Hurst Surname Genealogy

root of the English surnames Hurst, Hirst, and Hearst is the Old
English hyrst, meaning a wooded
hill. It could be locational, to
describe someone who lived by a wooded hill, or (more likely) it could
derive from a
place-name with that spelling.
The Hirst
spelling is native to Yorkshire. Hurst place-names cropped up at various places
throughout England and the Hurst surname has been more widespread. Another spelling variant is Hearst.

Hurst Resources on

Hurst Ancestry

1881 census
showed 80% of the Hirsts in Yorkshire and 34% of
the Hursts
in Lancashire.

Yorkshire The
early spelling in Yorkshire seems to have been Hurst. Hursts were
recorded in

Methley near Leeds, and Dewsbury in the 16th century. William
Hurst, an
architect from Doncaster, was responsible for the building of Firbeck
hall and church near Rotherham in the early 1800’s.

But the Hirst spelling had begun to displace Hurst by that time.
At the time of the 1881 census Hirsts outnumbered Hursts in Yorkshire
by ten to one. The
largest number of these Hirsts was concentrated in the
metropolitan borough of Kirklees in the West Riding of Yorkshire,
notably in Huddersfield and villages in the Holme valley where the wool
trade and handloom
weaving were important. Coming from this area were:

  • William
    Hirst, born in Marsh, the so-called father of the Yorkshire woollen
    (although he himself went bankrupt in the crash of 1830)
  • Thomas
    in Heckmondwike
    the 19th century mathematician
  • and
    George Hirst,
    Yorkshire and England cricketer at the turn of the century.

Hirst name did extend elsewhere in Yorkshire. For instance, Jemmy Hirst,
the noted 18th century eccentric, lived at Rawcliffe near Goole in the
East Riding.

Lancashire The
largest number of Hursts in 1881 was in Lancashire. Hurst
place-names there resulted
in Hurst surnames:

  • Hurst
    Brook was a small hamlet near
    Ashton-under-Lyne. A

    Hurst family was said to have been descended from Nicholas de Hyrst
    living there in 1422.

    These Hursts were resident in Ashton-under-Lyne in the early
    1600’s. A number of Hursts were to be found in the wider Salford
    area from the 1700’s onward.
  • Tyldesley
    Hurst near present-day Wigan gave rise to Hurst families in Tyldesley
    and Shakerley. Jeffrey Hurst, a dissenter from Shakerley at the
    time of Queen Mary, was saved from martyrdom by the death of the Queen
    in 1558.

Leicestershire was another sizeable Hurst outpost, possibly from the
Bringhurst. Bringhurst was already a surname by 1320. The Hurst
family in Hinckley dates from the 16th
century and Hursts were to be found in Claybrook from the 1750’s and in
Wigston Magna from the early 1800’s.

The Hurst name in Hertfordshire goes back to the 13th century.
Hurst Hills in Oxfordshire and Sussex probably gave rise to Hurst
families in those two counties:

  • the
    Hursts in Oxfordshire date from the early 1500’s and were to be
    found in villages such as Great Milton, Great Haseley, Coombe,
    Wheately, and Leckhamstead.
  • while
    the Hursts
    at Horsham in Sussex also started around that time. The diary of Sarah
    who lived there between 1736 and 1808 has been
    preserved. Her younger brother Robert did well and his family
    acquired and
    onto Park House in Horsham from 1800 to 1929.
    Father, son, and grandson were MP’s for Horsham over the course of the
    19th centur

Ireland. Hurst in Ireland may
be of
English or of Irish origin, the latter being an anglicized form of the
Gaelic de Horsaigh. Fermanagh
accounted for 25% of the Hursts in
Ireland in Griffith’s Valuation on
the 1850’s. The Hurst name was evident in
and in Derryvallan parish. The Hearst
spelling can be found in Belfast.

. Hursts but not Hirsts
travelled to America. Two early arrivals were:

  • Tobias
    Hurst who came to Jamestown, Virginia on the Treasurer in 1618 at the age of
    22. He lived until 1655. However, he has no recorded
  • and
    James Hurst who arrived in Plymouth, Massachusetts from Leiden in
    Holland in 1632 (possibly preceded by his daughter Patience) and was
    one of the early settlers of Dartmouth.

Virginia. Henry Hurst
came to Northumberland county in the northern neck of Virginia in
1650. John of Stafford and Henry of Orange are thought to be his
grandsons and from there the lines appear well documented. The
descendants of John Hurst
can be found in J.C. Hurst’s 1950 book Hursts
of Shenandoah

Tennessee and Kentucky.
Hurst came to
Tennessee from Shenandoah county, Virginia in 1807 and settled in
county. His brother Elijah followed him
shortly afterwards and Elijah’s son Fielding came to McNairy county in
southwest part of the state in 1833.
Fielding Hurst was for many years a respected farmer and
slave-owner. But his name was forever
blackened by the stories about him during the Civil War when Hurst
held sway.

Henry Hurst
from Frederick county, Virginia fought in the Revolutionary War and
died in Morgan county, Kentucky in 1844.


Hursts in America

have varied origins, not
just English but Irish and German as well.
The German name was usually Horst (of
similar meaning) which tended to become Hurst in America.
They were mainly to be found in
Pennsylvania. Their numbers included
Mennonite Horsts/Hursts and later arrivals from Baden.

And the Hearsts. John Hearst and his family
(first listed as Hearse) came from Belfast on the Belfast
to Charleston in 1766. They
settled in the Long Cane district of
South Carolina, then still Cherokee territory, which later became part
Abbeville county.

Son George migrated to Missouri. His son
William did not prosper, but his
grandson George did, first in mining and
then in publishing – acquiring the San
Francisco Daily Examiner
in 1882. It
was his son William Randolph Hearst who established the Hearst
empire. The family story was traced in
Judith Robinson’s 1991 book The Hearsts –
An American Dynasty.

Canada. William Hearst
emigrated from Fermanagh to Ontario sometime in the 1840’s. His
son William, who trained to be a lawyer, became Premier of Ontario in

and New Zealand
. Early Hursts in Australia were convicts. William Hurst of Bedfordshire
was transported
there for horse theft in 1823. The owner
of the horse, Owen Cambridge, in fact wrote a small book about his
chase across
England to catch Hurst and his horse. Hurst
ended up with his
in Tasmania.

Frederick Hurst led an
adventurous life. Born in Jersey in the
Channel Islands, he embarked with his parents in 1839 at the age of six
for New
Zealand. They settled near Wellington. In 1852 Frederick labored in the Bendigo
goldfields in Australia where he joined the Mormon church. Three years later he sailed for America by
way of Tahiti and the Hawaiian Islands.
Frederick was involved in many Mormon pioneer activities in Utah
and a mission to New Zealand later in his life.
In 1961 his grandson published his diary – The
Diary of Frederick William Hurst

Hurst Miscellany

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

Hurst Names

George Hirst
was a Yorkshire
and English cricketing all-rounder who played between 1890 and 1920.
William Randolph Hearst was the American newspaper
publisher who built the nation’s largest newspaper chain in the early
Geoff Hurst was the English footballer
who scored a hat-trick for his country in the 1966 World Cup final.
Damien Hirst
is an English artist, the
most prominent member of a group known as the Young British Artists in
the 1990’s

Hursts/Hirsts/Hearsts Today

  • 34,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 17,000 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 12,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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