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Surname Wakley - Meaning and Origin

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Wakley: What does the surname Wakley mean?

The surname Wakley originates from England. It is a variant form of the place name Wakeley, which is a location in Hertfordshire, England. The etymology of the name stems from the Old English pre 7th Century "Wacol's leah," with "Wacol" being a personal name and "leah" meaning a clearing or a meadow in a forest. Thus, the name likely began as a geographic identifier for individuals living in or near this region. Over time, "Wacol's leah" likely morphed into Wakeley and then Wakley. As with many surnames, it was probably first adopted for purposes of taxation. The fact that the name has survived until today suggests a lineage that has been able to maintain its continuity for centuries. The name is relatively rare and can primarily be found among English-speaking populations, especially in the United Kingdom.

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Wakley: Where does the name Wakley come from?

The last name Wakley is not particularly common today, though it appears to be mostly clustered in the United Kingdom and the United States.

In England and Wales, it is most prevalent in the Gloucestershire region in the south-west part of the country. Looking further afield, the last name Wakley also appears in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada, albeit in lesser concentrations.

The origins of the Wakley surname are elusive; however, some historians believe the name is derived from either the Old Welsh term ‘walch’ or the old English term ‘walc’, both of which mean ‘stranger’.

Wakley is believed to be a variant of the Walchley name, which is heavily concentrated in Lancashire, England. Records indicate that the Wakley name first appeared in England at the beginning of the 12th century with the death of Osbert Walchelei in 1160. The first recorded spelling of the family name was seen in the court rolls of Worcestershire in 1218, where one William Wakle was registered as a witness.

A number of people with the last name Wakley have made significant contributions to society, including Francis Wakley, a British physician, surgeon, and politician best known for his contributions to medical journalism, and Thomas Wakley, a British pathologist, Member of Parliament, and social reformer.

Due to its relative rarity, the last name Wakley may be hard to come by outside of England and its former colonies. However, its history and connections to prominent individuals make it a meaningful and invaluable legacy.

Variations of the surname Wakley

The surname Wakley has several variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin. The main spelling of Wakley is the most common spelling, and it can also be used as Wakeley or Wakely. The surname Wakely can also be spelled as Wakelee, Wakelie, and Wakeleigh. Other forms of the name include Wackley, Wacle, and Wacley.

Wakely is an English surname derived from the Olde English pre 7th century word ‘waecce’ which meant wood, or a clearing in the woods.

The Wakley name could also be of Welsh-Gaelic origin, derived from the Welsh ‘gwalch’ which means hawk. As a result, a Welsh-Gaelic surname with the same origin as Wakley could be Gwaley, Gwalle, Gwallen, Gwallon, Gwalen, Gwalon, and Gwael.

Finally, Wakley is one of the many Anglicized Irish surnames, and could be descended from a Gaelic surname of O' Fághail or O'Faeláin which means "descendant of Fáelán". Variants of this surname include O'Faileain, Fahey, Faleon, Fallan, Falian, Folan, Hamey, and of course, Wakley.

Overall, the surname Wakley has many variants, spellings, and surnames of the same origin. Research into the family’s background would be beneficial in determining the origin of the name.

Famous people with the name Wakley

  • Thomas Wakley: a social reformer and the founder of The Lancet, one of the world's oldest and most influential medical journals.
  • Michael Edward Wakley: a British chemist who developed a method for the preparation of phenothiazine that was later used in the synthesis of a popular anti-psychotic drug.
  • Joseph Wakley: a former member of the House of Commons.
  • John Wakley: a 19th-century English lawyer, politician and amateur cricketer.
  • Robert Wakley: a 19th-century English newspaper editor and Liberal politician.
  • Arthur Edwards Wakley: an English medical doctor, writer and lecturer.
  • Amanda Wakley: a British journalist, author and magazine editor.
  • Tom Wakley: a contemporary abstract artist based in London.
  • Christina Wakley: a British-born artist based in California.
  • Hayley Wakley: an English actress known for her work in theatre, television and film.

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