Woodliff History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The vast movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066 brought the Woodliff family name to the British Isles. They lived in Devon, at Woodleigh, a village, parish and former manor located in the South Hams region. The name is derived from "wood" and the Old English "leah" meaning a "clearing in a forest", collectively a "clearing in the wood." [1] The place name dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086 when it was known as Odelie. [2]

Early Origins of the Woodliff family

The surname Woodliff was first found in Devon, where the family held a seat at Woodleigh, after the Norman Conquest of 1066. [3] [4] They were conjecturally descended from Robet de Aumaly, who held the fishery of Woodleigh which included 15 cattle and 100 sheep. [2]

It is situated above Kingsbridge estuary. Robert was descended from the Counts of Aumaly, one of the largest land holding barons in Normandy. [5]

Early History of the Woodliff family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Woodliff research. Another 28 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Woodliff History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Woodliff Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Woodley, Woodleigh, Woodlief and others.

Early Notables of the Woodliff family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Woodliff Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Woodliff family to Ireland

Some of the Woodliff family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Woodliff family

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Woodliff or a variant listed above: Thomas Woodley who settled in Barbados in 1663; Benjamin and William Woodley arrived in New England in 1772; William Woodly arrived in Virginia in 1662..



  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  4. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  5. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)


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