Tucker


Select Tucker Surname Genealogy

The name Tucker, like the names Walker and Fuller, comes from the wool trade.  The Walkers and Fullers would beat the wool cloth to make it softer.  The Tuckers refined the cloth to give it fluffiness and body.

Linguistically, Tucker comes from the German tucher, meaning cloth-weaver.  This name passed onto Flemish wool-traders who may have brought it with them to Devon.  Tucker/Tukker has been a long-established surname in Holland.

Another origin of this name has been mooted in Devon.  A Norman family was granted lands there after the Norman Conquest.  Some have suggested that they brought the name Tucker with them (originally Touker from the French tout couer or all heart).

The Tucker surname may also have Jewish or Irish origins.

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Select Tucker Ancestry

England.  The wool trade was an important medieval industry in Devon and an important source of finance. The nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep is thought to have originated in Devon in the 1270's. The rhyme ends:

"Three bags full:
One for the master (the landowner)
One for the dame (the countess of Devon)
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane (the English Parliament - down the lane = London)"

The Tucker surname started to appear in Devon villages such as Stockland and Throwleigh in the late 1400's.  There was a Tuckers' Hall in Exeter which served as a focal point and market for the town.  Robert Tucker was mayor of Exeter in 1543.  He was said "to have discharged the office with great honor and entertained the Spanish ambassador and his whole retinue at his own house with great cost for the space of three days."  His family later moved to Coryton Park near Tavistock.

Many Tuckers were seafarers and took part in the attack on the Spanish Armada in 1588.  From Throwleigh came the merchant/adventurer George Tucker.  He was granted lands in Kent in  Elizabethan times.  Today, Tucker is still a common name in Devon and is to be found as well in neighboring counties such as Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire.  The 19th century naval Tuckers came from Trematon Castle in Cornwall.

Bermuda.  George Tucker was a member of the Virginia company.  But Bermuda was the main port of call for this family.  Dan Tucker, reputedly a cantankerous man, was its first governor.  Later Tuckers featured in American Independence.  Thomas Tudor Tucker moved to America, fought in the Revolutionary War, and became that country's Treasurer in 1801.  St. George Tucker also settled in America and was an esteemed statesman and lawyer there in the early years of the new republic. 

In Bermuda, the Tucker home at St. Georges has been preserved as a museum.  And this Tucker dynasty continued well into the 20th century.  Sir Henry Tucker founded the United Bermuda Party and became the first elected leader of the country in 1968.

America.  There were Tucker immigrants into Massachusetts - such as Robert and Henry Tucker whose descendants included the Rev. William Jewett Tucker, a President of Dartmouth College - but more into Virginia. 

Captain William Tucker was among the survivors at Jamestown in 1623.  One Tucker family migrated to South Carolina and then settled in Tennessee.  Other Tuckers moved to Georgia and Louisiana and later to Texas.  Tuckers owned plantations and slaves in the south, the Litchfield plantation in South Carolina and the Cottonwood plantation in Louisiana for example.  The slave song Old Dan Tucker became hugely popular in the 19th century (said to be after the Rev. Daniel Tucker who operated Tucker's ferry in rural Georgia).

African American.  William Tucker is believed to have been the first African American slave born in America.  He was born in Jamestown in 1624 and took the name of the English sea captain who had bought him.  Today's Tuckers include a sizeable number of African Americans:
  • Rosina Tucker, a daughter of slaves, had been an early campaigner for civil and workers' rights in the 1930's.  In 1982, after decades of obscurity, she became a celebrity.  At the age of 100, she narrated the award-winning TV documentary, Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle
  • while the actor Chris Tucker has traced his family back to Flat Rock in Georgia and a community founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.  DNA testing in 2007 showed that his original roots lay with the Mbundu tribe in Angola.
Africa.  John Tucker was a slave trader active out of West Africa in the 1660's.  He married a Sherbro princess and they had many children.  These Sherbro Tuckers became a powerful clan in what is now Sierra Leone (their history was traced in Peter Tucker's 1997 book The Tuckers of Sierra Leone). Though their European connection is all but gone, they are still very westernized in their dress and behavior.

India.  Sarah Tucker never visited India.  However, it was this woman in a wheelchair in England who n 1895 raised the funds for the first women's college in southern India.   Sarah Tucker College still thrives.

New Zealand.  William Tucker who started life down under as a convict shipped out to New Zealand in 1809 and was later the first European to settle in Dunedin.  He was New Zealand's first art dealer too, although with the dubious distinction of trading human heads.

Edward Tucker and his family from Cornwall were early settlers at New Plymouth, NI in 1841.  William Tucker, born in Auckland in 1843, prospered as a land developer at Gisborne on the east coast.  It was said:

"Like many of his generation, he related well to his Maori friends, spoke their language, and fathered a Maori branch of the family.  He had practical, moderate visions, visions which he saw fulfilled."

Select Tucker Miscellany

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


Select Tucker Names

George Tucker was an Elizabethan merchant adventurer granted lands in Kent.
Dan Tucker was the first Governor of Bermuda in 1616.
Thomas Tudor Tucker, born in Bermuda, became Treasurer of the United States in 1801.
Tilghman Tucker was Governor of Louisiana in the 1840's.
Sophie Tucker, born Sophie Kalish in Russia, was a singer and comedian, one of the most popular entertainers in America in the early 20th century.
Rosina Tucker was an African American campaigner for civil and workers' rights in the 1930's.
Sir Henry Tucker, often called the architect of modern Bermuda, was its first elected leader in 1968.
Tanya Tucker is a country music singer from Texas who had her first hit in 1972 as a teenager.

Select Tuckers Today
  • 34,000 in the UK (most numerous in Buckinghamshire)
  • 61,000 in America (most numerous in Texas).
  • 23,000 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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