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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, French

Where did the French Willet family come from? What is the French Willet family crest and coat of arms? When did the Willet family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Willet family history?

Of all the French names to come from Normandy, Willet is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived at a place in Normandy, called Ouilly-le-Basset in the arrondissement and canton of Falaise in Calvados. The name is adapted from the Old French word "oeil," meaning "eye," which was used metaphorically to refer to the source of a spring or fountain.


History has changed the spelling of most surnames. During the early development of the French language in the Middle Ages, a person gave his version of his name, phonetically, to a scribe, a priest, or a recorder. Some variables were adopted by different branches of the family name. Hence, there spelling variations of the name Willet, some of which include Oueilly, Oueilly, Ouilly, Ouele, Oueillade, Willet, Willett, Williot, Wille, Willette, Willi, Oulette, Ouellet, Oullett, Wellett, Oullette and many more.

First found in Normandy (French: Normandie), the former Duchy of Normandy, where this distinguished family held a family seat in the honor of the seigneurie of Ouilly-le-Basset in the arrondissement and canton of Falaise in Calvados.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Willet research. Another 373 words (27 lines of text) covering the years 1066 and 1067 are included under the topic Early Willet History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Willet Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


By 1643 there were only about 300 people in Quebec. Since immigration was slow, early marriage was desperately encouraged amongst the immigrants. The fur trade attracted migrants, both noble and commoner. 15,000 explorers left Montreal in the late 17th and 18th centuries. By 1675, there were 7000 French in Quebec. By the same year the Acadian presence in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had reached 500. In 1755, 10,000 French Acadians refused to take an oath of allegiance to England and were deported to Louisiana. The French founded Lower Canada, thus becoming one of the two great founding nations of Canada. The distinguished family name Willet has made significant contributions to the culture, arts, sciences and religion of France and New France. Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Willet were

Willet Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Willet, who settled in Plymouth in 1630
  • Thomas Willet, who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1630
  • Tobie Willet, who landed in New England in 1632
  • Henry Willet, who settled in Virginia in 1640
  • Peter Willet, who landed in Virginia in 1649

Willet Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Anna Cath Willet, who immigrated to Charleston, South Carolina in 1764
  • Joseph Willet, who arrived in Boston in 1765

Willet Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Gilbert C Willet, who landed in New York in 1812
  • Christian Willet, who landed in America in 1854
  • Mary J. Willet, who came to Massachusetts in 1860

Willet Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Philip Willet, who was living in Ontario in 1871


  • Slim Willet (1919-1966), born Winston Lee Moore, an American disc jockey, musician, and songwriter, inducted into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1994
  • William Willet (1869-1921), American portrait painter, muralist, stained glass designer, studio owner and writer
  • Marinus Willet (1740-1830), American politician, Mayor of New York City, New York, 1807-08
  • Commodore William Willet, Private Secretary to Prince Phillip


  • The Willett Families of North America by Albert James Willett.
  • The Willett Family of Maryland: Colonial Pewterers, Kentucky Pioneers by Mary Louise Donnelly.

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  1. de la Porte, A. Tresor Heraldique. Paris: F. Casterman, 1864. Print.
  2. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  3. Bentley, Elizabeth P. Passenger Arrivals at the Port of New York 1820-1829. Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1999. Print.
  4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  5. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial general by J. B. Rietstap 6 volumes in 3. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1976. Print.
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  8. Guérard, Albert Léon. France: a Modern History. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1959. Print.
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Conrad, Glenn R. The First Families of Louisiana. Baton Rouge LA: Claitor's Publishing, 1970. Print.
  11. ...

The Willet Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Willet 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 10 December 2014 at 11:47.

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