Wrigley: Origin and meaning of surname

Wrigley is a topographic surname that means “clearing by a river bend”. The surname is made up from two Old English (pre-7th century) elements, the verb wrigian meaning “bend or turn”, and leah meaning a “meadow, pasture or clearing”. The English word wriggle, however, was recorded only from the 15th century onward.1,2

The surname seems to have originated from a location called Wrigley Head near Salford, Lancashire (now Greater Mancester) in North West England.1,3 Salford is geographically located in a meander of the River Irwell, a 63 km long river that starts at Irwell Springs just north of Bacup and empties into the River Mersey near Irlam. The river currently forms part of the boundary with the city of Manchester to the east.4-6

Over time, Wrigley descendants migrated mainly to Australia, Canada, Scotland, South Africa and United States of America.7 Numerous variations of the surname such as Wrigley, Wriggley, Wriggeley, Wrigly, Riggeley, Rigley, Rigly and Riggle appeared over time.8


  1. Last name: Wrigley. http://www.surnamedb.com/Surname/Wrigley
  2. Barrow, N. 2020 In search of the early Wrigleys. Saddleworth Historical Society Bulletin, Vol 50 (1)
  3. Salford, Greater Manchester. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salford,_Greater_Manchester
  4. River Irwell. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/River_Irwell
  5. Salford, Greater Manchester. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/09/Map_of_Manchester_1801.PNG
  6. Salford, England. https://www.google.co.za/maps/place/Salford,+UK
  7. Wrigley surname meaning & statistics. http://forebears.io/surnames/wrigley
  8. Wrigley surname, family crest & coat of arms. https://www.houseofnames.com/wrigley-family-crest-coat-of-arms