Cornwall, a rugged coastal region in southwestern England. Quite distinct from Devon, the adjoining county, Cornwall had its own spoken language until the late 18th century. The Wisterlech history began here. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames were derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. The Wisterlech family originally lived in Devon.Wisterlech is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came. The name Wisterlech indicates that the original bearer lived by the westernmost of a group of lakes.
Early Origins of the Wisterlech family
Devon where the place name, Westlake is still found today near Langbrook and Marjery Cross. Ironically, the place name is not near a lake. Today there are no fewer that seven places named Westlake in the United States, and one each in Australia and New Zealand.
Early History of the Wisterlech family
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Wisterlech Spelling Variations
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 Westlake, Westlock, Westloke, Weslake and others.
Early Notables of the Wisterlech family (pre 1700)
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Migration of the Wisterlech family to the New World and Oceana
Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Wisterlech or a variant listed above: Phillip Westlake settled in Virginia in 1635; William Westlake settled in Maryland in 1775.
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