Show ContentsWilks History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Wilks surname finds its earliest origins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. Their name is derived from a medieval given name, a short form of William. [1]

Wilks is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Many patronyms were formed when a son used his father's personal name as a surname, while others came from the personal names of famous religious and secular figures. In this case, the surname was originally derived from the popular medieval surname William, which became even more popular after the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066, led by William the Conqueror.

Early Origins of the Wilks family

The surname Wilks was first found in Bedfordshire (Old English: Bedanfordscir), located in Southeast-central England, formerly part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia, where they held a family seat from very ancient times, before and after the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Early History of the Wilks family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wilks research. Another 73 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1545, 1598, 1545, 1556, 1548, 1553, 1529, 1535, 1551, 1564, 1600, 1570, 1580, 1641, 1665, 1732, 1691, 1760, 1690, 1666 and 1740 are included under the topic Early Wilks History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wilks Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Wilks are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Wilks include: Wilkes, Wilke, Wilks and others.

Early Notables of the Wilks family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Israel Wilkes, a 17th century citizen and distiller of London, father of the politician John Wilkes. Sir Thomas Wilkes (1545?-1598), was an English diplomatist, born about 1545, and is said to have been a native of Sussex. "The Oxford registers do not supply his father's name, and the family occurs in many counties and in many forms, such as Wikes, Wylkes, Weekes, Wyckes, and other variations. A Richard Wilkes (d. 1556) was master of Christ's College, Cambridge, from 1548 to 1553; a Thomas Wilkes represented Chippenham in the Reformation parliament of 1529-1535, and another...
Another 176 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wilks Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wilks Ranking

In the United States, the name Wilks is the 2,802nd most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [2]

United States Wilks migration to the United States +

Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Wilks or a variant listed above:

Wilks Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Wilks, who arrived in Virginia in 1648 [3]
  • Thomas Wilks, who landed in Virginia in 1695 [3]
Wilks Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Wilks, aged 24, who arrived in Maryland in 1776 [3]
  • Joseph Wilks, who arrived in New York in 1785 [3]
Wilks Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Geroge Wilks, aged 27, who arrived in New York in 1812 [3]
  • William B Wilks, who arrived in Texas in 1830 [3]
  • Janes Wilks, aged 19, who landed in New York in 1864 [3]
  • Jacob Wilks, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1873 [3]

Canada Wilks migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Wilks Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • John Wilks, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750

Australia Wilks migration to Australia +

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

Wilks Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Stephen Wilks, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "Adamant" on March 16, 1821, settling in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. Charles Wilks, (b. 1835), aged 8, British labourer who was convicted in Cardigan, Wales for 10 years for theft of a horse, transported aboard the "Asiatic" on 26th May 1843, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [5]
  • Mr. William Wilks, (b. 1834), aged 15, English gunsmithDarlaston, England, UK departing from Plymouth on 10th October 1848 aboard the ship "Duchess of Northumberland" arriving in Port Phillip, Cornwall, UK on 15th January 1849 [6]
  • Thomas Wilks, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Glen Huntley" in 1849 [7]
  • Mr. John Wilks, English convict who was convicted in Worcester, Worcestshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the ""Blenheim"" on 24th July 1850, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) and Norfolk Island, Australia [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Wilks 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:

Wilks Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Wilks, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Stately" in 1851
  • Mr. James Wilks, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Stately" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 1st June 1851 [9]
  • Miss Louisa Anne Wilks, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Stately" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 1st June 1851 [9]
  • Miss Wilks, British settler travelling from Liverpool aboard the ship "Tornado" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th September 1859 [9]
  • Daniel Wilks, aged 43, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballochmyle" in 1874
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Wilks migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [10]
Wilks Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mr. John Wilks, (b. 1612), aged 22, British settler travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "Hopewell" arriving in Barbados on 17th February 1634 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Wilks (post 1700) +

  • Samuel Stanley Wilks (1906-1964), American mathematician and academic
  • Michael Sharod Wilks Jr. (b. 1979), American professional basketball player
  • Ted Wilks (b. 1915), American Major League Baseball player
  • Samuel Charles Wilks (1789-1872), English evangelical divine, the son of Samuel Wilks of Newington, Surrey, his family entered the service of the East India Company and rose high in the confidence of the directors [11]
  • Mark Wilks (1760-1831), British Lieutenant-Colonel in the Madras army, native of the Isle of Man [11]
  • Clement Wilks (1819-1871), Australian civil engineer and architect
  • William Henry Wilks (1863-1940), Australian politician
  • The Reverend William Wilks (1843-1923), British horticulturalist and clergyman
  • Sir Samuel Wilks (1824-1911), British physician and biographer
  • Suzie Wilks (b. 1971), Australian TV lifestyle presenter
  • ... (Another 3 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Dorsetshire
  • Norman Wilks, British Electrical Artificer aboard the HMS Dorsetshire (1945) when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [12]

Suggested Readings for the name Wilks +

  • Wilks and Young Families, Texas Pioneers by Doris Ross Brock Johnston.

  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. ^
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Adamant voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1821 with 144 passengers. Retrieved from
  5. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from
  6. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The GLEN HUNTLEY 1849. Retrieved from
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th October 2020). Retrieved from
  9. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  10. ^
  11. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 4 Feb. 2019
  12. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), on Facebook