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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The distinguished surname Wiles emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. Occupational surnames were derived from the common trades of the medieval era. The surname Wiles is an occupational name for a person employed in trapping fish. The surname Wiles is derived from the late Old English word wil, which means trick and was used to refer to mechanical devices such as windmills or traps. This derivation of the name Wiles is supported by the existence of the Old English word wyle, which refers to a wicker trap for catching fish, particularly eels. Historians also suggest that the surname may have also been a nickname applied to a cunning man or someone "of many wiles."


The surname Wiles was first found in Sussex where they held a family seat from early times.

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Wiles, Willes, Wyles and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wiles research. Another 133 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1693, 1773, 1773, 1685 and 1761 are included under the topic Early Wiles History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Prominent in the family at this time was Edward Willes (1693-1773), an English Anglican Bishop of St David's and later Bishop of Bath and Wells; he died in London in 1773, and...

Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wiles Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Wiles were among those contributors:

Wiles Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Bishop Wiles who came to Virginia in 1607
  • Bishop Wiles, who landed in Jamestown, Va in 1607
  • John and Phillip Wiles settled in Maine in 1616

Wiles Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Thomas Wiles, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Mary Wiles, who arrived in Virginia in 1719
  • Robert Wiles, who landed in Virginia in 1719
  • Jonathon Wiles arrived in Philadelphia in 1795

Wiles Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • James Wiles, who arrived in Maryland in 1850
  • John Wiles, who landed in Indiana in 1854

Wiles Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Eliza Wiles arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Ramillies" in 1849
  • Griffin Wiles, aged 23, a carpenter, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Hyderabad"
  • John Wiles, aged 22, a carpenter, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Punjab"

Wiles Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • George Wiles arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Aloe" in 1863
  • Ann Wiles arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Aloe" in 1863

  • Randall E. "Randy" Wiles (1951-2015), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played in five games for the Chicago White Sox in 1977
  • Michele Wiles, American principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre from 2005 to 2011
  • William "Billy" Wiles (b. 1971), American professional wrestler, better known by the ring names Billy Wiles and Bilvis Wesley
  • Jason Austin Wiles (b. 1970), American actor, best known for his role in the TV series Third Watch
  • Irving Ramsey Wiles (1861-1948), American artist, member of the Society of American Artists
  • Leon Stivers Wiles (1878-1918), American Republican politician, Mayor of Huntington, West Virginia, 1918
  • John Wiles, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for South Dakota State House of Representatives 5th District, 2010
  • George R. C. Wiles, American politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Mingo County, 1903; Member, West Virginia Public Service Commission, 1917
  • Douglass Wiles (b. 1952), American Democrat politician, Member of Florida State House of Representatives 20th District, 1997-; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Florida, 2004
  • Ben Wiles, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from New York 35th District, 1918; Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1920
  • ...

  • Wiles: 300 Years in America by Marie Davis Wiles.

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    Other References

    1. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
    2. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
    3. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
    4. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
    5. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
    6. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
    7. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
    8. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
    9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
    10. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
    11. ...

    The Wiles Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Wiles 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 9 May 2016 at 12:20.

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