Dickens Surname Genealogy

Dick is an abbreviation of Richard (it
is said that some of the native English could not get their mouth
around the Norman “R” and “R” became “D” or “H”
instead); and Dickens
is a pet form of Dick, the -“kens”
denoting “the
little one.” Alternative spellings have been Dickin and Dicken.No one quite knows how the expression “what the dickens,” a
mild expletive (dickens instead of devil), emerged. It
seems to have been around since the 1600’s.

Dickens Resources on

Dickens Ancestry

Dickens seems to have been originally a term and a name localized to
the west Midlands of England. Exactly where is impossible to say,
possibly Staffordshire, Shropshire or Derbyshire based on early

in Staffordshire date from the 1400’s.
This family held the manor of Preen from 1560 to 1749 when John
imprisoned for debt, could not pay the mortgage. Later
Dickins in Staffordshire were to be
found at Woodford Grange.

The Dickin name was to be found in the village of Wem in north
Shropshire in
the 17th century and perhaps earlier. Thomas Dickin was a master at
Wem school who met an unhappy end.

“Thomas Dickin was elected in 1650 and
taught until the great fire and sometime after. But then
abandoning himself to drunkenness he was dismissed from the school and
died very poor in 1687.”

did become local gentry
in Wem. The village has in fact a pub called The
Dickin Arms
, whose building dates back to 1665 (making it one of
the oldest
pubs in the country). And many Dickins
were also to be found in the nearby village of Prees.

was a Thomas Dickin in the 1670’s who involved himself with his cousin
Cotton in an early iron forge and furnace venture in south Yorkshire.

Charles Dickens’ line seems to have started out in Hazelwood in
Derbyshire in the 16th century. They were later in London and
Charles’s grandfather William was born there in 1716. He had been
a steward to Lord Crewe at his country seat in Cheshire where he had
met Elizabeth, his second wife, who was a housemaid there.
William had two sons by Elizabeth, William and John (Charles’s
father). It was Elizabeth’s legacy after her death in 1824 that
released John from the debtors’ prison and Charles from the blacking

“Having left school at the age of
fifteen, Charles Dickens began his career by working in a solicitor’s
office and then became a political reporter. This period was of
the greatest importance to Dickens’s development as an author.
His interests widened, he mastered the art of rapid, fluent, popular
writing, and he acquired a stock of experience that was to give his
novels their tremendous immediacy and impact.”

Charles Dickens
and his wife had ten children and they were to have many descendants,
some achieving success in their own right.

Dickens lines elsewhere have been:

  • a Dicken family (sometimes spelt Dickin) has been traced
    to the south Derbyshire village of Newton Solney. Five Dickins
    were recorded in 1662 Hearth Tax assessments and the Dicken name was
    still very visible there in the 19th century.
  • Samuel Dickens was the vicar of St.
    Margaret’s in Hemingford Abbotts in Huntingdonshire in the early
    1700’s. The church has stained glass insets with armorial
    bearings to the
    Dickens family. His descendants were later to be found in East
    Dereham, Norfolk.
  • one Dickens family account began with the birth of
    James Deacins in Cranleigh, Surrey in 1753 to parents described as
    “travellers.” These Dickens subsequently had
    army and navy careers.
  • and Dickens from Stewkley in Buckinghamshire, from Riseley in
    Bedfordshire, and from Brixworth in Northamptonshire date back to
    about 1800.

America. The first
Dickens in America may well have been
Thomas Dickens who died in Surry county, Virginia in 1717. From
his line came Ephraim and Thomas Dickens, brothers in Raleigh county,
West Virginia (lines followed in Kirk Dickens’ 1985 book The Descendants of Ephraim Dickens and
Thomas Dickens
). Another family account of this line began with
Dickens who married Rhody Pennington in Virginia in 1812.

From the Hazelwood, Derbyshire line in England came two brothers,
Joseph and William Dickens (sometime called Dicken in America), who set
out for Halifax county, North Carolina in the 1750’s. The Rev. John
was also to be found in Halifax county by
1780. Meanwhile
Thomas Dickens of Northampton county, North Carolina was the forebear
of the Dickens who migrated to Arkansas. Another Dickens family from
North Carolina moved to the Hurricane Creek area of Tennessee in the
early 1800’s.

One later Dickens line in North Carolina stemmed in the 1860’s from the
union of the white Kelly Dickens, a doctor, and the black Milly, his
housekeeper. Kelly and Milly would not have been allowed to marry
in the antebellum North Carolina.

Today the Dickens population in America is very much to be found still
in North Carolina and Tennessee. Best known Dickens today are
Jimmy Dickens,
the country singer, and
Hazel Dickens, who sings bluegrass. Both were born in West

Francis Dickens was
the third son of novelist Charles Dickens who had a somewhat
opinion of him.

“On being asked by his son for three hundred pounds, a
horse and a gun
to set himself up as a gentleman farmer in the colonies, Charles
Dickens wrote
that the consequence of the first is that he would be robbed of it, the
that it would throw him, and the third, that he would shoot his own
head off.”

his father’s death in 1870, Francis soon wasted his small inheritance
managed to get a post with the NW Mounted Police in Canada. He served there for twelve years before
premature death from a heart attack. He
left behind a rather tattered reputation

Dickens Miscellany

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

Dickens Names

Charles Dickens was the
popular and prolific Victorian novelist whose works have endured.
Monica Dickens, a granddaughter
of Charles Dickens, was a 20th century English writer.
Little Jimmy Dickens is an
country singer from West

Select Dickens Today

  • 9,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Nottinghamshire)
  • 5,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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