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Origin of the Name
The Wheatley surname is of medieval English origin and is a locational name from any of the places so called in Essex, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Oxon, and Yorkshire. The derivation is the same for all counties and is from the Old English pre 7th Century ‘hwoete’, wheat, and ‘leah’, a clearing, thus a clearing where wheat was grown. The placename development includes ‘Wateleia’ (Domesday Book of Essex 1086), ‘Watelage’ (Domesday Book, Yorkshire 1086), ‘Hwatele’ (Assize Rolls of Yorkshire 1280), ‘Whetelegh’ (Feet of Fines, Lancashire 1227), ‘Weteley’ (Introduction to the Survey of English placenames, 1314). During the Middle Ages people migrating from their birth place would often adopt the placename as a means of identification. One Christopher Wheatley, aged twenty-eight, sailed from the Port of London aboard the ‘Thomas and John’ bound for Virginia in June 1635. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lambert de Watileia, which was dated ‘The Geld Roll of 1084 (Domesday Book Somerset) during the reign of King William I, ‘The Conqueror, 1066-1087.
The Whitley surname is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from any of the various places called Whitley in Berkshire, Cheshire, Northumberland, Wiltshire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, or from Whitleigh in Devonshire. Most of these places are recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as "Witelie, Witelai" or "Witelaia", and all share the same meaning and derivation, which is "the white wood or glade", from the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwit", white, pale (referring perhaps to the colour of the tree bark), and "leah", thin wood, glade, clearing in a wood. Locational surnames, such as this one, were acquired by the lord of the manor, and local landowners, and especially by those former inhabitants of a place who had moved to another area, usually in search of work, and who were thereafter best identified by the name of their birthplace. Early examples of the surname include: Richard de Witelay (1190, Yorkshire); Hilda de Whitelai (1200, Notinghamshire); and Henry de Hwittele (1221, Warwickshire). In London, the christening of Richard, son of John Whitley, was recorded at St. Dunstan's, Stepney, on February 2nd 1587, and one Michell Whitley was an early emigrant to the American Colonies, leaving London on the "Globe" in August 1635, bound for Virginia. An early Coat of Arms granted to a family of the name shows a gold chevron on a red shield; the Crest is a red cross crosslet fitchee between two swords in saltire, proper. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William de Witteleia, which was dated 1125, in the "Chartulary of Staffordshire", during the reign of King Henry I, known as "The Lion of Justice", 1100 - 1135.
The Whatley surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, is a locational name from any of the various places named with the Olde English pre 7th Century "hwaete", wheat, with "leah", a glade or clearing. These places include Whatley in Somerset, recorded as "Watelege" in the Domesday Book of 1086; Wheatley in Essex, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Oxfordshire which appear respectively as "Wateleia", "Watelei", and "Watlage" in the Domesday Book, and Whatley near Tamworth in Warwickshire. Locational names were originally given to the Lord of the Manor, or as a means of identification to those who left their place of origin to seek work or settle elsewhere. Early examples of the surname include: Martin de Watelega, (Nottinghamshire, 1130) and Peter de Watteleg, (Yorkshire, 1196). In the modern idiom the surname has many variant spellings ranging from Whateley, Wheatleigh and Wheatly to Watley. A Coat of Arms borne by Sir Joseph Whatley, Groom of the Bedchamber to George IV and William IV, is red, a silver lion rampant, on a gold chief three black mullets. The mullet or star denoted Honour and Achievement in service of the state in ancient times. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Lambert de Watileia, which was dated 1086, in the "Geld Rolls of Somerset", during the reign of King William 1st, known as "William the Conqueror", 1066 - 1086.
Genealogy of the Wheatley or Wheatleigh Family, compiled by Hannibal P. Wheatley, M.D., published in 1902: “It seems that the Wheatleighs were Protestants early in the 17th century. In the fall of 1626, Charles I of England sent a naval force to Dieppe for the use of Lewis, King of France, against the Huguenots at La Rochelle. The sailors discovered his purpose and objected. They drew up a remonstrance to Pennington, their commander, and signing all their names in a circle lest he should discover the ring-leaders, they laid it under his prayer book. This we believe to be the first record of a ‘Round Robin.’ In this circle we find the name of A. Wheatleigh, from Wells, Somerset, England. Admiral Pennington declared ‘that he would rather be hanged in England for disobedience, than fight against his brother Protestants on the continent.’ And the whole squadron sailed for home. But La Rochelle, the Huguenots headquarters, fell into the hands of the French in 1628, and they were scattered, many coming to Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. In these settlements were several Wheatleighs. Many of their descendants still live in these localities. Three Wheatleys are known to have come to New England.”


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