Upson Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Upson Surname Meaning

Upson looks as it is a patronymic “son of” surname. But it isn’t.

Instead it’s locational, from the place name Ubbeston near Heveningham in Suffolk (a name derived from the Old English personal name Ubbi or Ubber plus tun meaning “settlement,” and originally Ubbi’s tun). Upson was apparently the local pronunciation of Ubbeston.

Upson Surname Resources on The Internet

  • Our Upson Family. Thomas Upson of Farmington, Connecticut and Berrien county, Michigan descendants.

Upson Surname Ancestry

  • from England (East Anglia)
  • to America

England.  Upson is primarily a name of East Anglia, stretching from Suffolk south into Essex and the London area.

Suffolk  John Upson appeared in the hearth tax records of Suffolk in 1524. Stephen Upson, a sawyer, left his home at Stonham Aspal for America on the Increase in 1635. The Upson name was being recorded in Able Men of Suffolk in 1638 at various locations and in Debenham parish records by the 1640’s.

One family line began with the birth of Robert Upson in Mendlesham in 1836. In more recent times the England footballer Matthew Upson was born in Stowmarket.

Essex  John Upson was a farmer in the Rivenhall area in the mid 19th century. And today the Upson name is to be found in the village of Hatfield Peveral near Chelmsford where they run – as they have for four generations – Upson’s Farm.  Robert Upson, a seaman from Harwich, emigrated to New Zealand in the early 1900’s.

America. Thomas Upson was the forebear of the Upsons in America. Not that much is known about him prior to his arrival in America.

“The name of the port from which he sailed, the name of his first wife, and the record of the birth of his children have not been discovered, after much research.”

Thomas left his wife and daughter in England and sailed for America in 1639, landing in Saybrook, Connecticut from whence he made his way to Hartford and then, a year later, to Farmington. His line has been traced in The Upson Family in America, published in 1940 by the Upson Family Association.

Freeman Upson departed from Connecticut for Portage county, Ohio in the 1810’s. Also arriving in Ohio, but a little later and into Lake county, were Job and Maria Upson from Suffolk in England. One Upson line from Ohio moved out to Wisconsin. Other Upsons settled in Berrien county, Michigan. Charles Upson, a lawyer, served as Michigan Attorney General at the time of the Civil War.

The Upson name moved South in 1810 when Stephen Upson left his home in Waterbury, Connecticut to practice law in Lexington, Georgia. He became the head of the Georgia Bar. On his death in 1824 the Georgia General Assembly created and named Upson county in his honor.

Upson Surname Miscellany

Ubbeston in Suffolk.  Ubbeston is in central Suffolk, about five miles southwest of Halesworth in the arable boulder-clay plateau that is typical of high Suffolk.  The village was recorded at the time of Edward the Confessor and in the Domesday Book.

The church and hall site are all that remain of a village that was sited on the rising bank of a stream that flowed eastward to join the Blyth river at Halesworth.   The church there dates from the late 12th century (it was sold off for private use in the 1970’s).  There is a slightly larger settlement at Ubbeston Green, half a mile to the south. 

Pre-1700 Upson BMD’s in Debenham, Suffolk.  The following Upson births, marriages and deaths were recorded at the St. Mary Magdalene church in Debenham during the 17th century.


  • 1656, Henry Youngman and Frances Upson
  • 1673, Robert Upson and Ann Pickess


  • 1641, Anne – daughter of Robert Upson
  • 1675, Anne – daughter of Robert and Ann Upson
  • 1680, William – son of William and Susanna Upson
  • 1682, Steven – son of William and Susanna Upson
  • 1688, John – son of William and Susanna Upson


  • 1675, widow Ann Upson
  • 1681, Robert Upson

John Upson of Rivenhall and His Love.  Young John Upson worked for his farming uncle at Stevens Hall, Rivenhall in Essex.  John Upson senior, the uncle, was a rather severe man.  So when young John fell in love with his cousin Emma, John senior was not best pleased!  This was because John’s prospects were not very good, they were cousins, and probably because he thought Emma could do a lot better.

But the young couple were deeply in love and at 28 probably thought that life was slipping away.  They were set on marriage.  But Rivenhall, being local, was out of the question.  Young John’s father was a carpenter in Framsden, Suffolk.  But they did not want to get married there as this might set brother against brother. They decided therefore on elopement and supplied their details to the church authorities at St. Giles Cripplegate in London.

They were married there in October 1838.  Two years later John took over Boars Tye in Rivenhall and he farmed there for over thirty years.  He and Emma were to have eleven children, nine boys and two girls.

Upsons in the 1891 Census.  Upson is primarily a name of East Anglia, stretching from Suffolk south into Essex and the London area.  The table below shows the distribution of the Upson name in the 1891 census.

County Numbers Percent
Suffolk   174    22
Essex   182    23
London and environs   244    31
Elsewhere   200    24
Total   800   100

Thomas Upson and His Family in Connecticut.  Porter’s Historical Discourse on the original settlement of Farmington reads:  “Thomas Upton was in 1640 an original proprietor and actual settler.”

A careful search of Farmington land records shows that Thomas Upson’s house stood on the Main Highway north of the present Porter Road, near where the Farmington Bank now stands.

Thomas was married in 1646 to Elizabeth Fuller in what was evidently his second marriage.  His eldest son Thomas removed himself to Saybrook where in 1672, according to town records, he was “killed by an ox-cart going over his head, nigh to the house of Edward Shipton.”  His daughters Mary and Hannah married John Welton and Samuel Hickox respectively and they moved to Waterbury.  It was Stephen, the youngest son, who was left to carry on the Upson name.

Thomas died in Farmington in 1655.  His age was not given. Afterwards Stephen and his widowed mother Elizabeth moved to Waterbury.  It was from Waterbury that Stephen’s two sons Thomas and John “crossed the mountain” to Southington in 1732.

The Upson Family Association.  The line of Thomas Upson of Farmington and his descendants has been traced in The Upson Family in America of 1940 (624 pages in length) and The Upson Supplement of 1981, both published by the Upson Family Association.

Their address is:

  • Upson Family Association
  • David J. Upson, Treasurer
  • 245 Willow Brook Office Park
  • 1451 Pittsford – Victor Road
  • Fairport, NY 14450

The Upson Family Association also organize an annual reunion.

Reader Feedback: Robert Upson – from Essex to New Zealand.  Great Oakley is a village on the Essex coastline near Harwich and just south of the Suffolk border.  An Upson family had been farm laborers there for generations.  William Upson lived and worked there almost all his life until his death in 1865 at the age of seventy eight.  Son William worked in Great Oakley as a farm laborer too.  But two of his sons, John and William, moved to the port of Harwich in the 1870’s and were seafarers.

John’s son Robert (or Bob) was recorded in the 1891 census, aged 13, as a grocer’s assistant living at his parent’s home in Harwich.  He next appeared fourteen years later all the way across the world in Port Chalmers, New Zealand.  At the age of 28 he married Kate Young there in 1905.   He was described in the marriage record as “a seaman on board the SS Talune.”

Bob and Kate lived in Port Chalmers from 1905 to 1922. There was a NZ Gazette entry for 1921 that showed him as a “surveyor of ships” and evidently a man of some stature.  The family moved to Auckland in 1922 and it was said that the Governor General, when hearing of the move, arranged for a railway carriage for their own use to be provided for the journey north.

There were thirteen children born to the couple in Port Chalmers and another three in Auckland.  In Auckland Bob was described as a ship’s surveyor and in the 1928 electoral roll as an inspector. It appears that his job was that of safety inspector of ship’s gear on the waterfront and that he was a careful and strict man who “stood no nonsense.”

Graham Upson (

Upson Names

  • Stephen Upson was a prominent lawyer in Georgia in the early 1800’s after whom Upson county in Georgia was named.
  • Matthew Upson is a footballer for West Ham who played for England in the 2010 World Cup.

Upson Numbers Today

  • 1,500 in the UK (most numerous in Essex)
  • 600 in America (most numerous in Florida)
  • 700 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).

Upson and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) and surrounding areas in eastern England.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.



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Written by Colin Shelley

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