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Our 2,744 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

My One-Name Study of WOOLGAR and variants began in 1990 with the chance find of an old family photograph in a suitcase and then I became curious about the people depicted. The rest, as they say, is history.

Variant names

I have seen many ways of spelling the name. These include WOLGAR, WOLGER, WOULGAR, WOOLGAR, WOOLGER, WOOLLGAR and WOOLLGER. There are also double-barrelled versions, of which WOOLGAR-GOLDS is the most often found. You can't even rely upon a standard way of spelling the name within a single family. In Bramber churchyard in West Sussex there is a double headstone to a man and his wife and their surnames are spelt differently. Presumably the mason made a mistake when carving the second name and no one noticed his error.

Name origin

WOOLGAR, or rather the original spellings of Wulfgar, Wlgar and Vlgar, is a Saxon name meaning 'wolf-spear'.

According to "€œA Dictionary of English Surnames"€ by P. H. Reaney & R. M. Wilson (Pub Routledge 1991 ISBN 041505737X), the earliest references to WOOLGAR are:

  • Domesday 1086 in Sussex and Hampshire
  • Wlfgarus de Cokesale 1252 in Colchester, Essex (Cartularium Monasterii S. Joh. Bapt. de Colecestria)
  • Brixi Wulgar 1188 (Pipe Rolls, Norfolk)
  • Teobald Wolgar 1250 Cambridge (Cartularium Monasterii Rameseia)

There are also several much earlier references to the surname in 'The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles' (translated and collated by Anne Savage pub Tiger Books 1995 ISBN 1855016869):

  • 981 AD: '..... archbishop Ɔlfstan of Winchester passed away, and his body lies in the monastery in Abingdon: Wulfgar received the episcopal see.'
  • 990 AD: 'Sigeric was hallowed archbishop, and after went to Rome for his pallium. Abbot Edwin passed away, and Wulfgar succeeded him.'
  • 1016 AD: '....abbot Wulfgar passed away in Abingdon, and Ɔthelsige succeeded him.'

Name frequency

The frequency of the WOOLGAR & variant surnames in the 1881 Census was about 7 per 100,000 of population.

Distribution of the name

The WOOLGAR's are chiefly to be found in the southern Home Counties of England and principally in Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Hampshire. From that base they have spread to other English and Welsh counties and have emigrated to the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.


I have collected the relevant entries for WOOLGAR and variants from:

  • IGI & BVRI v2.
  • England & Wales BMD index entries to 1999.
  • All the post-1858 English Probate index entries to 1996.
  • Copies of most of the post-1858 wills to 1939.
  • Most of the pre-1858 English Probate index entries.
  • Copies (or extracts) of most of the pre-1858 wills & administrations.
  • A large, and still growing, collection of UK Census Index entries 1841 to 1911.
  • A collection of parish register extracts, principally from Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire (incl IOW) and Kent
  • Some USA Census entries
  • Newspaper extracts, notably from 'The Times' and 'The London Gazette'
  • National Burial Index


A Woolgar DNA project was commenced in March 2013. The DNA Project Profile can be found at; and the DNA Project website is at