What is the origin of the last name Wilkes?

The last name Wilkes traces its origins to England, specifically to the Anglo-Saxon period. Derived from the Old English personal name "Wilc," meaning "will" or "desire," and the suffix "-es" which denotes "son of," Wilkes literally translates to "son of Wilc." This patronymic surname signifies a familial connection to an ancestor named Wilc, reflecting the practice of surname adoption during the medieval period. Over time, variations of the surname emerged, such as Wilks and Wilkins, further expanding its usage and prominence.

Countries of origin for the last name Wilkes

The last name Wilkes has its origins in England. It is derived from the medieval given name Will, which itself is a diminutive of William. The name William is of Germanic origin and is composed of the elements “wil” (desire) and “helm” (helmet or protection). This suggests that the name Wilkes carries the meaning of “desire for protection” or “resolute protection.”

The surname Wilkes is classified as a patronymic surname, meaning that it originated from the given name of an ancestor. In this case, the surname Wilkes indicates that the family is descended from an individual whose given name was Wilke or Will.

Wilkes is primarily found in the United States, with concentrations in states such as Illinois, Texas, and California. The ancestors of many Wilkes families in the United States can be traced back to England, where the surname has a long history.

Throughout history, individuals with the last name Wilkes have made notable contributions in various fields. Notable Wilkes include John Wilkes, an 18th-century English politician and journalist who played a significant role in the fight for freedom of the press. His activism and advocacy for civil liberties earned him both praise and criticism during his time.

In terms of frequency, Wilkes is not one of the most common last names in the United States. However, it still has a presence and represents a distinct lineage within the country.

The etymology and history of the last name Wilkes provide insight into the origins and heritage of individuals bearing this surname. While it is rooted in England, it has since spread to various regions, particularly the United States. The historical figures associated with the name Wilkes further contribute to its significance and legacy. Exploring the meaning behind this last name offers a glimpse into the past and the diverse experiences of those who have carried it.

Interesting facts about the last name Wilkes

  • The surname Wilkes is of English origin and is derived from the medieval given name “Wilhelm,” which combines the elements “wil” meaning “desire” and “helm” meaning “helmet” or “protection.”
  • The name Wilkes is a patronymic surname, which means it was originally derived from the given name of an ancestor. In this case, it would have referred to “son of Wilke” or “son of William.”
  • The surname can be traced back to the 13th century in England, making it quite old and rich in history.
  • Wilkes is known to have multiple variations and alternative spellings, including Wilke, Wilkins, Wilkens, Willkes, Wylkys, and Wylkyns.
  • During the period of the British Empire, the surname Wilkes spread to various parts of the world through colonization and migration.
  • The name Wilkes has been borne by several notable individuals throughout history, including politicians, scientists, and artists.
  • John Wilkes (1725-1797) was a well-known radical politician and journalist in 18th century England. He is remembered for his advocacy of civil liberties and freedom of the press.
  • The surname Wilkes has featured prominently in literature and popular culture. It has been used as character names in novels, plays, and films.
  • Wilkes-Barre, a city in Pennsylvania, United States, was named after John Wilkes and Colonel Isaac Barre in the 18th century.
  • The Wilkes Land region in Antarctica is named after Lieutenant Charles Wilkes, an American naval officer who explored the area in the 19th century.

Name Rank


There are around 18314 people with the last name Wilkes in the US

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