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Surname Wheeler - Meaning and Origin

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Unveiling Histories and Emotions: My Ancestral Journey with iGENEA

Discovering the historical origins of my surname, Wheeler, via iGENEA DNA test proved a thrilling journey that deepened my understanding and appreciation of my family's past. This voyage into my ancestry stirred a range of emotions, from anticipation to awe, crafting a renewed sense of identity and an intimate connection with my lineage.

B. Wheeler

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Wheeler: What does the surname Wheeler mean?

The last name Wheeler is an English patronymic surname. It originated from an occupational surname derived from a wheeler, which was an occupation related to Middle English whel, meaning both “wheel” and “turn”. The wheeler was responsible for spinning the heavy stones of a mill, or even for making and setting the spokes of a cart wheel.

It is also believed that the name Wheeler was derived from the medieval word “wealhere” which was a variant of the Old English term “wealhere” meaning “defense”. This could indicate that the ancestral bearers of the surname had a profession related to the military or were skilled in defensive weaponry.

The Old English word could also have denoted a person who lived near a wall or fortification, and therefore the name Wheeler could also have been used as a territorial designation for people who lived by a walled location such as a city or castle.

The Wheeler surname is not especially common in England, although it is fairly widespread throughout the English-speaking world. It has a long-standing presence in the United States, where it has been found since the 16th century. It is believed to have been brought to the United States by early English immigrants, and is still carried by many descendants of the same immigrants today.

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Wheeler: Where does the name Wheeler come from?

The last name Wheeler is most commonly found in the United States, where around 61,000 individuals identify as having this surname. In the 2000 US Census, Wheeler was the 76th most common name, and is estimated to have increased since then. There is also a sizable presence in Britain, with around 6,500 people listing the surname in the 2011 census. The vast majority of those with the Wheeler name in Britain live in England, with the south east and north west having the most Wheeler surnames. Canada also has a significant level of Wheelers, around 11,000 in the country, again with the majority in Ontario.

The Wheeler last name can also be found in Australia, although comparatively it is not as common as in North America and Britain, having around 7,500 people listing the name in the 2016 census. There is also a small but growing presence of the Wheeler family in New Zealand, with the 2013 census listing 1,610 people with the name. Outside of the English-speaking world, the Wheeler name is still presents in certain countries, although in far lower numbers.

Variations of the surname Wheeler

The surname Wheeler can be spelled in multiple ways, including Wheeeler, Weeler, Whealer, and Wealer. It is also common to bring the early English spelling of the name into the modern era, which is typically Whdhler, Whelar, or Wheelear.

Variants of the surname Wheeler include Whelar, Whedler, Weeler, Wealer, Whealer, Wheelear, Wheelar, Whelar, Wheelan, Wheelon, Wheelor, Wheelden, Wheeller, Wheellor, Whellar, and Wheller. Many of these surnames have been derived from the original spelling of the surname, which was ‘Wheeler’.

Wheeler is a patronymic name that was originally derived from the Old English personal name ‘Wyheald’, which literally means ‘whirling wheel’. It was then adapted to the German surname ‘Whelar’, and later into the Old English surname ‘Wheeler’. This surname was typically given to wheelwrights or cartwrights, whose job was to make, maintain, and repair oxcarts or wheeled vehicles.

The use of the different variations of the surname has different country-specific origins as well. In Ireland, variants of Wheeler include O'Weeler, O'Wheelear, O'Wheelar, and O'Weelar. In Scotland, common variants are Wheler, Wheller, Weiler, Whelor, and Weeler. In Wales, it is Whelor or Wheller.

In the United States, the name was likely derived from a more anglicized version of the name. Commonly used surnames in the US include Wheeeler, Weeler, Whelar, Whealer, Wheelar, Whdhler, and Wheelear.

Famous people with the name Wheeler

  • Wheeler Winston Dixon: critically acclaimed professor who has written extensively on film theory and criticism at Louisiana State University.
  • Rob Wheeler: popular American actor, star of TV series “Revenge”.
  • Gwendolyn Wheeler: American business executive, president and CEO of Public Broadcasting Service.
  • Johnny Wheeler: American singer, songwriter, and country music artist.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer: civil rights activist who worked diligently for desegregation, voting rights, and equality in the 1960s.
  • Robert Wheeler: retired American football player who played professionally for 11 years in the National Football League.
  • Harris Wheeler: award-winning composer who created the music for the hit Broadway show, Memphis.
  • Curwood Wheeler: Grammy Award-winning country music producer and songwriter.
  • Wycliffe Gordon: renowned trombonist, arranger, and composer who worked with many great jazz musicians.
  • Eric Wheeler: former NFL player, basketball coach, and current college board of trustees member at Florida A&M University.

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