Herrick Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Herrick Surname Meaning

Herrick comes from the Old Norse name Eirikr, comprising the elements eir meaning “mercy” and rik meaning “power.” The “H” got added later as the name was more and more used in England. The name was first found in Leicestershire, which had been an area of intense Danish settlement, and with one family there. DNA analysis points to a single family origin.

Herrick Surname Resources on The Internet

Herrick Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Leicestershire)
  • to Ireland and America

England.  Family lore relates the Herricks to Erick the Forester at the time of William the Conqueror. Herrick first surfaced as a name in Leicestershire in the 13th century when Henry Eyrick witnessed charters at Wigston Magna.

The Herricks remained in Wigston until the 20th century. Other members of the family were recorded nearby, at Great Stretton in the 13th century and at Houghton–on-the-Hill two hundred years later.

Thomas Herrick, son of Robert Herrick of Houghton, moved to Leicester where he was borough chamberlain in 1511. His sons Nicholas and John both became mayors of Leicester, while Sir William Herrick – the youngest of the five sons – became a goldsmith in London and such a prominent figure that he was knighted in 1605 and granted estates at Beaumanor. His cousin Robert Herrick, born in London, was the well-known poet.

The Herrick name did not start to appear in the neighboring counties of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire until the 17th century. The earliest reference in Lincolnshire was to John Herrick who in 1627 was baptized in Folkingham only twelve miles from the border with Leicestershire. The strong presence of the name in Lincoln in the 1881 census must have come from later migration.

Ireland. The Herrick name appeared in Ireland. John Herrick, an ensign in Colonel Rainborough’s regiment, came to Ireland in 1649. He was said to be from a junior branch of the Herricks of Beaumanor and was granted lands at Ship-Pool near Innishannon in county Cork.

By the time of Griffith’s Valuations in the mid 19th century, Herricks were considerable landowners in the county. The largest Herrick estate, comprising more than 3,000 acres, was that of Thomas Herrick of Ship-Pool castle. This house stayed in the Herrick family until 1931.

There were Irish O’Harricks at one time in Donegal. But this seems later to have come out later as Erck.

America. Henry Herrick arrived in Salem, Massachusetts in 1629. Early genealogists sought to link him with Sir William Herrick in London.

Jedediah Herrick in his 1846 book Herrick Genealogy Register thought so but had his doubts.   “I think Henry of Salem must have been the son of Sir William Herrick, although the evidence as we have it does not satisfy my mind.”

Subsequent research has discounted this connection.

Henry Herrick married Editha Laskin shortly after his arrival in the Massachusetts Bay Colony and they had at least nine children. Henry and Editha both died before the Salem witch trials of 1692, but several of their children and their grandchildren were directly caught up in it.

Herricks left Salem after this time and many settled in Connecticut and New York state. Some Herricks later moved west to Ohio and Myron Herrick rose to become Governor of that state in 1904.

Herricks in America were generally more numerous than Herricks in England. By looking at the country of origin, it can be seen that more Herricks came to America from Ireland than from England.

George Herrick, for instance, left his native Cork in 1873 at the tender age of ten for Freeport, Illinois where he married and settled down. Irish Herricks were also early settlers in Oak Park, Illinois. A descendant James B. Herrick was a physician credited with the first description of sickle-cell disease.

Herrick Surname Miscellany

The Ancient Family of Ericks.  Dean Swift, whose father had married Mrs. Abigail Erick of Leicestershire, recounted the following about the origins of the Herrick family in Leicestershire:

“There is a tradition that the ancient family of the Ericks derive their lineage from Erick the Forester, a great commander who raised an army to oppose the invasion of William the Conqueror.

He was vanquished; but afterwards he was employed to command that Prince’s forces and in his old age he retired to his house in Leicestershire where his family has continued ever since.

We learn from ancient writings that the Erricks were seated at Great Stretton in Leicestershire, in that respectable line of life, so justly the pride of an Englishman, being free tenants of their own lands, two virgates of which they held under the Abbey of Leicester on the payment of an annual quit rent to the king of a pound of pepper.” 

Sir William Herrick of Beaumanor.  In 1598 Sir William Herrick, in recognition for services rendered, obtained from Queen Elizabeth, by letters patent under the Great Seal, a grant of the manor of Beaumanor in Leicestershire.

His picture at Beaumanor showed him with a picked beard, a large ruff, and in a white satin doublet which he used on Christmas Day when attending the Queen.  He wore a sword and over his dress hung loosely a large black cloak.  His plaited ruffles were closely turned back over his sleeves.  In one hand were his gloves, the other, elevated to his breast, held the stump and tassells of his ruff.

Sir William lived to be ninety seven.  Towards the end of his life he suffered at the time of the Civil War and his fortune was much impaired.  He died in 1652 and was buried at St. Martin’s church in Leicester.  His gravestone is to be found against the north wall of the choir.

Robert Herrick’s Famous Poem.  Robert Herrick was a Restoration poet, probably the most popular of his day.  The opening stanza of his most famous poem, To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time. reflected the mood at that time.

  • “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
  • Old Time is still a-flying;
  • And this same flower that smiles today,
  • Tomorrow will be dying.”

Herricks in the 1881 Census

County Numbers Percent
Lincolnshire    114    28
Leicestershire     81   20
Surrey     62    15
Nottinghamshire     58    14
Elsewhere     95    23
Total    410   100

Lincolnshire had surpassed Leicestershire as the home of most Herricks by the time of the 1881 census.

Henry Herrick of Salem.  In 2000 Richard Leon Herrick discovered that Henry Herrick of Salem could not be the fifth son of Sir William Herrick of Beaumanor and that there were in fact two Henry Herrick immigrants at that time, Henry of Salem and a Henry Herrick who lived in Virginia as early as 1642 and as late as 1653.

One reason why there must have been two Henry Herricks was that, on June 28, 1653, Henry Heyricke of Virginia sent a letter to his brother, John Heyricke in England.  However, on the very same day Henry Herrick of Salem served on an Essex grand jury.  A single man could not be in Virginia and Massachusetts simultaneously.

Henry of Virginia may have been related to the Herricks of Beaumanor.  But Henry of Salem, who immigrated there in 1629, certainly was not.

Herricks in America by Country of Origin

Country Numbers Percent
Ireland    34    44
England    33    43
Elsewhere    10    13
Total    77   100

Herrick Names

  • Robert Herrick was a highly popular English poet of the 17th century.
  • Myron Herrick was Governor of Ohio in 1904.

Herrick Numbers Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lincolnshire)
  • 5,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Herrick and Like Surnames

Some surnames have originated from the English Midlands – the swathe of countryside which covers such counties as Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




Click here for return to front page

Written by Colin Shelley

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *