Judd Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Judd Surname Meaning

The name Jordan became popular in England from returning Crusaders and pilgrims to the Holy Land. The river Jordan there derived its name from the Hebrew yarden, meaning to descend or go down, in this case to the Dead Sea.                                    .

Judde became a pet form of Jordan. Judde Rampe was recorded as a name in Lancashire in 1246.  From Judde came the first name Jude and the surname Judd. Some 19th century commentators related the surname Judd to the German Jude or Dutch Jode meaning Jewish. But this connection seems unlikely.

Judd Surname Resources on The Internet

Judd Surname Ancestry

  • from SE England
  • to America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

England. The name Henry Judde appeared in Kent as early as 1264; while one of the companions of Wat Tyler in his Kentish revolt of 1381 was said to have been called Judde. And the principal early Judde or Judd family in England came from this county.

Kent.  This early line devolved around Sir Andrew Judde, a skinner or dealer in skins and furs in London, the son of John Judde of Tonbridge. He became wealthy in his trade and was Lord Mayor of London in 1550 (Judd Street in London took his name from him).

Judde endowed a grammar school in his home town, now known as Tonbridge School.  Judde’s daughter Alice married and her son Thomas Smythe became the first Governor of the East India Company. However, his male line is believed to have become extinct.

One related line in this family is thought to have descended to Deacon Thomas Judd, born in the parish of Langley in 1607, who emigrated to America in 1633.

Another Judd in Kent was Daniel Judd from London of uncertain origins.  He was a munitions manufacturer under Oliver Cromwell during the Civil War. This made him rich enough to build himself a country estate near Faversham in Kent in 1652. Just why the house was called Judd’s Folly is not known. The name has remained, although the house itself burnt down in 1961.

Elsewhere.  Judd has been mainly a name of the southeast of England, but did extend as far west as Winterbourne in Wiltshire and as far north as Banbury in Oxfordshire:

  • William Judde was born in Winterbourne in 1521. His Judd descendants moved to London in the early 19th century.
  • while the first Judd record in Banbury was the marriage of John Judde and Alice Horley in 1572. The name appeared in various forms in Banbury and in surrounding villages during the 17th century.

The largest numbers within this area in the 1881 census were in London and Essex. William Judd was born in the parish of Great Canfield in Essex in 1577; while a cluster of Judds were to be found at High Roding or at Margaret Roding from the late 1600’s. Joseph Judd married Elizabeth Greygoose at Takeley in 1794.  

Ireland. Ambrose Judd of Brandon Ferry in Suffolk was believed to have been related to the Tonbridge Judds. Apparently he was a Quaker and left England in the late 1600’s for county Wicklow. Peter Judd was a Quaker tallow chandler in Dublin in the 1750’s. Many of the Judds in Wicklow were buried in the Kilcommon graveyard.

America. Deacon Thomas Judd arrived in New England from Kent in 1633 and settled in Connecticut, first in Hartford and later in Farmington. He was the progenitor of a large number of the Judds in America.

Thomas Judd Descendants.  A descendant, via Jonathan Judd the Southampton merchant and journal writer during the Revolutionary War, was the Unitarian minister and author Sylvester Judd.

He wrote one of the early family history books, Thomas Judd and His Descendants, which was published in 1856. What was particularly noteworthy about this book was that the Judds he wrote about from the late 18th and early 19th century were either personally known to him or were in direct contact with him.

Some Judds were to be found in the 19th century in Chicago. Norman Judd moved there from upstate New York in 1836. He was the first city attorney of Chicago, a friend of Abraham Lincoln, and later served as a state senator. His son Edward became a prominent Chicago lawyer. Meanwhile Orange Judd arrived there in 1885 and with his son James started publishing the Orange Judd Farmer, a farming journal.

One line from Westbury, Connecticut descended to Gerrit Judd the physician who set forth for Hawaii as a missionary in 1827. He became a trusted advisor to Hawaii’s King and founded Hawaii’s first medical school:

  • his grandson Lawrence Judd was appointed Governor of Hawaii in 1929.
  • his great grandson Gerrit Judd IV wrote a laudatory biography of him in 1960 entitled Dr. Judd. Hawaii’s Friend.

Gerrit Judd had acquired land in Oahu in 1850 which became known as the Kualoa Ranch. His descendants still own and operate the ranch today.

It is thought likely that the Seymour Judd who married Abigail Read in 1794 in Berkshire, Massachusetts, was descended from Thomas Judd.  His son Increase migrated to Kentucky and was the forebear of the country singing star Naomi Judd. Naomi’s song Guardian Angels paid homage to Increase’s son Elijah Judd, a Kentucky farmer.

“Growing up in Kentucky Naomi Judd’s family was dirt poor – without the comforts of electricity, running water, or a telephone. Naomi and her daughter Wynonna would sing on the front porch; while her other daughter Ashley would engross herself in her books, pretending to be various characters.”

Other Judds. There were other Judds in America.  Michael Judd had arrived in Maryland sometime before 1674.  He started a boat-building business along the Gunpowder river and later erected a new courthouse that would serve Baltimore county starting in 1700.   

Another Judd line began with Rowland Judd, born in Warwickshire in 1720, who was first recorded as an indentured servant in Philadelphia in 1745 and later settled in North Carolina. His sons John and Rowland fought at the Battle of King’s Mountain during the Revolutionary War. Later Judds of this family moved to Kentucky and Tennessee. These Judds were extensively covered in Peggy Gregory’s 1984 book Judd.

From this line possibly came the Judds who migrated to Iowa and then to Missouri and produced Donald Judd, a leading exponent of minimalist art in the 1960’s.

Then there were Mormon Judds who were in Utah. One Thomas Judd came from Canada in 1849 (see below). He died in Salt Lake City in 1886. Another Thomas Judd arrived from England in 1864 and became a prominent local businessman.  Judd’s Store in St. George, opened in 1911, remained family-operated until 1982. Judd’s home there, the Green Hedge Manor, is now listed as an historic inn.

Canada. Thomas Judd of the Judds in Connecticut was a Loyalist at the time of the Revolutionary War and departed for Leeds county, Ontario in the 1780’s. A later Thomas Judd from Leeds county made the journey the other way. A Mormon, he departed with his family for Utah in 1849.

Australia.  Samuel and Elizabeth Judd departed Hackney in London with their family for Australia in 1852 under Caroline Chisholm’s family colonization scheme. They bought land just outside Melbourne.

Their eldest son Samuel moved on first to South Australia and then in the 1870’s to Christchurch, New Zealand. He was a strong supporter of the temperance movement there and lived to 1927.

New Zealand. William Judd from Sittingbourne in Kent was an early settler in New Zealand, arriving at Port Nicholson in 1840 and making his home with his family in the Lower Hutt area of NI.

Judd Surname Miscellany

Sir Andrew Judde’s Epitaph.  Andrew Judde started out as a dealer in skins and furs in London.  He later became wealthy in his trade through Europe.  He died in 1558 and was buried in St Helen’s Church in Bishopsgate, London where there is a marble monument in his honor. The epitaph reads:

  • “To Russia and Moscow
  • To Spain, Guinea without fail
  • Travelled he by land and sea.
  • Both mayor of London and Staple.
  • Three wives he had.  One was Mary
  • Four sons, one maid had he by her.
  • Anne had none by him truly.
  • By dame Mary had one daughter.

Thus in the month of September 1558 died this worthy stapler worshipping his posterity.”

This monument was erected by his heirs about the year 1600. It may not be that accurate.  Sir Andrew never visited Russia or Guinea himself, although he was closely involved in the finance and organization of expeditions there.

Sir Andrew Judde and Tonbridge Public School.  Tonbridge School was founded in 1553 by Andrew Judde and was granted a Royal Charter by Edward VI that year as follows:

“At the humble petition of Sir Andrew Judde, knight and alderman of our city of London for the erecting and establishing a grammar school in the town of Tonbridge in the county of  Kent for the institution and instruction of boys and youth,

the King of our special grace and of our certain knowledge and mere motion do grant and ordain that from henceforth there may and shall be one grammar school in the said town of Tonbridge which shall be called the free grammar school of the aforesaid Sir Andrew Judde for the education institution and instruction of boys and youth in grammar, to continue forever.”

From 1553 until his death in 1558 Judde was the sole governor of the school and, during that time, framed the statutes that were to govern it for the next 270 years.

On Judde’s death, the school was passed to the Skinners’ Company after a dispute with Judde’s business partner Henry Fisher.  According to the Skinners’ records, the Rev. Michael Jenkins was appointed as Headmaster in 1615 because “he was the only one who turned up.”

During his time there the school was received a series of generous endowments from Thomas Smythe, the first Governor of the East India Company and the son of Andrew Judde’s daughter Alice.

Daniel Judd at Faversham.  Daniel Judd had been drawn to the Faversham area in Kent in the 1640’s by its gunpowder industry, established a century or so earlier. At first the operations there were small-scale.  But then demand increased exponentially as England needed to improve its defenses and build up its Navy.

Judd spotted a business opportunity and started developing the industry, turning some derelict water-powered corn mills into gunpowder mills. England was at war with the Dutch for much of the 1650’s and the Admiralty constantly urged him to increase his output.

In March 1653 one of the Admiralty officers reported that he had visited “Mr. Judd’s mills at Ospringe, Faversham which are going as fast as the water would carry them. They have promised to send 40 barrels of powder to the Tower of London by Tuesday.”

Around this time Judd built an elegant seat in a pioneering classical style west of Faversham. The house, called Syndale, was known locally as Judd’s Folly.  Judd is now believed probably to have remained at Syndale after Charles II’s Restoration, contrary to an earlier view that it was confiscated.

Reader Feedback – Joseph Judd of Takeley in Essex.  Joseph Judd of Takeley was my third great uncle. I’m interested in why he was mentioned on your site. Did he do anything famous?

Susan Moseley (treemoseley@yahoo.com)

Deacon Thomas Judd.  Deacon Thomas Judd came from England in 1633 or 1634.  He settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the road to Watertown on a lot granted to him in August 1634. He was admitted a freeman on May 25, 1636.

He moved to Hartford, Connecticut in 1636 where he had a two acre lot near the future site of Charter Oak. In 1644 he moved to Farmington, Connecticut where he was one of the first proprietors and settlers there, a substantial farmer and deputy to general court several times, and a charter member and second Deacon of the Farmington church.

Upon the death of his first wife, he married Clemence Mason, widow of Thomas Mason of Northampton and moved there for the balance of his life.  He was a Selectman in 1682 and a Deacon of Northampton church.

Thomas Judd was the progenitor of many of the Judds in America.  A 19th century descendant Silas Judd wrote the following lines in tribute to him.

  • “From the one source, where Thomas stands at head,
  • Sprang multitudes, and o’er vast regions spread,
  • Nine  generations in succession came,
  • To fill the earth, and bear their father’s name,
  • Our author tells us, and his tables show,
  • Our vast increase, and how we come and go.”

Guardian Angels.  Guardian Angels, written by Naomi Judd, was recorded by the Judds and released in 1990.  The song pays homage to her Kentucky forebear Elijah Judd.

  • “A hundred year old photograph stares out from a frame
  • And if you look real close, you’ll see our eyes are just the same
  • I never met them face to face but I still know them well
  • From the stories my dear grandma would tell’
  • Elijah was a farmer, he knew how to make things grow
  • And Fannie vowed she’d follow him wherever he would go
  • As things turned out, they never left their small Kentucky farm
  • But he kept her fed, she kept him warm
  • They’re my guardian angels and I know they can see
  • Every step I take, they are watching over me
  • I might not know where I’m goin’ but I’m sure where I come from
  • They’re my guardian angels and I’m their special one
  • Sometimes when I’m tired, I feel Elijah take my arm
  • He says, “Keep a goin’, hard work never did a body harm”
  • And when I’m really troubled and I don’t know what to do
  • Fannie whispers, “Just do your best, we’re awful proud of you”
  • They’re my guardian angels and I know they can see
  • Every step I take, they are watching over me
  • I might not know where I’m goin’ but I’m sure where I come from
  • They’re my guardian angels and I’m their special one
  • A hundred year old photograph stares out from a frame
  • And if you look real close, you’ll see our eyes are just the same.”

Elijah Judd, a farmer all his life, was born in Russell, Virginia in 1841, the son of Increase and Margaret Judd.  He fought with the 39th Kentucky Infantry in the Civil War.  He died in 1921 and was buried in the Judd-Miller cemetery in Lawrence county, Kentucky. 

William Judd – An Early New Zealand Settler.  William Judd had married his second wife Ann Sears in Kent in 1831. They were to have three boys together before deciding to emigrate to New Zealand. They embarked on the Martha Ridgeway and arrived at Port Nicholson in November 1840.

William’s son from his first marriage, also named William, came aged 16 on the Bolton six months later.  Less than two months after arriving in New Zealand Ann gave birth to her first daughter, Harriet.  She was one of the first babies to be born in New Zealand of the English settlers.

The Judds settled first in Lower Hutt near Wellington in North Island.  Sometime in the late 1840’s after the birth of their fourth son and upon securing a contract to make a road through the Taita Gorge, Judd moved with his family to the entrance of Stokes Valley.

He constructed a home on a leasehold title on the southern side of the present Stokes Valley main road.  It was in this house that the last three members of his family were born.  His house was recorded as being severely damaged by the earthquake in 1855.

William by his second wife Ann had nine children in total.  Meanwhile his son William from his first wife Charlotte married Mary Lonsdale from Ireland in 1844 and they were to have twelve children. William Sr. died in 1876, William Jr. ten years earlier in 1866.  A later son James built what came to be known as the Manor House at Haywards in 1887.

Judd’s Store in Southern Utah.  Judd’s Store at St. George in southern Utah was constructed and opened in 1911 in front of the house Thomas Judd purchased from Joseph Bentley in 1908 and across the street from the new Woodward School. It was built of the same thickness of locally manufactured adobes that had been used in the home Judd had bought from Bentley.

The store was very successful, carrying general merchandise and catering to the needs of the sheep and cattlemen which were numerous in the early years there.  The store was across the street from the new Woodward School and many of the kids there still have memories of crossing the street to purchase candy from Judd’s.

When Judd built the store, the idea was for its ownership to pass down through the generations.  When Thomas’ son, Joseph Judd, took over, he continued to run the store but boarded up the rest of the structure. The store went to a third generation of Judds before it was eventually sold to another owner in 1982.

When the Judd family still owned the store, they updated the outside façade to keep it looking “modern,” which included adding wire mesh and stucco to the sides and tile to the front over the original adobe. The store has since been returned to its original state with all of the stucco and tile having been removed.

Judd’s Store is now a tourist attraction of southern Utah.

Judd Names

  • Sir Andrew Judde was a Tudor merchant in London who in 1553 endowed the Tonbridge School in Kent.
  • Deacon Thomas Judd, an early settler in New England, was the forebear of many of the Judds in America.
  • Gerrit Judd was an American missionary and advisor to the King in Hawaii. 
  • Donald Judd was an American painter and sculptor, one of the leading exponents in the 1960’s of what has been called minimalist art.
  • The Judds were a successful country music singing duo featuring mother Naomi (who died in 2022) and her daughter Wynonna (who went on to become a big country music star herself). Another daughter Ashley Judd is a noted film actress.

Judd Numbers Today

  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous in Kent)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Judd and Like Surnames

Some surnames have come from SE England, in particular the counties of Kent, Surrey and Sussex.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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