Whittaker


Select Whittaker Surname Genealogy

The root of this surname is the place-name Whiteacre, from the Old English hwit meaning “white” and aecer meaning “cultivated land.”  This place-name translated into the early Whitacre name in Warwickshire and the later Whitaker name in Lancashire.  The Warwickshire line died out and Lancashire has been where most of this name were to be found. 

Whitaker and Whittaker
are the main spellings.  The spelling in Lancashire tended to end up Whittaker; while that in neighboring Yorkshire and for those emigrants to America it has been Whitaker
.

Select Whittaker Resources on The Internet

Select Whittaker Ancestry

England.  Whitaker as a surname is Saxon in origin, predating the Norman Conquest and going initially by the name of de Whytacre.  This Whitacre family in Warwickshire was to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086 and rose to some prominence in later medieval times. 

Lancashire
.  It is possible that that was some linkage between the Whitacres of Warwickshire and the Whitakers in Lancashire, but none has really been documented
.

There have been two long-established Whitaker families in the Ribble valley district of Lancashire near Burnley, one at Simonstone and the other at Holme: 
  • Richard de Whitaker, from High Whitaker, was recorded as living at Simonstone in 1333.  The Whitakers of Simonstone Hall had their property seized and then restored during the Civil War and Restoration period.  Charles Whitaker died at Simonstone in 1843.
“The most distinguished of the Whitakers of Holme was the celebrated divine, the Rev. William Whitaker, professor of divinity at Cambridge University, whose library was so famous that it was purchased after his death in 1595 by Queen Elizabeth I."

Later came Dr. T.D. Whitaker, born in 1759, who was the vicar of Whalley and a well-known historian.  The Holme estate remained in family hands until 1959.

Other branches in the area were the Whitakers at Broadclough and Huncoat.  One Whittaker line came from Whittaker near Rochdale.  The early spelling in Lancashire had been de Quitacre.  The transition in spelling from Whitaker to Whittaker began in the 1500's.

Yorkshire
.  Whitakers extended across the Pennines into the West Riding of Yorkshire.  Jeremiah Whitaker, the noted Puritan clergyman, was born in Wakefield in 1599.  Other Whitakers were to be found in Dewsbury at this time.  The name had reached the parish of Howden in east Yorkshire by the 1640's.  A Whitaker family there later took possession of Balkholme manor.

Joseph Whitaker, from a west Yorkshire trading family, had moved to Sicily in the early 1800's and developed a fortified wine industry at Marsala on the island of Motya.   A later Joseph Whitaker of this family was a well-known ornithologist, as well as being an anthropologist and wine producer.  He died in Rome in 1936.  Meanwhile Benjamin Whitaker had returned to England and acquired Hesley Hall near Doncaster.

Elsewhere.  Stephen Whitaker, born around 1520, was the forebear of one of the most important families of the Wiltshire woolen industry during Tudor times.  He may have come from one of the Lancashire Whitaker families, but there is no proof of this.  He and his sons Henry and Stephen operated a mill at Westbury.  Henry and his son William were both MP’s for Shaftesbury.
  Another west country line dates back to the marriage of Nicholas and Martha Whitaker in Halesowen, Worcestershire in 1623.

Ireland.   There is a Whittaker line at Abbeyleix in present-day county Laios that apparently went back to three Whittaker brothers granted lands there at the time of Cromwell.  Their mill was burnt down by Irish rebels in 1798. Many of these Whittakers departed for Canada in 1848 at the time of the potato famine.

America.  Two sons of the divine Dr William Whitaker of Holme in Lancashire came to the early Jamestown colony in Virginia: 
  • the first being Alexander, known as the Apostle of Virginia, who arrived in 1611 but drowned in the James river in 1617. 
  • and the second being the youngest son Jabez who arrived in 1619, survived the Indian massacre three years later, and died there in 1626.  
The Whitaker line descended from Captain Jabez Whitaker was covered in Charles Brashear’s 2008 book Whitakers of Holme and America.  Richard and William Whitaker were later sizeable landowners in the Jamestown area.  One line moved to Enfield, North Carolina and thence to Georgia.  Another line settled in the Camden district of South Carolina.   William Whitaker of this line was an early settler in Florida in the place now known as Sarasota.

John Whitaker sometimes Whitacre was believed to have been an indentured servant arriving in Virginia around the year 1690 who then moved onto Maryland and acquired land known as Whitaker's Ridge in the vicinity of Baltimore. 

His grandson the Rev. John Whitaker, born there in 1722, became head of his family at the tender age of nineteen (after the death of his parents) and moved them twice:
  • first he moved them west to new land along the Monongahela river in what is today Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  He established the village of Whitaker there.  Many Whitakers lived and died and were buried there.
  • then in 1780, with the Revolutionary War still raging (and his sons Abraham and Aquilla engaged in that conflict), he moved the family west again to Beargrass Creek in Kentucky.  John was one of just five frontier Baptist preachers active in Kentucky at that time.  He continued preaching at the Beargrass Baptist church in Shelby county until his death in 1798.
North Carolina.  William Whitaker was from a line of Quaker Whitakers from Lancashire that had settled in Philadelphia in the early 1700's.  After a devastating fire at his home there in 1751, he moved his family to Rowan county in North Carolina.   By 1767 Joshua and Mary Whitaker were also to be found in Rowan county (their children later moved to Buncombe county); while other Whitakers were in Surry county, North Carolina at this time.  Interestingly, North Carolina had the largest number of Whitakers in America in 1840 and still has the largest number today.

Australia and New Zealand.  James Whittaker was a convict who was transported to Australia for larceny in 1828.  He later became a successful businessman in South Australia.  But he died when the ship on which he was travelling hit the rocks in 1859 on its way to Melbourne.

James Henry Whittaker, born in Manchester, came to New Zealand in 1890 and six years later started making confectionary chocolate in Wellington.   His business remains family-owned with the third generation, Andrew and Brian, now in charge and Whittaker's rivalling Cadbury's as the largest chocolate brand in New Zealand.

Select Whittaker Miscellany

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


Select Whittaker Names

Sir
Richard de Whitacre, from a Saxon family, was Lord of the Manor of Nether Whitacre and a prominent Warwickshire landowner of the 14th century. 
Dr. William Whitaker
from Holme in Lancashiire was one of the leading English Protestant scholars and churchmen of the 16th century. 
Joseph Whitaker
was the first of a family of Whitakers that became important in the iron and steel business in Pennsylvania during the 19th and 20th centuries.
Joseph Whitaker, a London bookseller, launched Whitaker’s Almanack in 1869, an annual reference book which was to have immediate and lasting success.

Select Whittakers Today
  • 33,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 28,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina) 
  • 9,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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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