Tate/Tait Surname Genealogy

Tate and Tait are Border names, the Tate spelling on the English side
of the border and the Tait spelling on the Scottish side.
Tate and Tait names
are probably of Viking origin, deriving from
the Old Norse word teitr
meaning “glad” or
“cheerful.” The English Tate
surname may also have originated in some places from the Old English
personal name Tata.
Tate/Tait Resources on

Tate/Tait Ancestry

A Tate family was recorded in Coventry as early as the 13th
century. They founded there a chauntry known as Tate’s

A descendant, Sir Robert Tate, prospered in London and
was its Lord Mayor in 1488, as later was his son Sir John. Sir
John acquired the Delapre abbey in Northamptonshire in 1546 for his son
Bartholomew following the dissolution of the monasteries. This
estate stayed with the Tates until the 1750’s when Mary Tate died and
her husband, Sir Charles Hardy who was to become Governor of New York,
sold it.

Northern Tates. Tate
a surname, however, was more to be found mainly in the northern
counties of
Northumberland and Yorkshire. A Tate family lived for a long time
at Bank
House in Guizance, a village just outside Alnwick in Northumberland. John Tate, born in Berwick,
believed to have joined
the whaling
ship King George which went down with all hands on the
return voyage from Greenland some time around 1827.

century Tates in Yorkshire were William Tate, the Barnsley-born
painter, and James Tate, the
of Richmond School in north Yorkshire.
There were also Tate glassmakers just outside Wakefield at this
time. Sir Henry Tate,
founder of the Tate & Lyle sugar empire, was born in Chorley,
Lancashire in 1819.

Scotland.. Tayt as a surname
was first recorded in Scotland in the 13th century. The name
probably originated on the Scottish
borders. Hemming Tait was one of the first Taits of Pirn.
These Taits, from Innerleithen in Peeblesshire, were an ancient family
of Tweeddale and one of the smaller Border reiver families.

There was also a Tait family prominent in Ayr and Loudoun Hall in Ayr
was built by James Tait. After 1603 the Taits were encouraged to
relocate to Ulster. Their name became Tate in Antrim and Down and
stayed Tait in Derry.

The Tait name began to appear in the Orkney and Shetland isles
in the
16th century,
probably because of their Viking heritage (the islands only became part
of Scotland in 1470).

A Tait family in the 1650’s built a dam across
the river Don in Aberdeenshire to provide power for a mill at Port
Elphinstone. They were later farmers and
lumber merchants
in the area. Thomas Tait started a paper
mill at Inverurie in 1852. The mill
remained under five generations of the family until its sale in 1996.

Ireland. There was an
interesting Tate family in Ireland. It began with Faithful Teate
or Tate, a Protestant clergyman who was made rector at Ballyhaise in
county Cavan in the 1630’s. Reports that he informed on the
rebels during the 1641 Rebellion resulted in his house being burned
down. His grandson Nahum Tate, a Cromwell supporter, moved to
England in the 1650’s and later on in his life was made England’s
Poet Laureate.

America. Tate is
the usual spelling in America, irrespective of whether the
immigrant came from England, Scotland or Ireland.

The first Tate to
arrive was probably James Tate from a Northumbrian family.

He had come to Virginia, aged 17, in 1615 and settled
in York county as a planter. His
grandson James, called the “Scotsman Emigrant,” was a hatter by trade
and lived near Page’s warehouse in Hanover county. Later Tates of
line moved to Orange county, North Carolina.
Robert Tate, a Presbyterian minister, settled in Tennessee in
the early

The next arrival may
well have been Magnus Tate from the Orkney islands off Scotland who
came to
Philadelphia in 1696 and made his home in Frederick county, Virginia. A later Magnus
was a Virginia Congressman in the early 1800’s. There was subsequently a Dr. Magnus W. Tate
of Lexington, Missouri and a Dr. Magnus A. Tate of Cincinnati, Ohio.

arrivals in the colonial era were:

  • George
    Tate and his brother William from Aberdeenshire who came in the 1740’s
    and were
    among the first settlers of Hawfields in Orange county, North Carolina. George’s grandson Samuel was a farmer and
    merchant there in the first half of the 19th century.
  • and
    David Tate, from Derry in northern
    Ireland, who had come to America as a lieutenant in the British army in
    1750’s. He decided to stay after his term of service was over and
    up in Botetourt county, Virginia. These Tates later settled in eastern

Tate Families of the Southern States was
published in two volumes
by Ethel Updike in 1984

Caribbean. Thomas Tate, a
doctor, and his wife Mary came to Jamaica from Durham in the
1790’s. Their son Thomas Dale Tate, a plantation overseer,
married into the family that owned the Orange Grove plantation in
Westmoreland. He later acquired the Shafston estate and its Great House,
which has remained the Tate family home in Jamaica. Thomas had
nine children with his wife Mary and numerous illegitimate children by
mulatto mistresses to whom he gave gifts of land, slaves and cattle
during his lifetime.

James Tait had been
recruited in the Orkneys to work for the Hudson Bay Company and joined
service in 1778 at the age of 20. Later
Taits worked for the company at the Red River settlement in Manitoba
elsewhere in Canada. Jackie Hobbs’ 2002
book Tate/Tait Family History
recounted this history.

Australia. George Tate
and his family left their home on the Scottish borders in 1819 as the
only free passengers on the Minerva,
bound for Australia. George received a land grant in Wollongong,
NSW where he built an hotel and was the first recognised publican in
Illawarra. He died in 1835 at the age of 41 after being gored by
a bull. His son George became a cattle breeder and dealer.

Some Tait arrivels were:

  • William and Jane Tait who departed Derry with their family on the
    Adam Lodge in 1837.
    Jane died after giving birth to twins in Sydney. William
    remarried, to Catherine Monger.
  • A Tait family from Stow in Midlothian
    who came to South Australia in the
    1840’s. David Tait died in 1850. His sons moved onto the
  • John Turnbull Tait, a Scotsman from the Shetland
    isles, who migrated to Victoria in 1862. His five sons were
    all involved in theatrical and early film management in Australia for
    many years (a story recorded in Viola Tait’s 1971 book A Family of Brothers).
  • while the
    Tait winery in the Borossa valley of South Australia was founded by
    Giovanni Tait, an immigrant from Italy in the 1950’s.

Tate/Tait Miscellany

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

Select Tate/Tait Names

Nahum Tate was an Irish poet who became England’s Poet Laureate
in 1692.
Henry Tate
was the founder of the sugar firm Tate & Lyle in
1869. He also started the Tate Gallery in London.
Archibald Tait was Archbishop
of Canterbury from 1862 to 1882.
Maurice Tate, known as “Chub,”
was the leading bowler of the English cricket team in the mid/late
John Tate was briefly world
heavyweight boxing champion in 1979.

Select Tates/Taits Today

  • 29,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 25,000 in America (most numerous in Tennessee)
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)



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