Wise History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Wise is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Wise was a name used for a wise or learned person [1] [2], having derived from the Old English word wis, meaning wise or knowledgeable. [3]

Early Origins of the Wise family

The surname Wise was first found in Devon where they held a family seat anciently as Lords of the manor of Greston, at the time of the Conquest in 1066. "The ancient knightly family of Wise of Mount Wise in Stoke Damerel (Devonport) was one of the oldest families in the west of England: one of this family was High Sheriff of Devonshire in 1612." [4]

Another source confirms this history but in more detail. Sir Thomas Wise (c. 1576-1630), "signalized his ownership by building a stately mansion on the craggy headland opposite the domain of the Edgcumbes, and calling it, with that imitation which is the sincerest flattery, ' Mount Wise.' All but the name has long passed into oblivion, and cannon frown and soldiers dwell where the manor-house once stood." [5]

Johann se Wisa was listed as an 11th century Old English Byname and Ædwin Wise was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Devon in 1176. Later Roger le Wis was found in the Pipe Rolls for Sussex in 1203. [6]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Elias le Wyse, Oxfordshire; and Henry le Wyse, Huntingdonshire. [3]

Up north in Scotland, "William Wys was a canon of Moray in 1358, Thomas Wyse, canon of Caithness, 1381, and Robertas Wys was canon of the church of Aberdeen in 1386, 1391. Johannes Wyss on inquest in Stravelyn, 1411." [7]

Early History of the Wise family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wise research. Another 199 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1645, 1511, 1522, 1603, 1648, 1687, 1668, 1676, 1695, 1767, 1719, 1729, 1653, 1738, 1646, 1687 and 1668 are included under the topic Early Wise History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wise Spelling Variations

Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Wise include Wise, Wyse and others.

Early Notables of the Wise family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Michael Wise (1648-1687), an English organist and composer, Organist and Choirmaster at Salisbury Cathedral (1668), Gentleman of the Chapel Royal (1676.) Francis Wise (1695-1767), was an English archaeologist, born in the parish of All Saints, Oxford, son of Francis Wise, mercer, of Oxford. "In December 1719 he was appointed under-keeper of the Bodleian Library, and about this time he collated a manuscript in the Laud collection for the 1729 edition of Plutarch's 'Lives.'...
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wise Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wise World Ranking

In the United States, the name Wise is the 422nd most popular surname with an estimated 67,149 people with that name. [8] However, in Australia, the name Wise is ranked the 547th most popular surname with an estimated 7,062 people with that name. [9] And in the United Kingdom, the name Wise is the 921st popular surname with an estimated 7,497 people with that name. [10]

Ireland Migration of the Wise family to Ireland

Some of the Wise family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 63 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Wise migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Wise were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Wise Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Humphrey Wise, who settled in Massachusetts in 1620
  • Thomas Wise, who arrived in Virginia in 1634 [11]
  • Nicholas Wise, who landed in Virginia in 1638 [11]
  • Joseph Wise, who arrived in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1643 [11]
  • John Wise, who landed in Ipswich, Massachusetts in 1652 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Wise Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Charles Wise, who landed in Virginia in 1705 [11]
  • Peter Wise, who arrived in Virginia in 1718 [11]
  • Jacob Wise, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1729
  • Andreas Wise, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1732 [11]
  • Andrews Wise, aged 22, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1732 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Wise Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Johan F Wise, aged 36, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1805 [11]
  • Christian Wise, aged 28, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1823 [11]
  • David Wise, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1837 [11]
  • Sebastian Wise, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838 [11]
  • William Wise, who landed in Mississippi in 1840 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Wise Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Dorris S. Wise, who arrived in America, in 1903
  • Adele S. Wise, aged 9, who arrived in America, in 1905
  • David Wise, aged 27, who arrived in America from Johannesburg, in 1906
  • Czer Wise, aged 25, who arrived in America from Kobrin, Russia, in 1907
  • Agnes Wise, aged 30, who arrived in America from Dunfermline, Scotland, in 1907
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Wise migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Wise Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Bridget Flood Wise, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1842
  • Mr. Michael Wise, aged 18 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship " Yorkshire Lass" departing from the port of Killala, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in July 1847 [12]

Australia Wise migration to Australia +

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

Wise Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Miss Mary Wise, English convict who was convicted in Westminster, London, England for 7 years , transported aboard the "Britannia III" on 18th July 1798, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
Wise Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Arthur Wise, British Convict who was convicted in Surrey, England for life, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 4th December 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [14]
  • Mr. Richard Wise, (b. 1777), aged 36, English boatman who was convicted in Maidstone, Kent, England for life for larceny, transported aboard the "Earl Spencer" in May 1813, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1850 [15]
  • John Wise, a tanner, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Henry Wise, English convict from Buckinghamshire, who was transported aboard the "America" on April 4, 1829, settling in New South Wales, Australia [16]
  • Miss Jean Wise, Scottish convict who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland, transported aboard the "Buffalo" on 4th May 1833, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, listed as having 1 child aboard the ship [17]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Wise 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:

Wise Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Richard Wise, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Alfred Wise, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856
  • Emily Wise, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856
  • Henry Wise, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856
  • Julia Wise, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Wyvern" in 1856
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Wise Settlers in New Zealand in the 20th Century
  • Catherine Wise, aged 23, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "S. S. Waimana" in 1926

West Indies Wise 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. [18]
Wise Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Christopher Wise, who settled in Barbados in 1680

Contemporary Notables of the name Wise (post 1700) +

  • David Wise (b. 1990), American freestyle skier. He is a two-time Olympic gold medalist (2014, 2018) and a four-time X Games Gold Medalist (2012, 2013, 2014, 2018). In 2014, he won his third consecutive gold medal at X Games XVIII in Aspen, he became the first Olympic gold medalist in the Men's Freeski Halfpipe at the 2014 Winter Olympics. In 2018 he won his fourth gold medal at the X Games. He won a gold medal at the 2018 Olympic games
  • Richard Charles "Rick" Wise (b. 1945), American former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Raymond Herbert "Ray" Wise (b. 1947), American Screen Actors Guild Award nominated actor, probably best known for his role as the villan Leon C. Nash in RoboCop
  • Matthew John "Matt" Wise (b. 1975), American former Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Josh Wise (b. 1983), American stock car driver
  • John Sergeant Wise (1846-1913), American author and politician in Virginia
  • John Wise (1808-1879), American balloonist who made over 400 flights during his lifetime, his balloon The Jupiter made the first official airmail delivery run for the US Post Office in 1859
  • Henry Alexander Wise (1806-1876), United States Congressman, 33rd Governor of Virginia (1856-1860), general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, US minister to Brazil (1843–1847)
  • Glenn Miller Wise (1896-1991), American secretary, statistician, and politician, Wisconsin's first female Secretary of State (1955 to 1957)
  • George Douglas Wise (1816-1881), American Union brevet brigadier general during the period of the American Civil War
  • ... (Another 16 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Monongah Mine
  • Mr. Charles D. Wise (b. 1870), American coal miner who was at the Monongah mine on 6th December 1907 when it exploded and collapsed; he died [19]
RMS Lusitania
  • Sister Isabel Eloise Wise, English 2nd Class passenger residing in Jamaica, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and died in the sinking [20]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. James L. Wise, American Seaman First Class working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he survived the sinking [21]


The Wise 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: Sapere aude
Motto Translation: Dare to be wise.


Suggested Readings for the name Wise +

  • History of the Wise and Wyse Families of South Carolina by Sybil Harmon.
  • Looking Back: A Family History and Genealogy of and by Hazel Wise Huffman by Hazel Wise Huffman.
  • The Wise Family Chronicles by Ronnie W. Wise.

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  6. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  7. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  8. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  9. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  10. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  11. ^ 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)
  12. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 60)
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 30th October 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/Britannia
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel-and-experiment
  15. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 8th September 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-spencer
  16. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1829 with 176 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1829
  17. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 3rd November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/buffalo
  18. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  19. ^ Monongah Mining Disaster retrieved on 8th August 2021. (Retrieved fromhttps://usminedisasters.miningquiz.com/saxsewell/monongah.htm).
  20. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  21. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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