The Wilde Surname Study

By Jeffrey Wilde


The purpose of this study is to trace the surname Wilde through the centuries.  By understanding where the name came from, and where the Wildes tended to move we can do better genealogical research.


The Wilde surname was supposedly given to anyone who dwelt on the wasteland.  For this reason you would expect that it would be spread uniformly throughout England; however the data tends to indicate that the surname came from Lancashire in the north part of England.  Since that time the name has spread out to other locations.


The Wilde surname is not exceptionally common, so it is not listed in any published surname studies.  According to Robb’s work it is ranked number 3,350 in the Social Security Index.


For this study the city of London is ignored.  There are many individuals of all surnames here.


Pre 1500

According to Reany’s work the Wilde surname is associated with Lincolnshire, Leicestershire, Sussex, and Huntingdonshire.  The Xs on the map indicate that someone with the Wilde Surname lived in that county very early in history (1250-1480).  It is interesting to note that none of these Xs tend to coincide with the frequency distribution.  These men must have either changed their surname or not proliferated abundantly.


In search the counties of Lancashire and Derbyshire for Wildes I was able to find six different people.  Three of them are from Lancashire and three are from Derbyshire.  Their Latin names are:



Thomas Wyld from Londsdal Wapentake (p. 450)

Johannes Wyld from Londsday Wapentake (p 451)

Willelmo Wylde from Bickerstaffe (p.457)



Willelmo Wild from Darby

Ricardus Wyld from High Peak Wapentake

Johannes son of Ricardi Wyld


1640 [map 1]

The first sample that covered the entire country of England is shown in the third map.  It is a sample of male marriages in 1611-1641.  This sample was taken from both the main file and the addendum of the IGI.  This thirty year window should give a good indication of where people with the surname Wilde lived in 1640.  It is clear that there is a strong concentration of Wildes in Lancashire.  A total of 82 men with the Wilde surname were married during this thirty year period in Lancashire.  The next highest county was only about a third of that.  Nottingham had 24 marriages.  Yorkshire, and Derbyshire both had 23 each.


There also seems to be a second population of Wildes centered on the county of Kent.  In 1611-1641 there were 23 marriages in this country.  This family seems to stretch west over to Hampshire and north to Suffolk.  Wildes that come from Hampshire may originate from this branch.


1780 [map2]

A second sample was taken from the IGI for the period of 1751-1781.  The county of Lancashire is clearly the dominant county for the Wilde family at this time.  During this time period Lancashire had 328 marriages.  Yorkshire came in second with only 173 marriages.  The rest of the counties had less than 100 marriages each.  Most counties had less than 10 marriages.


The population of Wildes centered on Kent has now completely dissolved.  It seems it migrated west to center on the county of Hampshire.  For this period of time there were 37 marriages in Hampshire. 


Present [map 3]

To find out where the Wildes are situated presently, a sample was taken from an online phone book (  This may be the best indicator of the Wilde surname because it is not prejudice by where extractions have taken place.  It will still be slightly biased to the richer areas where there are more telephones and multiple lines per household.  However, from my experience I have found that even in the poor areas of England 50% of the families are on the phone [translated into American English this means that at least 50% of families have a telephone in their house].


Today the Wildes are spread through all of England, but they are still concentrated in the north.  Cheshire is now has a dominant population of Wildes.  There are more Wildes found in Cheshire than there are in London.

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© Jeffrey Wilde 2002