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Submitted by Cole Wigley                

 

The history of the most ancient Anglo / Saxon surname of Wilkey reaches far into the chronicles of the Saxon race.  The Saxon Chronicle, compiled by monks in the 10th century, now reposes in the British Musem.

History researchers have examined reproductions of such ancient manuscripts as the Doomsday Book ( 1086 ), the Ragman Rolls ( 1291 - 1296 ), the Curia Regis Rolls, The Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records and other ancient documents. The found the first record of the name Wilkey in Kent where they had been seated from very ancient times, before and after the Norman Conquest in 1066, and were Lords of the manor of Ellington House and Blackheath in that shire.

Different spellings were encountered in the research of your surname. Throughout the centuries your name, Wilkey, occurred in many records, manuscripts and diocumants but not always with your exact spelling. From time to time the surname was spelt Wilkie, Wilkey, Wilky, and these variations in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Scribes and church officals, often travelling great distances, even from other countries, frequently spelt the name phonetically.  As a result the same person wouod be recorded differently on birth, baptismal, narriage and death certificates as well as other numerous records recording life's events.

The Saxon race gave birth to many English surnames not the least of which was the surname Wilkey. The Saxons were invited into England by the ancient Britons of the 4th century.  A fair skinned people their home was the Rhine valley, some as far a Denmark.  They were led by two brothers, General/Commanders Hengist and Horsa.  The Saxons settled in the county of Kent, on the south coast of England.   Gradually, they spread north and westward, and during the next four hundred years forced the Ancient Britons bacck into Wales and Cornwall in the west, and the Cumberland to the north. The Angles occupied the eastern coast, the south folk in in Suffolk, north folk in Norfolk. Under Saxon rule England prospered under a series of High Kingsm the of which was Harold.

In 1066, the Norman invasion from France occurred and their victory as the Battle of Hastings.  In 1070, Duke William took an army of 40,000 north and wasted the northern countries, forcing many rebellious Norman nobles and Saxons to flee over the border into Scotland.  Meanwhile, the Saxons who remained in the south were not treated well under hostile Norman rule, and many also moved  northwad to the midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire away from the Norman oppression.

Nevertheless, this notable English family name, Wilkey, emerged as an influential name in the county of Kent. By the 13th Century they had branched north to Scotland where they were seated aat Rathobyres in Midlothian from about 1300.  From this branch they also branched north to Fife and David Wilkie was a notary at Pitcairn.  In 1563 James Wilkie was a tenant of Newbattle Abbey, and James Wilkie was principal of St. Andrew's College in 1574.  William Wilkie was Mayor of Lanark in 1591. Thomas Wilkie was a schoolmaster in Selkirk in 1627.  Their present family seats is at Blackheath. Notable amongst the family at this time was Wilkie of St. Vincent, West Indies

The surname Wilkey flourished during the the turbulent middle ages, contributing greatly to the cuktural development of England.  During the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries England was ravaged by plaques, famine, and religious conflict.  Protestantism, the newly found political fervour of Cromwellism and democratic government, and the remants of the Roman Church rejected all non believers, each jealously claiming adherents to their cause.  The changing rule caused burnings, hangings and banishments of all sects and creeds, first one then another. Many families were freely "encouraged" to migrate to Ireland, or to the "colonies".   Some were rewarded with grants of lands, others were banished.

Some families were forced to migrate to Ireland where they became known as the Adventurers for land in Ireland. Protestant settlers "undertook" to keep their faith, being granted lands previously owned by the Catholic Irish.  There is no evidence that the family namemigrated to Ireland, but this does not preclude the possibility of their scattered migration to that country.

The New World offered better opportunties and some migrated voluntarily, some were banished mostly for for religious reasons. Some left Ireland disillusioned with promises unfulfilled, but many left directly from England, their home territories. Some also moved to the European continent.

Members of the family name Wilkey sailed aboard the huge armada of three masted sailing ships known as the "White Sails" which piled the stormy Atlantic.  These overcrowded ships such as the Hector, the Dove and the Rambler, were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination.

Amongst the first settlers in North America, which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Wilkey, or a variable spelling of that family name was James Wilkie who settled in South Carolina in 1716; Samuel Wilkie settled in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1863; Walter Wilkie settled in Charleston S. C. in 1823.

From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagon trains to the prairies or to the west coast.  During the American War of Independence, many loyalist made their way north to Canada about 1790, and became known as the United Empire Loyalist.

Contemporary notables of this surname, Wilkey, include many distinguished contribuitors, Professor Douglas Wilkie, Physiology: James Wilkie, Secretary of Carnegie United Kingdom Trust; Malcolm R. Wilkey, Assistant U. S. Atorney General. Read more about Malcolm Wilkey here.

During the course of our research we also determined the many Coat of Arms granted to different branches of the family name.

The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms was:

Silver with a blue stripe with a wrethed border with a crescent at the top and a five leafed clover in base.

The Crest was:

A dragon's head silver and green.

The ancient family Motto for this distinguished name was:

    "Favete Deo"

 

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