William S. Wilbanks James G. Wilbanks MD


The following is a general overview of the earliest known history and genealogies of the Wil(l)banks family.


The name of Wilbanks or Willbanks is a uniquely Americanized name of Old English origin. The earliest known variation of the name refers to an Adam de Wallbank in 1332. It is believed that this surname originally referred to someone who lived on the high walled bank of a stream.


The first Wil(l)banks appear to have come to the New World (Virginia) as Walbancke in the 1660's.

In 1662 an Edd Wallbank is found in Charles County, Virginia. An Edward Welbank and a William Walbank are listed as being brought to Virginia in 1679. Shortly thereafter they would be found in Surry County. A John Walbancke migrated to Virginia in 1684. A Henry Walbanck arrived to Virginia at the age of 24 in 1700.

We have no records indicating anyone with the name Woolbanks or variation migrating to the New World. It is always Walbank, Wallbancke, or such variations.

During the late 1600s and early 1700s, we find various spelling variations in Virginia, such as Walbancke, Walbank(s), Welbanks, Wolbanks, Woolbank, etc. By the early to mid 1700s the name is primarily found as Woolbanks or variations, with no longer any evidence of Wallbanks or variations. There is no evidence that Woolbanks were recent arrivals. In fact the evidence suggests they have been in Virginia for a number of years though there is no evidence of them prior to their appearance in the 1720s.

A John Woobank is found to have been the clerk of the vestry in Bristol Parish, in Prince George County, Virginia from 1725 to 1757. Prince George County was formed in 1703 from Charles City County where we find early Walbank references. We also find John Woobank in Goochland County, Virginia records as being from Prince George County. Later John Woobank, formerly of Prince George County, is found in Surry County. Among other records, he is found administrating the will of Robert Smith Woobank. Many of John Woobank neighbors and associates are later found in North Carolina with William Woolbanks and other Woolbanks.

Meanwhile, another William Woolbanks is found to die in Goochland County, Virginia in late 1784. Is this the same William Woolbanks found in Spotsylvania County in the 1740s? Is he related to the Richard Woolbanks who married Priscilla Hewett circa 1766 in Goochland County, Virginia? Meanwhile, evidence does suggest that Richard was a brother of Phyllis Woolbank who was married to Robert Cardin circa 1763 in Goochland County.


They eventually migrated down to North Carolina, and by the time of the American Revolution, there were several Woolbanks families in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

The name Woolbanks begins to appear in the Bute/Granville county area of North Carolina in the early 1750s. Neighbors and associates are the same or similar to those of the Woolbanks and Wallbanks in Surry, Prince George, Charles City and Goochland counties in Virginia.

In 1771 Richard Woolbanks, formerly of Goochland County, Virginia, is found in Surry County, North Carolina. In 1777 a portion of Surry County, North Carolina was cut off to form Wilkes County. Richard is subsequently found in Wilkes County up to 1790 when he wrote his will there.

By the Revolutionary War, the name was being spelled primarily as Woolbanks, with little variations. The name Wallbanks or variations are no longer recorded anywhere in Virginia, North Carolina or South Carolina.

Between 1800 and 1820 the name began its transition to Wilbanks or Willbanks, with Woolbanks no longer found after 1820.

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