Woolfelay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms
The name Woolfelay reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Woolfelay family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Woolfelay family lived in Cheshire, at Woolley. "This family, anciently De Wolegh, or De Woloey, were settled in Longdendale, co Chester as early as the reign of King John." 
It is thought that the name was originally derived from "'wolves' wood', or lost places of the same name,"  and this may be the reason that wolves appear on the Coat of Arms.
Early Origins of the Woolfelay family
The surname Woolfelay was first found in Cheshire where they held a family seat in Longdendale. Woolley is also located in Cambridgeshire, Cornwall, Derbyshire and West Yorkshire. These place names are derived from the Old English words wulf + leah and literally means "wood or clearing frequented by wolves." Two of the places are listed in the Domesday Book as Ciluelai in Cambridgeshire and Wiluelai in West Yorkshire. 
Hugo de Wuluele was listed in the Assize Rolls for Yorkshire in 1219 and later, Ralph de Wullueleye was found in the Pipe Rolls for Berkshire in 1230. In Oxfordshire, Roger de Wolvele was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1279 and in Staffordshire, Nicholas de Wolveleye was listed in the Assize Rolls for 1280. In Yorkshire, Bate de Wolflay was listed in 1308 and in Sussex, Robert de Woluelie was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of 1327. 
Another branch of the family was found at Thorpe in Surrey in later years. "The manor appears to have been held under the abbots of Chertsey in the 15th century, by a family named Thorpe: after the Dissolution, Queen Elizabeth granted the lands to Sir John Wolley, her Latin secretary." 
Early History of the Woolfelay family
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Woolfelay research. Another 80 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1596, 1684, 1648, 1651, 1622, 1675, 1667, 1694, 1663, 1695 and 1771 are included under the topic Early Woolfelay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Woolfelay Spelling Variations
Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Woolfelay include Woolley, Wooley, Wooly and others.
Early Notables of the Woolfelay family (pre 1700)
Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Wolley (d. 1596), Latin Secretary to Elizabeth, "was a native of Shropshire and a man of good family. " 
Edward Wolley (d. 1684), was an English divine, Bishop of Clonfert, probably second son of Thomas Wolley and his wife Elizabeth. "Wolley was domestic chaplain to Charles I, and on the decline of that monarch's fortunes he took refuge abroad about 1648. He afterwards joined Charles II in his exile and became his chaplain. He was with Charles in Paris in 1651, but returned to England after seven years, spent on the...
Another 112 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Woolfelay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.
Migration of the Woolfelay family to Ireland
Some of the Woolfelay 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 Woolfelay family
In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Woolfelays to arrive on North American shores: Richard Wooley settled in Virginia in 1635; John Wooley settled in Virginia in 1623; Cicely Wooley arrived in Philadelphia in 1683; John Woolley arrived in Jamaica in 1663.
Related Stories +
- ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
- ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
- ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
- ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
- ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print