Agee Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Agee Surname Meaning

Agee name origins are uncertain. Mathieu Agee, a French Huguenot from Nantes, was the forebear of the Agees in America.

Agee Surname Resources on The Internet

Agee Surname Ancestry

  • from France (Huguenot)
  • to America

Fleeing Nantes, Mathieu Agee went to Holland and with other Huguenots joined the ranks of William of Orange who in 1688 was able to secure the throne of England. In recognition of the Huguenot support for his cause, William offered them passage to the New World.  A large number of these refugees, including Mathieu, took advantage of the offer.

America.  Mathieu Agee arrived in Virginia in 1690, received land grants west of Richmond, and built a plantation about seven miles from where the Huguenots had founded the town of Manakin in Goochland county.

All the Agees in America have been derived from him. The 1920 US census showed that there were close to a thousand Agees in America. By 2000 the Agee numbers were more than three times higher.

Virginia.  Mathieu Agee and his wife raised four children in Virginia. The main Agee lines have come from two sons – James (born in 1725) and Anthony (born in 1727).  In 1755 Mathieu and his family moved west from Manakin along the south side of the James river to Dillwyn in what would become Buckingham county in 1761.

Some descendants remained in Dillwyn.  William Agee was joint owner of the West and Agee grocery store that operated at Dillwyn in the years after the Civil War.  Hamilton (Hambone) Agee was a later store-owner with his brother-in-law Fred Williams in the early 1900’s.  Other Agees spread elsewhere in Virginia and to Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and Alabama.

Tennessee. The ancestry of the writer James Agee started with his father Hugh who died in an auto accident in 1916 when James was seven (it made a profound impression on him).  Hugh came from rugged Tennessee farming stock in Campbell county. His forebear Isaac Agee had settled in this mountainous backwoods area in the early 1800’s.  He was the grandson of Mathieu Agee through his son Anthony.

Anthony and Charles Agee were in Sullivan county, Tennessee by 1787, signing a petition for the formation of a new state of Franklin.  Daniel Agee was there by 1792. In 1820 he and his son William headed south to new land in Madison county, Alabama.

Alabama. Joseph Agee acquired land in Marengo county, Alabama in 1837 and finally completed his plantation house there in 1859. Early Agees were buried in the Magnolia cemetery. However, the best-known Agee from this area has been the baseball player Tommie Agee who came from the black section of town.

Elsewhere. William Agee was a prominent landowner from Virginia along the Black river in Missouri in the 1850’s. The Agee School in Poplar Bluff township has been his legacy.

There were also two William Agee Baptist ministers. The first was a physician and a native of Alabama, having been born there in 1845. He formed the Agee Baptist church in Pleasant Valley, Texas in 1900.  Another Agee minister moved from Owenton, Kentucky to Boise,  Idaho around this time. His grandson was the corporate executive William Agee.

The two books covering the Agee lines are:

  • Paul Agee’s 1937 book A Record of the Agee Family (based on the Rev. James Agee’s earlier work)
  • and Louis N. Agee’s 1982 book The Agee Register. 

The first Mathieu Agee descendant reunion occurred in 2007 in Richmond, Virginia.

Agee Surname Miscellany

Agee Origins.  Agee is a French surname of uncertain origin.  It is thought that the Huguenot family in Nantes was originally called des Ages, meaning “of the ages.”  Others have suggested that Agee was possibly a variant of Ajean, meaning “enfant à Jean.”

The first Mathieu Age’ was recorded as being born in Nantes in 1613.  According to Louis N. Agee’s 1982 book The Agee Register:

“This family was of noble birth, but because of its espousal of the Huguenot faith was forced to give up its claim to nobility when its lands were confiscated by the French Government after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 by Louis XIV.  Mathieu Age’, being a young man at this time, decided to flee from his former home.”

James W. Agee’s A Record of the Agee Family.  James W. Agee wrote that all living Agee’s, except one, could claim descent from “the 24” who were the 24 children of James and Anthony Agee:

  • Noah, James, Jacob, John, Hercules, Joseph, Rhoda, Ruth, Celia, Mary, Chloe, and Nancy – all children of James Agee
  • and Joshua, James, Daniel, Matthew, Jacob, John, Isaac, Joseph, Reuben, Anthony, Noah, and an unnamed daughter who married a Christian – all children of Anthony Agee.

James had married a Ford and lived near Maysville, in Buckingham county, Virginia.  James and his wife lived together 74 years and both died in 1821, aged respectively 96 and 92 years. His house was a preaching place for seventy years. He fed all who came and would stay to eat and yet he would never “eat out.” His home was used as a preaching place as long as Joseph his son lived in Virginia.  At his death  he gave his farm to Joseph.

Agee Numbers

State 1840 1920 2000
Virginia    25   140   400
Kentucky    11    80   180
Tennessee    11   110   330
Missouri    14   120   180
Alabama     7   110   430
Elsewhere    12   400  2,080
Total    80   960  3,600

Reader Feedback – Agees from Buckingham, Virginia.  I am the daughter of Marion Agee, who was born in Buckingham, Virginia in 1922, and the granddaughter of Peter Agee.  Peter was the son of James T. Agee and Mahala Hartwell, all of Buckingham Hartwell from the Bremo plantation.  I would like more information.

Patricia Williams (

James Agee and A Death in the Family.  James Agee was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1909 to Hugh James Agee and Laura Whitman Tyler.  When Agee was six, his father went out of town to see his own father who had suffered a heart attack.  During the return trip he was killed in a car accident.  The death made a huge impression on the young Agee and he eventually memorialized the incident in his autobiographical novel A Death in the Family.

A Death in the Family has the simple beauty and drama of a folk ballad.  Set in the foothills of Tennessee’s Great Smokeys, it sings of “quiet summer evenings” and a Knoxville family faced with the problems of love and human loneliness.

It’s a song about a young boy of six years or so who wants a cap like a man’s and who finds the night frightening as he lies in his bed.  It’s about his father who drives too fast and sometimes drinks too much, but who sings his son back to sleep with “Froggy would a wooin’ go;” and about his mother afraid for her loved ones.

He began writing the book in 1948, but it was not quite complete when he died in 1955.   Agee won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the novel in 1958.

Early Agees in Magnolia, Alabama.  Joseph Agee, the son of Noah Agee from Virginia, was forty when he bought 126 acres of land in Marengo county, Alabama in 1837 to start a plantation.  The main house of this plantation was not, however, completed until 1859, the year that Joseph died.  His son Zachariah took over the running of the plantation on Joseph’s death.

Early Agees in the area were buried in the Magnolia and the Shiloh Baptist church cemeteries in Marengo county.  The following were some early Agees, the sons and wives of Joseph and his wife Sarah (nee Dumas), in the Magnolia cemetery.

Magnolia Cemetery Birth Death
Zachariah Agee   1832   1905
Mary E. Agee   1837   1926
Kennon Agee   1844   1920
Annie E. Agee   1849   1924
Ishan Agee   1849   1918

Kennon Agee was just seventeen when he enlisted in the Confedarate Army in 1861 at Fort Gaines.  He served through the duration of the War until he received his discharge papers in May 1865.

However, a few months before his discharge, he was already making plans about his marriage. The object of his affections was Annie McIntosh who was at that time just fifteen years of age.  Special consent had to be obtained from the probate judge of Marengo county for the marriage to take place.  This was duly obtained and the couple did get married.  Their first son William was born four years later in 1869.

Tommie Agee from Magnolia, Alabama.  Tommie Agee was born in Magnolia, Alabama in 1942, one out eleven children (of which only two were boys) to Joseph and Carrie Agee who were both born and bred in Magnolia.  A year after Tommie’s birth the Agees moved to Mobile, Alabama where his father had got a job working for Alcoa.  Tommie grew up in the black section of this segregated town.

This area, however, had been a rich source for baseball talent, with both Hank Aaron and Willie McCovey hailing from there.  Tommie Agee followed them to the majors.  His moment of fame came with the Miracle Mets of 1969 when the New York team made it to the World Series and then won it.  In the third game of the series Tommie, who was the Mets centre fielder, made two of the most spectacular catches ever seen in World Series history.

Reader Feedback – Agees in Alabama.  My grandfather Benjamin F. Agee was a large landowner in Magnolia, Alabama.  This set of Agees can be traced back to the Bible and came from North Africa, entering the United States through Canada. They have their own school, school buses, gas station, church story, and controlled a large part of Magnolia.

Adrienne Stroud (

Reader Feedback – Agee aka Clark in Georgia.  I’m a direct descendant of Mathieu Agee. However, in the early 1930’s my grandfather – Lige Franklin Dexter Weaver Agee, the son of Francis Marin Agee – moved to Georgia and changed his name to Jack L. Clark. He made whiskey and I suspect the move was to outsmart the “revenuers.”

At some point Francis Marin had simply disappeared.  My father once stopped by a pool hall in Nashville, Tennessee on one of his business trips.  The bartender nearly fell over telling my Dad that he could be a twin for a buddy of his, last name Agee.  My Dad then recounted our true Agee history and thought that Nashville might have been where his grandfather wound up – as the buddy was named Frank Agee or some variation thereof.  That was in the 1980’s and Daddy never got any contact information for the bartender’s friend.

Francis had a brother named Gavin and, through an ancestry DNA connection with an adopted woman, we were able to identify him as Gavin “Babe” Agee who had moved to Ohio at some point.

My grandfather Jack L. Clark is buried at Wright’s Chapel in Worth county, Georgia with my grandmother Hazel Booth Clark.  Currently they only have little metal grave markers.  But I hope one day to have a headstone made for them with of course their actual last name on it.

At any rate, there is a whole big branch of the Agee line that live in Georgia under the fake last name of Clark and I’m one of them. Would love to have my real last name back, but what red tape that would be!

Kimberly Clark (

Agee Names

  • Mathieu Agee, a Huguenot refugee, was the progenitor of the Agees in America. 
  • James Agee from Tennessee was an influential American writer and critic of the 1940’s and 1950’s, best known for his prose lyric Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. 
  • Philip Agee from Florida was the CIA agent who wrote the 1975 book Inside the Company: CIA Diary. 
  • William Agee from Idaho was a prominent American business executive from the 1970’s to 1990’s, being the CEO of the Bendix and Morrison-Knudsen companies.

Agee Numbers Today

  • 3,500 in America (most numerous in Alabama)


Agee and Like Surnames

These are Huguenot names, names sometimes anglicized brought by Protestant refugees from France in the 17th century to England and America.  These are some of the Huguenot originating surnames that you can check out here.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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