Wheeler

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Wheeler Surname Genealogy

The
conventional and usual explanation of the Wheeler name is that it is
occupational, describing a master wheel-maker or wheelwright. The
root here was the Old English word hweogol
or hweol meaning
wheel.
However, there is an alternative explanation: that
the word comes from the Anglo-Saxon combination of words wel and hari meaning “lucky/prosperous
warrior.”

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Wheeler Resources on
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Wheeler Ancestry

England. Wheeler
is clearly a name of southern England. Early
records of the name were John le Whelare in Worcestershire in 1275;
Hugh le Welere
in Cambridgeshire in 1279; and Gilbert Whyler in Surrey in
1351. Later concentrations of the name
suggest two focuses – one around London and another southwest in a line
running north from Hampshire into
Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, and Warwickshire
.



A
Wheler family with a coat
of arms were said to have been seated in Worcestershire since the early
1300’s. The first recorded was
William Wheler who through marriage came into possession of the Martin
Hussingtree
manor in
1541. John Wheler, a goldsmith in
London, sold the estate in 1619. Later
Whelers of his line became baronets:

  • the main branch based themselves at Birdingbury in
    Warwickshire
  • while other Whelers, Royalists who briefly went into exile, were
    to be found at Charing near Ashford in Kent. This line included Sir George
    Wheler
    who undertook a tour of Europe in the 1670’s which
    extended as far as Constantinople. He was an early travel
    writer.

Hampshire
has had the largest number of
Wheelers in the southwest. The Wheelers
of Millcourt manor in Binsted dated from the early 1600’s.
The Wheeler name was particularly common on
the Isle of Wight. One family line was
traced back to 1475 and William Willier at Freshwater.
The spelling changed over time from Willier
to Whillier to Wheeler.

The 18th century saw the rise of the notorious Wheeler
smuggling gang on the Isle of Wight – from their base at Box Cottage on
Chale Bay. James Wheeler, not maybe
connected to the
smuggling, kept track of the shipwrecks there.
He recorded sixty shipwrecks at Chale Bay between 1746 and 1808. Robert
Wheeler
did
engage in a little
smuggling.

Ireland. The
Rev. Jonas Wheeler, born in 1543, served as chaplain to Queen Elizabeth
and was
appointed Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin in 1594. He died in Ireland in his 97th year in
1640. Our line from him in county
Kildare were mainly medical men, two of whom attained the Presidency of
the
Irish College of Surgeons. There were
also English Wheeler branches in Limerick and Kilkenny
.


America.
Albert
Wheeler’s 1914 book History of the
Wheeler Family in America
provided extensive coverage of the
various early
Wheeler lines in New England.

New England. One
focal
point for these Wheelers was Concord, Massachusetts.
The Wheelers from Cranfield in Bedfordshire
were congregating there in the 1630’s and 1640’s. The
relationship between George, Obadiah, and
Timothy Wheeler is not quite clear, but they were all clearly related. And Obadiah had married his cousin Susannah
Wheeler.

George was a selectman in 1660. His
house lot was at the present
corner of Main and Walden Streets, together with Timothy Wheeler’s. Ma
ny
of his descendants remained in Concord. Some
were to be found at Shrewsbury by the
1730’s, others at Grafton nearby (including the unfortunate
Ebenezer Wheeler
).
There were later lines in New Hampshire and Vermont. Meanwhile Thomas Wheeler had
arrived earlier than his brother George
and made his home at Lynn where he operated a gristmill.

There was a Captain Thomas Wheeler of
uncertain origins at Concord by 1640. He
was later trading with the Indians along the Merrimac river. Although he was constantly moving
around, he
kept his home base in Concord and died there in 1676.

John Wheeler from Wiltshire came to
Newbury, Massachusetts with his family around 1634. His
son David arrived on the Confidence four years later
and married
Sarah Wise there in 1650. The 1984 book Wheeler Cousins covered his lineage.

There were also early Wheelers in Connecticut:

  • Moses
    Wheeler from Kent came around 1638 and
    first settled at New Haven and then in Stratford. Moses became a
    sizeable landowner there and died in 1698 at the grand age of
    100. A descendant Nathaniel Wheeler was a pioneer in the
    manufacture of sewing machines in the mid-19th century.
  • while
    Thomas Wheeler, formerly of Lynn, later
    settled in Stonington where he died.
“The
Wheeler Homestead on Wheeler Road in Stonington was built by Thomas’s
son Isaac
in 1687 and remained with the Wheeler family from that time. Sadly the homestead burned to the ground in
the 1970’s.”


Edward or Evard Wheeler came
to Dutch New York sometime in the 1680’s and to land along the Hudson
river
south of Fort Orange. He made his
home
at Kinderhook. Within two generations
this family had spread up and down the Hudson on both sides of the
river. George Wheeler of this family was a
Loyalist
who fled to New Brunswick in Canada after the Revolutionary War and
remained
there
.

Wheelers South.
One
line from immigrant Moses Wheeler who had settled in Stratford,
Connecticut led
to Fighting
Joe Wheeler
, a
Civil War
General revered in the South.

Although
born in Georgia, his roots were in Connecticut and he spent much of his
early
life there. However, when the Civil War
broke out, he joined the Confederate ranks and distinguished himself in
battle. After the war was over he moved to
Alabama
and represented the town there, now known as Wheeler, no fewer than
nine
times. Then in 1898 when war with Spain
broke out, Fighting Joe volunteered for service, even though he was
over sixty,
and was appointed the general in Cuba overseeing groups such as Teddy
Roosevelt’s Rough Riders.

Wheelers
West. The Wheeler name was a
prominent one in the history of the early West.
Included in their number were:

  • John
    Ozias Wheeler had left Connecticut for Florida in 1844 and then took
    off for
    California in 1849. He and his brother
    Horace were early merchants in Los Angeles and he also started
    publishing its
    first newspaper The Southern Californian.
    His immigrant forebear was Thomas Wheeler of
    Stonington, Connecticut.
  • Thomas
    and Ann
    Wheeler were English Mormons from Herefordshire who had made the trek
    to Salt Lake
    valley in 1852. The Henry J. Wheeler
    farm in South Cottonwood, built by their son in 1898, is one of the few
    late
    19th century farmsteads extant in the Salt Lake valley.
  • Henry
    H. Wheeler operated mail and stage lines
    from the Dalles to Canyon City in Oregon territory in the 1860’s. Wheeler county in Oregon was named after
    him. He came from Pennsylvania.
  • William
    Wheeler served as US Marshal for
    Montana territory from 1869 to 1878. He
    had come West from upstate New York. His
    grandfather Moses Wheeler had been a Revolutionary War soldier and
    afterwards
    Sheriff of Orange county, New York.
  • while Dr. Henry
    Wheeler
    was one
    of the best
    physicians and surgeons in the Northwest in the 1880’s, making his home
    in
    Grand Rapids, North Dakota. His father
    was a drover and stock raiser in Northfield, Minnesota and his line
    went back
    to immigrant Thomas Wheeler in Concord, Massachusetts.

George
M. Wheeler was a pioneering explorer and
cartographer of the American West in the 1870’s, although he made his
home in
the East
.


Canada.
Seager
Wheeler was the son of a fisherman and lived in the Black Gang area of
the Isle
of Wight, a place once well-known for smuggling.

In 1885 he emigrated to the
Canadian Prairies, following his uncle who was already homesteading
there. By 1897 he had established his
Maple Grove
Farm to grow wheat just outside Rosthern in Saskatchewan.
His innovative wheat seedlings and farming
methods made him famous and he was soon being called Canada’s Wheat
King. He would get some 700 visitors a
week to see
his farm during the 1920’s. He lived
onto 1961.

South Africa. There were two
early Wheeler families in South Africa:

  • James
    Wheeler and his family from
    Wiltshire were among the 1820 settlers, one of Wilson’s party that came
    out on La Belle Alliance. James
    farmed near Grahamstown but died from
    war wounds in 1831.
  • while
    Thomas and Sarah came from Berkshire on the Susan in
    1845 and made their home at
    Middelburg in the Transvaal where they farmed. A
    branch of the family trekked to new farming land in
    Rhodesia in 1899.


Select
Wheeler Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:



Select
Wheeler Names

Sir
George Wheler
who
undertook a Grand Tour of Europe in the 1670’s was an early English
travel writer.
Joseph Wheeler
was a Confederate cavalry general from 1862 to 1865
and a major general in the war against Spain in 1898.

Seager
Wheeler

was called Canada’s Wheat
King during the 1920’s
.
Sir
Mortimer Wheeler

is considered the father of modern British archaeology.
Charles Wheeler
has
been the longest-serving BBC foreign correspondent, from 1947 until his
death in 2008.

Select Wheelers Today

  • 33,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 49,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 21,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

 

 

 

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