Andrews Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Andrews Surname Meaning

Andrew, the disciple of Jesus, derives from the Greeek Andreas, meaning “manly.”

The patronymical surnames Andrews and Anderson follow the normal north/south divide – Anderson, because of the Scandinavian influence, being strong in the north of England and in Scotland and Andrews mainly to be found in the south.  Andrewes was an early spelling of the name.

Andrews Surname Resources on The Internet

Andrews Surname Ancestry

  • from SE England and Channel Islands
  • to Ireland, America, Australia and South Pacific

England.  Andrews first appeared as a surname as Andrewys or Andrewes in the late 13th century. It has been mainly a name of SE England.

SE England.  Records for an old Suffolk Andrewes family began at an early time. Thomas Andrewes was a seaman in the early 1500’s and later a master at Trinity House:

  • two of his sons, Lancelot and Roger, were church scholars who contributed greatly to the King James version of the English Bible that was produced in 1611.
  • the line continued with Thomas and Richard Andrews, London merchants who helped finance the Plymouth plantation in America (being owners of the Mayflower and of the ill-fated Angel Gabriel).

Another London Andrews at this time, not apparently related, was Sir Thomas Andrewes, Lord Mayor of London under Cromwell. Henry Andrewes died in the Great Plague of 1665, but he left an infant son whose descendants established themselves as local gentry at Shaw House in Berkshire.

The Andrews gentry family of Bulmer Tye near Braintree in Essex were originally yeoman farmers from Holbrook in Suffolk. They had acquired The Auberies estate in 1715. Robert Andrews, born there in 1726, acted the part as local gentry.

“Robert Andrews has been immortalized by the painter Thomas Gainsborough who shows him masterfully posed in shooting garb against an elegant rococo iron bench alongside his wife in a beautiful silk dress in the grounds of their improved estate.”

The 19th century distribution showed the Andrews surname mainly around London and the southeast, with some Andrews west in Dorset and Devon.

Elsewhere.  Andrews at Widecombe on the moors in Devon date from 1626. Another family history starts with the marriage of Thomas Andrews and Elizabeth Haskell at Horton in Dorset in 1788. Richard Andrews was a coachbuilder and prominent civic leader in Southampton in the mid 19th century.

An Andrew family dates from the early 1500’s at Charwelton in Northamptonshire. They were staunch Parliamentarians at the time of the Civil War. Nicholas Andrews prospered as a salter in London and in 1624 settled after his marriage at Little Lever near Bolton in Lancashire.

His descendants, who later made their home at Rivington Hall, were prominent Protestant Dissenters in the county. Robert Andrews, a Dissenting minister in the mid-1700’s, was also known as a poet and translator of Virgil. His ending, however, was sad as he died insane.

Channel Islands.  John Andrews had come to Guernsey in the 1550’s as a lieutenant to the then governor of the island. He changed his name to Andros after marrying into the local gentry. These Androses held Sausmarez manor on Guernsey for the next two hundred years.

Scotland.  Saint Andrew may be the patron saint of Scotland. But Andrews as a surname is not common. Anderson or McAndrew or Kendrew are preferred.

Andrews was at one time a Caithness clan name, sometimes spelt Andrus. Duncan Fitz Andrew was its chief at the time they rendered homage to the English King Edward I in 1296. Later these Andrews seem to have been absorbed into the Ross clan.

Ireland. There were English Andrews who were granted the Rathenny estate in Offaly in 1667.

Earlier had come Thomas and Robert Andrew, troopers from Scotland in county Down. Robert’s descendants established themselves as millers in Comber. John Andrews expanded the business into linen-bleaching in the 18th century. Later came two brothers, John and Thomas:

  • John was a politician who became the second Prime Minister of Northern Ireland in 1940
  • while Thomas was managing director of the Harland & Wolff company in Belfast that built the Titanic. He was one of those who perished on its maiden voyage in 1912.

The Andrews family story has been recounted in Sydney Andrews’ 1958 book Nine Generations: A History of the Andrews Family of Comber.

The Andrews name was also to be found in Dublin. Todd Andrews, born there in 1901, was an Irish nationalist who helped form Fianna Fail. His 1979 autobiography was called Dublin Made Me. Two of his sons became Irish TD’s (MP’s), as did two of his grandsons. Eamonn Andrews, the TV presenter, was also born in Dublin, on the same street as the playwright George Bernard Shaw.

America. Early Andrews came to New England and also to Maryland and Virginia.

New England. Robert Andrewes was the master of the Angel Gabriel which was struck by a terrible thunderstorm on its passage across in 1635. Fortunately he and his family were rescued. They eventually settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Franklin Andrews’ 1890 book History of the Andrews Family has traced the subsequent Andrews line.

Meanwhile William Andrews, who had come from Suffolk on the sister vessel James in 1635, was one of the founders of the New Haven colony three years later. His descendant the Rev. Elisha Andrews, born in Connecticut in 1768, married Wealthy Lathrop and moved to Hinsdale, New Hampshire where he was a prominent Baptist minister.

Curiously there was another Rev. Elisha Andrews from Connecticut, but born fifteen years later. He was descended from immigrant John Andrews who had come to Farmington, Connecticut in 1645. This Rev. Elisha also married a Lathrop, in this case Betsey Lathrop. He served as Congregational Minister for Putney, Vermont from 1807 to 1829 and then, after losing his position there, moved to Michigan. His son Edmund was one of the founders of the Chicago Medical College and its first professor of surgery.

Elsewhere. John Andrews, from a prominent Rutland family in England, came to Maryland in 1654 under the patronage of Lord Cecil Calvert. Among his descendants were:

  • the Rev. John Andrews, born in 1746 in Cecil county, a clergyman in Pennsylvania who became the Provost of the University of Pennsylvania in 1810.
  • and Byron Andrews, born in 1852 in Wisconsin, who served as private secretary to President Grant on his trip to Mexico in 1880 and later became editor of the National Tribune.

James Andrews came to Old Rappahannock county, Virginia in the 1670’s. His line has been traced in Kittie LeBlanc’s 1981 book Andrews Family.

Australia.  Among the Andrews who came to Australia in the first half of the 19th century were:

  • John and James Andrews who were transported from Dorset in 1828. On their release they moved to Victoria and took up land for market gardening near Melbourne.
  • Abraham and Sarah Andrews and their family from Wiltshire who came to Australia in the 1850’s and settled in Singleton, NSW.
  • Robert and Elizabeth Andrews who left Dorset for Australia in 1853 (Elizabeth died during the passage).
  • and James Andrews who left county Derry with his three sons in 1854 (they settled in Manning valley, NSW).

South Pacific.  Fiji was a surprising outpost for the Andrews name.

“The family history goes that the first Andrews that came to Fiji in the early 1800’s was named Brent Andrews. He was a whaler on a ship that sunk off the harbor in the Suva.

Brent managed to swim ashore and decided to stay in Fiji. He bought land after doing a favor for the King of Cakaudrove. The favor was to steal a woman from the island of Lau. After successfully carrying out the favor the king gave Brent the lands that the family presently live on.”

Andrews Surname Miscellany

St. Andrew, The Patron Saint of Scotland.  The status of Andrew amongst the twelve apostles was high because he was, along with Peter, the first to be chosen.  According to tradition he was martyred for his faith at Patras.

The earliest descriptions have him tied to an olive tree and left to die. However, accounts of a later date have converted the tree into the familiar X-shaped device, popularly called the St. Andrew’s Cross.

It was of course in his honor that the Scots, having adopted him as their patron saint, incorporated these diagonals into their national flag.  Apparently a certain abbot named Regulus had brought some relics of the apostle from the East and placed them in a monastery around which the city of St. Andrews developed. 

The Andrews Family of Comber, County Down.  Sydney Andrews was a man with a story to tell.  He was a director in the Belfast flour-milling firm of Isaac Andrews & Sons and a grandson of Isaac who had lived in the big house in Comber Square.

His story was that of his family, the Andrews family of Comber, a story he researched during the years 1932-41. The finished product did not appear until 1958 – Nine Generations, A History of the Andrews Family of Comber, Co Down.

The book traced the family story right back to its roots in Ulster in the early 17th century.  They appeared to have come over from Scotland at this time and probably settled on Mahee Island. They were originally called Andrew.  Thomas Andrew, born in 1698, was the founder of the Andrews’ interest in milling.  He it was who changed the family name to Andrews in 1735.

Richard Andrews of Southampton.  Richard Andrews was a prominent Southampton civic leader of the 19th century.  Andrews Park in Southampton was named after him and features his statue.  The original statue, erected in 1860, was a grand affair, but the limestone weathered poorly and the pedestal was replaced in 1971.

The text on the plaque on his statue reads as follows:

“Born the son of a wheelwright at Bishop’s Hutton, Hampshire he became a coachbuilder of international fame.  His manufactory in above bar was one of the town’s leading industries.  Five times mayor of Southampton, he was known for his generosity and energy in furthering the prosperity of the town.  A good employer, he devoted himself wholeheartedly to promoting the self-reliance of the working man.”

Reader Feedback – Andrews in Norfolk.  The first time my surname appears on a recent family tree was in 1801.  He died in 1844 with the Christian name John. He was married to Esther Wiseman and they are 2nd grandparents.  She can be traced back to 4th grandparents via the names Bayes, Sherwood, Warnes, Gascoyne and Gunton to 1741.  All names derive from the Norfolk area.

Anthony Andrews (

John and James Andrews, Convicts to Australia.  The parish records of Cranborne in Dorset show three baptisms to Thomas and Elizabeth Andrews, Joseph born in 1797, John born in 1801, and James born in 1803.

Thomas and the three boys found themselves in trouble with the law.  The process records from the Dorchester jail show Joseph serving three months in 1824 for poaching, James three months in 1825 for stealing potatoes, and Thomas three months for burglary.  Each time the Rev. Henry Donne, the vicar at Cranborne, committed them.

In 1826 John and James were sentenced to seven years transportation for stealing two stocks of bees. Their behavior was described as rather disorderly and they were put on board a captivity hulk at Devonport.  They were transported to Tasmania on the Bengal Merchant two years later in 1828.

John was sent to a Mr. Parramore at Ross as a ploughman and James was sent to a Mr. Batman at Ben Lomond as a farm laborer.  They completed their sentences in 1834 and later migrated to Victoria.

Archie Andrews.  Archie Andrews was a ventriloquist’s dummy used by ventriloquist Peter Brough in radio and TV shows in the UK in the 1950’s and 60’s.

In its radio format the show was called Educating Archie.  The bizarre concept of delivering a ventriloquist act, a visual humor, by radio, an audio medium, never seemed to bother anyone at the time.  The UK radio show attracted up to 15 million listeners and had a children’s fan club that at one time had 250,000 members.

Andrews Names

  • Bishop Lancelot Andrewes was a prominent English clergyman and scholar in Tudor times. He was one of the main translators for the King James’ Bible.
  • Sir Edmund Andros was bailiff of Guernsey and governor of New England in the late 1600’s. He it was who changed the name of New Amsterdam to New York.
  • Todd Andrews, the Irish nationalist, was a founding member of Fianna Fail in 1926.
  • The Andrews Singers were a highly successful singing group of the swing and boogie woogie eras. Their Greek immigrant father had changed his name from Andreas to Andrews.
  • Eamonn Andrews, born in Dublin, was a popular British TV presenter of the 1950’s and 60’s.
  • Julie Andrews is the British actress best known for her starring role in The Sound of Music in 1965.

Andrews Numbers Today

  • 55,000 in the UK (most numerous in Hertfordshire)
  • 50,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 42,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Andrews and Like Surnames   

Patronymic surnames can be with either the “-son” or the shorter “s” suffix to the first name.  The “s” suffix is more common in southern England and in Wales.  Here are some of these surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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