Explore the Family Name Wesley

The meaning of Wesley

English: habitational name from any of various places called with the Old English elements west ‘west’ + lēah ‘wood, woodland clearing’, as for example Westley in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, and Westleigh in Devon and Greater Manchester.

Dictionary of American Family Names, 2nd edition, © Oxford University Press, 2022.

How common is the last name Wesley in the United States?

According to the Decennial U.S. Census, the popularity of the surname Wesley saw a slight decline between 2000 and 2010. In 2000, Wesley was ranked 1,512 in terms of popularity and decreased slightly to 1,555 in 2010. This represents a change of -2.84%. Despite this drop in rank, the number of individuals with the surname Wesley actually increased from 21,734 in 2000 to 23,135 in 2010, which is an increase of 6.45%. The proportion per 100,000 people also fell by 2.73%, from 8.06 to 7.84.

Proportion per 100k8.067.84-2.73%

Race and Ethnicity of people with the last name Wesley

The Decennial U.S. Census data on the ethnicity of individuals with the surname Wesley shows some interesting changes between 2000 and 2010. A majority of Wesleys identified as Black, with percentages at 48.51% in 2000 and inching up slightly to 48.95% in 2010. Individuals identifying as White made up 44.34% of Wesleys in 2000, but this figure declined to 41.86% by 2010. Meanwhile, the representation of Hispanic Wesleys rose from 1.66% to 2.47%, Asian/Pacific Islander from 0.65% to 0.92%, and those of two or more races from 2.29% to 3.05%. Wesleys identifying as American Indian and Alaskan Native also saw a small increase, from 2.54% to 2.76%.

Two or More Races2.29%3.05%33.19%
American Indian and Alaskan Native2.54%2.76%8.66%
Asian/Pacific Islander0.65%0.92%41.54%

Wesley ancestry composition

23andMe computes an ancestry breakdown for each customer. People may have ancestry from just one population or they may have ancestry from several populations. The most commonly-observed ancestry found in people with the surname Wesley is British & Irish, which comprises 40.5% of all ancestry found in people with the surname. The next two most common ancestries are French & German (19.1%) and Nigerian (8.3%). Additional ancestries include Eastern European, Ghanaian, Liberian & Sierra Leonean, Italian, Angolan & Congolese, and Spanish & Portuguese.

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British & Irish40.5%
French & German19.1%

Possible origins of the surname Wesley

Your DNA provides clues about where your recent ancestors may have lived. Having many distant relatives in the same location suggests that you may all share common ancestry there. Locations with many distant relatives can also be places where people have migrated recently, such as large cities. If a large number of individuals who share your surname have distant relatives in a specific area, it could indicate a connection between your surname and that location, stemming from either recent ancestral ties or migration.

Based on 23andMe data, people with last name Wesley have recent ancestry locations in United Kingdom and Ireland.

RECENT ANCESTRY LocationPercentage
Greater London, United Kingdom67.40%
West Midlands, United Kingdom67.10%
Glasgow City, United Kingdom67.10%
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom66.80%
Merseyside, United Kingdom66.50%

What Wesley haplogroups can tell you

Haplogroups are genetic population groups that share a common ancestor on either your paternal or maternal line. These paternal and maternal haplogroups shed light on your genetic ancestry and help tell the story of your family.

The top paternal haplogroup of people with the surname Wesley is R-CTS241, which is predominantly found among people with European ancestry. Haplogroup R-CTS241 is descended from haplogroup R-M343. Other common haplogroups include R-CTS2501 and R-P311, which are predominantly found among people with European and European ancestry. Other surnames with similar common haplogroups are: Simmons, Brown, Thomas, Williams, Davis, Smith, Thompson, Dixon, Richards, Harrison.

The most common maternal haplogroups of people with Wesley surname are: H1, H, J1c. These most commonly trace back to individuals of European ancestry.

wesleyPaternal Haplogroup Origins R-M343

Your maternal lineage may be linked to Marie Antoinette

Because it is so dominant in the general European population, haplogroup H also appears quite frequently in the continent's royal houses. Marie Antoinette, an Austrian Hapsburg who married into the French royal family, inherited the haplogroup from her maternal ancestors. So did Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, whose recorded genealogy traces his female line to Bavaria. Scientists also discovered that famed 16th century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus traced his maternal lineages to haplogroup H.

Maternal Haplo Image

What do people with the surname Wesley have in common?

Spoiler alert: it's complicated. People with the same last name are usually no more genetically similar than a randomly sampled group of people from the same population. That said, people with the same surname are more likely to have similar ancestries than randomly sampled individuals. The reason is the tendency of people with similar cultural or geographical backgrounds to preferentially mate with one another. That's why people who share a surname may be more likely to share traits and tendencies in common than people within the general population. Check out the percentages below to see the prevalences of tastes, habits, and traits of people with your surname compared with prevalences among 23andMe users.



Chocolate Ice Cream

Prefers chocolate flavored ice cream over other flavors.

"Wesley" Surname 31.6%

23andMe Users 41.3%




When sounds made by others, like the sound of chewing or yawning, provoke strong emotional reactions in an individual.

"Wesley" Surname 30.4%

23andMe Users 27.9%



Sugary Drink

Drinks one or more sugary drinks per day.

"Wesley" Surname 25.5%

23andMe Users 21.1%




A severe headache characterized by intense pain, sensitivity to light and sound, and often accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

"Wesley" Surname 20.1%

23andMe Users 16.4%

Are health conditions linked to the last name Wesley?

The short answer is that, if there is an association between surname and health, it's usually more about your ancestry than your name. Individuals with a given surname are no more genetically similar than the general population but often have similar ancestries. The populations of people associated with those shared ancestries often have sets of genetic variations, also known as alleles, in common. Some of those alleles are associated with a greater likelihood of developing certain diseases.

Disease variant frequency by ancestry

Disease allele frequencies in populations associated with the surname Wesley are shown below. Important Note: not everyone with a disease allele will develop these health condition

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Y402H variant

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the most common cause of irreversible vision loss among older adults. The disease results in damage to the central part of the retina (the macula), impairing vision needed for reading, driving, or even recognizing faces. The 23andMe Health + Ancestry DNA test includes the two most common variants associated with an increased risk of developing the condition: the Y402H variant in the CFH gene and the A69S variant in the ARMS2 gene. Learn more about Age-Related Macular Degeneration

British & Irish 62.1%

23andMe Users 57.2%