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.
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
has written an excellent
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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