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WERLI (Verly)


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Family history

WERLI (Verly)


Family History

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     This family line has been traced back four generations to our 10th great-grandfather David Werli.  Born c.1575, David, I is most likely a native of the canton of Berne in Switzerland.  David married an Elizabeth Sturler with whom he produced one known offspring.   David also married a woman named Elisabeth Zwalen, but it is not known whether this was his first of second marriage or if any children were produced of this union.

     David’s son, David II, is reported to have been born 1613 in the town of Wahlern, Switzerland.  Today Wahlern is a municipality of the canton of Berne in Switzerland and seat of the district of Schwarzenburg.  Wahlern lies in the Alpenvorland south of the Sense River. It is believed that David first married a woman named Anna Zandt. It is not known whether any children were produced of this union.  David also married Barbara Portner, daughter of Jeremias Portner and Elizabeth Zandt, at Wahlern in 1646.  To this union possibility as many as fourteen children were born between 1646 and 1667. 

     We are descended through their son Johann Werli, (aka Jean Verly). Johann was born at Walhern in 1649.  As an adult he migrated north to the town of Belmont in the Alsace area of France.  Belmont located near the Rhine River in northeastern France is approximately 150 miles north of Johann’s birthplace of Wahlren,

Switzerland.     It was here that he married Margueritte Neuvillers, daughter of Jean Neuvillers, and Marie Thon.  Johann and Margueritte produced at least five known off-spring between 1691 and 1707.   Upon his arrival in Belmont his Werli surname was changed to the French surname Verly.  Thus all of his children are identified as Verly rather than the German Werli.

     It is through their daughter Odille Verly that our lineage continues.  Odille was born at Belmont in 1691.  Odille was married three times during her life.  She had at least six known children as a result of these unions.  Odille migrated to America in 1736 with her third husband Pierre Brullhard and several of her children and their families. 

     Our lineage continues through Odille’s only child of her second marriage to Jean Jacque Christman is Jacques “Jacob” Christman, our 6th great-grandfather.  Jacob accompanied her and his step-father, the aforementioned Pierre Brullhard to  Province of Pennsylvania in 1736.  Jacob’s next of kin found on the Princess Augusta Ship Manifest of 1736 are uncles Didier Verly, Peter Binggeli and Jacob Müller; cousin, Christian Teppe; and, future in-laws, the Heckendorns.


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Direct ancestors

WERLI (Verly)

Ancestral Lineage

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Descendant Register

Generation 1

DAVID1 WERLI I was born about 1575 in Canton Bern, Switzerland ?. He died after 1613 in Wahlern, Bern, Switzerland ?. He married (1) ELISABETH STURLER before 1613 in Switzerland ?. She was born before 1613 in Switzerland ?. She died after 1613 in Wahlern, Canton Bern, Switzerland ?. He married (2) ELISABETH ZWALEN before 1595 in Switzerland ?.


David Werli I and Elisabeth Sturler had the following child:


2.              i. DAVID2 WERLI II was born on 03 May 1613 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland. He married (1) BARBARA PORTNER, daughter of Jeremias Portner and Elizabeth Zandt on 09 Jan 1646 in Wahlern, Berne, Switzerland. She was born about 1623 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland. He married ANNA ZANDT.  

Generation 2

DAVID2 WERLI II (David1 I) was born on 03 May 1613 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland. He married (1) BARBARA PORTNER, daughter of Jeremias Portner and Elizabeth Zandt on 09 Jan 1646 in Wahlern, Berne, Switzerland. She was born about 1623 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland. He married ANNA ZANDT.


David Werli II and Barbara Portner had the following children:


i.        ULRICH3 WERLI was born in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


ii.      ANNA WERLI was born on 15 Nov 1646 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


iii.     ELIZABETH WERLI was born on 12 Dec 1647 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


4.              iv. JOHANN WERLI (AKA. JEAN VERLY) was born in 1655 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland. He died on 02 Jan 1721 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He married MARGUERITTE NEUVILLERS. She was born in 1663 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 18 Mar 1708 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He married (2) ELISABETH HASCHELMAN on 24 Jul 1708 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


v.      DAVID WERLI III was born on 11 Aug 1650 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


vi.     BERBE WERLI was born on 26 Sep 1652 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


vii.    BERBE WERLI was born on 24 May 1655 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


viii.  CHRISTIAN WERLI was born on 12 Apr 1657 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


ix.     CHRISTINE WERLI was born on 29 May 1659 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


x.      CHRISTINE WERLI was born on 03 Mar 1661 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


xi.     BARBE WERLI was born on 02 Aug 1663 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


xii.    MARGUERITE WERLI was born on 02 Aug 1663 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


xiii.  BENEDICTE WERLI was born on 05 Mar 1665 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.


xiv.   BENEDICTE WERLI was born on 14 Apr 1667 in Wahlern, Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland.

Generation 3

JOHANN3 WERLI (AKA. JEAN VERLY) (David2  II, David1  I) was born in 1655 in Wahlern Schwarzenburg, Berne, Switzerland. He died on 02 Jan 1721 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He married MARGUERITTE NEUVILLERS. She was born in 1663 in Bellefosse, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died on 18 Mar 1708 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He married (2) ELISABETH HASCHELMAN on 24 Jul 1708 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


Johann Werli (aka. Jean Verly) and Margueritte Neuvillers had the following children:


4.              i. ODILLE4 VERLY was born on 01 Apr 1691 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died in Pennsylvania ?. She married (1) JEAN JACQUES CHRISTMAN, son of Nicolas Christman and Eve Loux on 01 Aug 1719 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born on 04 Aug 1693 in Solbach, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He died on 15 Jan 1721 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married (2) JEAN MICHAEL GAGNIER on 16 Aug 1712 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married (3) PIERRE BRULLHARD on 12 Feb 1726 in Neuviller la Roche, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born in Berne, Switzerland.


ii.      CHRISTOPHE VERLY was born in Aug 1693 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He died on 22 Oct 1701 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


iii.     DIDIER VERLY was born on 29 Jul 1695 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He married Elisabeth Ropp on 02 Jun 1721 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


iv.     MARIE SALOME VERLY was born on 28 Oct 1704 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married Pierre Pinkele in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


v.       JEAN VERLY was born on 17 May 1707 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He died on 26 May 1707 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.

Generation 4

ODILLE4 VERLY (Johann3 Werli (aka. Jean Verly), David2 Werli II, David1 Werli I) was born on 01 Apr 1691 in Belmont, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died in Pennsylvania ?. She married (1) JEAN JACQUES CHRISTMAN, son of Nicolas Christman and Eve Loux on 01 Aug 1719 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born on 04 Aug 1693 in Solbach, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He died on 15 Jan 1721 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married (2) JEAN MICHAEL GAGNIER on 16 Aug 1712 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She married (3) PIERRE BRULLHARD on 12 Feb 1726 in Neuviller la Roche, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He was born in Berne, Switzerland.


Jean Jacques Christman and Odille Verly had the following child:


JACQUES "JACOB"5 CHRISTMAN was born on 04 May 1720 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He died in 1785 in Reedy Fork, Guilford Co., North Carolina. He married (1) BARBARA KRAEMER on 11 Dec 1758 in First Reform Church, Lancaster, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. She died about 1805 in Reedy Fork, Guilford Co., North Carolina. He married (2) BARBARA H ECKENDORN, daughter of Hans Johann Heckendorn and Margaretha Heckendorn (nee?) on 01 Oct 1742 in First Reform Church, Lancaster, Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania. She was born on 19 Nov 1718. She died on 13 May 1758 in Lebanon, Lebanon Co., Pennsylvania.


Jean Michael Gagnier and Odille Verly had the following children:


i.        LOUISA5 GAGNIER was born on 22 May 1713 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. She died in 1725 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


ii.      JEAN ADAM GAGNIER was born on 29 Aug 1715 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He died on 01 Sep 1715 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


iii.     JEAN MICHEL GAGNIER was born on 27 May 1717 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France. He died on 30 May 1717 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


Pierre Brullhard and Odille Verly had the following children:


i.        JEAN PIERRE5 BRULLHARD was born on 29 Nov 1726 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.


ii.      JEAN BRULLHARD was born on 08 Dec 1728 in Rothau, Molsheim, Bas-Rhin, France.

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Migration routes

WERLI (Verly)

Migrations of the
American Family

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       Tracing our own family’s paths of migration can prove crucial in identifying previous generations and eventually, figuring out where and how they arrived in the “New World” as well as where they eventually settled.  Knowing the network of trails American pioneers traveled can help you guess where to start looking.  The trail map(s) provided below may assist you in understanding the routes that our direct ancestors of this family may have taken to find new homes and opportunities in the vast area now encompassed by the United States.

      During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the perilous ocean voyage to America.  For many it was an escape from economic hardship and religious persecution.  For most it was an opportunity to start over, own their own land, and make a better future for their descendents.

 Immigration records show a number of people bearing the name of WERLI, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Some of these immigrants were: Heinrich Werle, born about 1677, who came to the colony of New Jersey sometime between 1737 and 1774;  Anna Wehrli who came to the Province of Maryland in 1749;  Jacob Werly who arrived at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1750; Conrad Wehrli who settled at Indiana in 1836; and  Vincent Wehrli who came to North Dakota in 1883;

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$ Search Immigration Records; or Free Ship’s Passenger lists at

The following account of the June to September 1776 Atlantic Ocean crossing of the “Princess Augusta” comes from "On The power O Pietism" by Leo Schelbert, PhD in the "Historic Scaefferstown Record" vol 17, Issues No 3 & 4. This narrative  was written at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 20, 1736 by Durs Thommen a passenger on the voyage.  It is surely applicable to our ancestors who were also on the same trip to the New World.


My friendly greetings and service to you, my much beloved Reverent Mr. Candidate Annoni and your beloved wife Ester Annoni, born in Zwingerin.

I cannot desist from writing to you and to tell you in a few words that I with my family - the loving faithful Father in Heaven be praised for that - have come into this land fresh and healthy. But at sea our two younger sons became sick with ship fever but, thank God, have regained their previous health. But I now know nothing further to write because we have come so late into this country and everything has already been harvested.

As to the journey, we were detained for 5 weeks, have slept on the Rhine for 2 weeks and travelled from Rotterdam across the sea for 12 weeks and 4 days until Philadelphia, but only 8 weeks from land to land, and we did not have good wind save for 8 days, more contrary winds than side wind. And as we saw land a new pilot came to us and we thought all was well and won. All evening we got good wind from behind so that the ship moved vigorously. The new pilot, however made cast anchor because it was not far (from there) dangerous; in the morning when the anchor was lifted again and on had barely gone 30 feet the boat ran into a rock, and it crashed that one thought it would break in the middle. The anxious crying began, and one could see where there was faith or not. Then the captain had a warning shot fired and had a flag of distress hoisted, but we drove far out to the sea so that we saw no land anymore for days and even thought we would never see it again.

As far as illness are concerned, the Mannheim skippers had two of the boats sidewise together; in the one besides ours 7 children died of small pox and a woman of spotted fever, and in our boat 19 people died until Rotterdam. Those people who have means and are interested in this land and need not go into debt, those I advise to stay where they are because the journey is onerous and very dangerous. Thus who wants to come to this land shall be well provided with butter and bacon, dried apple snips and plums, and flour, wine and brandy and dried bread, tea and sugar. And if young people come and cannot pay fare, there are enough people to redeem them from the boat, and they must serve them a certain time for it. There are people with whom I have talked myself who had brought not a penny into the land and had to serve for their fare, now (they) are very rich people. But I do not know to write much of the land because we came into it quite late and everything had already been harvested, and one should not rely much on the talk of other people, thus I am willing, if it were to please the Lord in Heaven, to send very accurate news in the future when I have investigated things myself.

But I have not yet taken up the land, but I am also willing to wait until I know the land better or have approached trusted friends so that I may believe them. I could have already taken up, however, more than to 3 to 400 acres that have been much planted, and there would remain in my hands quite a good portion of my imported wealth. What has already been cleared of that place, meadow and fields, is for 6 horses, 8 cows, 12 goats, 14 pigs. We are very sorry that at home we have not lived according to Christ's demand on occasion as we should have done.

Durs Thommen formerly of Niederdorff your servant

The Development of an Historical Migration Route

It is understood that in many if not all cases we do not know exactly what routes our ancestors took as they migrated throughout the United States.   As such certain assumptions have been utilized to re-create the migration path presented above.  With regard to 18th and 19th century land routes we assume that they travelled along few trails and roads that were in existence at the time.  Research shows that a great many of these old paths and trails are today designated as U.S. Highway Routes.  For example, a major east-west route of migration known as the National Road is now U.S. Route 40, and a primary north-south migration route of the 18th century followed the Great Indian War and Trading Path is now U.S. Route 11.  In some situations the re-created migration route may travel along state routes that connect or run through the seat of a county as that populated place is probably the oldest settlement in the area. The use of water as a migration route is also likely.  For example, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries many families travelled west on the Ohio River as they moved on the new lands in Missouri or the Old Northwest Territory.  As such when applicable water routes have been included as the possible migration route.   

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Origins of the surname

WERLI (Verly)

Origins of the Surname

An Introduction

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History of

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An Introduction to the Surname

The practice of inherited family surnames began in England and France during the late part of the 11th century.     With the passing of generations and the movement of families from place to place many of the original identifying names were altered into some of the versions that we are familiar with today.  Over the centuries, most of our European ancestors accepted their surname as an unchangeable part of their lives.  Thus people rarely changed their surname.  Variations of most surnames were usually the result of an involuntary act such as when a government official wrote a name phonetically or made an error in transcription. 

Research into the record of this WERLI family line indicates that the variations, meanings and history of this surname are most likely linked to that area of Europe where German linguistic traditions are commonly found.


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Source(s) & Meaning(s) of the Surname

Most modern German family names are a means conveying lineage.  For the most part, German surnames were developed from four major sources: (1) Patronymic & Matronymic surnames most common in northern Germany are based on a parent’s first name, such as Niklas Albrecht (Niklas son of Albrecht);  (2) occupational surnames are last names based on the person’s job or trade for example Lukas Fischer (Lukas the Fisherman);  (3) descriptive surnames are based on a unique quality or physical feature of the individual like Karl Braun (Karl with brown hair); (4) geographical surnames are derived from the location of the homestead from which the first bearer and his family lived such as Leon Meer (Leon from by the sea), or derived from the state, region, or village of the first bearer's origin for example Paul Cullen (Paul from Koeln/Cologne).

Werli is a Swiss-German variant of either the Germanic personal name Wehrli, or the German habitational name WerleWehrli is composed of the Germanic elements war(in) ‘guard’ and heri, hari ‘army’.  The name has two distinct origins, it was a baptismal name 'the son of Warrener' and an occupational name meaning the keeper of the 'warren' a privileged place for the keeping of conies, hares, partridges and pheasants.  The surname of Werle comes from any of various places in Baden, Wurttemberg and Bavaria, so called from the Latin word Villa. This word meant that the bearer of the name lived in a village as opposed to an isolated farmhouse, or in a town opposed to the countryside, and later came to mean a group of houses forming a settlement.

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History of the Surname

     Most German names have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages. The process of forming family names in what is present day Germany began early in the 12th Century and extended through the 16th century 

     Werli is a very old Germanic name and is one of the early names recorded in that region of Europe.   Due to its popularity and duration this name, and its variant spellings, have traveled widely in many forms throughout the continent.   First found in the Duchy of Saxony as well as in south-western Germany and the northern cantons of Switzerland, where the name was anciently associated with the tribal conflicts of the area.  The associated coat of arms for variant spellings of Werli are registered in Germany and recorded in Rietstap’s Armorial General.

    The change to this surname from the Swiss Werli or Wehrli to the French Verly was most likely the result of the migration of Johann Wehrli to Belmont, France around 1660.       This Germanic surname appeared quite early into the former British colonies of North America.  One reason for this was that after the prince of the Electorate of Hanover, in Germany also became king of England in 1715, as a result German emigration to America was greatly encouraged from that time on to about 1777.  A resulting factor of this great migration is that the Werli German name tends to be confused with the English versions due to the fact that the name from both countries is often in the same or similar spelling, which is perhaps not surprising as they share pre 7th century "Anglo-Saxon" roots.   Many of these German immigrants, particularly those with easy English equivalents, were encouraged and in some cases required to change to an English spelling.  Also many German surnames were re-spelled in America because of the close relationship between the English and German languages.     This was the case with many sea captains or their agents who, when making up the ships passenger lists, found it easier to use a more familiar English spelling.   As the general level of education in America increased after the American Civil War many formerly illiterate immigrants and their descendents began to standardize the spelling of their surname.   Also after the start of World War One, Germans in the United States, in great numbers, Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism.

       Notable persons and places having the Wehrli surname or a close variant are: Fritz Wehrli (1902–1987), Swiss Hellenist;  Max Wehrli (1909–1998), Swiss Germanist (brother of Fritz Wehrli);  Roger Wehrli (born 1947), American football player. 

There are two small islands in the municipality of Stein am Rhein of Canton of Schaffhausen named Middle and lower Werdli aka. Werli.  They are uninhabited and form the nature reserve and bird sanctuary.  Middle Werdli island has an area of 0.4 hectares; Lower Werdli measures 0.6 hectres.  The boundary between the cantons of Thurgau and Schaffhausen, follows the center line of the Rhine here.  The bridge at Stein am Rhein is generally considered to be the boundary between the Lower Lake of Lake Constance and the High Rhine.  The Werd islands lie just  above the bridge  and are therefore

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inland islands, not river islands. The Western tip of Lower Werli is about 320 meters upstream from the bridge.

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More About Surname Meanings & Origins

German Surnames

 First Names (Rufnamen) identified specific persons. Over time the first name began to be applied to the bearer's whole family.  At first through verbal usage, family names (Familiennamen) were later fixed through writing.  Until the 17th century, first names played a more important role. The earliest family names derived from the first name of the first bearer (Patronym). Later names derived from the place of dwelling and location of the homestead.  If a person of family migrated from one place to another they were identified by the place they came from.  Of more recent origin are names derived from the vocation of profession of the first bearer. These names comprise the largest group and the most easily recognizable, for they tell what the first bearer did for a living.  Another group are names derived from a physical or other characteristic of the first bearer.  Finally, there are names that tell you the state or region a first bearer and his family came from; the age old division in tribes and regions (Low German, Middle German and Upper German) is often reflected in names.

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Variations of the surname

WERLI (Verly)

Variations of
the Surname


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Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to unfold and expand often leading to an overwhelming number of variants.  As such one can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames because in early times, spelling in general and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized.  Later on spellings would change with the branching and movement of families.

Spelling variations of the WERLE family name variant include: Werli; Verly; Werhle; Werl; Weill; Weile; Weiller; and WeilandSpelling variations of the WEHRLI family name variant include: Wehrle; Wehrli; Wertz; Worlin; Wesselman; Wernjtes; and Wesseling.


The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may also have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents.   The Soundex Indexing System was developed in an effort to assist with identifying spelling variations for a given surname.  Soundex is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Census, and can aid genealogists in their research. 

The Soundex Code for Werli is W640. Other surnames sharing this Soundex Code:  WEHRL | WEHRLE | WERLE | WORLEY | WORRALL | WORRELL

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Amorial bearings, symcbols and mottoes

WERLI (Verly)

Armorial Bearings, Mottoes & Symbols


In the Middle Ages heraldry came into use as a practical matter. It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armored warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity. As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.  In the British Isles the College of Arms, (founded in 1483), is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.


Gallery of Images

Descriptions of the

Armorial Bearings

Motto(es) of

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Gallery of Images

Werhli - Winterthur

Figure 1

Werle - Baron

Figure 2


Figure 3


Figure 4


Werly - Fribourg

Figure 5

Werle - Brunswick

Figure 6

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Descriptions of the Armorial Bearings

The associated armorial bearings for this surname and close variant spellings are recorded in Burke’s General Armorie and Reitstap’s Armorial General.  The additional information, presented below, is offered with regard to the armorial bearings depicted above:

FIGURE 1: These armorial bearings belonged to a Wehrli from the city of Winterthür located within the canton of Zurich in northern Switzerland.  The arms feature a red Shield holding a golden mallet placed in pale and a gold knife with stitching on the handle placed in fess. The hammer (mallet) signifies, “honour and is the emblem of the smith's trade.”

FIGURE 2: These armorial bearings were bestowed upon Francois-Jean Werlé, who was created Baron de l'empire in 1808.  The Shield is divided quarterly.  The 1st and 4th are blue with a gold crescent in the 1st and a black bull’s head with a gold crown within the 4th quarter. Quarters 2 and 3 are red and each feature a knight’s tournament helmet topped with three black ostrich plumes.  The crescent represents, “a serene power over mundane actions.”

FIGURE 3: This coat-of-arms was granted in 1436 to a Werle of Pommern, an historical region on the south shore of the Baltic Sea.  This person was most likely a descendent of John I, Lord of Werle a barony, in the Holy Roman Empire.  A gold Shield contains the head of a black bull with a red nose and a gold crown placed between the horns.  The Crest, (not shown) is of two goldenrods crossed, and surmounted with a peacock feather that signifies, “beauty, power, and knowledge.”

FIGURE 4: These interesting arms have been attributed to a Werl of Cologne who became a member of the nobility in 1637. It is most probable that this person’s ancestors came from the nearby town of Werl.  The Shield is divided quarterly.  The 1st and 4th are white and contain the head of a Moor wearing a gold crown with two red roses at the base.  Quarters 2 and 3 are blue with two red bars.  Centered on the arms is a silver shield containing a black eagle displayed.   The heraldic significance of the Moor dates back to the Middle Ages when it was considered an honor to take a Moor's head in battle.

FIGURE 5: These arms were bestowed upon a Werly from the Swiss canton of Freiburg.   A blue shield contains two golden bulls one on top of the other. The bulls represent, “valour, bravery, and generosity.”

FIGURE 6: This coat-of-arms was granted to a Werle of Braunschweig, a city located in the state of Lower Saxony, Germany.  This person may have also been a descendent of the same John I mentioned in Figure 3. The red Shield contains three golden anchors.  The Crest is made of three ostrich feathers of the family colors.  The heraldic meaning of the anchors is, “hope, and religious steadfastness.”

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Motto(es) of this Surname

     A motto is a word or sentence usually written upon a scroll and generally placed below the shield, but sometimes, especially in Scotland, above the crest.    Many ancient mottoes were war-cries such as the Douglas motto of “Forward.”    Many mottoes refer to the name of the bearer, for example “cole regem” for Coleridge.   In general most mottoes convey a sentiment, hope, or determination, such as the Cotter motto “Dum spiro spero” where the meaning is “While I have breath I hope“.     Mottoes are often used by several successive generations, but may be changed at any time by the grantee. The languages most in use are Latin, French, and English.  Exceptions are seen in Scotland where they are often in the old Lowland dialect, and in Wales, often in the language of the principality.   

It is unusual to find a motto associated with the coat-of-arms of a noble German family.  As in this case no motto has been located that is associated with the WERLI surname and its close variant spellings.  This does not necessarily mean that the Germanic culture is devoid of mottos.  For example, the national motto of Germany is “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit”, meaning Unity and Justice and Freedom.  The German word for motto is “Wahlspruch.” 

     Some of the more well known German mottoes are as follows: Alte Wunden bluten leicht – Old wounds readily bleed anew;    Blut und Eisen – Blood and iron;  Das beste is gut genug – The best is good enough;  Ein’ feste Burg is unser Gott – Our God is a strong tower of defense;  Ewigkeit – Eternity;  Für Gott und Iht – All for God and her;  Gott is überall – God is over all;  Gott mit uns – God is with us;  Ich dien – I serve;  Krieg – War;  Mehr Licht! – More light!;  Nichts zoviel – Nothing in excess;  Prosit! – Good luck!;    Vaterland – Fatherland;  Vertrau’ auf Gott – Put your trust in God;  Vorwärts! – Forward!;   Zu dienen – At your service.

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Heraldic bearings

More about Heraldic Bearings

The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. The use of coats of arms by countries, states, provinces, towns and villages is called civic heraldry.   A Coat of Arms is defined as a group of emblems and figures (heraldic bearings) usually arranged on and around a shield and serving as the special insignia of some person, family, or institution.  Except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms, more properly called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings or often just arms for short, is a design usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname.  Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  The rules and traditions regarding Coats of Arms vary from country to country. Therefore a Coat of Arms for an English family would differ from that of a German family even when the surname is the same. 

Some of the more prominent elements incorporated into a  coat of arms are :

Crest - The word crest is often mistakenly applied to a coat of arms.  The crest was a later development arising from the love of pageantry.  Initially the crest consisted of charges painted onto a ridge on top of the helmet.

Wreath or TorseThe torse is a twist of cloth or wreath underneath and part of a crest. Always shown as six twists, the first tincture being the tincture of the field, the second the tincture of the metal, and so on.

Mantling – The mantling is a drapery tied to the helmet above the shield. It forms a backdrop for the shield.

Helm or Helmet - The helmet or helm is situated above the shield and bears the torse and crest. The style of helmet displayed varies according to rank and social status, and these styles developed over time, in step with the development of actual military helmets.

Shield or Arms - The basis of all coats of arms.  At their simplest, arms consist of a shield with a plain field on which appears a geometrical shape or object.  The items appearing on the shield are known as charges.

Motto - The motto was originally a war cry, but later mottoes often expressed some worthy sentiment. It may appear at the top or bottom of a family coat of arms.

COA elements (grey 10)

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Searching for more information about heraldry? Click on the button at the  right to look at our webpage featuring links to websites having images

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of a wide variety of arms, crests, and badges.  They may also feature additional heraldry resources as noted in the accompanying descriptions.

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Ancestral locations

WERLI (Verly)


by Location


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Researching the locations where our ancestors lived has provided us with valuable evidence needed to fill-in the gaps in our family trees.  It has also led us to many interesting facts that enhance the overall picture of each family group.

Locations of

Direct Ancestors

Locational Distribution

of  this Surname

Where In the World

are my Ancestors?


Locatiof Direct Ancestors

Locations of Our Direct Ancestors


The names of states and counties on the following list were derived from the known places where the DIRECT ANCESTORS in the “Ancestral Lineage” (see Ancestral Lineage section above) were born, married, and / or died.












Lancaster County ?

Use this LINK to find out more about this


ancestral family and the locations listed above.

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Locational distributionstors

Locational Distribution of This Surname

     Knowing the geographical areas where the surname you are researching is clustered and distributed is an indispensable tool in deciding where to focus your research.  We believe that the “Public Profiler” website will open up to you a wide range of solutions which implement current research in spatial analysis.  This site provides an array of local spatial information tools useful to the genealogist. 

          The information presented below shows where the WERLE surname is distributed within North America as well as in Switzerland, the probable country of origin of this family.      Statistics show that there are approximately 2 persons per million of population with this surname, within Switzerland, and 5 persons per million within the U.S.A.  Germany is found to be the country in the world where this surname is the second most highly clustered having approximately 42 persons per million of population.  The top region of the world where this surname is the most highly clustered is Dornbirn, Austria, and Hoppstädten-Weiersba, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany is the top city where this surname is found. 



European Country of Origin

Werle - Surname Dist. N. America

Germany (name distribution) high - low

Werle - Surname Dist. Switzerland

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Click on the LINK to the right to see more information about the World distribution of a surname.  You can get

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greater detail for any of the following maps by clicking on the area, i.e state, county that you are interested in.

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Wjere are my ancestors Ancestors

Where in the World
are My Ancestors?

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Resources which enhance our knowledge of the places inhabited by our ancestors are almost as important as their names. The LINK to the right will take you to Maps, Gazetteers,   and  other  helpful   resources 

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that will assist in discovering Ancestral Locations.  These web sites comprise only a small portion of what is available for researchers interested in learning more about where their ancestors lived.

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Resources 22

Source documents

WERLI (Verly)



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The documents contained within this “Source Documents Archives” have been located during our research of this family, and used as evidence to prove many of the facts contained within the database of this family’s record.   We have source documents related to the following persons within our database with this surname.

·       Passenger List, “Princess Augusta”,  at  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 16, 1736

This Link will take you to our

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archive of source documents.  

You are welcome to download any of the documents contained within this archive that does not cite a copyright.  Should you encounter a problem obtaining a copy you may get in touch with us via the contact information found at the end of this web-page.

     Most of these documents can be considered as primary or secondary evidence.  Primary evidence is usually defined as the best available to prove the fact in question, usually in an original document or record.  Secondary evidence is in essence all that evidence which is inferior in its origin to primary evidence. That does not mean secondary evidence is always in error, but there is a greater chance of error.  Examples of this type of evidence would be a copy of an original record, or oral testimony of a record’s contents.  Published genealogies and family histories are also secondary evidence.

     Classifying evidence as either primary or secondary does not tell anything about its accuracy or ultimate value.  This is especially true of secondary evidence.  Thus it is always a good idea to ask the following questions: (1) How far removed from the original is it, (when it is a copy)?; (2) What was the reason for the creation of the source which contains this evidence?; and (3) Who was responsible for creating this secondary evidence and what interest did they have in its accuracy?

SOURCE:  Greenwood, Val D., The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing  Co., Baltimore, MD 21202, 1990, pgs. 62-63

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If you have any source 
documents relating to this 
family, we would greatly 
appreciate hearing from you.

Documents 1a

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Images gallery

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Family Images

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During our research we have collected images and photographs that are of general interest to a particular family.  Some of them are presented on this website because we believe they tend to provide the reader with additional information which may aid in the understanding of our ancestors past lives.


If you have any photographs or other images relating to 
this topic, we would greatly appreciate hearing from you.

This Link will take you to our

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collection of family photographs.  

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Free Image Search
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Use the power of Google™ to find more interesting images about this topic. This button will link you to the Google Images Search   page.   Enter   the   topic   you   are

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searching in the box and click “Search Images”. At the “Images” display page you will see the image, as well as the website of which it is associated.

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Web resources

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General Surname Resources

·             Our Surname Locator And Resources web page contains the following: (1) links that will take you to an updated listing of all surnames as posted in our three databases at the Rootsweb WorldConnect Project; (2) the Surname List Finder a tool that finds sound-alike matches for a given surname from among RootsWeb's thousands of surname lists; (3) the Soundex Converter that can be used to find the soundex code for a surname, plus other surnames/spellings sharing the same soundex code;  (4) Surname Message Boards the world's largest online genealogy community with over 17 Million posts on more than 161,000 boards; (5) Surname Mailing Lists of all surnames having mailing lists at RootsWeb, as well as topics that include (6) Surname Heraldy, and  (7) Mapping a Surname. 

·              Your genealogy research of this surname can be facilitated by use of Surname Web. This website links to the majority of the surname data on the web, as well as to individual family trees, origin and surname meaning if known, and many other related genealogy resources. 

·              Surname Finder provides easy access to free and commercial resources for 1,731,359 surnames. On each surname specific "finder" page, you can search a variety of online databases all pre-programmed with your surname.

·             Use All Surnames Genealogy to get access to find your surname resources .  There are almost 1300 links in this directory.

·             SurnameDB Free database of surname meanings - This site SurnameDB.Com contains a large FREE to access database (almost 50,000 surnames) on the history and meaning of family last names.

·             Public Profiler / World Names - Search for a Surname to view its Map and Statistics.

·             Linkpendium Surnames - Web sites, obituaries, biographies, and other material specific to a surname.

·              Cyndi's List - Surnames, Family Associations & Family Newsletters Index - Sites or resources dedicated to specific, individual family surnames.  

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Free Records & Databases

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All of the records and databases we’ve collected are FREE and can be accessed and searched online without having to pay for a subscription.   We have divided our collected into 14 record types as follows: Biographical; Birth; Cemetery; Census & City Directories; Church; Court; Death; Immigration & Naturalization; Land; Marriage; Military; Newspapers; Occupational; and Tax Records.    We try not to list any sites that have only a few records for the purpose of getting you to a website that will charge a fee to actually see the record beyond just a name.  

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collections of FREE Records.  



Our Genealogy 
Reference Library

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The following Link will take you to our library of genealogy reference books.   Here you will find bibliographies, family histories and books about names.  In addition, there are texts that pertain to ethnic and religion groups, history, geography as well as other books that will assist you with your research.

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collections of reference books.  

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About this webpage

About This Webpage



Mail1B0-- Email us with your comments or questions. 

We do like to hear from others who are researching the same people and surnames.

We need your help to keep growing!  So please Email coolmailus your

photos, stories, and other appropriate information about this topic.


You are welcome to download any information on this page that does not cite a copyright. 

We only ask that if you have a personal website please create a link to our Home Page.

-- This webpage was last updated on --

01 July 2012

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Diggin for Roots (2 shovels)