Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Variants: Willescroft, Willinscroft, Williscraft, Wolliscroft, Wooliscroft, Woolliscroft
Category: 3 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way on a global basis.
DNA website: www.familytreedna.com/public/Williscroft
Guild hosted website:
Contact: Mrs Jill Dixon
Since then I have become fascinated with how the bearers of this unusual and rare surname had migrated not only through England and the United Kingdom but the whole world. As a consequence they have been involved in some of the major events of world history.
The study was registered with the Guild of One-name Studies in 2012
Early spellings include Wollascroft, Wyllascrofte, Willascroft, Wolverscroft and Wilardiscroft to name a few. The common element in the spelling is that the name sounds the same and spelling depended on the skill of the transcriber.
It is likely that the earliest spellings have transcription errors which (not unusually) confuse -n- and -v-, and that the name is from Willavescroft - "Wiglaf's croft". The medial -es- and -ddys- represent the possessive "his". ('The Place-names of Staffordshire', David Horovitz, 2001, private publication).
I have also researched the names Werlawescroft, Whatecroft and Watecroft found in the early records for Staffordshire. I have drawn the conclusion that these are distinctive names in their own right. Werlascroft or Werlawsescroft appear to originate from a place near Bushbury in Staffordshire now known as Westcroft. I have not found these surnames in present day records.
More recently I have researched the use of the name as a first name with interesting results. Amongst the surnames connected with the surname are Austin, Fowler, Lewis, Slade, Mort, Douglass, West and Brown to name a few. Perhaps the most well known being George Wooliscroft Rhead (1855-1920).
In England and Wales there were 132 households where the head of household bore the Williscroft, Wooliscroft or one of its variants surname on the 1881 census returns. In 2003 there were 384 families (Electoral Roll). Today the greatest concentration of the names Williscroft and Woolliscroft in England and Wales remains in Staffordshire.
The exception are some of the Williscroft families who have their roots in Ireland in the 1700's. However, the evidence suggests they are descendants of William Williscraft from Staffordshire who possibly fought at the Battle of the Boyne.
In addition to the above, my database also includes data from numerous researchers who have shared their families history with me since I started the study.
A new venture for bearers of the surnames Williscroft, Woolliscroft and variants surname! Participating is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records, which will help with your research of your family tree. We will also discover which family trees are related. As the project progresses, the results for the various family trees will provide information on the evolution of the surname. For more information please visit the DNA website or contact the DNA administrator.
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