Oakes Surname Genealogy

Both the ash tree and the oak tree have provided locational surnames
(i.e. one who lived by the ash or by the oak):

  • from Ash has come Ash and
  • from Oak has come Oakes and Noakes – Noakes being a shortening of
    Middle English atten okes.

Nash is more common than Ash. But there are more Oakes than Noakes.
Oakes has predominated in the northwest, Noakes in the southeast.

Select Oakes Resources on

Select Oakes

Early records of the name are Adam at ye Ock in Shropshire in 1273 and
Henricus atte Ok in the Yorkshire poll tax of 1379. Subsequent
spellings could be Oake, Oaks, or Oakes. Oakes as a surname was
not that evident in English life until the 1700’s.

Cheshire An
Oakes line can be traced from the 1720’s in Middlewich,
Cheshire. This family owned Sproston Hall for several generations
and produced the Victorian landscape painter John Wright Oakes.
Other Oakes were to be found at Over nearby. Some Oakes from this
area later moved across to Liverpool.

Suffolk James Oakes
was the son of a well-to-do linen draper from Ardwick in Lancashire who
had moved to Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk in the 1720’s. James’s
fame rests on the diaries that he wrote between 1778 and 1827 which
were subsequently published. This Oakes family became local
gentry from their Newton Court estate nearby. Their second son
James was the rector of Tostock from 1796 to 1861.

Another James Oakes, from Somershall in Derbyshire, made his name and
his money from the ironworks he acquired in the village of Riddings
near Alfreton in 1818. For the next hundred years, the Oakes
family dominated the village, owning not just the ironworks but several
local colleries as well. Their home, Riddings House, is now a
residential home for the elderly.

By the late 19th century, the northwest (Lancashire, Cheshire, and
Staffordshire), accounted for, as per census data, just over half of
the Oakes population in England. There was some spillover into
Yorkshire and East Anglia. But, apart from London, few Oakeses

. Oakes arrived from England into New England and

New England Two
brothers, Thomas and Edward, came to New England in the 1630’s.
Edward’s son, Rev. Urian, was an early President of Harvard
College. Descendants later moved onto Maine. William Oakes
headed west in the 1880’s to homestead in north Washington state.

Nathaniel Oak
arrived in the 1660’s and was one of the first settlers of Marlborough,
Massachusetts. This surname Oak became Oaks and later
Oakes. Jonathan Oaks moved his family to Maine in 1771 and there
was a later migration to California in 1866. The family history Oak/Oaks/Oakes was published by
H.L. Oak in 1900.

Virginia John
Oakes, a tobacco planter, came to Virginia in the 1670’s, his son
John and wife Rachel in 1702. Their descendants are to be found
across the South. Thomas Oakes
was hired by the Federal government to build houses in Indian Territory
(Oklahoma) at the time of their removal from Mississippi. From The History of Oklahoma:

“Thomas Oakes was a carpenter and among
his activities was the erection of the first council house of the
Choctaw Nation at Tuskahoma. The building was constructed on
large pine logs around 1850. He built the Goodwater mission
school which was one of the earliest small schools of the Nation.
A white man himself, he gained Choctaw citizenship by marriage into a
prominent Choctaw family.”

Thomas was the founder of the “red Oakes” family branch, to distinguish
itself from his brothers’ lines, the “black Oakes” which had settled in
Missouri and the “white Oakes” which had gone north.

John Oakes, a free man of color, and his wife Mary left South Carolina
for Yazoo City in Mississippi in 1860. Their son A.J. Oakes,
known as Mississippi’s black lumber king, started the Oakes Academy in
Yazoo. His home has been restored as the Oakes African American
Culture Center.

Later Oakes
Thomas Oakes had immigrated to New Jersey from England in 1802.
In 1830 his son David started a thriving textile business in Bloomfield
which remained in family hands for the next hundred years.
David’s home, the Oakside on Bellevue Avenue, has been maintained by
the town.

The journalist George Washington Ochs (related to the New York Times Ochs) legally
changed his name to Oakes because of the outrage at the sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat in
1915. Another anglicization to Oakes occurred during World War
with the Axe family of German origin in the Philadelphia

. Jesse Oakes had been a Loyalist from Long Island
who resettled in Digby, Nova Scotia in 1783. Later, a number of Oakes
from Maine lived across the border in Connors, New Brunswick.
Garret Oakes, who had been born in New Brunswick, was one of the
pioneer settlers of Yarmouth township in western Ontario in 1810.

Harry Oakes had been born in Maine in 1874, but
made his home and money (from mining) in Ontario. He lived at
Oak Hall near Niagara Falls and later in the Bahamas. Sir Harry Oakes’
in Nassau in 1943 was never solved. Twenty
three years later, his son Sir Sidney was also killed in Nassau when he
crashed his sports car.

The Oakes surname has been prominent amongst
the Akwesasne Mohawks
of Snye, Quebec near the US
Richard Oakes became a Native American activist, led the Indian
of Alcatraz island off San Francisco in 1969, but was then murdered for
his militancy three years later.

Walter and Herbert Oakes, descendants of
Oakes of Oakes Diaries in Suffolk, emigrated to South Africa in 1857
settled in Natal. Oakford Priory, a
Catholic school and church, derived its name from these Oakes brothers
farmed where the priory stands today. There
was a ford over the stream where the settlers crossed and that was how
it came
to be known as Oakford.

Australia. Francis Oakes
had set off from England as a missionary to the South Seas in 1796, but
ended up in the new colony of New South Wales as its first police
officer. His wife Rebecca (nee Small) had been a convict on the
First Fleet. They had fourteen children, two of whom became
parliamentary members. The family were early settlers in the
Bathurst area.

A later convict arrival was George Oakes, transported from
Cheshire on the Speke in
John Oakes came from London in the 1850’s and settled in Melbourne.

Select Oakes Miscellany

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

Select Oakes

James Oakes
was a Suffolk banker in the late 18th and early 19th
centuries whose diaries provide a window on provincial England at that

Hildebrand Oakes had a lengthy
and distinguished career in the British Army and was created a baronet
in 1813.
John Wright Oakes was a
Victorian landscape painter.
Sir Harry Oakes
was a Canadian mining magnate of the first half of
the 20th century.

Richard Oakes was a Native
Indian activist who led the Indian storming of Alcatraz island in 1969.
John Oakes, the son of George
Washington Ochs, was an influential journalist on the New York Times during the time of
civil rights and the Vietnam war.

Select Oakes Today

  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Norfolk)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous
    in New York).
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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