Nash Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Nash Surname Meaning

Some surnames have retained an Old English prefix. The root “ash” of Nash probably originated as a place name of an ash grove.  Robert atten Nash, Robert who lived by the ash, got shortened over time to Robert Nash.

The name might have started up independently in different parts of the country. Thus Nashes may not be related or connected.

Nash Surname Resources on The Internet

Nash Surname Ancestry

  • from Wales, Southern England and from Ireland (Limerick)
  • to America, Canada and Australia

Wales. In Wales, the name first appeared in Haverfordwest in the early 1300’s in its latinate (fraximo meaning “ash”) form. Nash was an ancient parish near Pembroke and this area of south Pembrokeshire was and has remained an English enclave.

By the 1500’s, a Nash family owned an estate at Great Nash in Llangwm parish and were local gentry.  These Nashes shared a similar coat of arms with the Nashes in Worcestershire and they may possibly have been related. The Nashes at Tenby included two brothers, John and Thomas, who left Pembrokeshire for America in the early 1700’s.

England. Early history might suggest that there was a western bias to the Nash name in England.

Gloucestershire.  There was a place near Bristol called Naish which gave rise to Naishes and Nashes. Beau Nash was the arbiter of fashion in Bath in the early 1700’s. The Nashes of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire trace back to two brothers there, John and Richard, in the 1770’s.

Worcestershire A family from Ombersley owned wool mills along the banks of the river Salwarpe during Elizabethan times. John Nash became the mayor of Worcester and used his wealth to found the Nash hospital there in 1664. His house, Nash House in the town center, still stands. His brother James acquired The Noak in Martley and these Nashes remained the squires of Martley for the next three hundred years.

SE England By the 19th century, however, the Nash demographics in England had changed. More than 40 percent of the Nashes were then living in London and the southeast. Some of them may have come through eastward migration. William Nash from Worcester was the “opulent grocer” who served as Lord Mayor of London in 1772. John Nash, the architect who was primarily responsible for the look of Regency London, was from a Welsh family.

There had been Nashes in Buckinghamshire and Suffolk from Elizabethan times. The numbers in south Buckinghamshire, around Chesham and Beaconsfield, later became quite sizeable. John Nash and his wife Susannah ran the Brick Mould public house at Hedgerley between 1771 and 1815.  James Nash founded the Chesham brewery in 1841.

In nearby west Hertfordshire there had been a long-established family of Nash blacksmiths dating back before 1750. There were smiths called James Nash recorded in Abbots Langley, Berkhamsted, Bovingdon, Hemel Hempstead, Kings Langley, Tring and Wilstone in the latter part of the 18th century.

A Nash family from Beaconsfield had taken up residence at Upton Court in 1707 and owned a brick-making firm in Slough in early Victorian times.  These Nashes had also acquired land at Langley around the year 1800. It was from this landowning family that the painters Paul and John Nash emerged a century or so later.

Ireland. Nashes in Ireland can be traced back to the 13th century in Limerick. A Nash/Naish family at Askeaton in Limerick dates back to 1630. The American actor J. Carroll Naish came from this line. Fewer Nashes are in Limerick today. The potato famine of the 1840’s caused many to leave, to the US, Canada, and Australia.

Nashes from Somerset had settled in the 1590’s in Bandon in Cork. The name subsequently became widespread throughout Cork.

America. There were two early Nash arrivals into New England whose family trees have been well documented:

  • Thomas Nash reached New Haven in 1640. The Rev. Sylvester Nash compiled a history of this family The Nash Family in 1853, a book which has been recently updated by Deborah Lee Rothery.
  • James and Alice Nash came to Weymouth around the same time. Their history has been traced in Richard H. Benson’s 1998 book The Nash Family of Weymouth, Massachusetts.

Francis Nash, a soldier in King Philip’s War, settled in Braintree, Massachusetts around 1675. Some of his descendants, through his grandson James, migrated to Maine. Amaziah Nash was a shipbuilder there in the early 19th century but then lost his money and moved out to Iowa.

Noah Nash fought in the Revolutionary War and his descendants have numbered recently five generations of Nathaniel Cushing Nashes from Wenham, Massachusetts.

Virginia John Nash came to Virginia from Wales around 1720 and bought a large estate at the fork of the Bush and Appotomattox rivers which he named Templeton Manor. He and his wife Anne had eight children – including two famous brothers, Francis Nash, a hero of the Revolutionary War, and Abner Nash, Governor of North Carolina.

Nash in the South.  Later Nashes owned plantations in Mississippi and Louisiana:

  • one colorful character was Christopher Columbus Nash, a Louisiana merchant who fought his battles for white supremacy in the Reconstruction Era.
  • on the other side was Charles Nash, the only African American to represent Louisiana during this period.
  • in the middle, perhaps, were the “redbones,” a mixed race people in Louisiana believed to have started with Thomas Nash who had arrived from North Carolina in the 1780’s. Emmanuel Nash, born in Rapides parish in 1843, lived onto 1947.

Heading West.  Other Nashes went west. Oscar and Emily Nash left upstate New York in 1870 for a new life in Nebraska. Fred Nash started a small candy and tobacco store in Devil’s Lake, North Dakota in 1885. This business went on to be the multibillion food distribution company, Nash Finch.

Irish  The early Nash immigrants were English. They were replaced by Irish as the 19th century went on. Their most famous son was Pat Nash, one of the political bosses of Chicago in the 1930’s (although he had a reputation for honesty).

Jewish  More recently, there have been Jewish immigrants who adopted the anglicized Nash name. Nash means “ours” in Yiddish. Perhaps the best known of these Nashes was Jack Nash, a hedge fund pioneer and Jewish philanthropist from New York who died recently.

Canada. Samuel Nash, a Loyalist, arrived at Stoney Creek, Ontario from Connecticut around 1800. The home that he built there, now called the Nash-Jackson House, stayed with the family until 1999 and has been preserved as a museum.

Irish Nashes also came to Canada. The earliest was probably William Nash and his family from county Cork who came to Nova Scotia in 1798. Martin Nash, a discharged soldier, settled with his family in Goulbourn, Ontario in 1820; and Thomas and Margaret Nash arrived in Ontario from Tipperary around 1831.

Australia. The first fleet sailed from England in 1787 carrying marine William Nash and his common law wife Maria Haynes. They were the progenitors of an extensive Nash family in Australia.

Other early settlers were:

  • Andrew Nash who acquired the Woolpack Inn in Parramatta in 1821 and became well-known for the prowess of his racehorses.
  • and James Nash later who discovered gold along the Mary river in Queensland and helped precipitate the second Australian gold rush.

There were also Nash convicts in Australia. Some thrived; Robert Nash, transported on the Albemarle in 1791; John Nash on the Eleanor in 1831; and Michael Nash from Limerick, on the Rodney in 1851.

Nash Surname Miscellany

Richard Nash from Pembrokeshire.  The Nashes were a Welsh gentry family.  Their arms portray a black shield with a silver chevron, three running greyhounds, and three green ash branches.  Surprisingly, the arms are often shown without the three ash branches, as in the drawing made for the souvenir coaster made in Wales.

Richard Nash was descended from a second son who did not inherit the family estate of Great Nash in Llangwm parish in Pembrokeshire.  Like his father he made his own way in London.  There is no evidence that he finished his training as a lawyer, as his father had done.  But he plied his own cases before the Court of Chancery in London.  He also sailed on a merchant ship with Sir Francis Drake on the famous but disastrous campaign in Portugal in 1589.

Numerous other references were found by Derek Williams to Richard’s work as a mercer, his service in the government of Carmarthen, and even his troubled marital relations with his wife, who (he claimed) was alienated from him by the machinations of her brother.

Nash/Naish.  I am told that the name Nash is also derived from a place called Naish situated near Bristol.   I live close to Bristol and my Naish ancestors came from this area.  There are several places with the word Naish in them, for instance Naish’s Cross, Naish’s Street, Naish Road, Naish Lane, and Naish House.

I think these were named after the family, rather than the family being named after them.  I always told the ash tree theory.  Also this is the only part of the world where people pronounce the name correctly, with a silent “i” without being told, which is another indication that the name originates in this area.

Thomas Nash in Stratford.  Thomas Nash was the first husband of Shakespeare’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Hall.  Nash’s house, built beside New Place, is the house where Shakespeare retired and is the least impressive of the properties. However, while Shakespeare’s New Place is long gone, Nash’s house has survived.  It has the town’s only general history exhibit.

Reader Feedback: Nashes in Ireland.  The name Nash was recorded in Ireland as early as the 13th century.  A John Nash was Sheriff of the city of Limerick in 1271, 1315, 1327, 1337 and 1342.   Nash is believed to be a name brought into County Limerick in the reign of King John.  Nash descendants are still to be found in West Limerick today.

There were other Nashs who entered Ireland later at the time of the English plantation of Munster in the late 16th/early 17th century.  They were the Nashes who settled in county Cork which you referred to in your website.

Regards,  Patricia McKenna nee Nash (

Thomas Nash – Immigrant to New Haven.  In July 1637, from the ship Hestor, a company landed in Boston, Massachusetts.  They were formed principally by merchants out of London whose wealth and standing at home had enabled them to come out under more favorable auspices than any company that had hitherto sought these shores.  In that company, as is supposed, came Thomas Nash with his wife and five children.  He was by occupation a gunsmith, a trade which admitted to an easy transition to that of blacksmith.

Nine months later, in March 1638, the whole company sailed from Boston and in about a fortnight landed at a place called Cuinipac, now New Haven.

Thomas Nash was the only gunsmith in the New Haven colony.  He repaired fowling pieces and also mended clocks in his backyard shop.  His home lot, as shown in an old map of New Haven, was on the west side of State Street, about a third of the way between Chapel and Elm Street.

He was generally mentioned in the records in an affectionate way as Brother Nash and, in his declining years, was occasionally appointed to undemanding public duties.  He died in May 1658.

Beau Nash in Bath.  In 1704, Nash became master of ceremonies at the rising spa town of Bath, a position he retained until his death.  He lived in a house on Saw Close, now at the main entrance to the Theatre Royal, and kept a string of matrons.  He played a leading role in making Bath the most fashionable resort of 18th century England.

His position was unofficial, but nevertheless he had extensive influence in the city until 1761.  He would meet new arrivals in the city and judge whether they were suitable to join the select company of 500 to 600 people in the centre of Bath society; match ladies with appropriate dancing partners at each ball; pay the musicians at such events; broker marriages; escort unaccompanied wives; and regulate the gambling that went on.

He was notable for encouraging a new informality in manners, breaking down the rigid barriers which had previously divided the nobility from the middle class patrons of Bath and even from the gentry.

Patriot Sons, Patriot Brothers.  Patriot Sons, Patriot Brothers is the story of a Prince Edward County, Virginia family and two sons who became North Carolina heroes.

Francis Nash (1742-1777) was a hero of the American Revolution, who gave his life for his country and his name to Nashville, Tennessee and various other Nashvilles elsewhere.  He died on a Pennsylvania battlefield at the age of 35 serving under George Washington while in command of 2,000 men.

Abner Nash (1740-1786) was the First Speaker of the North Carolina House of Commons, second patriot Governor of North Carolina, and member of the Second Continental Congress.  His contributions to the patriot cause during the early years of the revolution and during the southern campaign of 1780-1781 were no less significant than his brother’s.

With thoroughly researched detailed notes, an extensive bibliography, and a text that is unparalleled in its documentation of the correspondence of the Nash brothers with historical figures of the day, Patriot Sons, Patriot Brothers will be an invaluable addition to your American history collection.

Reader Feedback – Rev. Samuel Nash in Braintree, Mass..  I have Nash ancestors on my mother’s side of the family.  The Rev. Samuel Nash (1761– 1829) was born at Braintree in Norfolk, Massachusetts.  He married a Lucy Rodd in Oxfordshire, England who is my six times great grandmother. Can you tell me anything about and his family in Massachusetts.

Thank you, Lynne (

Nash Casualties from Martley in the Great War.  Richard and Edith Nash of The Noak in Martley had three sons, George, James and Slade.  All three of the boys went to School House at King’s School in Worcester.  George and James went onto scholarships at Cambridge and Oxford.  However, the War broke out in 1914 and both young men enlisted.  Within a year they were both dead.

James was the first to fall in action, in April 1915 in the trenches near Ypres.  He was killed by a bullet fired from long range.  He was just 21 and was buried in the Kemmel military cemetery in Flanders.

Just two months later, George was seriously wounded during the battle at Hooge.  An operation was thought to have been successful but he later deteriorated.  His mother braved the dangers of traveling abroad during the war and was with him when he died at the end of June, aged 24.  She brought his body back to Worcester and it was taken on a gun carriage first to The Noak and then to St. Peter’s for the funeral service.

Later, the George Nash Divinity Prize and the James Nash Classical Prize were endowed in their honor, both for the fifth form pupils of King’s School.

Nathaniel Cushing Nash.  Nathaniel Cushing Nash, a Mayflower descendant on both sides of his family, was the fifth successive member of the family to bear this name (“I guess our family had trouble coming up with names,” explained his father).  He was also the fourth generation of his family to attend the Noble and Greenough School in Dedham, Massachusetts.

A reporter on the New York Times, he was on board the plane carrying Commerce Secretary Ronald Brown which crashed into a Croatian mountain in 1996, killing all thirty five of its passengers.

Seated among the journalist’s family and friends at his funeral service at the First Church in Wenham were some two dozen of his newspaper colleagues, including the Times’ publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger Jr.

Nash Names

  • Thomas Nash was an Elizabethan pamphleteer, poet, and satirist.  
  • Francis Nash, the American hero killed in the Revolutionary War, left his name to Nashville, Tennessee. 
  • John Nash was the architect who transformed the look of London in the early 1800’s. 
  • Paul Nash from London was one of the few English painters of note in the inter-war period. 
  • Patrick Nash was one of the political bosses in Chicago in the 1930’s. 
  • Ogden Nash, from Rye New York, wrote light whimsical verse which was popular in the 1930’s and 1940’s. 
  • Walter Nash, who emigrated to New Zealand as a young boy, was one of the founding members of the Labor party and rose through its ranks to become Prime Minister of New Zealand in the late 1950’s. 
  • John Forbes Nash, the brilliant American mathematician from West Virginia who succumbed to schizophrenia, was portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film A Brilliant Mind. 
  • Jack Nash, a refugee from Nazi Germany, became a hedge fund pioneer and Jewish philanthropist in New York. He died in 2008.

Nash Numbers Today

  • 24,000 in the UK (most numerous in West Midlands)
  • 21,000 in America (most numerous in Texas).
  • 19,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Nash and Like Surnames

These names are locational, describing someone who lived in those medieval times by the side of a bank, or by a barn or a lane or a shaw (which means a wood) or a wood and so forth.  Both the oak tree and the ash tree have in fact provided locational surnames – Oakes and Nash (from atten Ash).  Here are some of these locational surnames that you can check out.


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Written by Colin Shelley

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