Timberlake Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Timberlake Surname Meaning

The Timberlake surname comes from the place-name Timberlake in the parish of Bayton, Worcestershire which has long since vanished.

Timberlake Surname Resources on The Internet

Timberlake Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Worcestershire)
  • to America

England.  The Timberlake place-name in Worcestershire created the surname Timberlake and there have been some examples of Timberlakes in Worcestershire.  Jane Timerlacke was born at Knighton-upon-Teme in 1571 and John Tymberlake at Rock in 1609.  However, the 1891 census recorded no Timberlakes at all in Worcestershire.

Tracking the name can be a little difficult as Timberlake did come in a variety of spellings, such as Timberlick, Timberlek, Timlick, Timlek, Timblick, and Timlock.  However, it does seem clear that Timberlake had become by the 17th century a name found more in London and surrounding counties.

An early sighting for the Timberlake lines in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire was Thomas Timberlake and his wife Elizabeth who were married in Ellseborough in the early 1600’s.  One Sarrett line dates from the late 1600’s. William Timberlake and Mary Dancer were married in High Wycombe in 1717. From them came the Timberlakes of Harmondsworth in Middlesex.

Henry Timberlake from Tichfield near Southampton was a prosperous London ship captain and merchant adventurer in Mediterranean waters in the early 1600’s.  He also journeyed to Virginia (perhaps he was the Henry Timberlake mentioned in Captain John Smith’s account) before his death in 1625.  His grandson Henry emigrated to Rhode Island.

America.  Henry Timberlake who was in Rhode Island by 1650 was the first Timberlake to settle in America.  But Virginia was where the subsequent Timberlakes came and Virginia today has the largest numbers of Timberlakes in America.

Virginia.  In the late 1690’s three Timberlakes said to be brothers – Richard, Francis and Joseph – landed at Port Royal in Caroline county (Timberlake is the name of a 1750’s-built house there that still stands).  Most Timberlakes came from these brothers.  Some may also have come from Richard and Frances (nee Harfield) Timberlake, later probable immigrants in 1760.

A grandson from the earlier Richard line was Henry Timberlake, the army lieutenant who journeyed into Cherokee territory along the lower Tennessee river in the 1760’s and wrote an illuminating account of his travels.  This later received a wide audience.

“However, none of these things earned Timberlake wealth, comfort, or even the gratitude of his country. He died in a debtor’s prison in London and didn’t live to see his life’s work published.”

From the Francis line is thought to have come Joseph Timberlake, who was born in Caroline county in 1752.  He fought in the Revolutionary War and died in Hart county, Kentucky.  His line was covered in Mary King Bailey’s revised 2003 edition of The Joseph Timberlake Family.

From the Joseph line came Lewis Timberlake, recorded in Caroline county in 1799.  His family later spread to Fluvanna, Albermarle and Bedford counties. John Timberlake was the first clerk of Fluvanna and died there at eighty nine years of age.  His sons Walker, John and Horace all lived in Albemarle county.

Much of this genealogy was covered in Addie Timberlake McCall’s 1936 book Timberlake Genealogy.  

Elsewhere.  Some Timberlakes had crossed over from Virginia to Kentucky by the 1780’s.  Joseph Timberlake arrived there in 1795.  John W. Timberlake, born in Kentucky in 1809, moved onto NW Missouri – first to the St. Louis area and then in the 1830’s to Platte county when it had been opened up for settlement:

  • his son John was “the chivalrous and fearless” Sheriff Timberlake of Clay county
  • while his grandson James was a US marshal in the 1870’s best known for his pursuit of the James-Younger gang which culminated in the death of the outlaw Jesse James.

James Poindexter Timberlake came to Tennessee around 1845.  His line extended down to Charles Timberlake, a Baptist minister in the Shelby Falls community just north of Memphis, and to his grandson the singer Justin Timberlake who grew up in that vicinity.

Justin Timberlake’s Family Ancestry

Justin Timberlake’s American ancestry goes back to the 1750’s.  Whether he has Cherokee Indian ancestors is unclear.  His line started out in North Carolina and then in the mid-19th century moved to Tennessee which was where Justin was born.

Just click below if you want to read more about this history:

Timberlake Names

  • Philip Timberlake was a prolific 20th century American entomologist  (studier of insects).    
  • Justin Timberlake is a popular American singer/songwriter who rose to fame in the early 2000’s.

Timberlake Numbers Today

  • 700 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 1,800 in America (most numerous in Virginia)

Timberlake and Like Surnames

These are surnames which have a small number of people bearing that name but are included here – for the curiosity of the name, its history, or because of some famous person who bears that name.



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Written by Colin Shelley

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