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Origins of the family name Wylie.

Some years ago while browsing the genealogy library at the Library of Congress, I came across a story about the origin of the name. It seems that the king or head of the clan Gunn (perhaps another clan) in around 900 or 1100 AD sent one trusted person south to deliver tribute to the English king. He managed to return with proof that he had delivered the tribute, quite a feat in a time of uncertain and dangerous travel, when neither treasure nor body were safe from robbery. The head of the clan asked him how he did it. He pulled his staff apart and showed that inside of it was an empty space which had held the tribute safe from the eyes of robbers. The king commented: "Why, what a wiley fellow you are." Since then, the name Wiley and the symbol, the fox.

Who knows if it is true? I do not, but it is a wonderful story.

Russ Wylie

Note: While it's possible that this story has some basis in history, it's unlikely that all Wylies and Wileys descended from a single individual. There can be little doubt however, that the words wile and wily take their meanings from the little red fox and his crafty attributes. Alan Wiley has written an excellent article about Donald of Dalswinton, the first documented use of Wylie as a surname, and the spread of the name from the border region of Scotland into Northern England. -- Ed.

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