Select Avery Surname Genealogy

Avery is an English surname of ambiguous origin. Some scholars believe that the name is Anglo-Norman and derived from Every or Evreux, the latter being the name of a county in Normandy. Alternatively it might come from the Old French given name Aubri (Aubrey) or Auvery. Auvray was a fairly common name in Normandy in medieval times.

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Select Avery Ancestry

England. The earliest sightings of the Avery surname seem to have been in SW England. Avery was also found in SE England.

SW England. The Avery or Every name appeared at an early time at Bodmin in Cornwall. Thomas Avery was recorded there in 1310 and Nicholas Avery was mayor of Bodmin in 1544.

The progenitor of a prominent Every family was John Every, born in Bodmin in the early 1500’s. He was the father of two Every lines:

  • one line went through his son John Every of Chard in Somerset, a Serjeant-at-Arms to Queen Elizabeth. His descendant Sir Simon Every, a Royalist supporter during the Civil War, became the first of the Every baronets. These Everys made their home in Derbyshire.
  • another line went through John’s nephews William and Alexander Every who prospered in trade and held Wycroft castle near Newton Ferrers in Devon. The pirate Henry Every of the late 1600’s was thought to have been a cousin of these Wycroft Everys.
“According to a deposition by a member of Every’s crew
in 1696, Henry Every was then aged about 40 years, his mother lived near Plymouth, and his wife was a
periwig seller in the East End of London.”

Henry Every disappeared at that time. Rumors abounded as to his whereabouts. But there were no reliable sightings.

Devon had the most Averys in England by the 19th century. William Avery held the manor of Coreham in 1270. Christopher Avery was a kersey weaver at Totnes in the late 1500’s whose descendants emigrated to America. Robert Avery, gentleman of Dowland, was recorded as burying his first wife Thomasine there in 1601, his second wife Johanna there in 1612, and marrying his third wife Ann
there in 1613. He himself died in 1628.

The Avery name did extend into the West Midlands. An early sighting was the Avery family in the village of Fillongley in north Warwickshire. The first Avery recorded there was William Avery, born around 1500. A branch of the family emigrated to Massachusetts in 1650. William Avery who died in 1732 left in his will a charity endowment to the village.

The Averys of Redditch in Worcestershire were needle manufacturers for three generations, dating back to William Avery in the early 1800’s. Harold Avery of this family was a well-regarded writer of children’s books in the early 1900’s.

SE England. The name has been most common here in London, Sussex and Kent. The Avery name had become quite widespread in
Sussex by the 16th century. Averys were yeoman farmers at Westfield in the Rother valley at this time and possibly earlier. In Hurstpierpoint, Nathaniel and Susan Avery were recorded as living at an old farmhouse known as Knowl’s Tooth; while Thomas Avery was the owner of Cobb’s Mill.

There were also early Averys in Berkshire. They were in the clothing trade in Newbury during the 17th century. Amos Avery of this family was commissioner for Berkshire in the 1650’s.

Ireland. Avery in Ireland has Gaelic origins from the Mac Aimhreidh sub-sept found in Ulster and in county Down in particular. Harry Avery’s castle in Tyrone was thought to have been built in the 14th century and named after Harry Avery (Henry Aimbreidh) O’Neill, a local chief who died in 1392¬†

America. The most written-about Averys in America have been the so-called Groton Averys. The Rev. David Avery wrote a very early history of this family in 1800. This was followed by Elroy and Catharine Avery’s 1912 book The Groton Avery Clan.

The Groton Averys. The forebears of this family were Christopher Avery and his son James Avery who arrived in America in 1630, first settling in Gloucester, Massachusetts and then in New London, Connecticut. James died in the nearby township of Groton in 1700.

“In 1871 it was worthy of note that out of the 545 representatives of the town of Groton, 104 have borne the name of Avery and all were descendants of Captain James Avery.”

Waightstill Avery, born in Groton in 1741, migrated to North Carolina where he fought in the Revolutionary War. One of his grandsons Isaac was a colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War, another William was a member of the Confederate Congress and speaker at the North Carolina Senate.

Solomon Avery was Waightstill’s brother and wrote to him as follows after the Battle of Groton Heights in 1781.

“Eleven Averys were killed in the fort at Groton and seven wounded. Many Averys have been killed in this county, but there have been no Tories among them of our name.”

Solomon moved to Pennsylvania in 1798. A descendant was Cyrus Avery, the so-called father of Route 66.
He was a realtor in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the early 1900’s who promoted the road in order to link rural communities from Chicago to Kansas and onto Los Angeles.

Another line led via Cayuga county, New York to Benjamin Avery who started a blacksmith shop at Virginia in 1825. Twenty years later he established himself in Louisville, Kentucky and began making plows. By the time of his death in 1885 his company was the largest manufacturer of plows in the world.

Then there was Dr. Dudley Avery, also for a time in Cayuga county, who settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1806. He died at sea of yellow fever in 1816. However, by that time he had given his name to Avery Island¬†where his son Daniel was a sugar planter, judge, and state senator. During the Civil War Daniel’s son John developed a valuable salt mine on the island. The aftermath of the war found the family estate ruined. But Daniel’s son-in-law Edmund McIlhenny began making there the now famous Tabasco brand pepper sauce.

Other Averys. Other early New England Averys were:

  • Thomas Avery, a blacksmith, who came on the John and Mary
    in 1633. He eventually settled in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
  • the Rev. John Avery, a preacher from Wiltshire, who had come to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1634 but perished in a shipwreck a year later.
  • William Avery, an apothecary from Berkshire, who came with his family in 1650 and made his home in Dedham, His grandson John was minister at the first church at Truro on Cape Cod. Later descendants were to be found in Massachusetts and Maine primarily.
  • there was also William Averill, first sighted in Ipswich in 1637. Many of his descendants in Maine and New York state became Avery.

Canada. William Avery was among the Pennsylvania Loyalists who crossed the border into Canada around the year 1785. His grandson Jefferson moved in 1871 with his family from their Avery home in Haliburton county, Ontario across the Lake of Bays to a new homestead in the district of Muskoka; and Jefferson’s son Nehemiah then made his home further north along the Muskego river where he farmed.

Samuel Avery meanwhile came to Ontario from Devon sometime in the 1860’s and settled in Bruce county. The Bruce museum there has a small booklet describing the descendants of his son Albert.

New Zealand. Averys from Kent came to New Zealand. Thomas Avery and his family from Staplehurst were early arrivals in Wellington in 1840, sponsored by their Kent parish, and farmed at Taita in the Lower Hutt area. Esau Avery from Benenden came to Wellington with his family in 1855 on a roundabout route that took in a five year stay in South Carolina. A later Avery, Henry, played rugby for New Zealand and founded Avery Motors, the Wellington franchise for Ford cars, in the 1920’s.

Select Avery Miscellany

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

Select Avery Names

Henry Every was a famous English pirate of the late 1600’s.
Waightstill Avery
was an American Revolutionary War hero who served as the first attorney general of North Carolina and fought a duel with the young Andrew Jackson.
Oswald T. Avery
was a Canadian-born American molecular biologist who in 1943 first isolated DNA as the material from which genes and chromosomes are made.
Avery was an American animator and cartoonist, creating such characters as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Droopy.

Select Averys Today

  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous in Gloucestershire)
  • 14,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 11,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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