The family name Willsay is derived from the ancient Germanic personal name
William, which itself comes from the roots will, meaning will or desire, and helm, meaning protection.
Early Origins of the Willsay family
The surname Willsay was first found in Cornwall
where they held a family seat
at Saltash from very ancient times.
Early History of the Willsay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Willsay research.Another 153 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 162 and 1620 are included under the topic Early Willsay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Willsay Spelling Variations
Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations
. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England
, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations
often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall
and the rest of England
. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic
language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Wills, Will, Wylls and others.
Early Notables of the Willsay family (pre 1700)
More information is included under the topic Early Willsay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products
and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Willsay family to Ireland
Some of the Willsay family moved to Ireland
, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.Another 91 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Willsay family to the New World and Oceana
A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Willsay: Thomas Wills settled in Maryland in 1633; Bennet Wills settled in Maine in 1627; John Wills settled in St. Christopher in 1634; Thomas and William Wills settled in Virginia in 1654.
The Willsay 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 Translation: Upwards