Woolley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Woolley is a name whose history on English soil dates back to the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066. The Woolley 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." [1]

Early Origins of the Woolley family

The surname Woolley 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. [2]

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." [3]

Early History of the Woolley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Woolley 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 Woolley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Woolley 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 Woolley, Wooley, Wooly and others.

Early Notables of the Woolley 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. " [4] 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 Woolley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Woolley World Ranking

In the United States, the name Woolley is the 5,138th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [5] However, in Australia, the name Woolley is ranked the 993rd most popular surname with an estimated 3,997 people with that name. [6] And in New Zealand, the name Woolley is the 857th popular surname with an estimated 856 people with that name. [7] The United Kingdom ranks Woolley as 608th with 10,766 people. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Woolley family to Ireland

Some of the Woolley 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.


United States Woolley migration to the United States +

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 Woolley or a variant listed above:

Woolley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Woolley, who settled in Virginia in 1636
  • William Woolley, who landed in Virginia in 1636 [9]
  • Christopher Woolley, who landed in New England in 1666 [9]
Woolley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anne Woolley, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [9]
Woolley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • J Woolley, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [9]

Canada Woolley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Woolley Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Private. Daniel Woolley U.E. (b. 1717) born in Shrewsbury, Monmouth, New Jersey, USA from Shrewsbury, Monmouth, New Jersey, USA who settled in Long Point, Walsingham [ Norfolk County], Ontario c. 1799 married to Patience Throckmorton having 2 sons, he died in 1922 [10]

Australia Woolley migration to Australia +

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

Woolley Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Edward Woolley, British convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Asia" on 29th September 1831, settling in New South Wales, Australia [11]
  • Mr. John Woolley, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Charles Kerr" on 6th June 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Sarah Woolley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838 [13]
  • Mary Ann Woolley, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Rajasthan" in 1838 [13]
  • Mr. Nathan Woolley, English convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Duncan" on 10th December 1840, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [14]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Woolley 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:

Woolley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Woolley, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Jane" in 1841
  • Mary Ann Woolley, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Jane" in 1841
  • Ann Woolley, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Jane" in 1841
  • Mr. Woolley, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Jane" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [15]
  • Mrs. Woolley, British settler travelling from London with 2 children aboard the ship "Jane" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [15]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Woolley 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. [16]
Woolley Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Woolley, who arrived in Jamaica in 1663

Contemporary Notables of the name Woolley (post 1700) +

  • Bennie L. "Chip" Woolley Jr. (b. 1963), American Thoroughbred horse racing trainer, best known for his conditioning of the 2009 winner of the Kentucky Derby "Mine That Bird"
  • Mary Emma Woolley (1863-1947), American educator, peace activist and women's suffrage supporter, 11th President of Mount Holyoke College from 1900 to 1937
  • James Joseph Woolley (1966-2016), American Grammy Award winning keyboard and synthesizer player
  • Alma S. Woolley (1931-2005), American nurse, nurse educator, nursing historian, and author
  • Beverly Woolley (b. 1939), American politician, Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives
  • Jordan Woolley (b. 1981), American actor
  • Monty Woolley (1888-1963), American stage, film, radio, and television actor
  • John Wickersham Woolley (1831-1928), American Latter Day Saint and one of the founders of the Mormon fundamentalism movement
  • Joseph Woolley (1817-1889), English naval architect, born at Petersfield in Hampshire on 27 June 1817, the younger brother of John Woolley, the English first principal [17]
  • John Woolley (1816-1866), English first principal of Sydney University, born at Petersfield in Hampshire, the second son of George Woolley, a surgeon of that place [17]
  • ... (Another 18 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  5. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  6. ^ https://forebears.io/australia/surnames
  7. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  8. ^ https://www.surnamemap.eu/unitedkingdom/surnames_ranking.php?p=10
  9. ^ 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)
  10. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1831
  12. ^ Convict Records of Australia ( retrieved 1st February 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/charles-kerr)
  13. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) RAJASTHAN 1838. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1838Rajasthan.htm
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 11th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/duncan
  15. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  17. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 13 Feb. 2019


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