who arrived in Virginia in 1656 [5]
  • Nicholas Wilby, who arrived in Maryland in 1678 [5]
Wilby Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • William Wilby, who landed in Alabama in 1925 [5]

Canada Wilby migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Wilby Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • A Wilby, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907
  • Mrs. L Wilby, who landed in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1907

Australia Wilby migration to Australia +

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

Wilby Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Mary Wilby, (Wilbourne), (b. 1787), aged 23, English convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for 14 years for pick pocketing, transported aboard the "Canada" in March 1810, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, she died in 1826 [6]
  • Mr. Francis Wilby, English convict who was convicted in Buckinghamshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Caledonia" in 19th June 1822, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [7]
  • Mr. George Wilby, English convict who was convicted in Northampton, Northamptonshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Chapman" on 6th April 1824, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [8]
  • Mr. Charles Wilby who was convicted in West Riding, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 24th March 1828, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • Mr. John Wilby, English convict who was convicted in Somerset, England for 15 years, transported aboard the "David Clarke" on 3rd June 1841, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Wilby 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:

Wilby Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mrs. Wilby (Willey), British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Prince of Wales" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 3rd January 1843 [11]
  • Child Wilby (Willey), British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Prince of Wales" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 3rd January 1843 [11]

Contemporary Notables of the name Wilby (post 1700) +

  • Francis Bowditch Wilby (1883-1965), American Major General in the United States Army, 39th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy from 1942 to 1945
  • James Jonathon Wilby (b. 1958), English Satellite Award and Screen Actors Guild Award winning film, television and theatre actor
  • James Wilby (b. 1993), British competitive swimmer, he won silver in the 2020 Summer Olympics. Gold, silver and bronze in the 2019 World Championships, gold and 2 silver in the 2018 European Championships, bronze in the 2020 European Championships and gold, 2 silver and bronze in the 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • Noel Wilby LVO QPM (1914-1975), Australian police officer, 14th Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police from 1969 to 1971
  • Emma Wilby, British historian and author
  • Peter John Wilby (b. 1944), British journalist, Editor of The Independent on Sunday (1995–1996)
  • Philip Wilby (b. 1949), British composer from Pontefract


The Wilby 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: Sorte contentus
Motto Translation: Content with one’s lot.


  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canada
  7. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 30th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/caledonia
  8. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retreived 26th January 2021, retreived from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/chapman)
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 5th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd June 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/david-clarke
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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