Walcott Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Walcott Surname Meaning

The surname Walcott is derived from a place-name; although from not one but from many in England. Their spellings and root meanings will differ in different parts of the country.

Walcot in the counties of Lincolnshire and Wiltshire, Walcott in Norfolk, and Walcote in Leicestershire and Warwickshire were all names to be found in the Domesday Book; while Walcot in Shropshire appeared as a place-name in the 12th century and Wolcot in Devon in the 13th.

Walcott Surname Resources on The Internet

Walcott and Wolcott Surname Ancestry

  • from England
  • to America, Caribs (Barbados) and New Zealand

England.  Some early Walcotts did not last. The de Walcott family of Norfolk, based on the place-name there, seems to have died out in the late 1300’s.

Shropshire.  The Walcots of Shropshire, on the other hand, did survive into more modern times. John Walcot of this family had been knighted on the field of battle in France in 1380 and a later John was said – perhaps a tall story this – to have been granted a coat of arms by beating Henry V in a game of chess.

The Walcot’s Elizabethan home, Walcot Hall in Shropshire, still stands; and the family history has been recorded in the Rev. John Burton’s 1930 book, The History of the Family of Walcot.

Elsewhere.  Walcotts were also to be found by the 1500’s:

  • in Somerset (the village of Tolland) – where the family held the Gaudron Manor.
  • in Lincolnshire (the village of Walcot) – Humphrey Walcot from here was the Lincoln MP in the 1650’s.
  • and in Buckinghamshire (the village of Shalstone) – Walcotts from this family were later to be found in London and in Barbados.

Other Walcotts were to be found by the 18th century in and around the naval town of Portsmouth on the south coast. Louisa Walcot ran the London Tavern in Portsmouth where the expression “to take the king’s shilling” is said to have originated.

The Walcott numbers in England are not large today. The odds may be that a Walcott is more likely to be of Caribbean immigrant origin, such as Theo Walcott, the former Arsenal and England footballer.

America. The Wolcott Society has covered early immigrants to America in their book, Wolcott Immigrants and Their Early Descendants.

Two early Wolcott arrivals were recorded in New England:

  • Henry Wolcott from Tolland in Somerset, who came with his family in 1630 and settled in Windsor, Connecticut. Descendants were to be found in New York, Michigan, and later in California. It is estimated that Henry’s descendants make up 70% of all Wolcotts in America.
  • and John Wolcott, a relation of Henry above, who arrived in 1634. His descendants settled in Newbury and Brookfield, Massachusetts. John Woolcot was abducted from Brookfield by Indians in 1708. Some Wolcott descendants here ended up in Pennsylvania.

Later Wolcotts included Roger Wolcott (colonial Governor of Connecticut in the 1750’s), his son Oliver Sr (signer of the Declaration of Independence), and his son Oliver Jr (Governor of Connecticut from 1817-1827).

William Walcott arrived in 1640 and made his home in Salem, Massachusetts. His family later got embroiled in the Salem witchcraft trials, the young Mary Walcott being one of the chief accusers. The line led later to Charles Folsom Walcott, a Brigadier General in the Civil War, and Henry Pickering Walcott, acting President of Harvard University in 1901.

Meanwhile John Wolcott, a surgeon, came to Maryland in 1649 and Samuel Walcott, an indentured servant, to New Jersey in 1660.

Caribbean. The forebear of the Barbados Walcotts was Eyare Walcott who came to Barbados from London in 1659. These Walcotts became merchants and planters there. Their numbers grew in the following century as the early marriage records in Barbados would indicate. The family ran a cotton plantation. the Todd estates, at Old Asylum wall.

The Walcott name also evolved from the slaves there and from this source has grown even more in numbers, Walcott as a consequence being now one of the most common surnames in Barbados.

Charles Walcott from the planter family had built his estate in the late 1800’s near Choiseul and married a local woman. Their grandson was Derek Walcott, the acclaimed Trinidad poet and playwright who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.

He was not the only accomplished or distinguished Walcott that would be coming from Barbados. Other notable Walcotts have been:

  • Joe Walcott, the world welterweight boxing champion
  • Frank Walcott, the respected Barbados trade union leader
  • and Clyde Walcott, the Barbados and West Indian cricketer of the 1950’s.

Many Walcotts from Barbados have subsequently emigrated to various different parts of the world. There are Walcott outposts in Canada – in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia and in Abbotsford, British Columbia – and many Walcotts as well in England and America:

  • Ernest and Rosa Walcott, for instance, left Barbados for New York in 1906.
  • while Jack and Edna Walcott did raise fifteen children in Barbados during the 1920’s and 1930’s. But a number of them or the grandchildren departed the island in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

New Zealand.  One line from Barbados has stretched to New Zealand. John Alexander Walcott, an army surgeon, had been born in Barbados. His son James Alexander immigrated first to Australia and then to New Zealand and is the forebear of most of the Walcotts in New Zealand today.

Walcott Surname Miscellany

Walcott Origins.  The surname Walcott occurred in many early spelling forms such as Walcot, Walcott, Wolcott, Woolcot and Woollacot.

In each case the name is locational and is either from the west country – originating from such places as Woolcot near Dulverton in Somerset or possibly Woolcott near Bristol – or from the various places called Walcot or Walcott which are to be found in several counties including those as far apart as Lincolnshire and Wiltshire.

The place names have the generalized meaning of ‘the cottage of the Wealisc,” a reference to the Old English who had been dispossessed of their lands by the invading Anglo-Saxons of the 7th century.  More specific meanings in some known cases are ‘the cottage by the well’ from the Middle English wul which later transposed to wool or “Wulfrige’s cottage,” the latter being a personal name of some popularity in olden times.

Walcot Hall in Shropshire.  Walcot as a place-name here is thought to be Saxon in origin, derived from wald, a forest, and cote, a dwelling place.  This aptly describes the property which is surrounded by a vast amphitheater of hills and is set on the edge of the Clun forest in Shropshire.

In the 12th century the Walcot estate was acquired by the Walcot family from which they took their name. Walcot Hall itself dates back to Tudor times, the original Elizabethan facade being gabled.  The property remained in their hands until 1763 when the estate was sold to Lord Clive of India.  Charles Walcot was apparently persuaded into this sale by his extravagant uncle, Sir Francis Dashwood of Hellfire Club fame.  

To Take the King’s Shilling.  Louisa Walcot ran the London Tavern in Portsmouth where the expression “to take the King’s shilling” may have originated. She is said to have dropped a shilling into the drink of an unwary customer.  When he drank he had thus taken the King’s shilling and was enlisted into the Royal Navy.

Reader Feedback – Walcots from Portsmouth to Canada.  While the name is spelled differently (which occurred in the early 1700’s), DNA indicates that our line (the Portsmouth/London/Scotland/Canada line) is part of this family.  Donald Walcot (donald.walcot@sympatico.ca).

Frederick Wolcott of Litchfield, Connecticut.  Frederick Wolcott was a younger brother of Oliver Wolcott Jr, Governor of Connecticut from 1817 to 1827.

He graduated first in his class from Yale in 1786. He was Judge of Probate for Litchfield county for forty-one years, a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives and the Senate, and on the corporation of Yale College. He was also the founder of what is believed to be one of the first temperance organizations in the country.

John Woolcot and His Indian Adventures.  In his The History of East Brookfield, Massachusetts 1686-1970, Louis E. Roy wrote:

“Early on the morning of October 13, 1708 John Woolcot, a lad of 12 to 14 years, was riding in search of the cows when the Indians fired at him, killed his horse, and took him prisoner.  He was carried to Canada where he remained for six or seven years, during which time, by conversing wholly with the Indians, he not only entirely lost his native language but became so naturalized to the savages as to be unwilling for a while to return to his native country.”

He lived with the Indians, it seems, until 1718 when he returned to Brookfield and was given a grant of land.  The Rev. Nathan Fiske, pastor of the Third Church at Brookfield and writing in 1775, took up the story:

“Some years afterwards, in March 1728 in a time of peace, Woolcot and another man had been hunting and, coming down the Connecticut river with a freight of skins and fur, they were hailed by some Indians; but, not being willing to go to them, they steered for another shore.  The Indians landed at a little distance from them, several shots were exchanged, and at length Woolcot was killed.”

However, this may not have been the truth.  Woolcot is believed instead to have deserted his family and to have returned to live among the Indians at Wilcott island on the Connecticut river.

Early Walcott Marriages in Barbados

1716 Christ Church Eyare
Constance Butcher
1735 St. Joseph John Walcott Dorothy Palsworth
1736 St. Joseph Thomas Walcott Ann Hill
1742 St. John Thomas Walcott Mary Adam
1743 St. John Richard Walcott Abigail Combs
1761 St. Joseph John Walcott Catherine McNackin
1765 St. Joseph Thomas Walcott Selvina Clements
1766 St. John Thomas Walcott Ann Pile
1771 St. John John Walcott Mary Ann Culpepper
1788 St. Joseph Milward Walcott Dorothy Baker
1789 St. John Edward Walcott Susannah Melvin

Reader Feedback – Emily Walcott in Surinam.  My great grandmother Emily Walcott was baptized in 1868, having been born between 1864 and 1865. She went to Surinam, but which year and from where we don’t know.  We only heard that she might have come from Barbados, but we don’t have any document. The archives in Surinam help us a lot.  But the book of Barbados immigration is almost destroyed through water damage and the archives from Barbados can’t help.  So we are stuck.

Kind regards, Virginia (hazelogen@live.nl)

“The Bigger They Are The Harder They Fall.”  It was Joe Walcott, the Barbados Demon, the welterweight champion of the world from 1901 to 1904, who coined the phrase “the bigger they come the harder they fall.”  Walcott, despite his short stature, was extremely successful against much larger and heavier opponents.  He had fantastic stamina and durability as well as a proven punch.  A natural welterweight, he was one of the greatest “pound for pound” fighters in boxing history and fought men weighing from lightweight to heavyweight during his career.

Walcott was widely recognized as the best welterweight in the world before he won the title.  This was what The Police Gazette said in its January 11, 1902 issue:

“From a technical standpoint three or four fighters have been recognized as welterweight champion, but it is apparent to men who have knowledge of prize ring affairs that they only held that title on sufferance because of an obvious desire to avoid meeting with a black man who was conceded to be their superior.”

Walcott won the championship on a fifth round stoppage of Rube Farm in Toronto.  The Gazette reported that Walcott “turned Fern into jelly in five rounds.”

Such was Walcott’s reputation as a fierce puncher that he claimed in newspaper reports: “Since no welterweight or middleweight will fight me I am compelled to go to the next class.  Will any heavyweights fight me?”  Walcott issued challenges to Tom Sharkey, Gus Ruhlin, and even champion Jim Jeffries, but they all declined to meet him in the ring.

Joe Walcott was in fact born in British Guyana and got the Barbados billing after becoming a professional boxer in America.

Reader Feedback – Derek Walcott.  I’d like to introduce myself as (noble laureate) Derek Walcott’s niece – 2nd daughter to his twin brother – Roderick Walcott.  I’m requesting a correction to be made to reflect that Derek Walcott was born in Castries, St. Lucia in 1930, along with his twin brother Roderick Walcott!  They were not born in Trinidad!

Regards,  Heather Walcott

Elaine Walcott from Glace Bay, Nova Scotia.  The Atlantic School Of Theology (AST) made history in 2002 when Elaine Walcott became the first indigenous black to graduate with a Masters of Divinity from the school.  Elaine was the wife of Joseph Walcott from Glace Bay and the mother of their two sons, Preston and Christopher.

Elaine was quoted as saying: “AST has just granted my entire indigenous African Nova Scotian community a M. Div. Praise God.”

Walcott Names

  • Joe Walcott, known as the Barbados Demon, was the world welterweight champion in the early 1900’s.
  • Jersey Joe Walcott, born Arnold Cream, was a boxer from New Jersey who held the world heavyweight title from 1951 to 1952.
  • Clyde Walcott was a leading cricketer for Barbados and the West Indies in the 1950’s.
  • Derek Walcott is the Caribbean poet and playwright who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.

Walcott Numbers Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in New York).
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Barbados).

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Written by Colin Shelley

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