Snow Surname Genealogy

surname Snow does come from the Old English word snow meaning “snow.”  However,
it did not have anything to do with snow.Instead Snow appears to
have been a nickname for someone with a very pale complexion or someone
with fair or white hair.  It could therefore have been a
description of a Norseman. They were rarer and thus possibly more
noticeable in the south of England where the surname seems to have

Resources on

Snow Ancestry

Early appearances as a surname were in the south of England – Richard
Snow in Worcestershire in 1221, Robert Snow in Suffolk in 1239, Henry
Snou in Buckinghamshire in 1273, and Gilbert Snawe in Essex in 1339.

Devon  Snows were
to be found in sizeable numbers in Devon.  They
appeared, as farmers, in Sandford and South Molton from the
1600’s.  Snows were also cloth merchants in Exeter at this time,
starting with Thomas Snow and then followed by his son Simon Snow
who became mayor of Exeter in 1653.  A later Snow, Thomas Snow,
was a wine merchant and partner in the local bank in the early 19th
century.  His son, also Thomas, was mayor of Exeter in 1863.

Dorset  Snows in
Dorset included some interesting families.  The children
of Lieutenant Snow of Poole, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, included
Parker Snow,
the Arctic adventurer and writer, and Phillis Snow, who became a
Buddhist monk.

Another family, starting with the Rev. George
D’Oyly Snow of Langton Lodge in Blandford Forum, has an interesting mix
of military men and clergymen until the current generation of TV
presenters – Peter Snow and his son Daniel of the BBC and his cousin
Jon Snow, the Channel 4 news presenter.

Yorkshire  The
Snow surname also appeared in Yorkshire, although here it might
have been a contraction of Snowden (a northern surname meaning “the
hill where the snow lies long”).  The Snows were clockmakers near
Harrogate in the 18th century and John Snow, who did pioneering work on
cholera in the 19th century, was from a York family.

America.  Three Snows came
early to Massachusetts.

First, Nicholas Snow arrived in Plymouth from London on the Anne in 1623, married Constance
Hopkins who had come over on the Mayflower,
and they settled in Eastham on Cape Cod. Nicholas was the town
clerk there.  The family remained there for many
generations.  Some Snows
later migrated elsewhere:

  • Isaac Snow
    went to Duck Creek, Delaware in 1711 and his descendants were to be
    found in North Carolina, Tennessee and
  • Jabez
    Snow settled in Nova Scotia
    in 1763 (his line was traced in
    Stanley Corey’s 1979 booklet Captain
    Jabez Snow and Some of His Descendants
  • while Jonathan
    Snow moved
    to Vermont
    in 1791 and
    Nathaniel Snow was a prominent local artist and writer in that

Then came Richard Snow and
his wife Annis on the Expedition
in 1635.  They settled in Woburn.  Benjamin Snow of this
family was born in New Hampshire and fought in the Revolutionary War
(his line was traced in Owen Wilcox’s 1907 book History of the Family of Benjamin Snow);
while later:

  • other Snows moved to Maine or crossed the border into
  • and there
    was also a line from Becket, Massachusetts into northern Ohio.
    This line produced Lorenzo Snow of the Mormons who went out to Salt
    Lake valley in 1848.

Lastly, there was a young
west country boy called William Snow who
went out
as an indentured servant around 1637.  After his service ended, he
settled in Bridgewater.  A descendant Thomas Jefferson Snow headed
west and was a school principal during the 1840’s and 1850’s in
Kentucky and Peoria, Illinois.

Maryland and
  Justinian Snow from Staffordshire came out with
Baltimore to Maryland in 1634 and was one of the founders of the new
colony.  He, however, died at sea four
years later.

Thomas and Susannah Snow arrived
in Virginia sometime in the 1680’s.
Their son Captain Henry and grandson Trooper John were born in
county.  Trooper John’s children were
named (1) Frost And Snow and (2) Ice And Snow, where “And” represented
middle name.

A line from the more conventionally named Thomas Snow also had some
unusual names – Early Snow, born in 1800, and his son Laten Early Snow,
born in 1831, who moved to Lewis county, West Virginia where he died in

“It was normal for Laten to have a
horse, two cows, sheep, hogs and chickens on his farm.  He was a
competent farmer and also raised fruit trees (apples, peaches, and
cherries planted on the ridges of his farm) and oats etc.  This
was productive ‘subsistence’ farming.”

Canada.  Snows in Nova
Scotia dated from the 1760’s when French control ended there and
English settlers started to arrive.  Some came overland from
America and others arrived by sea from England, mainly from Devon it
appear.  These Snows were to be found on the South Shore, Eastern
Shore, Cape Breton, and Yarmouth.  One Yarmouth family began with
Joseph Snow, a late 19th century shipbuilder.  His son Alfred was
a well-known sea captain.

There were also Snows in Newfoundland.  In fact this is where
Snows are mostly to be found in Canada today:

  • John Snow was
    in Newfoundland as early as 1708.  He is believed to have been the
    forebear of the
    Snows in Conception Bay.
  • the Harbour Grace Methodist church
    parish register recorded the children of Edward and Frances Snow being
    born between 1785 and 1798.
  • while the lives of one Snow family of Salmon Grove in Port de
    ended tragically in 1833.

Snow in Canada could be of Indian origin.  Joseph Snow, who
appeared with his family in the 1861 and 1871 censuses for Tuscarora,
Ontario, was listed as an Onondaga chief.  His Iroquois name of
“Drifted Snow” translated into English as Joseph Snow.

John Snow came to Ballarat in Victoria at the
time of gold fever in the 1850’s.  He
built up a successful drapery business in the town.
His son Sidney, later knighted, became even
more successful as a retailer in Melbourne.

Snow Miscellany

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

Select Snow Names

is considered one of the founders of epidemiology for his
work in discovering the causes for the cholera outbreak in England in
Edgar Snow was an American
jounalist best known for his articles and books covering China, Mao
Zedong and the Communist Party during the 1930’s.
Hank Snow, the Singing Ranger,
was a country star of the 1950’s.  He grew up in Nova Scotia.
CP Snow was an English
physicist and novelist best known for his lament on the arts/science
divide – The Two Cultures – in his 1959 lecture.

Select Snows

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Hampshire)
  • 17,000 in America (most numerous
    in California)
  • 14,000 elsewhere (most numerous
    in Canada)




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