Wildgoose Surname Genealogy
surname Wildgoose comes from the Old English wilde gos
which means, as might be
expected, wild goose. The name was thought
have started out as a nickname.
medieval mind were it is difficult to know now. Geese
played an important part in Celtic traditions where they featured as
messengers from the “other world.”
They were also admired for their life-long and faithful devotion
their mates and also for their alertness against danger.
modern interpretations as someone stupid or scatter-brained. The negative connotations were clearly there in Edward Berens’ 1823 tract on the evils of poaching entitled The History of John Wildgoose. The Wildgoose surname has cropped up in both England and Scotland.
name Wildgoose or variants thereof appeared at an early time at various
locations around England. Sometimes these
names became prominent:
- Sir John Wildgose of Salehurst in Sussex was local
gentry who served as Sheriff of Sussex in 1614. His
family had come from Iridge in Essex. He,
however, left no male descendants, his only son having died before him.
- William Wildgoose was the famous Oxford
bookbinder who bound Shakespeare’s First Folio in 1624.
His son Thomas carried on his work and was
admitted as a White Baker to Oxford in 1645.
John Wildgos from Essex, an
architect and builder, rebuilt Salters Hall in London after it had been
destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666.
there were few by the name of
Wildgoose in Oxford, Essex or Sussex in the 19th century.
concentration of the name has in fact been in Derbyshire.
Here it may have come from a single-family
origin. The most likely candidate is John
Wildegos, recorded in 1327 from just across the Derbyshire boundary
at Bradnop in Staffordshire. Wildgoose Farm in Bradnop is said to
existed from that time and Wildgooses were found at
Alstonfield not too far from Bradnop in the 1500’s.
It is thought that these Wildgooses could have
moved across the border into Derbyshire as the lead mining there
The village of Sheldon in Derbyshire’s Peak District lies closest to
the old Magpie lead mine and Wildgooses were to be found there.
They were also at Matlock and Darley Dale. The name Wildgoose has
cropped up frequently in the records at St. Giles church in Matlock and
St. Helen’s church in Darley. There were Wildgooses as well at
Dronfield in northeast Derbyshire.
By the time of the 1881 UK census, some Wildgooses had spread north
from Derbyshire into the neighboring counties of Yorkshire and
Lancashire. Of the 802 Wildgooses recorded then:
- 40% were to be found in Derbyshire
- 18% in Yorkshire
- and 14% in Lancashire.
Wildgoose name was also to be found in Scotland,
in and around Aberdeenshire. John
Wildguse appeared as a canon of Aberdeen in 1366. John
Wilgus served as a juror in a witch
trial in Aberdeen in the 1500’s and James Wildgoose
apprenticed to the Aberdeen goldsmith Coline
Allan from 1762 to 1795. He became a
proficient silversmith in his own right.
The Wildgoose name extended up the coast to Slains – where the name was
recorded in 1597 and a
Wildgoose burial ground existed – and further
north to Peterhead.
America. Wildgoose did make it to America. Robert
Wildgos or Wildgoose landed in Maryland in 1679. His descendants
settled in Delaware. A later Robert Wildgoose fought in the
Revolutionary War. He then changed his name to Wilgus. The
Wilgus name is still present in Delaware. But Wildgoose – perhaps
it was too much of a mouthful – can hardly be found anywhere in
the Oxford bookbinder
who bound the sheets of Shakespeare’s First Folio in smooth brown calf
James Wildgoose was a skilled
silversmith in Aberdeen in the late 1700’s.
Select Wildgooses Today
- 1,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 200 elsewhere (most numerous in America)
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