Hicks


Select Hicks Surname Genealogy

The Normans brought the name Richard to England and it became popular in the 13th century after the exploits of King Richard the Lionheart.  Richard contributed English surnames such as Richards and Richardson.  

However, the native English had difficulty getting around the Norman R pronunciation and D or H would often come out of their mouths instead.  Pet names such as Ritch and Rick came out as Hitch and Hick and were eventually spelt like that as well.   Other surnames such as Hitchens and Hitchcock developed as well.  But the most numerous of these surnames has been Hicks.

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Select Hicks Ancestry

England.   Who had the most difficulty with the Norman Rs?  It may have been those folks in the west country.  

West Country
.  The earliest recorded Hicks family in England was that of Gloucestershire origin.  Traditionally this family was descended from Sir Ellis Hicks who had been knighted at the Battle of Piotiers in 1356.  But no firm pedigree of the family exists that goes that far back. 

The main line began with John Hicks of Tortworth in Gloucestershire who owned fulling-mills and other property there and died in 1546
.  William Hicks was rector of Tortworth a century or so later.  Another Hicks line came to London:
  • Robert Hicks, John's grandson, was a wealthy mercer in Cheapside importing rich silks from Italy.  His son Baptist became even more wealthy and established his country home at Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire. Sir Baptist Hicks, Lord Campden, died in 1629 but left no male heir.
  • the Hicks family through Baptist's elder brother Sir Michael Hicks, an Elizabethan courtier in London, also owned Beverstone castle in Gloucestershire.  A later Michael Hicks died without issue in 1764 and this estate passed to a distant cousin who adopted the surname of Hicks Beach.
  • while James Hicks, the son of an earlier Baptist, made his home in Southwark.  His son Robert emigrated to America on the Fortune in 1621.
There were more Hicks in Cornwall.  John Hicks was recorded at St. Ives as early as 1400 and the Hicks remained an important family in the town for the next four hundred years:

"In 1572 Thomas Hicks was chosen as headwarden of St. Ives.  Nathaniel Hicks was elected its mayor in 1784, 1795 and 1803.  Overall the Hicks family gave a mayor to St. Ives no fewer than twelve times, besides at least nine headwardens or porthrieves."

Thomas Hickes was the mayor of Launceston in 1535. Walter Hicks, gentleman, died at Luxullion near Truro in 1635.   Hicks at Polperro date from the early 1600's.  There were four generations of Hicks fishermen recorded at Polperro during the 18th and 19th centuries.  A Hicks family started the St. Austell brewery in 1893 and still runs the brewery today. 

Yorkshire
The North Riding of Yorkshire might have been another place where the Norman R became H.  Early surname spellings there were Hyck, Hick, Hickes and Hicks.  

The Hickes there may date from an early time.  John Hickes was the lord of the manor of Nunnington in Ryedale in 1580 and he was succeeded by his son Robert. The Hickes of Newsham Hall near Thirsk were probably a related family.  Their numbers included George and John Hickes.  George was an Anglican churchman who was appointed Dean of Worcester in 1683; John a non-conformist rebel who participated in Monmouths Uprising in 1685 and was executed.
  Fowler Hicks made his home at Silton Hall.

America.  Robert Hicks from London arrived at the Massachusetts Bay Colony on the Fortune in 1621, just one year after the Mayflower.  His wife Margaret and two children followed on the Anne in 1623 and they made their home in Duxbury.  John Hicks, possibly his son, came from London to Weymouth in 1637; while Thomas Hicks, possibly a brother (both had been dealers in London in skins and furs), was in Scituate by 1640

Hicks Quaker LinesJohn Hicks had an unsettled early time in America.  He moved from Weymouth to Rhode Island in 1639 and there, after unsuccessfully seeking a divorce from his first wife, left her in 1645 and departed for Long Island (then under Dutch rule).  He was the forebear of the Quaker Hicks in New York and Pennsylvania.

His son Thomas had moved to Long Island after he had married Mary Washburn.  Their grandchildren became Quakers in the mid-18th century.  Among the notable Quakers here were:
  • Elias Hicks, born on Long Island in 1748, who was a famous Quaker preacher of his day.  In his ministry he promoted doctrines that embroiled him and his followers in controversies which caused the first major schism within the Quaker community.  He was the founder of a branch that is known to this day as Hicksites.  
  • his cousin Isaac Hicks who was a successful New York Quaker merchant and who traveled extensively with Elias in his ministry.  His grandson John was one of the founders of Swarthmore College.  Another grandson Isaac was a horticulturalist who started Hicks Nursery on Long Island in 1853.  
  • and another more distant cousin Edward Hicks who was a Quaker preacher from Langhorne in Bucks county, Pennsylvania.  His grandfather Gilbert had moved there in 1747 and built Hicks House where Edward had been born.  Edward became a Quaker icon because of his folk paintings.  He painted more than sixty Peaceable Kingdoms illustrating the vision of the prophet Isaiah.
Hicks in the South.  The early spelling in Virginia was either Hix or Hicks:
  • Samuel Hix arrived in Virginia in 1637 and many Hix and Hicks in Virginia and North Carolina were descended from him. 
  • while Captain Robert Hicks of Hicks' Ford in Brunswick county was an Indian trader of much renown in the late 1600's and early 1700's.  William Byrd saw him in 1728 when Hicks was seventy years old and described him as follows: "Beauty never appeared better in old age, with a ruddy complexion and hair as white as snow."
Thomas Hicks came to Maryland from Cumberland in England around the year 1680.  A descendant was Thomas H. Hicks, Dorchester county farmer and Maryland Governor during the Civil War.  He managed to keep Maryland on the Union side during that conflict.

William Hicks was in Baltimore, Maryland by 1690.  He may have come from Long Island (although family tradition has him coming from English immigrants).  His grandson Shadrach and wife Elizabeth were among the first settlers in Sullivan county, Tennessee in 1776.  Their grandson Shadrach (better known as Shade) moved onto Monroe county in 1805.  His son Isaac fought on the Confederate side in the Civil War
.

A Hicks line from New York headed south after the Revolutionary War.  Amos Hicks was a pioneer settler in Hancock county, Georgia in the early 1800s.  His son Arrice migrated first to Alabama and then in the 1850s to Pontotoc county, Mississippi.  Some Hicks have remained in the area, others moved onto Texas.

Canada.  One Quaker Hicks line in Rhode Island led to Canada.  John Hicks left with other Rhode Island settlers for Nova Scotia in 1760.  He made his home in Annapolis township.  Josiah Hicks was an early settler in the 1770's in Sackville, New Brunswick. 

Australia and New Zealand.  Richard Hicks, convicted in Kent in 1797, had to wait four years before embarking on the Canada to transport him to Australia.  His son James Hicks settled in the Northern Illawarra dtstrict of NSW and prospered there.  James's son Henry T. Hicks was elected an alderman in 1887 and two of Henry's sons fought with the Australian Imperial Force in World War One.

John Hicks from Cornwall was an early arrival in New Zealand, coming there in 1841 on the William Bryan.  He married Margaret Old, also from Cornwall, in New Plymouth, Taranaki two years later.  There is no record of a divorce.  But John returned to Cornwall in the 1870's and married again.  Margaret and their ten children remained in New Zealand.

Select Hicks Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Hicks Names

Ellis Hicks distinguished himself at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356 and was afterwards knighted by the King.
Elias Hicks was a famous Quaker preacher in America in the early 1800's who through his preachings caused a split within the Quaker community.
John Hicks was an eminent British economist of the 20th century, a follower and explainer of Keynes.

Select Hicks Today
  • 22,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 54,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 31,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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