Tugwell Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Tugwell Meaning
Mark Lower
in his 1860 surname book remarked the following about Tugwell:

“Though borne by
dentists and shoemakers, this name has no connection with tugging.   It is clearly local.”

The most likely
explanation of Tugwell is that it is a variant of Tucker, an
occupational name
in the southwest of England for a cloth worker – someone who softened
the cloth
by beating and tramping it in water.  Tugwell might alternatively
have originated
from a now lost medieval village called Tukwaella, meaning “Tucker’s

One family in Somerset may have been first
Tuggle and then Tugwell.  The Tugwell
that departed for America reverted to Tuggle after a couple of
generations.  The “w” in Tugwell had gone
silent by that time.

Tugwell Resources on

Tugwell Ancestry


had an early presence in SW England, but was latter more common in SE

SW England.
Tugwell of Hilmartin was recorded in the North Wiltshire muster toll of
1539.  Later Tugwells from this area
migrated in the 1660’s to Tetbury, Gloucestershire and to Beverstone
there.  Many Tugwells were buried at St.
Mary’s in Beverstone.  Lewen
Tugwell was a churchwarden at St. Mary’s from 1743 to 1778.

There were also said to
have been Tugwells at Bradford in Somerset, possibly by the early
1600’s (when
William Tugwell, the son of a privateer in the English navy, supposedly
first arrived
there).  Whether they were the
descendants of Flemish traders who had settled in England and were
really there
at that time, as Henry and Morgan Tuggle’s 1936 book Genealogy
of the Tuggle Family
had claimed, cannot be verified.

can be said is that Humphrey Tugwell was a successful clothier at
Bradford-on-Avon in north Wiltshire in the 1700’s.
He, was, however, connected to the Tetbury
Tugwells.  George Haywood Tugwell of this
family prospered as a banker in Bath and was twice the town’s mayor.  His family held Crowe Hall near Bath from
1805 to 1919.

The Tugwell numbers in SW England were few by the late 19th century –
only 49 in Wiltshire and 29 in Gloucestershire (mostly in Tetbury).

SE England.  The main Tugwell numbers
by this time were in
SE England – primarily in Sussex, Surrey, and Kent. Some
had migrated there from the west
country.  For instance the Rev.
Lewen Street Tugwell from the
Tetbury family ended up – after periods as a Christian missionary in
Canada and
Spain – as the vicar of King Charles the Martyr in Tunbridge Wells,
Kent in the
1880’s.  His son Oswald, born there, died
on the Western front in 1917.

Tugwells in Sussex have been traced back to the
late 1500’s.  One Tugwell line appeared at
Rudgwick and Warnham in the 1600’s and at Buxted and Glynde in the

Tugwell, a cordwainer, married Elizabeth Skinner in Buxted in 1751 and
three properties, including Daffodil Cottage, in Glynde in 1763.  When he died in 1809, his son
had the option of buying these houses for £600 after his
mother’s death.   But he predeceased
dying in 1819.   His mother Elizabeth
died in 1824.”

As the 19th century proceeded the Tugwell name was being found
more and more in Brighton.  An early
arrival was William Tugwell, a gentleman of independent means from
Shere in
Surrey who owned one of the large houses on the Brighton seafront in
1820’s. There were 80 Tugwells recorded in Brighton in the 1881 census.

America.  Thomas
Tugwell from the Bradford, Somerset family moved to Virginia in 1654
and made
his home in Middlesex county.  Two
generations later Henry Tugwell’s descendants would spell their name
Tuggle.  These Tuggles spread across
Virginia and westward into Kentucky.

Of the fewer Tugwell descendants, the main
line went south to Pitt county, North Carolina and then branched into

  • John
    Tugwell moved to Tennessee in the 1830’s and his son Robert later to
    Texas.  This line was covered in Sarah
    Rollins’ 1993 book The Tugwell and Finch
    Families of Tennessee.
  • while
    Joseph Tugwell ended up in Louisiana in the
    1850’s.  His grandson Pat Tugwell of Winn
    parish served as the Democratic state treasurer of Louisiana from 1936
    to 1968,
    the longest that anyone has held that position.  He had started
    work, as had his
    father Robert and his brother Lloyd, for the local railroad company in
    Louisiana where he was noticed by Governor Huey Long.

Tugwell family in
America began with William Tugwell from Shere in Surrey who came to New
with his family in 1849.  His son Charles
settled in Chautauqua county.  His
grandson Rexford, born there in 1891, was part of Roosevelt’s Brain
during the early years of the New Deal.

Canada.  Thomas Tugwell, an 18 year old
midshipman on
the British frigate Calypso, first
stepped ashore on Vancouver Island on Canada’s West Coast in 1858.  He was an operator of many businesses in what
was then called the Otter District.  His
name is remembered there by Tugwell Creek.

Tugwell Names

  • Humphrey Tugwell was a wealthy clothier of Bradford-on-Avon in Wiltshire in the 1700’s. 
  • Rexford Tugwell was an FDR New Dealer, part of Roosevelt’s Brain Trust in the early
    1930’s to get the country out of the Great Depression

Select Tugwell Numbers Today

  • 1,200 in the UK (most numerous
    in Surrey)
  • 400 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 400 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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