Wisdom Surname Genealogy

Wisdom derived from the Old English wis meaning
“knowing” and would refer to a learned person in medieval times who
would be
regularly consulted on legal or other matters.
Wise emerged as a surname sometime in the 13th century, Wisdom a
later. Wisdom is the rarer of the two
surnames. Wises outnumber Wisdoms by
about ten to one. Both names are
concentrated in London and the southeast.
Wisden is a variant of the Wisdom name.

Wisdom Resources on

Wisdom Ancestry

Wisdom name first appeared in the west country:

  • in
    1327 Robert Wisdom appeared in the Somerset rolls
  • and
    in 1377 Thomas Wisdom, the MP for Wilton, was
    recorded in the Wiltshire rolls.

However, the name is mainly to be found in London and the southeast.

Wisdom name began to appear in Sussex from the 14th century, in west
Sussex near present-day Chichester and Worthing and in east Sussex at
Pevensey. An early Wisdom appearance in records, as Wisdome,
seems to
have been at South Stoke near Arundel in Sussex in the 1550’s. There was a more continuous line in
Frant and
Wadhurst in Kent from the 1650’s.

John Wisdom
was recorded as a carpenter in Glynde in Sussex in 1766 and William Wisdom later lived in
Pear Tree Cottage. The comedian Norman
Wisdom was a descendant.

variant spelling Wisden came later and also appears to have originated
Sussex. John Wisden, born in Brighton in
1826, began the famous Wisdens Cricketers
in 1864.

America. There
are, surprisingly, more Wisdoms in America than in England.

The origin
of these Wisdoms appears to have been Thomas Wisdom from Berkshire who
came to
Virginia with his wife Martha in 1662. The
main lines derive from their sons Francis and John.
Wisdoms moved onto Kentucky, North
Carolina, and elsewhere in the South.

is another genealogical line

posited by George W.
Wisdom in his 1910 book Genealogy of the
Wisdom Family
. The patriarch of this
line was Abner Wisdom, an English lawyer.
Three of his sons came to America around the year 1730,
initially to Virginia
and later to Kentucky. However, critics
today have raised doubts as to whether this line is really valid.

line from Jesse Wisdom of North Carolina led to Georgia and thence, a
generation later, to Abner Wisdom
Tennessee and John Henry Wisdom, the Paul Revere of the Confederacy.

Francis and Nancy Wisdom migrated to Kentucky and Tennessee in the
early 1800’s. Later Wisdoms of the line
settled in the Missouri Ozarks (a Wisdom family lived on a farm in the
Creek community from 1839 to 1967).
From Kentucky one line moved south and settled in New Orleans in
1830’s. John Minor Wisdom died in a
blaze there in 1857, but a later Wisdom of the same name was a
Louisiana judge
at the time of civil rights.

The main
numbers of Wisdoms in America were first in Missouri and are now in

Canada. Wisdoms were early
arrivals in Nova Scotia,
coming to Halifax from New England in 1749.
The name of John Wisdom, a carpenter, and his wife Mary can be
found on
a plaque commemorating the first settlers.
Later Wisdoms were also carpenters in Halifax.
Alonzo Wisdom and his wife emigrated to New
Zealand in the 1860’s and settled in Cobden, South Island.

Wisdom Miscellany

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

Wisdom Names

John Wisden
began the famous Wisdens Cricketers
in 1864.

Norman Wisdom was an
English comedian, actor and singer-songwriter of the 1950’s and 1960’s
best known for his slapstick routines.

Select Wisdoms Today

  • 1,300 in the UK (most numerous
    in Kent)
  • 1,800 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 200 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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