Page Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Page Surname Meaning

The surname Page, derived from the Old French word page, meant a young boy or servant. In the medieval age of chivalry, Page became an occupational name and was the accepted way for a youth of good family to advance to knighthood.

Another suggested source for the name in Kent was the old word pe-age or passage money, a tax anciently levied on travelers bound for the Crusades at Rochester. 

A spelling variant has been Paige. France has the surnames Page and Paget.

Page Surname Resources on The Internet

Page and Paige Surname Ancestry

  • from SE England and Ireland
  • to America, Canada and Australia

EnglandEarly accounts attach the Page surname to the de Pagham baron family. It was said that Hugo de Pagham earned the title of Sir Hugo Page in 1260 after a mission he undertook for Henry III. His brother William brought the name to the south of England where most Pages are to be found.

Middlesex and London.  The earliest references appear to have been in the county of Middlesex to the northeast of London. A Page family from Little Stanmore, beginning with William Page in 1295, held the manor of Kingsbury in the mid-1300’s. However, this male line died out in 1393. Pages were recorded at Willesden in the 1490’s and at Wembley and Harrow in the early 1500’s.

John Page, the emigrant to Virginia in 1650, came from these parts.  

“John Page was the son of Thomas Page, born in 1597, of Sudbury who was the seventh son of Richard Page, second son of John Page, born in 1528, the first son of Henry Page of Wembley, born in 1500 – all in the parish of Harrow. He was born at Sudbury in 1627, immigrated to America about 1650, and became the progenitor of the Page family in Virginia.”  

The Page estate in Harrow and its environs dated from the time of Henry VIII and the dissolution of the monasteries. The critical point seems to have been the trial and execution of Anne Boleyn in 1536. Two Pages were affected:

  • Edmund Page, described as a Kent gentleman, who was a member of the Grand Jury which convicted Anne Boleyn. He was probably the Edmund Page of Shorne between Gravesend and Rochester where there had been Pages since the late 1400’s.
  • and Richard Page, a courtier of uncertain origins, who had been arrested for treason and adultery at the time and sent to the Tower of London. However, within a month he was mysteriously released, rehabilitated, and in 1537 appointed the High Sheriff of Surrey and chamberlain to the King’s son Prince Edward.

Both Pages had died by the 1550’s and the reign of Queen Mary. But before that time a Page family seems to have been granted church lands, starting with the Kilburn priory where the nuns had to be driven out. The land also included the manor of Wembley which Richard Page had acquired in 1542. Page descendants held title to the land until 1829 when Henry Page, the last of this line, died. 

SE England. Pages also came at an early time from a wider arc in SE England – from East Anglia southwards through Essex, Kent, Surrey and Sussex to Hampshire.

During the 15th and 16th centuries there were Norfolk Pages in Acle between Norwich and Great Yarmouth and later a line had moved to nearby Ormsby. Suffolk recorded many Pages across the county in the 16th century. And Pages from Hellingly and Chiddingly in Sussex date from the 1530’s. John Page of Dunnington in Sussex married Anne Ruggles in 1591. A later John Page of this family was MP for Chichester in the 1750’s.

Gregory Page was said “to have descended from a good family in Hampshire.” He made his mark as a merchant and shipwright in London in the 1660’s. His son, also named Gregory, followed in his footsteps and, as a Director of the East India Company, became extremely wealthy from trade with Asia. Grandson Gregory of the next generation turned his attention to grand houses in Kent and art collections. But he died without heirs.

Elsewhere. The Paige spelling was to be found in Devon. There are some reports of the Paige name being in the Plymouth area as early as the 14th century. A Paige family was influential in Barnstaple in the 17th century. Gilbert Paige was mayor in 1629 and again in 1641 and played a leading role in fortifying the town for the Parliamentarians ahead of the Civil War.

Scotland. The Page surname has generally been absent from Scotland, with the exception of Fife on the east coast. One Page family line started there with the birth of Thomas Page at Auchtermuchty near Cupar in 1702.

Ireland. The Page name was present in Galway and Ulster primarily. The majority of the Galway Pages were poor tenant farmers and left few records.  The Pages of Oghilly in south Galway, who did have some land holdings in Ballynakill parish, can be traced back to the early 1700’s. There were also Pages at Clonrush and Inisparron island in nearby Clare. Many of them emigrated to Australia in the mid-1800’s.

America. There were two early genealogical books about Page written in America:

  • the first, The Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia by Richard Page, appeared in 1893. It focused on Colonel John Page and the Pages of the “First Families of Virginia.”
  • the second, The History and Genealogy of the Page Family by Charles Nash Page, appeared in 1911. Although focusing on the line of John and Phoebe Page, the book also covered earlier Page history in England and other Pages in America.

New England.  John and Phoebe Page, the Puritan settlers from Boxted in Essex, arrived in Boston on the Jewel in 1630. These Pages were to be found at Watertown and Lunenburg, Massachusetts. Samuel Page was called the “Old Governor Page” of Lunenburg; his descendant John Page was the real Governor of New Hampshire in 1839.

Another descendant was Charles Grafton Page of Salem in Massachusetts, the inventor of the modern circuit breaker in 1836. And there was also a line that went to Ohio where C.W. Page was the mayor of Norwalk in 1854 at the time of a cholera epidemic.

Other early New England Pages were:

  • John Page from Norfolk who arrived in 1635 and made his home in Haverhill, Massachusetts. His line was covered in Case and Sanderson’s 1977 book The Family of John Page of Haverhill.
  • Robert Page, also from Norfolk, who came to Boston with his family in 1637 and moved to Hampton, New Hampshire two years later. His descendants remained in Hampton for six generations.
  • and George Page, from the Shorne line in Kent, who came to Branford, Connecticut in 1662. His line was covered in Edith Page’s 1977 book George Page of Branford.

Virginia.  Colonel John Page, a merchant, came to Virginia in 1650 and was the forebear of the illustrious Page family there, one of the “First Families of Virginia.” A wealthy landowner, he was instrumental in the creation on his lands of the College of William and Mary in 1693 and of the colonial town of Williamsburg in 1699.

His grandson Mann Page built the family’s magnificent home, the Rosewell estate, in Gloucester county in 1725. Two generations later came John Page, friend and cousin to Thomas Jefferson at the time of the Revolutionary War. He was subsequently Governor of Virginia. Page county in Virginia was named after him.

There was much inter-marriage between the Pages and other First Families of Virginia. Their principal relation was with the Nelson family. Later Pages of the family included Thomas Nelson Page, a Southern writer and lawyer, and William Nelson Page, a leading developer of West Virginia’s coalfields in the late 19th century.

Some have seen a linkage between this family and the Pages of Goochland county, Virginia, although DNA analysis has indicated otherwise. But DNA analysis has suggested that an African American Page family of Catonsville, Maryland is somehow related. The connection here may have started with Mann Page III who had freed his slaves in the late 1700’s.

North Carolina.  Thomas and Alice Page had come to Isle of Wight county, Virginia near the North Carolina border from Suffolk in England in 1659. Their son John Page, born in 1685, was the progenitor of many North Carolina families. Jesse Page’s 1987 book The Page Family in North Carolina covered this lineage up to 1850.

One line via Edward, Lewis and Anderson Page led to Frank Page, the founder of the town of Cary, North Carolina. His offspring were all distinguished, the most distinguished being:

  • Walter Hines Page, a newspaper publisher and US ambassador to Britain during World War One.
  • and his son Arthur Page, a long-time executive at AT&T who is sometimes called “the father of corporate public relations.”

Canada.  Seneca Paige came to Quebec from New England in 1816 and was a wood merchant at Dunham. He was also suspected of counterfeiting American money there. He was a descendant of Nathaniel Paige, a Massachusetts immigrant of the 1680’s.

John Page was a Scottish engineer from Fife who had come out to Canada in 1842. He helped to build many of the canals, lake harbors and lighthouses in the Great Lakes region. He made his home at Brockville near Ottawa.

Australia. James Page, a bookseller from Kent, came out to Australia with his family on the Blenheim in 1855. He settled in Grafton, NSW. His son Thomas was mayor of Grafton in 1870 and 1881. Another son Charles was a blacksmith and coachbuilder. One of Charles’s sons Rodger became a missionary in Tonga.  Another son Earle progressed in politics and was briefly in 1939 Australia’s Prime Minister.

Page Surname Miscellany

Sir Hugo de Pagham and the Page Line.  The first known mention of the name de Pagham was John de Pagham, the bishop of Worcester in the 1150’s.  He was probably a native of the township of Pagham on the Sussex coast. But the main de Pagham line of interest seems to have been a family that had established itself as barons at York in the north of England.

The story goes that Hugo de Pagham of this family was entrusted by King Henry III in 1257 with an important mission to the King of Spain.   It was considered a mark of great distinction that Hugo should have been chosen for this mission as in those feudal times great discretion and care were required on the part of messengers and ambassadors.  King Henry was so much pleased with his diplomacy and faithful performance of this service, his mission having proven quite successful, that he was made a knight in 1260.

In addition a proclamation was issued, giving notice that he was thereafter to be known as Sir Hugo Page. From that time on, Page was adopted as the family name.

William de Pagham, brother of Hugo, was granted letters by Henry III to enable him to become a commander of the Crusaders in 1270.  He accordingly went to Palestine in command of a portion of the forces which engaged in the Holy Wars.  He was one of the survivors of that expedition.  After enduring four years of peril and suffering, he returned and settled in Sussex in the southern part of England.  This de Pagham may have been the progenitor of some Pages in this part of England.

The Page Estate in Middlesex.  The Page estate in Middlesex began at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries when Henry VIII made available to Page families in and around the town of Harrow. At that time this was a rather rough country, part of it being covered by forests. It was not supposed to be of that much value.

The first part of these lands made available were those held by the Knights of St. John surrounding Kilburn Priory.  Here the nuns first had to be ejected.  A local legend has it that the evicted nuns foretold that those who succeeded them in the property would reach the climax of ambition and then disappear.   Sir Richard Page added the parish of Wembley in 1542.

The Page family held title to these lands through the centuries.  Litigants later claimed that the Page estate had expanded to include such historic sites as Harrow School, Sudbury Rectory, Wembley Park, and Twyford Abbey, as well as some rich agricultural districts towards the Berkshire and Hertfordshire borders.  However, others maintained that the Page estate had been much diminished over the years.

By the early 19th century the Page estate was in the hands of four brothers who died in turn, the last being Henry Page in 1829, leaving no heirs.

But claimants to what was seen as the Page fortunes did appear.  The most persistent was from the descendants of a Henry Page from Hillingdon whose sons had emigrated to Australia in 1850. In 1912 this family claim reached the high courts in London. However, the claim was dismissed by the judge, primarily due to the fact that Henry Page having died over eighty years ago and that no legal case could now be proved.

Samuel Page of Lunenburg, Massachusetts.  Samuel Page had been born in Groton, Massachusetts in 1672 and at an early age departed for South Carolina. His first wife died there and he met his second wife there.  However, he did not remain there.  He returned to Massachusetts in 1718 and to Lunenburg, then called Turkey Hills and some eight miles west of Groton.

It was still a wilderness there. Samuel Page was its first settler.  The township developed and he was usually called “Governor Page” since he was presumed to be running the place.

He married his third wife in July 1747.  But he died two months later.  The inscription on his gravestone, executed in rude capitals, read as follows:

  • “Here lies buried the body of Mr. Samuel Page.
  • He was the first that settled in this town,
  • Who departed this life Sept. 7, 1747
  • In the 76th year of his age.” 

The Page Family’s Rosewell Estate.  Mann Page was the grandson of immigrant John Page and, at an early age, the sole heir of his grandfather’s vast estates in Gloucester county, Virginia.  In 1725 he constructed the family home, Rosewell House, at the junction of Carter creek and the York river, supposedly on the site where Pocahontas had saved the life of Captain John Smith. It was the largest and finest residence in Virginia at that time and was built of brick, marble and carved mahogany.

Rosewell was to be the ancestral home of the Page family for more than 100 years – until its eventual sale in 1838.  John Page, grandson of the builder, was the best friend and cousin of Thomas Jefferson.  Tradition has it that the Declaration of Independence was drafted in this house by Jefferson before he went to Philadelphia.

Legends and lore associated with the estate have abounded. Supposedly Mann Page had expired in the grand front hall of the mansion and the Bishop of Virginia proclaimed that God had struck him down for his excesses. Another rumor was that Mann had died because he was cursed by the spirit of Powhatan for building the mansion on the site of Werewocomoco, the chief’s village.

In 1916 a fire swept through the mansion, gutting it and leaving only a shell which remained as a haunting testament to 18th century craftsmanship and dreams.  These ruins are haunted.  Tales of hauntings on the Rosewell grounds have covered a broad spectrum, from full-body apparitions to moans.  Vintage automobiles have even been sighted.

Thomas Nelson Page and the Myth of the Old South.  When Thomas Nelson Page wrote about the antebellum South, he recalled his youth on a slaveholding Virginia Tidewater plantation. The descendant of generals, governors, and plantation owners, he had come to believe that the true South was populated by noble gentlemen, pure ladies, and devoted servants.

Page was only eleven years old when the Civil War ended.  Accustomed to aristocratic superiority over blacks and non-elite whites, he found the postbellum struggle of his people jarring.  He also believed that Northerners had presented a distorted view of the South’s history and people – meaning the people of his own class.

He subscribed to the “Lost Cause” image of the Civil War, extolling the virtues of Southern heroes’ brave fight despite inevitable doom at the hands of an industrial machine. As the honorable Confederate soldiers returned home, they faced further challenges from Northern politicians and reformers who made policies based on ignorance of the true relationship between master and slave.  He praised the South’s better people for courageously counteracting Reconstruction’s abuses to restore their values.  He supported organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan for their attempts to restore the proper social order.

Through an impressive bibliography of short stories, poems, novels, and essays, Page set about to correct this tarnished image.  His sentimental idealizations of the Old South’s plantation culture contributed to the development of a “moonlight and magnolias” myth that other writers at the turn of the century would perpetuate.

Frank Page of Cary, North Carolina.  His great grandfather Edward Page had come to a wild and hitherto untamed region of North Carolina, seeking more freedom and an escape from the controlled life of the Virginia colony.

Allison Francis Page, born in Wake county in 1824, had the same independent pioneering streak.  This led him into the virgin forests of North Carolina in order to harvest naval stores and to operate lumbering outfits.  He realized much wealth from his logging operations, rafting the timbers down the Cape Fear river to Fayetteville, his headquarters, and to Wilmington, an important port of the Carolinas.

Of tremendous physique, Frank possessed the immense strength and endurance that was typical of his rugged Page breed.  He was an energetic builder and developer with an adventuresome nature.  Of a keen intellect, intensely religious, and a staunch prohibitionist, he was admired for his candid, just, and uncompromising opinions rendered freely in situations where others might not dare to speak up.

He became the first mayor and postmaster of Cary, a small village about twelve miles west of Raleigh.  His home there was known as Pages and was distinguished in its architecture.  The lumber used to build the two-story frame structure of the Cary school was also prepared at his mill.  And in 1868 he built a Second-Empire hotel in the town, later known as the Page-Walker Hotel.

Because he was such a great benefactor of the town, many of the citizens wished to name it Page’s Station.  But he insisted that it be called Cary in honor of a prohibitionist that he greatly admired.

Frank and his wife Catherine raised seven sons who all went onto distinguish themselves:

  • Walter Hines Page was a brilliant scholar, noted editor, and respected U.S. ambassador to Britain in the Woodrow Wilson administration
  • Robert Newton Page was an eminent legislator, congressman, and banker
  • Henry Allison Page was the U.S. food commissioner under Herbert Hoover during World War One
  • Junius (Chris) Raboteau Page became a prominent businessman and benefactor of the nearby town of Aberdeen
  • John W. Page was a distinguished physician
  • Jesse Page became a prominent clergyman of the Methodist Episcopal Church
  • and Frank Page was the founder and executive vice-president of Wachovia Bank in Raleigh and later chairman of the North Carolina Highway Commission.

Page Names

  • John Page served as Governor of Virginia from 1802 to 1805. He came from one of the First Families of Virginia in colonial times.
  • Sir Frederick Handley Page was a pioneer of the English aircraft industry and became known as the father of the heavy bomber.
  • Anita Page was a famous Hollywood movie actress during the silent era of the 1920’s.
  • Satchel Paige was a star African American baseball pitcher of the 1930’s and 1940’s.
  • Jimmy Page from London is an acclaimed guitarist and was the founder of the Led Zeppelin rock group in the 1970’s.
  • Larry Page is the co-founder of the search engine company Google.

Page Numbers Today

  • 44,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 39,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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Written by Colin Shelley

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