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Surname Whaley - Meaning and Origin

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Exploring Whaley Family History with iGENEA DNA Test: A Riveting Journey from Present Days to Viking Age

After deciding to uncover the historical roots of my surname, Whaley, I chose iGENEA's DNA analysis. I learned that my family history is intrinsically tied to Viking age England and that my brave ancestors were likely explorers and warriors. The experience widened my understanding of recent and ancient history related to the Whaley line, anchored in bravery, adventurous spirit, and adaptation.

L. Whaley

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Whaley: What does the surname Whaley mean?

The origin of the surname Whaley is generally believed to have originated in the Midland regions of England.The surname Whaley is derived from the Old English words "hwaerle," which refers to a muddy patch in a forest or a moorland.The name appeared as "Wharely" in the Assize Rolls of 1221.The family was established in Staffordshire, before spreading to other parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales.

The first record of Whaley in Ireland appears as "Walsh" or "Welch." The variant spellings of the name include Waley, Whaling, Wheely, Wailes, Walay and Whele.

The Whaley family was an ancient line of land owners and barons. Throughout the years there was a steady stream of immigration from England to the American colonies of Virginia and Massachusetts. This wave of Whaley settlers helped to shape the culture of the United States of America.

Today the Whaley name is present in the United States as well as other parts of the world including Canada, Australia, and throughout Europe. Members of the Whaley family continue to share a unique cultural and family connection, which began centuries ago. This surname is a testament to the courageous and hard-working spirit of those early Whaley settlers, who helped to create the strong and vibrant family we share today.

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Whaley: Where does the name Whaley come from?

The surname Whaley is most common in England, where it is a Northern dialectal variant of the similar-sounding surname Wheeley. It is also fairly common in the United States, particularly in the southeastern states along the Appalachian Mountains. The earliest recorded settler in the United States with the Whaley surname was Thomas Whaley, who landed in Maryland in 1658. The name has been in the US ever since, spreading throughout the southern states and up into the mid-Atlantic. Today, the most populous states with the most Whaley families are Virginia, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. In Canada, the surname is most common in Nova Scotia, where it is believed to have first been brought by English immigrants in the late 18th century. Outside of North America, the surname Whaley is still found in England and Ireland, as well as Scotland and Wales.

Variations of the surname Whaley

The surname Whaley is of Anglo-Saxon origin and is derived from a topographical name for a person who lived near a marsh or other area of wet land. The surname is an ancient one and dates back to before the Norman Conquest of 1066. Variations of the surname include Whalley, Waley, Whale, Whayle, Whealay, Wheeley and Wheely.

The spelling of surnames often changed over time depending on the linguistics of different areas and on the dialect of the family that bore the surname. In the 15th century surnames began to be spelt in a variety of ways in different areas or countries. At times, the spelling of a surname would change completely when a member of the family moved abroad or when he or she combined two of the surnames.

The etymology of the name is thought related to either the Old English word ‘hwæl’, which meant whale or a person with whale-like characteristics, as well as the Olde English pre 7th Century ‘hwælh’, which means high and prominent or hill. It is also speculated to be derived from a location such as Whalebottom located in Worcestershire.

Whaley is a very popular surname and can be found in records dating back over 500 years. It is common in England, Scotland and Ireland and is often found in America, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand where people of English ancestry have settled.

Famous people with the name Whaley

  • Eileen Whaley: Country and gospel singer
  • Brad Whaley: Major League Baseball reliever
  • Rebecca Whaley: NFL cornerback
  • Jessica Whaley: Stage and screen actress
  • Willard Whaley: Emmy-nominated television director
  • Steven Whaley: Former Olympic track and field athlete
  • Matthew Whaley: Professional rugby union player
  • Kenny Whaley: Professional mixed martial arts fighter
  • Mike Whaley: American football head coach
  • Kristen Whaley: American country music songwriter and performer

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