History of the Wheeler Name

Recorded in several spellings including Wheeler, the usuall spelling, and Wheeller, Wheler, Whealler, Whealer, Wayler, Whyler, and Whaler, this famous surname is English. It is occupational and in former times described a master wheel-maker or wheelwright. The derivation is from the pre 7th century Olde English word “hweogol” or “hweol”, meaning a wheel. Wheels were used in spinning and other manufacturing processes, as well as for vehicles, so the wheelwright held an important position in medieval England.

The surname first appears in records in the mid 13th century (see below) with John le Whelare being recorded in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in 1275, whilst the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1279 mentions Hugh le Welere. Thomas le Wegheler appeared in the tax rolls known as the Feet of Fines of Sussex in 1284, and one Stephen le Whelere was listed in the Feet of Fines of Essex in 1317, with Gilbert Whyler being recorded in the pipe rolls of Surrey in 1351. Sir Hugh Massy Wheeler (1789 – 1857) rose to the rank of major-general in the Indian Army, and was murdered during the Indian Mutiny of 1857.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Roger le Weweler. This was dated 1249, in the occupation lists for the county of Sussex, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 – 1272. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as the Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

Source: Findmypast

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