Starbuck Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Starbuck Meaning
Starbuck name is believed to have originated from the village of Starbeck,
a hamlet between Ripon
and Knaresborough in north Yorkshire and, in medieval times, within the
royal hunting forest of Knaresborough. Its earliest appearance as
a surname was a Robertus Starbok in the poll tax returns for Yorkshire
in 1379. Starbeck and Starbok over time became Starbuck.

Resources on

Starbuck Ancestry

The Starbuck name came from Yorkshire.  There are still traces
of the name in Wakefield, but little elsewhere in the county.  The Starbuck
name distribution in England
has instead been mainly
centered further south, around the counties of Leicestershire and
Nottinghamshire, with some spillover into Lincolnshire and

The Starbuck name was to be found in Leicestershire in the mid 1600’s
in the village of Lubenham near Market Harborough.  These
Starbucks apparently earned their living from the river trade.
The name appeared later in villages in the vale of Belvoir such as Long
Clawson, Stathern,, Harston, and Branston.  One Leicestershire
line began in 1687 with Joseph Starbuck from Hose.

John Starbuck was born in Deeping St. James, Lincolnshire in
1810.  Another John Starbuck started a photography business in
Boston, Lincolnshire in the 1850’s.  A third John Starbuck, from
Sutton St. Edmond in Lincolnshire, emigrated with his family to
Australia in the 1850’s.

Kent  There has
been a Starbuck outpost in the southeast, in Gravesend in
Kent.  J&R Starbuck is a family business of ship chandlers
founded soon after 1634 when William Starbuck, a Quaker, arrived in
Gravesend from Leicester.  The earliest documentary evidence of
the business is recorded in the Gravesend archives in February 1718
when Will’s grandson Isaac took on an apprentice ropemaker, William
Bland, from the workhouse.  J&R Starbuck has continued
and passed to Sally Starbuck in 1993.

  Edward Starbuck from Derbyshire
brought his name
to America and
New England in 1635. Tradition has it that Edward Starbuck was a man of
commanding presence, very adept in dealing with the local
Indians.   He and Tristram Coffin sailed to Nantucket island
Cape Cod in 1661 with other settlers to establish a colony there.
His son Nathaniel married Tristram’s daughter Mary.
It was Mary
Coffin Starbuck
, sometimes called
“the Great Mary,” who
introduced Quakerism into the island.

The late 18th century saw Nantucket’s rise as a whaling port.
Joseph Starbuck was perhaps the richest and most successful whale oil
merchant of his time.  He built three identical federal style
mansions on Main Street for his three sons.  His story is narrated
in Will Gardner’s 1948 book Three
Bricks and Three Brothers.
The overall genealogy of the
Nantucket Starbucks is covered in James Carlton Starbuck’s
1984 book Starbucks All.

When the whaling industry began to decline, some Starbucks moved from
Nantucket to North Carolina and then onto Indiana.  One line has
traced there to Wayne county, another to the town of Salem.  There
were also Starbucks in Tennessee and Missouri by the 1850’s and
1860’s.  William H. Starbuck was a 19th century railroad financier
from New
York.  It would appear that he gave his name to Starbuck,
Minnesota and to Starbuck,

Hermann Melville named one of his characters in Moby Dick
Starbuck after the
Nantucket Starbuck whaling family.  And the coffee chain Starbucks
was then named after this Starbuck.
It was not
because Starbuck had any affinity for coffee.  Starbuck was
in fact chosen after
Pequod, the name of his ship,
had been rejected by one of the co-founders of the chain.  In
response Facebook spawned a “Starbuck is our name, not our coffee
shop” group of Starbucks in Britain and America.


Starbuck Miscellany

The Origin of Starbeck.  The name Starbeck in Yorkshire originates from the Norse word stor, meaning big or large, and bekkr, a stream or brook
There is an alternative reading for the suffix “-beck,” which is bokki or “river.”  The
so-called “great river” could have described the nearby river Wharfe, a
much bigger river at that time than it is today.

Starbucks in England.  While the Starbuck name may have originated in Yorkshire,
this is not the place where most Starbucks in England are to be
found.  That honor, according the the 1891 English census, fell to
the counties of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire in the middle of the
country.  The table below shows the approximate numbers and
distribution of the Starbuck
name in England at that time.

County Starbucks Percent
Leicestershire   150    24%
Nottinghamshire   150    24%
Derbyshire    70    12%
Lincolnshire    40     7%
Lancashire    30     5%
London    30     5%
Yorkshire    20     4%
Elsewhere   110    19%
Total   600   100%

J&R Starbuck.  By 1800 shipowning was an important part of the Starbuck business and the family owned a fleet of colliers, fishing vessels, a Leith smack and at least one Thames barge.  Robert Starbuck had a
boatbuilding and repair yard facing the Thames where he constructed
some of the famous Gravesend Bawley boats.

A vast loft housed the sailmaking and repairing business,
which was so successful that by 1850 “there was hardly a ship on the
Thames that failed to carry Starbuck’s stores.  They were the
chandlers of the district!” Demand was so great that The Slopselling
(clothing) and Chandlery side was run in the 19th century by John and
Robert Starbuck from No.52 West Street.  They moved to its present
site (then numbered 57) in about 1820. 

Reader Feedback – Edward Starbuck Sr.  There is
no mention on your website about Edward Starbuck Sr. who has born in
the year 1584.
He was married to Anne Barns around the
1603.  Their son Edward Starbuck Jr. who
married Katherine Reynolds was the Starbuck from all the Starbucks in
the US
are descended.

anyone doing research
on Edward Starbuck’s Sr’s parents?  It
be fantastic to go farther back in history and actually see when the
name came into England.  Supposedly it came from William the
Conqueror’s time
and from Denmark.

PS. My husband is a direct descendant of Edward Starbuck Sr.

Rachél Ivarsson Starbuck (

Mary Coffin Starbuck and the Quakers.  Throughout
the 17th century, English
Nantucketers resisted all attempts to establish a church on the island,
because a woman by the name of Mary Coffin Starbuck forbade it.  It was said that nothing of consequence was
done on Nantucket without Mary’s approval.
Mary Coffin and Nathaniel Starbuck had been the first English
couple to
be married on the island, in 1662, and had established a lucrative
outpost for
trading with the Wampanoag.  Whenever an
itinerant minister came to Nantucket looking to establish a
congregation, he
was firmly rebuffed by Mary Starbuck.

Then, in
1702, Mary succumbed to a charismatic Quaker minister named John
Richardson.  Speaking before a group
assembled in the Starbucks’ living room, Richardson succeeded in moving
Mary to
tears.  It was Mary Starbuck’s
conversion to Quakerism that established the unique fusion of
spirituality and
covetousness that would make possible Nantucket’s rise as a whaling

For several years,
town meetings were frequently held in the “great fore-room” of Mary’s
home, which became known as “Parliament House.”  John Richardson
said of her: “The islanders established her a judge among them, for a
little of moment was done without her advice.”  She held religious
meetings in her home, being herself a Quaker preacher of power and

Quakerism gradually
became the dominant religion of Nantucket’s ruling elite and a majority
of island residents during the most prosperous days of the whaling
industry.  It effectively served as the official faith of the
small maritime community that would become the whaling capital of the

Starbuck in Moby Dick.  In Herman Melville’s Moby Dick,
Starbuck was the young first mate of the Pequod.  He was
a thoughtful man, an intellectual Quaker from Nantucket.

This was how Melville described him:

“Uncommonly conscientious for a seaman
and endued with a deep natural reverence, the wild watery loneliness of
his life did therefore strongly incline him to superstition; but to
that sort of superstition, which in some organization seems rather to
spring, somehow, from intelligence than from ignorance.

far-away domestic memories of his young Cape wife and child, tended to
bend him from the original ruggedness of his nature and open him still
further to those latent influences which, in some honest-hearted men,
restrain the gush of dare-devil daring, so often evinced by others in
the more perilous vicissitudes of the fishery.

‘I will have no man in my boat,’ said Starbuck, ‘who is not afraid of a
whale.’  By this, he seemed to mean, not only that the most
reliable and useful courage was that which arises from the fair
estimation of the encountered peril, but that an utterly fearless man
is a far more dangerous comrade than a coward.”

Starbuck in Manitoba.  Starbuck is a small town in Manitoba along the La Salle river formed in 1885 when the railroad came through.
There is a long held fable of Starbuck being named after two oxen, Star
and Buck, who drowned in the La Salle river (formerly the Stinking
river) where the community is now.  However, this story is similar
to how Starbuck, Minnesota got its name.  More likely, Starbuck
was named after the New York railroad financier, W.H. Starbuck.


Select Starbuck Names

  • Valentine and Obed Starbuck were early 19th century whalers from the Nantucket Starbuck family.
  • JoJo Starbuck from California won Olympic gold in pair figure skating in 1968 and 1972.

Select Starbuck Numbers Today

  • 1,300 in the UK (most numerous
    in Leicestershire)
  • 800 in America (most numerous
    in Vermont)




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