Dustin Wheeler

Dustin Wheeler
Dustin is a technology-driven CPA in Orem, Utah.

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The origin of the name Wheeler (it isn't what you think)

When I was a young boy, I asked my dad about the origin of our last name.  He wasn’t sure and guessed that it must have come from someone long ago who made wheels.  That is about as uninteresting as me saying I’m an accountant who does taxes.

The actual origin is a little more exciting than what is often depicted as prehistoric man’s first invention.  I did a Google* search for information about the Wheeler family and found “The Genealogical and Encyclopedic History of the Wheeler Family in America.”  This book, published in 1914, gives a well-researched explanation:

The third striking point is the meaning of the name “Wheeler” itself.  For this, it is evident, determination must be made from the earliest form on record.  How significant is this early appearance has been mentioned, a fact all the more remarkable when it is remembered that surnames do not appear in general use until the eleventh and twelfth centuries.  This early spelling “Wielher” is evidently a compound of two Anglo-Saxon words “wel” or “wiel” meaning “prosperous” or “fortunate,” from which derivation the modern word “weal” and “wealth” may be traced; and the Anglo-Saxon word “hari” or “heri” a warrior, a root traceable in the modern word “hero.”  The present spelling of the family name “Wheeler,” therefore, is a spelling of words which in their modern form would be “Weal-Hero” or in the Anglo-Saxon words “wel-hari.”  The meaning of the family name therefore is clearly “the lucky warrior,” or “the prosperous hero.”

I could use the origin of my name to more creatively explain what I strive to do as a CPA: I share my expertise to empower prosperous (successful) heroes (business owners).

*I typed one of my ancestor’s names into Google and got 11,900 results in three-tenths of a second.  Search technology is one that I’ve taken for granted, but my ancestor who lived 150 years ago would have been impressed.

27 comments to The origin of the name Wheeler (it isn’t what you think)

  • This reminds me of the first episode of “Welcome Back, Kotter” which aired before your time. Arnold Horshack explains that his last name means “The cattle are dying.”

    Great post Dustin.

  • Does this make you an imperialist?

  • I’m a pretty peaceful guy, but I have conquered Google and am a force to be reckoned with at the local basketball gym.

  • V.E.G.

    Best of all, there are couple of heroes gave their lives saving others, Walter D. Wheeler and Colonel Alan Dexter Wheeler. God took them both.

  • Vincent M Wheeler

    Nice find my daughters are always asking the origin or our last name and though I am black im still a Wheeler…

  • Jadyn Wheeler

    I like warrior hero alot better than wheel maker…!! :)

  • V.E.G.

    Best of all, Alan Dexter Wheeler is a direct descendant of Concord families, and part of Beantown (Boston).

  • James Wheeler

    I’m a medieval renactor. I fight as a Saxon so its fitting.

  • To read my gallant warrior story, check out “Garlic Toast – How I Became A Don.” (Infinity Publishing) Name as a writer, Max Redfire. Try sampling my favorite snack, “Zen Popcorn. And to read about a little, gallant kid warrior, check out “Jerey West – A Boy Who Fell Into The Sky.”

    Max Redfire Wheeler

  • Mark Wheeler

    Well that’s a new way of looking at it. My family name comes from England I know means and we do have our colours which mean what your saying. When I was growing up we knew no Wheeler rallies just my grandparent, my dad and 5 of us kids when I first started looking into it I found a lot in side a the kingdom walls wheelers made the wheels but I know now from a dream that we came from Dorset and Alfred the great was one of our ancestors and finding Aethestan, Alfred’s grandson. Athelstan was the king that made the United Kingdom but England don’t no the history and Aethelstan brought Catholic to England he’s the man that no one remembers so if reads this and you do go to church even a Anglican church and see him with his battle shield you will know a lot more about your religion and the Wheeler name is the oldest of names that I have found dating 8th or 9th century tho three lions is strength. MW

  • Dawn Wheeler Baynard

    Glad to know that old story was not true. We too were told we were the wheel makers and that my father’s best friend : Weinright / Wainwright(not sure if it is spelled correctly) were the wagon makers.
    Thank you for the info.

    I have hit a dead end in my father’s line…

    Orlin P Wheeler
    My 2nd great grand-father. Birth Mar 1846 in Watertown, Litchfield, Connecticut, United States Death About 1890 in Southington, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
    Father= Wheeler 1816 – 1849 from Fairfield, CT Possible name Plumb Wheeler….found marriage record for a Plumb Wheeler married to Betsey Ann Gray. Plumb could have been a nick-name or his mother’s maiden name, but I can not find any further info.

    Thought I’d share just in case someone out there may have some info.

    Thanks again, Dawn

  • Do any other Wheeler’s out there share my Y haplogroup I-Z60? That is i-Z60 and not L-Z60. If so I would be interested in knowing what part of Britain your male Wheeler line is from. I have traced mine back to the Isle of Wight, although my ancestors have been in Australia for many generations. I have no American ancestry.

  • Warrior Wheelers

    We Wheelers are in every war highly decorated with Purple Hearts and
    survive, taking other wounded soldiers to safety, we will not leave you
    even if death comes knocking. Owned three business’s and succeeded.
    You are right sir.

  • I find looking into the Wheeler origins interesting, but any genetic link we may have with each other can only be determined by whether or not we share the same Y haplogroup if we are males. I described it in my last post. I found out what it was by having a National Geographic ancestry test. The Y haplogroup is a relatively rare one. Interestingly, one of the few people who shared my haplogroup on the National Geographic site is another Wheeler who is from the USA who was not sure what part of Britain his line came from. However, having a shared genetic link or surname does not mean a lot in itself and I think you’ll find we vary considerably. I can’t say I’m a warrior Wheeler. I have never wanted to fight in a war or run a business. My politics don’t go in that direction.

  • Shaun M Wheeler

    This would certainly explain my tendencies to stick to my guns, never back down, and shrug off adversity…

  • I’ve done more research on the subject and although the prosperous hero or lucky warrior theory may be true the bottom line is nobody really knows. And even if the latter is true it may be other Wheelers were wheel makers for carts, clocks or any other industry that needed wheels.
    As I’ve said, getting a Y DNA test is one way of finding out which branch you come from, because I know mine is fairly rare and it is shared with a Wheeler from the USA who was also tested in National Geographic genetic project.
    SE England and the Isle of Wight have the greatest density of Wheelers. There is a Wheeler Bay in the Isle of Wight. My ancestors, and many other Wheeler’s ancestors have been traced back to a John Wheeler who was born in the early 1700’s at Gods Hill in the Isle of Wight.

  • Ron Wheeler

    Hey, I’m the other guy whose DNA is also I-Z60…probably Norse (Viking) origin which would have flourished in Britain after the Viking raids beginning in the 8th century. My Wheeler relatives came to America from Salisbury in 1634. So Dave and I are genetically related…cousins.

    Just read an interesting article talking about a British guy whose theory of surnames relates to the similar way German, French, Old Norse, English pronounce words. He wrote in 1848, and his theories may or may not hold water…still interesting. In French, the name Houeller would be similar to Wheeler and comes from Brittany (celtic area) which borders Normandy in northern France. There was a Houell who sailed with William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy & King of England. So who knows. From other lines in my family, I have many connections to William the Conqueror as a great grandfather…and he was of Viking descent. Deep into the research on this subject of genealogy…especially European royal lines. Also, the Romans were definitely on the Isle of Wight…and I have a connection to Emperor Claudius, and Old King Cole, Lady Godiva, and more…really fascinating stuff.


    I am a former (MARINE).. Just found out what my,Blood line goes back. And I knew I had Higher Calling.I have been blessed to have this HONOR.With GODS willing My I stand out side those gates,With this Title.Intill I have to take that knee for the last time. ,,For letting me to say THANK U TO ALL LT.JERMEY ONEIL WHEELER

  • Susan Wheeler

    This is my married name but we have 3 children an would like to know if anyone out there has kin people that is from Boone NC ? Harvey Wheeler which is a warrior and has a purple heart from WWII Thank you, Susan

  • Good to make contact with you Ron Wheeler, considering we share the same I-Z60 Y DNA. I just found your post. My distant Wheeler ancestor who came to Australia was from the Isle of Wight, and my sister has traced them back to about 1720 in a place called God’s Hill on the Isle of Wight. Maybe it was Salisbury before that if you traced yours back to 1620 considering we have a common ancestor. My blog address is http://acanberraboy.blogspot.com.au if you wish to get in contact with me to see what else we can unearth. You said you had an ancestor who worked for Studebaker. I sold my 1917 Stude a few years ago. Maybe it’s in the genes.

  • Elaine Wheeler Chambers

    Where my Dad is concerned, “warrior” fits much better than “wheel maker”. I know my Dad’s ancestors were originally from England, but don’t know the area. My Dad was a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne in WWII. He volunteered to be a Pathfinder for the Normandy Invasion, but his team did not make it to Normandy, as their plane was shot down, and they were forced to ditch in the Channel. They were rescued by a British destroyer, HMS Tartar, and returned to Southampton. But he made the jump into Holland (Operation Market Garden), and he fought in the siege of Bastogne with the guys of Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment – yes, the Band of Brothers! He was awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for his courage under fire. He never talked much about the war, but we were all proud of his service. He spent the rest of his life as a member of the VFW, and he helped raise thousands of dollars for disabled veterans. R.I.P. James William Wheeler, my Daddy, my hero.

  • Richard Eagle Wheeler

    I was able to trace my Wheeler ancestry backwards starting with my Great Grandfather Frederick of Williams County, Ohio. I ended up with my 10th Great Grand Father Thomas who arrived in Essex County, MA in 1642, Died at Stonington CT, Born in 1605 at Cranfield, Bercheshire County, England. More than likely his/our family past built grist mill wheels on the streams for their neighbors the Millers between battles they always returned from like the Holy Land Crusades. Every Wheeler male throughout my family that I know of has honorably served some form of military.

  • If you had Wheeler ancestors who fought in the Crusades I would not say they served honourably in some form of military Richard Eagle Wheeler, as the Holy War warriors were the Christian equivalent of ISIS.
    As I have said in previous posts, my Y DNA, and the Y DNA of another poster, Ron Wheeler, is I-Z60. If other Wheeler posters on this forum can find out what their Y DNA is and then post it on this forum, it would be very useful, as it could assist us to trace the various branches.
    Ancestral paper trails are not always useful. Other than by way of cuckoldry, they can be false because there has never been any shortage of teenage girls getting themselves into trouble or infertile couples wanting to adopt their unwanted babies.
    And given that until relatively recently most babies arrived by way of home births, and given the lack of scrutiny by authorities when it came to birth records, it would have been very easy for women in previous eras to falsely declare that they gave birth to the babies they had actually adopted.

  • Haydn Wheeler

    In my redhead he discovered that the name Wheeler is an occupation related name, but not a maker of wheels but one who attends to wheels. This was a little confusing, until further research revealed that the pair of horse at the back of team of four or more, i.e. The ones either side of the pole or in the shafts were known as wheelers. They tended to be bigger horses as they would turn the cart, wagon, or coach. So my ancestor who was John the Wheeler either looked after these horses or bred them, according to the records he lived for many years in The Red Lion a coaching Inn on the Isle of Wight.

  • Tanya Shuttleworth

    Hi all, I have been looking for information on my Grandfather, Wilbert Lorin Wheeler, who actually was adopted from James and Margaret Wheeler. He was born in West Virginia and was adopted at the age of 4. The Wheelers had an upolstry shop in Huntington, Weather Virginia. Margaret’s maiden name was Brown. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! Tanya

  • Brad Wheeler

    I’m from Boone, NC, but my family line is Frank Wheeler out of Creedmoor, NC

  • Dave Wheeler

    Your comment about “John the Wheeler” from the Isle of Wight interests me. If you read my comments you will see I have also traced my Wheeler lined to a John Wheeler from God’s Hill of the Isle of Wight who was born in the early 1700’s. I wonder if he’s the same bloke.
    In all probability your YDA is I-Z60, which is relatively rare amongst the general population.
    There is a Wheeler Bay on the Isle of Wight. The Wheelers were notorious smugglers.

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