Etymology: Old English hwílum , later -on , -an , = Old Saxon hwîlon at times (Middle Dutch, Middle Low German wîlen formerly, Dutch wijlen late = deceased), Old High German hwîlôn , -on (Middle High German wîlen , wîlent , German weiland formerly) dative plural of while n.
A. adv. (and adj.)
2.a. At some past time; some time before or ago; once upon a time: = while adv. 2, whiles n., conj., and adv. 6a. arch.
b. as adj. That existed, or was such, at a former time; former; †of a person, ‘late’, deceased (obs.): = while adv. 2b. arch.
3. At a future time, some time; in future.
C. Aberrant uses. (OED)
"Here are the remnants of the vast plantations of the Sheldons, the Pellots, and the Rensons; but the souls of them are passed. The houses lie in half ruin, or have wholly disappeared; the fences have flown, and the families are wandering in the world. Strange vicissitudes have met these whilom masters."
- W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk, 1903