Tucker Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Tucker Surname Meaning

The name Tucker, like the names Walker and Fuller, comes from the wool trade. The Walkers and Fullers would beat the wool cloth to make it softer. The Tuckers refined the cloth to give it fluffiness and body.

Linguistically, Tucker comes from the German tucher, meaning cloth-weaver.  This name passed onto Flemish wool-traders who may have brought it with them to Devon. Tucker/Tukker has been a long-established surname in Holland.  Tuggle may have been an early variant.

Another origin of this name has been mooted in Devon.  A Norman family was granted lands there after the Norman Conquest. Some have suggested that they brought the name Tucker with them (originally Touker from the French tout couer or all heart).  The Tucker surname may also have Jewish or Irish origins.

Tucker Surname Resources on The Internet

Tucker Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Devon)
  • to Bermuda, America (incl. African Americans), West Africa, India and New Zealand

England. The wool trade was an important medieval industry in Devon and an important source of finance. The nursery rhyme Baa Baa Black Sheep is thought to have originated in Devon in the 1270’s. The rhyme ends:

  • “Three bags full:
  • One for the master (the landowner)
  • One for the dame (the countess of Devon)
  • And one for the little boy
  • Who lives down the lane (the English Parliament – down the lane = London)”

Devon.  The Tucker surname started to appear in Devon villages such as Stockland and Throwleigh in the late 1400’s. There was a Tuckers’ Hall in Exeter which served as a focal point and market for the town.

Robert Tucker was mayor of Exeter in 1543. He was said “to have discharged the office with great honor and entertained the Spanish ambassador and his whole retinue at his own house with great cost for the space of three days.” His family later moved to Coryton Park near Tavistock.

Many Tuckers were seafarers and took part in the attack on the Spanish Armada in 1588. From Throwleigh came the merchant/adventurer George Tucker. He was granted lands in Kent in Elizabethan times.

Tuckers Today.  Tucker is still a common name in Devon and is to be found as well in neighboring counties such as Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire. The 19th century naval Tuckers came from Trematon Castle in Cornwall.

Bermuda. George Tucker was a member of the Virginia company. But Bermuda was the main port of call for this family. Dan Tucker, reputedly a cantankerous man, was its first governor.

Later Tuckers featured in American Independence. Thomas Tudor Tucker moved to America, fought in the Revolutionary War, and became that country’s Treasurer in 1801. St. George Tucker also settled in America and was an esteemed statesman and lawyer there in the early years of the new republic.

In Bermuda, the Tucker home at St. Georges has been preserved as a museum. And this Tucker dynasty continued well into the 20th century. Sir Henry Tucker founded the United Bermuda Party and became the first elected leader of the country in 1968.

America. There were Tucker immigrants into Massachusetts – such as Robert and Henry Tucker whose descendants included the Rev. William Jewett Tucker, a President of Dartmouth College – but more into Virginia.

Virginia.  Captain William Tucker was among the survivors at Jamestown in 1623 and whose household, according to the 1625 census, included the Negroes Antony and Isabella and “William, their child baptized.”

Captain Robert Tucker was living in Charles City in the mid/late 1600’s:

  • his clergymen descendants moved first to Georgia in the 1830’s (the Rev. Daniel) and then to Alabama in the 1850’s (the Rev. Eppes)
  • while the line through his grandson Robert Tucker was to be found in South Carolina and then spread across the South.

Tuckers owned plantations and slaves in the south – the Litchfield plantation in South Carolina and the Cottonwood plantation in Louisiana for example.  The slave song Old Dan Tucker became hugely popular in the 19th century.  It was said to have been after the Rev. Daniel Tucker who operated Tucker’s ferry in rural Georgia.

African American.  The year 1619 marked the first slave ship that came to the Jamestown colony in Virginia.  William Tucker. born in 1624, is considered as the first African who was born on these shores. He took the name of his master in Jamestown.

Today’s Tuckers include a number of notable African Americans:

  • Rosina Tucker, a daughter of slaves, had been an early campaigner for civil and workers’ rights in the 1930’s. In 1982, after decades of obscurity, she became a celebrity. At the age of 100, she narrated the award-winning TV documentary, Miles of Smiles, Years of Struggle.
  • while the actor Chris Tucker has traced his family back to Flat Rock in Georgia and a community founded by freed slaves after the Civil War.  DNA testing in 2007 showed that his original roots lay with the Mbundu tribe in Angola.

Africa.  John Tucker was a slave trader active out of West Africa in the 1660’s. He married a Sherbro princess and they had many children.

These Sherbro Tuckers became a powerful clan in what is now Sierra Leone (their history was traced in Peter Tucker’s 1997 book The Tuckers of Sierra Leone).  Though their European connection is all but gone, they are still very westernized in their dress and behavior.

India. Sarah Tucker never visited India. However, it was this woman in a wheelchair in England who n 1895 raised the funds for the first women’s college in southern India. Sarah Tucker College still thrives.

New Zealand. William Tucker who started life down under as a convict shipped out to New Zealand in 1809 and was later the first European to settle in Dunedin. He was New Zealand’s first art dealer too, although with the dubious distinction of trading human heads.

Edward Tucker and his family from Cornwall were early settlers at New Plymouth, NI in 1841. William Tucker, born in Auckland in 1843, prospered as a land developer at Gisborne on the east coast. It was said:

“Like many of his generation, he related well to his Maori friends, spoke their language, and fathered a Maori branch of the family. He had practical, moderate visions, visions which he saw fulfilled.”

Tucker Surname Miscellany

Tucker Origins.  It is believed that the first of the family in England was John Tucker, who came with William the Conqueror in the year 1066, fought in the battle of Hastings, and was assigned large estates in Devon.

Among the earliest records of the family in England are those of Roger le Tukere of Dorset in 1273; those of Percival le Toukere in 1301 as a man who made a substantial living in cleaning and thickening woollen cloth; those of Robert le Tuckere in 1321; and those of William le Touker around the same time.

Reader Feedback – Tucker as a Dutch Surname.  I really would appreciate it when you add some line about the Dutch Tukkers who originally wrote their name as Tucker.

The first one occurs in the archive of the barony of Breda as Jan Tucker when he sold a house in 1368. Breda at that time held a wool manufacturing and trade position in Brabant (situated at the northern border of Flanders).  The lineage of this Jan Tucker has a gap until 1440, but from thereon there is a lineage up into these times.  There still is one family in the Netherlands spelling there name as Tucker and coming straight from this line.

My name is Tukker, but was spelled as Tucker as well up into the 18th century.  As far as we know now the name came into the male family line in the 16th century, by maternal heritage.  In other words, one of my 16th century female forebears had Tucker as a family name.  Her children took this name and from there on there was another Tucker branch.  I have this lineage all the way up to me, starting in 1530.

In the Eastern part of Holland, in a part of the country we call Twente (province of Overijssel) next to the German border people born there are called Tukker(s) (until the early 20th century  written as Tucker(s)).  As far as we know they started calling themselves this way in the second part of the 19th century, when the industrialized wool manufacturing grew into a serious business here.

This originally was a very poor part of the country where they speak a dialect that is lower Saxon of origin.  This wool manufacturing not only made them less poor, it gave them back their self-esteem.  Therefore they call themselves Tukker(s) as a special breed, coming form Twente and being proud about that.

So the name Tucker (Tukker) is very common in the Netherlands and has been for about seven centuries.

Kees Tukker (kees.tukker@unet.nl)

Reader Feedback – Tucker’s Irish Origins.  The Tucker surname may have English, Norman, German, Jewish, or Irish origins.

According to Patrick Wouffe in his book Irish Names and Surnames, the Tucker surname arose from the Gaelic O’Tuachair, or more correctly Ui Tuathchair, meaning “people dear,” and was anglicized to Tucker, Togher, Tougher, Tooker etc.  He said the name arose in the Ely-O’Carroll region of Tipperary and Offaly and migrated to surrounding counties.  The name O’Tuachair appeared in The Annals of Ulster as early as 1126, thereby predating the arrival of the Normans.

The arms of O’Tuachair of Dublin are the same as the arms of Thomas Tucker who was born in 1628 in Fingles parish, Dublin.  They are a simple blue shield with a silver chevron and three seahorses.

Tracy Edward Tucker, Co-Administrator of the Tucker Surname Project at Family Tree DNA (tracytucker3B@msn.com)

Reader Feedback – Early Tuckers in Devon.  I have read sources that claim that a Tucker did come to England with William the Conqueror.  But the reported Stephen Tucker was not his son.   According to The Visitations of Cornwall,  Stephen Tucker of Lamartyn was granted to privilege of wearing his hat in the presence of the king by Henry VIII.  This happened on July 2, 1519, according to my calculations.

Tom Clark (ca00932@windstream.net)

Conflict in Bermuda.  The home once owned by President Tucker in St. George is another museum operated by the Bermuda National Trust.  A pamphlet informs visitors that President Tucker moved into the house in 1775 and was quickly embroiled in a major crisis.

On the night of August 14 that year, a group of Bermudians brought several whale boats into Tobacco Bay on the north shore of St. George’s parish.  They crept up the hill to the small building which served as Bermuda’s arsenal, broke into it and stole gunpowder, sending it to the revolutionary American forces besieging Boston.

President Henry’s father, the colonel, was alleged to have been part of the conspiracy.  So was the President’s brother, St. George.

The powder was stolen because the Continental Congress had declared a ban on exports to all British colonies not taking part in the revolt.  The 13 mainland colonies were the granary for Bermuda and the ban was a shrewd blow.  An unofficial Bermuda delegation to Philadelphia asked that the ban be lifted, but the Congress refused unless Bermuda supplied the gunpowder to the colony’s magazine.  This the Bermudians did and the ban was eventually lifted.

Tom Moore’s Love Poem to Hester Tucker.  The poet Tom Moore stayed in Bermuda in 1804.  He met William Tucker and his charming young wife Hester who lived next door.  Hester became Nea, the lady of his dreams, to whom he wrote thirteen odes during his stay.  This is one excerpt:

  • “Nay, tempt me not to love again,
  • There was a time when love was sweet;
  • Dear Nea! Had I known thee then,
  • Our souls had not been slow to meet!
  • But oh! this weary heart hath run,
  • So many a time, the rounds of pain,
  • Not ev’n for thee, thou lovely one!
  • Would I endure such pangs again.”

William Tucker and His African American Descendants.  The marker in Hampton, Virginia reads as follows:

“The first documented Africans in Virginia arrived here in August 1619 on the White Lion, an English privateer based in the Netherlands.  Colonial officials traded food for these “twenty and odd” Africans who had been captured from a Portuguese slave ship.  Among Hampton’s earliest African residents were Antony and Isabella.  Their son William was the first child of African ancestry known to have been born in Virginia (circa 1624).  Many of the earliest Africans were held as slaves, but some individuals became free.”

Tucker’s claimed descendants believe that their American story started in 1619.  According to a letter by the tobacco planter John Rolfe, the widower of Pocahontas, a ship landed at the Jamestown settlement in Virginia and “brought not anything but 20 and odd Negroes.”

Virginia had no law to permit or ban slavery.  But the Africans became slaves in fact, if not in law.  In 1624 two of them, identified as Antony and Isabella, were listed in the household of Captain William Tucker, a military commander and settler.  The following year the two appeared again in a census, this time along with “William their child baptized.’’

The Tuckers believe that he is their founding father; that William was surnamed Tucker after Captain Tucker; and that their ancestors lived on or near Bluebird Gap farm, site of Captain Tucker’s plantation, in what is today the city of Hampton.

The Tucker family cemetery lies seven miles from where the first Africans landed in 1619 and a mile from the site of Captain Tucker’s plantation.  It’s incongruously surrounded by squat 1950’s tract houses and almost invisible from the street.

Robert Tucker and the Indian Nation.  Robert Tucker was the grandson of Captain Robert Tucker of Charles City, Virginia.  He had eight children and seven of them married the children of his neighbors, the Glenns.

Abigail Glenn, the mother of those children, was supposedly half Choctaw Indian and the families of these Tucker/Glenn marriages became embroiled in a twenty-year court battle with the Choctaw Tribe and the US Government over their desire to be accepted as tribal members.

Many of the family took in their travel to get to the Indian Nation. The family left South Carolina before the Trail of Tears in the 1830’s and moved on their own, spreading out from Missouri to Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Arkansas before reaching the Indian Nation.

Old Dan Tucker.  Old Dan Tucker is a popular American song.  Its origins remain obscure.  The first sheet music of the song was published in 1843.

A story dating back to 1965 claims that Old Dan Tucker was written by slaves about a man named Daniel Tucker who lived in Elbert County, Georgia.  Tucker was a farmer, ferryman, and minister who appears in records from the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  The story, as related by Mrs. Guy Rucker the great-great-granddaughter of one of Tucker’s neighbors, claims that Tucker became quite well liked by the slaves in his area through his ministry to them.

George and Annis Tucker in Australia.  George and Annis Tucker arrived in Sydney on the Harbinger in 1849 and settled at Mid-Lorn, near Maitland, growing lucerne for hay and chaff, corn, potatoes and vegetables.

The family were staunch adherents to the Church of England, and, rain or shine, they went to church at St. Mary’s in Church Street, Maitland.  One of the heavy draught farm horses was harnessed to the heavy farm dray and planks were put across on which the family sat.

The draught horse walking and the dray, with no springs, rattling along over the rough roads with George and Annis sitting up front driving and the pack of children sitting on the rough seats behind them, all dressed up in their best clothes to go to church as was the custom.  George always dressed in a long black frock-coat, with a stiffly starched white shirt, a peaked white collar, and a black bow tie which hitched up at the back.  Annis wore a small black hat and a white silk shawl which fell over her shoulders.

When spring-vans came, George was the first to buy one and when phaetons later were introduced, he again was first to have one.  These vehicles were four-wheeled, with the front wheels very small.  They seated two people in upholstered seats and also had a hood which folded down if sunshine was desired and pulled up quite simply when it began to rain.  The family, of course, was still accommodated in the spring-cart.

George prospered and went in for breeding heavy draught horses which were the main means of transport at that time.

Preston Tucker and the ’48 Tucker.  The Tucker ’48 automobile, the brainchild of Preston Tucker, represented one of the last attempts by an independent car maker to break into the high-volume car business.  Preston Tucker was one of the most recognized figures of the late 1940’s, as controversial and enigmatic as his namesake automobile.  His car was hailed as the first completely new car in fifty years.  Indeed, the advertising promised that it was “the car you have been waiting for.”

Much of the appeal of the Tucker automobile was the man behind it.  Six feet tall and always well-dressed, Preston Tucker had an almost manic enthusiasm for the automobile.  Born in 1903 in Michigan, he spent his childhood around mechanics’ garages and used car lots, later working at Cadillac and the Ford Motor Company.

During Christmas 1946, Tucker commissioned Alex Tremulis to design his car and ordered the prototype to be ready in a hundred days.  The first car, completely hand-made, was affectionately dubbed “the tin goose.”  It pioneered in June 1947 at the Tucker plant before the press, dealers, distributors, and brokers.

However, production of the automobile, called the Torpedo, was later shut down amidst scandal and accusations of stock fraud.  The jury did find Tucker and his co-defendants innocent of any attempt to defraud.  But the verdict was a small triumph.  The company was already lost.  The remaining assets, including the Tucker automobiles, were sold at 18 cents on the dollar.

Tucker Names

  • George Tucker was an Elizabethan merchant adventurer granted lands in Kent. 
  • Dan Tucker was the first Governor of Bermuda in 1616. 
  • Thomas Tudor Tucker, born in Bermuda, became Treasurer of the United States in 1801. 
  • Tilghman Tucker was Governor of Louisiana in the 1840’s. 
  • Sophie Tucker, born Sophie Kalish in Russia, was a singer and comedian, one of the most popular entertainers in America in the early 20th century.
  • Rosina Tucker was an African American campaigner for civil and workers’ rights in the 1930’s. 
  • Sir Henry Tucker, often called the architect of modern Bermuda, was its first elected leader in 1968. 
  • Tanya Tucker is a country music singer from Texas who had her first hit in 1972 as a teenager.

Tucker Numbers Today

  • 34,000 in the UK (most numerous in Buckinghamshire)
  • 61,000 in America (most numerous in Texas).
  • 23,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Tucker and Like Surnames

Many surnames originated from SW England, the principal counties there being Devon and Cornwall, Somerset and Gloucestershire.  These are some of the prominent and noteworthy surnames that you can check out.



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Written by Colin Shelley

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