Vick Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Vick Surname Meaning

There are English origins and German origins for the surname Vick.

English. Vick is a localized English surname, coming initially from Gloucestershire. Its English origins are obscure.

It could be a nickname, from the Norman French l’eveske, meaning “the bishop,” from which came the names Levesque and Levick; or it could come from a place-name Vic in southern France; or it could come from the Old English wic, meaning “settlement,” which became a surname Wyk and then somehow Vick. None of these explanations is very satisfactory.

German. Vick is also a localized German surname, coming initially from north Germany on the border with Denmark and in the area between Hamburg and Schwerin.

Its root here seems to have been the German personal name Friedrich. Friedrich became in pet form Fick and Vick in some areas.

Vick Surname Resources on The Internet

Vick Surname Ancestry

  • from England (Gloucestershire), Isle of Man and Germany
  • to America

England. The Vick name may have started with one or a few families in Gloucestershire.

Ricard Vicke left a will dated 1565 in Kings Stanley. Thomas Veke lived in Randwick near Stroud and he died and was buried there in 1574. His son was James Vyke, mason to Sir Raplh Dutton, and Elizabeth Vick was recorded as James’s widow in 1642. Their descendants remained in Randwick through the 17th and 18th centuries.

There were other Vicks in Gloucestershire by the 18th century. At Elmore church near Stroud there are family monuments to Silvanus Vick who died there in 1776 and his son Daniel who died in 1810. On his death in 1754 William Vick, a Bristol wine merchant, left money to fund the construction of a bridge across the Avon Gorge. This eventually became the Clifton suspension bridge.

By the time of the 1841 census, more than half of the Vicks in England were to be found in Gloucestershire:

  • Gloucestershire, 53%
  • Hampshire, 18%
  • Sussex, 14%
  • and elsewhere, 15%

One family lineage has been traced from James Vick, born in Portsmouth around 1785, and another from Charles Vick, born in Chichester in Sussex in 1826.

Isle of Man.  There were also Vicks on the Isle of Man. These seemed to have been the descendants of Johann Ficke from Germany who arrived there in the late 1700’s. Ficke became Fick and then Vick at Malew about 1820.

America. The English immigrant Joseph Vick was the progenitor of many of the Vicks in America. He was a planter in Virginia who had arrived there around 1670. The book Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia edited by John Beatty and Di Ann Vick described the first five generations of this family.

One line of descent passed through Shadrach Vick who fought in the Revolutionary War and then left Virginia for Livingston county, Kentucky in the early 1800’s (his son John Leonidas Vick wrote a history of this line in 1895).

Other Vicks were to be found in North Carolina. Edmund Vick left North Carolina for Alabama and Texas during the 1860’s and 1870’s.  Meanwhile Dr. Joshua Vick of Greensboro, North Carolina gave his name to the Vick’s VapoRub treatment that was developed by his brother-in-law Lunsford Richardson in the 1890’s.  This medicine made its name during the flu epidemic of 1918 and is still around today.

Newit Vick, a planter and Methodist minister from Virginia, had obtained title to the lands of the Walnut Hills in Mississippi about 1811 with the intention of founding a town there. But he died in 1819 before he had time to implement his plan. The town did materialize in 1825 and was named Vicksburg. The house of Newit’s daughter Martha, built in 1830, still stands in the town. Henry Vick, his grandson, died in a duel in 1859, just before his wedding day.

There was another English Vick who came to America. James Vick had arrived with his parents from Portsmouth in 1833. He founded the Vick Seed Company in Rochester, New York. He was to be one of the most successful horticultural seedsmen, writers, and merchandisers of his day.

German Vicks.  But the largest number of Vicks came from Germany. They included:

  • Hans Peter Vick from Holstein in German-speaking Denmark. He arrived in Minnesota in 1869. He taught dancing lessons in Minneapolis where he met his wife. They settled in Richland, North Dakota in the 1880’s.
  • Peter Christian Vick from Godenstorf near Hamburg who came to Dickinson, Iowa in the 1870’s.
  • and Heinrich Vick from Mecklenberg who came to Michigan also in the 1870’s.

Some immigrants from other places changed their names to Vick. Jonas Vik from Norway became Vick in the 1880 Minnesota census and Jan Nepomuk Vich from the present-day Czech Republic became John Vick in the Wisconsin 1910 census.

Vick Surname Miscellany

Thomas Veke of Randwick, Gloucestershire.  In Hudson Powell’s A History of Standish, Gloucestershire the following commentary appeared:

“In 1549, William Sawle and William Bridges paid into the Court of Augmentations the sum of £1,228 16s. 6d, in exchange for sundry properties, including ‘the land, one acre, called Norfeld in Randwicke within Standishe, in the tenure of Thomas Wike, given to a lamp in the Parish Church of Standish.  It is probable that the name Wike became Vicke a century later.”

Powell in fact believed it probable that this Thomas Wike was the Thomas Veke that was buried in Randwick in 1574. 

Richard Vick, Watchmaker.  The Database of Court Officers in England 1660-1837 showed that Richard Vick became watchmaker to King George I in 1722 and held that position until the death of George I in 1727. The probability is that this Vick was of German origin.

William Vick of Minchinhampton and Bristol.  William Vick was a wealthy Bristol wine merchant who died in 1754 and left some interesting instructions in his will.

According to his will, the sum of £1.000 should be invested until it reached the sum of £10,000, an amount which would pay for the construction of a stone bridge across the Clifton gorge.  The seed money did increase over time but it was not until 1831 that work began on what became known as the Clifton suspension bridge.

William Vick is believed to have been born in the village of Minchinhampton.  He left £300 there for bread and a sermon for the poor.  His widow Rebecca had in 1759 “settled a rent charge of five pounds four shillings to pay a poor woman to teach 15 poor girls of the village to read.”  When she died in 1768 she left £200 for “poor housekeepers.”

Reader Feedback – The Vick Genealogy.  I was pleased with the information that you have gathered.  We have just recently published a new edition of our Vick history here in America, The Vick Genealogy by John Beatty. This book is available at several public libraries.

Gailen Vick (

Henry Vick and His Duel.  Henry Vick died in a duel in 1859, just before his wedding day.  This was the account of how he died:

“Henry wanted both to save his honor and to keep his promise to Helen. So, during the duel, when the two men were to face each other and await a count of three, Henry deliberately fired his rifle harmlessly into the sky on the count of “one.”  James Stith could see that he was in no danger. Henry expected that James would discharge his weapon into the air as well. Instead, James aimed his weapon at Henry’s head and shot him.”

Henry had died at the age of twenty-five.  Helen received a telegram delivering the terrible news of the duel and informing her that Henry’s body was on a steamer to Vicksburg.  She was hardened with grief over her lost love and guilty over the promise she had extracted from Henry not to duel that had prevented Henry from defending himself.

At the Chapel of the Cross, which had so recently been prepared for Henry’s and Helen’s wedding, the body of Henry Vick was laid to rest in a grave too wide for his box alone.  It was said that Helen wore her wedding dress to the funeral.  Henry’s father died almost a year later, having never come to terms with the loss of his eldest son.

Heinrich Vicks from Mecklenburg.  There was a Heinrich Vick recorded as being born in Schwerin, Mecklenburg in 1724.

Heinrich Vick, born in Ravensburg, Mecklenburg in 1846, came to America in 1875 on the Pomerania through the ports of Hamburg and Le Havre. He settled to farm in Michigan and changed his name to John Vick. Another Heinrich Vick from Mecklenburg had arrived earlier in the 1850’s.  He became Henry Vick in America and settled in Minnesota. A third Heinrich Vick from this area was to be found in Missouri in the 1850’s.

Hans Peter Vick and His Brothers.  Hans Peter Vick was born in Denmark in 1842.  He had two brothers, Mads Hansen and Christian, who emigrated in Minnesota with him in the 1870’s.  Hans Peter moved onto Richland county, North Dakota to homestead; Mads married and settled to farm in Kandiyohi county, Minnesota; while Christian, according to family lore, joined the military and was never heard from again.

Vick Names

  • Dr. Joshua Vick from North Carolina gave his name to Vick’s VapoRub, the medicine which made its name during the flu epidemic of 1918.
  • Michael Vick is a star American football quarterback who has controversially spent time in prison for his involvement in an illegal dog fighting ring.

Vick Numbers Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in Gloucestershire)
  • 5,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Vick and Like Surnames 

The first wave of German immigration into America came in the early 1700’s from the Rhine Palatine and Switzerland.  They were fleeing religious persecution at home.  Most ended up in Pennsylvania, bringing their Mennonite church with them.  Some went to the Mohawk Valley in upstate New York.  Their Germanic names often changed under English rule to English-style names.  Thus Fischer became Fisher, Schneider Snyder, Hubner Hoover and so forth.

The reasons for immigration were different in the 19th century – in search of a better life, sometimes to avoid the draft.  They came from all German states and went not just to Pennsylvania but all over as the middle and west of the country was opening up.  And they brought German skills with them, notably beer-making.

Here are some of the notable German surnames in America that you can check out.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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