North Surname Genealogy

The four points of the compass transposed in England into
surnames. Of these, North was the second most popular
as a surname.
North might describe where someone had come from. But the largest
number of Norths in England in the past seem to have been resident in
the north of England. This has led some to speculate that North
the surname described someone who came from the north end of a village;
or that it described a Norseman; or that its derivation was a
in Norfolk or somewhere else now lost.
North could also be of Irish or German origin.
North in Ireland
would be an anglicized form of the McNulty name found in Ulster (if it
is not an English import). The German North in America,
originally Nordt, was an anglicized form of nord meaning “north” and sometimes
used as a personal name.

North Resources on

North Ancestry

The North surname is best known in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.
A North line can be traced back to Robert North, born around
1390 in the village of Kirtling in Cambridgeshire. From this
family came Edward North who prospered as a lawyer and politician in
the Tudor court and was ennobled as Baron North. He made his home
at Kirtling Hall
which has remained in the possession of his
descendants. Notable among these descendants have been:

  • Sir Thomas North, the English translator of Plutarch
  • Roger North, who established a short-lived colony in Guyana under
    Sir Walter Raleigh in 1620
  • Sir Dudley North, the 17th century merchant trader and economics
  • and Frederick North, the English Prime Minister under George III
    who lost the American colonies in their War of Independence.

The architect Roger North of these Norths settled in the village of
Rougham in Norfolk in the late 17th century. His line later
extended to Hastings on the south coast where Frederick North was a
prosperous landowner and local MP in the mid 19th century and his
daughter Marianne a naturalist and botanical artist who exhibited her
work at Kew Gardens.

Frederick Lord North was the second in a family line, the Earls of
Guilford, which has extended to the present day.

Yorkshire. The
largest number of Norths were to be found in Yorkshire. The
names of Wilelmus, Margareta, and Johannes del North were recorded
there in 1379. Earliest family records show Norths in the West
Ridings, around Huddersfield.

Norths of Fenay lived at

near Huddersfield from 1520 to 1800. An
Edward North, a husbandman of Kirkheaton, was recorded as a leasor of
land in
Westheton in 1565; and the North name was to feature prominently in
and Almondbury parish records of the 17th and 18th centuries.
North for instance, who married Hannah Armitage in 1751, worked as a
in Almondbury.

The North name also spilled southwards into Lincolnshire.
It appeared in Boston registers from 1563. John
North, born around 1746, was the predecessor of two North brothers who
emigrated to America
in 1845. The family history was
recounted in Mack Omer North’s 1966 book John North of Lincolnshire and His
Another North family from Louth emigrated to
Australia in 1876.

America. John North was an early settler in
New England, arriving from London in 1635 and being among the original
settlers of Farmington, Connecticut. His line was traced in
Dexter North’s 1921 book John North
of Farmington, Connecticut.
and Joan North had come from Buckinghamshire to Salisbury,
in 1639. Their daughter Susannah (North)
Martin was caught up in the Salem witch trials and hanged as a witch in

Other New England Norths were descendants of Thomas North who came to
Providence, Rhode Island around 1670. These Norths later settled
on Long Island.

Pennsylvania. Many
Norths in Pennsylvania probably originated from Caleb North who had
arrived with his wife and eleven children from Westmeath in Ireland in
(his forebears having settled there from Cambridgeshire a century
earlier). He bought land from the Penn
family at Gilbert Manor near Philadelphia in 1734.
Eight of his
, the sons of Roger North, fought in the
Revolutionary War. John
Ringling North of Ringling circus fame, born in Wisconsin in 1903, may
have been related to this family.

Meanwhile Daniel North arrived
in Philadelphia from Wurttemberg in Germany in 1740.

New Zealand. Alfred
North, the son of a London draper, trained as a Baptist minister and
came out to Dunedin in 1882 to help form the Baptist Union of New
Zealand. Son John and grandson Lawrence continued his Baptist

North Miscellany

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

North Names

Sir Edward North, a Tudor politician, was the first Lord North.
Sir Dudley North was a 17th
century merchant trader and economics writer.
, Lord North, was the English Prime Minister who under
III lost the American War of Independence.
John Ringling North ran the
Ringling Brothers circus from 1938 to 1967.
was the US Marine Corps officer caught up in the
Iran-Contra scandal who later became a media personality.

Select Norths Today

  • 14,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Sussex)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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