Wagstaff Surname Genealogy

A quotation from the medieval
writer Myles Coverdale read as follows: “Be not afraid for the King of
Assyrians that he shall wag his staff at thee.”
The Wagstaff name derives from “wag a
staff,” just as the Shakespeare
name comes from “shake a spear.” Wagstaff,
possibly a nickname, would describe some medieval official
like a bailiff or a beadle who carried a staff and shook it for effect

Wagstaff Resources on

Wagstaff Ancestry

England. The Wagstaff surname may well
have started out in Warwickshire in the English Midlands.

was recorded a coal pit in the Haunchwood area of Stockingford in
Warwickshire in
the 14th century worked by a man called Wagstaffe.
It was referred to as Wagstaffe’s pit

The Wagstaffes had been at Harbury near
Stratford-on-Avon since 1500 and possibly earlier.
They in fact described themselves as an
“ancient” county family. The local
church has a large stone slab dedicated to Alice Wagstaffe who died in
1563. The
letters of Elizabeth Wagstaffe
, dating from about 1614, have
been preserved. And the village still
has the Thomas Wagstaffe school which the family founded in 1611.

Wagstaffes were Royalist at the time of the Civil War. Sir Joseph Wagstaffe, a younger member of the
family, was
a soldier of
fortune abroad who returned to join the Royalist cause.
In 1655 he led the Penruddock uprising in
Wiltshire in an effort to restore the monarchy, but had to flee the
after its defeat. The Wagstaffe male line
did continue at Harbury and at
Bishops Tachbrook
near Warwick until the death of Sir Thomas Wagstaffe in 1709.

Wagstaff name was to be found in two distinct family groups at Bedworth
Nuneaton during the 18th century. Thomas
Wagstaff kept the Bull Inn at
Nuneaton in the 19th century, while William Wagstaff was the proprietor
of the New Inn at Attleborough.

Elsewhere. From
Warwickshire the Wagstaff name seems to have stretched eastward,
Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire into south Yorkshire.
These four counties recorded the most Wagstaffs in the 1881 census.

Wagstaffe was living at Hasland near Chesterfield in Derbyshire in 1611. And Wagstaffs were farmers around Darley Dale
in north Derbyshire from the late 1600’s – Josiah
Wagstaff, born in 1672, at Aldwark
Grange and George Wagstaff, born in 1676, at Toadholes.

Wagstaffs were recorded
in Yorkshire at Ecclesfield near present-day Sheffield from about 1500
onwards. Thomas Wagstaff married
Elizabeth Slater there in 1565. By the
18th century the Wagstaff name appeared in and around Barnsley and in
the Holme
valley. John Wagstaff was a clothier at
the Fox House in Holmfirth in 1789. And
that great rugby league footballer Harold Wagstaff was born in
Holmfirth in

Bedfordshire. There was a
southern outpost of Wagstaffs near London, in Bedfordshire.

These Wagstaffs were rural agricultural people in a part of NE
Bedfordshire that was sometimes known as the Wagstaff belt. The largest number were in Wilden, the first
recorded there being Richard Wagstaff who was born in 1498. Later they were to be found at Northill. Many left for America and Canada in the
mid/late 1800’s.

America. Dr. Alfred Wagstaff, born in 1804, was the
progenitor of a prominent Wagstaff
family in New York
. He had
invested well in real estate and made
his family country gentlemen. The line
continued through his son Alfred Jr and grandson Samuel, both lawyers
and high
on the Social Register, to Sam Wagstaff Jr, a well-known art curator
collector in New York in the 1970’s.

The largest Wagstaff numbers in America
have not been in New York, however, but in Utah. Many
Wagstaffs from rural Bedfordshire joined
the Mormon church and departed
for Utah and
the American West
in the 1850’s. Prominent
among them were three Wagstaff brothers – William, John and

Canada. Wagstaffs from
Bedfordshire also departed for Canada.
Henry Wagstaff came in the 1880’s but then moved onto Utah. Charles Wagstaff settled in Medicine Hat
where he was an engineer with the Canadian Railways.
John Wagstaff also came to Alberta and made
his home there.

Wagstaff Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Wagstaff Names

Sir Joseph Wagstaffe was a Royalist officer during the
English Civil War. He unsuccessfully led
the Penruddock uprising in 1655 in an effort to restore the monarchy.
Harold Wagstaff
was a champion rugby league footballer for Huddersfield and England in
early 1900’s.

Sam Wagstaff
was an American art curator and
collector who acted as a mentor to the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe
in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Select Wagstaffs Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous in Utah)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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