Waugh Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Waugh Meaning
Waugh derived from the Old English word walh meaning “foreign” and, like
the surname Wallace, was a term used to describe outsiders – in
particular, it is thought, the Welsh-speaking Strathclyde Britons who
survived as a separate group in Scotland well into the Middle
Waugh is usually pronounced as “Waw,” rather than “Woff” or
“Woch.” The possessive apparently is “Wavian.” Wauchope
which comes from similar roots has a “ch” which is
pronounced as in “loch.”

Waugh Resources on

Waugh Ancestry

Scotland. The first
record of the Waugh name was to be found in Dumfriesshire on the
Scottish borders about the year 1250, in a place called
Wauchopedale. Wauchope and its abbreviation Waugh
emerged as
Border clan names, notably in Roxburghshire. The Waughs of Heap
or Hope in Wilton held their land from the 13th to the 17th
century. Many Waughs then dispersed as the English and Scottish
crowns began to pacify the region.

There were still Waughs in the
Borders as the 19th century proceeded, in Dumfriesshire and
Roxburghshire, but they were fewer in number. Many had crossed
the Irish Sea as part of the Protestant plantation, in particular to
Armagh (Waugh’s Farm in Armagh was the ancestral home of the America
general Stonewall Jackson). Other Waughs later migrated to
Glasgow or south across the border into

in England were
outnumbering Waughs in Scotland

by almost three to one by the mid 19th
century. Most of these Waughs were to be
found in the Border counties of Northumberland, Durham and
Robert Waugh, for instance, was
baptized around the year 1750 in the village of Alston in

From slightly further afield came the Victorian
social reformer the Rev. Benjamin
Waugh, born in Settle in north Yorkshire; and the Lancastrian writer
Edwin Waugh
, born in Rochdale.

One famous Waugh family in England had its Border roots in East Gordon,
Berwickshire where John Waugh was a tenant farmer in the early 17th
century. It was Dr. Alexander Waugh, a powerful
preacher and
anti-slaver, who brought his family to England and they eventually
settled in Midsomer Norton in Somerset in 1865. The line of descent
then went to: Alexander Waugh, the surgeon; Arthur Waugh, the writer
and literary critic; Evelyn
Waugh the novelist; and Auberon (Bron) Waugh, the journalist and
satirist. Evelyn’s mother Catherine said:

“The Waughs were very middle class, but
clever and original.”

Alexander Waugh’s 2004 book Fathers
and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family
described five
generations of this family, beginning with his namesake whom he called
“the Brute.”

Dr. Alexander Waugh had a brother Thomas
and his line descended to William Waugh, a wealthy English merchant,
and to
Alexander Waugh who emigrated to Australia in 1848

. Scots
Waughs were present at the siege of Londonderry in 1690 and were later
the early 18th century settlers in Londonderry, New Hampshire. The Waugh name also appeared in Derry
Protestant householders in 1740, notably in Tamlaught Finlagen parish. The 19th century records show Waughs as
landowners in Ballymoney, Antrim.

America. The Rev. John Waugh, or Parson
Waugh as he was remembered at the time, had come to Virginia from
sometime in
the 1670’s and served as a minister at the Overton parish in Stafford
county. His son John was curiously
nicknamed Poison
to distinguish him from Parson. Later
Waughs settled in Ohio in the early 1800’s

Scots Irish.
Some of
the early Waugh arrivals had come via Ireland. Several Waughs,
for instance, had left Scotland in 1688 for religious reasons and
established themselves in Londonderry. A party – including three
brothers – set sail for America in 1718, landing on the coast of Maine
and making their way to Londonderry, New Hampshire. One line of
these Waughs settled in Litchfield, Connecticut. Later Waughs
were to be found in Ohio and Indiana.
Litchfield Waugh line
was traced in Patricia Waugh’s 1986 book A Waugh Family History.

Another early Waugh line, also Scots
Irish, began with William and Jane Waugh who came to Pennsylvania in
1735 and farmed
at the Marsh Creek settlement. A long
line of these Waughs can be found at the Marsh Creek graveyard. A descendant was the 19th century
Philadelphia portrait painter Samuel Waugh.

Canada. James
Waugh was an early settler in Hamilton, Ontario. He
married Elizabeth Bawtinheimer in Ancaster
nearby in 1817 and he and his son James were farmers there. Francis and Anne Waugh arrived from Fermanagh
in Ireland in 1848 and settled in Wellington county, Ontario.

A later arrival, from Melrose on the Scottish
borders, was Richard Waugh who came with his family to Winnipeg in 1882. He had been a builder in Scotland. But in Winnipeg he pursued a second career as
a writer and promoter of the Manitoba dairy industry.
His son Richard
was elected mayor of Winnipeg in 1912.

Waughs from the
Scottish border family, known as the “Aussie” Waughs, had come to NSW
in the first half of the 19th century.
William arrived in the 1830’s but was murdered in Newcastle in
1854. His family later settled in
Tenterfield. His cousin Alexander came to
NSW in 1848 and
he and his wife Elizabeth also had many descendants


Waugh Miscellany

Waughchope and Waugh.  There are two Border place-names Wauchope or Wauchopedale, one in Dumfriesshire and the other in
Roxburghshire (Wauchope
means “foreigner” and Wauchopedale “valley of the foreigner).”  Neither of these places was apparently ever
held by the Wauchopes or Waughs.

Wauchope Castle was located southwest of
Langholm in Dumfriesshire, along the north side of the Wauchope Water.  It was an early stronghold of the Lindsay
family and was built shortly after Sir John Lindsay was granted
Wauchopedale in
1285.  The Lindsays, close associates of
the Wauchopes, held Wauchopedale for the most part until 1707.

Wauchope Tower was to be found by the
Wauchope Burn and Wauchope Forest in Roxburghshire close to the English
It stood on former Wauchope property
(the other Wauchopedale).  But it was the
Turnbulls, in possession in 1530, who probably built the tower.

There were prominent Wauchope families in Midlothian
(Niddrie-Merschell), Roxburghshire (Edminstone), and Aberdeenshire
(Castle of
Leys).  Early Waughs were probably
Wauchopes.  Robert Waugh of Heap in
Roxburghshire who rendered homage to the English King in 1296 was
probably the
Robert de Wauchope who also rendered homage. 

Waughs in England and Scotland in the 1881 Census

England Numbers Percent
Northumberland   750   28
Durham   540   20
Cumberland   280   11
Yorkshire   280   11
Lancashire   270   10
Elsewhere   530   20
Total  2,650
Scotland Numbers Percent
Lanarkshire   310   27
Midlothian   180   16
Stirlingshire   180   16
Roxburghshire   170   15
Dumfriesshire   160   14
Elsewhere   150   12
Total  1,150

Dr. Alexander Waugh.  There were two Dr. Alexander Waughs in the family, but of very different temperaments.

The first
Dr. Alexander Waugh was born in 1754 in East Gordon in Berwickshire
where his
father was a farmer.  He licensed as
a minister in Edinburgh.  But it was in London
where he practiced that he made his name as a powerful preacher and
against slavery.

died in 1827 and was
remembered with great affection by his congregation:

“Dr Waugh was perhaps one of the most amiable
men that ever existed.  His character was
pure and spotless; his benevolence unbounded; his philanthropy
unqualified.  His manners were mild,
gentle, and highly
prepossessing and his piety sincere and ardent and wholly without any
of that gloominess which has been erroneously believed to belong to
religious feeling.  So far from this, he
was lively, cheerful, and humorous, and delighted in innocent mirth and

those of his countrymen who came to London, his house and table
were ever open; and his advice, counsel, and assistance in furthering
views, always at their service.  His
kindness in this way indeed, he carried to an almost blameable extent.”

Two generations later, the Waughs had moved
to Midsomer Norton in Somerset and Dr. Alexander Waugh, a surgeon, was
a man of
a completely different character.  He was
described as follows by a later Waugh of his family:

“Dr. Alexander
Waugh was a repulsive, red-faced little fat man who would drunkenly
ornaments in the hall, scream at the servants and flagellate an Irish
with an ivory-tipped whip.  If a wasp
should settle on his wife’s forehead; instead of brushing it off, he
would squash
it with the ivory tip so as to ensure that she would not escape the

A Story Attributed to the Rev. Dr. Alexander Waugh.  Dr. Waugh was staying in Plymouth and one hot summer evening in August he went out after dinner to sit by the sea. There he found an
old fisherman waiting for the tide to go out and fish, and they sat
and talked for a long time.

They stayed so long that they heard the church clock strike
midnight.  They both counted the strokes and to both of them it
seemed to strike
thirteen.  “Well”, said the old fisherman, “I’ve lived here forty
years or more
and I’ve never heard that old clock strike thirteen before. The tides
turned so
I’ll be off.  Goodnight Sir”.  Dr. Waugh then went home and
retired to bed.

week or so later, he woke up in the night and though he heard a voice
“Go to Launceston – go to Launceston”.  He said to himself; “I
must have bad
indigestion. What have I had for dinner?” and went back to sleep again.
second time he was awakened by a voice saying “Go to Launceston” and
again a
third time.

So in the morning he went to Launceston where the coach drew up at
the village inn.  Dr. Waugh got out, not knowing exactly why he
had come.  He
asked the landlord, “Is there anything special going on at Launceston
“Only the assizes, Sir”, said the landlord.

So Dr. Waugh went to the court where
the Assizes were being held. There he saw the old fisherman in the dock
on that night in August when they had both sat by the sea.Dr. Waugh at
said, “My Lord, I beg to be sworn”, and he went into the witness box
and gave
evidence that he was sitting with the fisherman all that evening at
He particularly remembered they were there until midnight as they had
though the church clock had struck thirteen.  He had made a note
of the date in
his diary.  And the old fisherman was acquitted.

Alexander Waugh’s Fathers and Sons.  Alexander Waugh’s book, Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family follows the male relationships through five generations
of Waughs – starting with the author’s great great grandfather Alexander
Waugh, known in the family because of his sadism as “The Brute.”

His son Arthur reacted against his childhood to
wallow in sentiment, so smothering his eldest son Alec with love that
he bred a
ferocious resentment in Alec’s brother Evelyn.
“I think these patterns will have been repeated in thousands and
thousands of families,” said Alexander.
“You’ve got a bully and sadist (the brute) who produces someone
does the absolute reverse – to spoil and indulge.”

One of the things Alexander’s book tried to
do was to redress the myth of Evelyn Waugh as a horrible father – a myth that his son Auberon did much to encourage in his autobiography Will This Do?  Notoriously,
Bron claimed that Evelyn after the war had made all his children sit round and
watch while he scoffed their banana rations with cream and sugar.

However, when Bron was in hospital after a
near-fatal machine-gun accident in Cyprus and his survival seemed
uncertain, he
lodged with his bank a letter to be sent to Evelyn in the event he
predecease him.  It began: “Dear
Papa, just a line to tell you what for some reason I was never able to
show you
in my lifetime, that I admire, revere and love you more than any other
man in
the world.”

It was a dictum of
Auberon Waugh that if enemies did not present themselves, it was
important to
go and seek some out.  And the Waughs were
nothing if not good feuders.

persecuted throughout his fictional career his undergraduate history
tutor CRMF
Cruttwell, whom he accused of sodomizing dogs.
Bron laid about Jimmy Goldsmith, spent four decades persecuting
Crewe who had reviewed his first novel unkindly, and attacked the
journalist John Pilger who “was so terrified of my father that he used
blanch at the sound of his name.”

Edwin Waugh, Dialect Writer.  Edwin Waugh
might have passed his life in relative obscurity if his early years
were anything
to go by.  He was born in Rochdale in
1817 and apprenticed there as a printer.
He married in 1847, but this marriage was not a success.  He became addicted to snuff and alcohol and
they had money problems.  His wife left
him and he and Mary were to separate permanently in 1855.

But 1855 was to be an important year for him in other ways.  He wrote and published his first book of
prose, Sketches of Lancashire Life and Localities.  The next year he wrote what is possibly the most famous dialect poem in the world, Come Whom to thi Childer an’ Me, for
the Manchester Examiner and for which
he was paid one guinea.  Thousands of copies were sold as penny
broadsheets and this brought him instant fame.  In
1857 he wrote Poems and
Lancashire Songs
, which some have classed as his best dialect poems.

As a writer he would spend much time at Fo’
Edge Farm east of Edenfield.  The farm is
now derelict.  But nearby there is
Waugh’s Well that was dedicated to him in 1866.
Some have maintained that his surname should be pronounced
rather than the “Waw” of Evelyn Waugh.

The Waughs of Litchfield, Connecticut.  The Waugh
homestead in Litchfield has been in family hands from 1718 when John, the first
of the Waughs, arrived.  Township records
show Alexander Waugh marrying Elizabeth Throop in Litchfield in 1766.  Families of her name continued to live near
what was known for 170 years as the Waugh farm.

Alexander Waugh and Thomas, his elder brother, distinguished themselves
in the Revolutionary War.  Thomas was
said to have saved the life of General Marion.

saw a soldier taking aim at his
General and said to himself: ‘A man as brave as Marion, who can live on
potatoes and salt, is too good to be shot by a sneaking Redcoat.’  The aim was taken at General Marion.  But the musket of Thomas Waugh laid the
Redcoat low.”

For this act of bravery
Thomas was at once promoted.  However, he
was killed soon after.

His hat survived
and it appeared at an 1878 exhibition of Revolutionary War relics at
Washington’s Headquarters on the Hudson.
The hat was a Continental shape, turned up on one side, with a
rosette fastened where the side turned up.  The
hat bore the name of Thomas Waugh and hung
in a glass case with other souvenirs of the War.

Richard Waugh, Mayor of Winnipeg.  Richard Waugh
was the mayor who introduced playgrounds to Winnipeg.

1907 as chair of
the Parks Board, he had tried to convince the council to begin to
American-style playgrounds.  “Small
areas of land fitted with amusement paraphernalia.
Skilled instructors with the highest moral
training,” he argued.  City Council

A year later a model playground
was set up at Central School funded by an $800 grant from the Manitoba
of the Canadian Council of Women.  It
proved a big success.  Seven playgrounds
were set up in 1909 and, by 1920, 20 playgrounds were operating.

Waugh was elected mayor of Winnipeg in 1912.  These
were Winnipeg’s glory days with civic
growth and prosperity at an unparalleled rate.
Waugh proved a popular mayor.  He
is remembered today through Waugh Road in Winnipeg.

But he found that his stint as mayor became
an intolerable burden on his private business life.
His partner Thompson Beattie who had run
their business had perished on the Titanic.  Waugh had to return to private life to rescue
his real estate and law business.


Waugh Names

  • Samuel Waugh was one of
    the most famous portrait painters of Philadelphia in the 19th century.
  • Edwin Waugh was a 19th century
    writer from Lancashire who wrote in the Lancastrian idiom.
  • Evelyn Waugh was the English novelist best known for his work Brideshead Revisited. 
  • Steve and Mark Waugh, twin brothers, were born into a sporting family in Sydney, Australia.  Both brothers were Australian cricketers and Steve Waugh captained his country from 1999 to 2004.

Select Waugh Numbers Today

  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Edinburgh)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Waugh and Like Surnames

These were names originally given to outsiders in the British Isles that became surnames.  Thus Walter the Scot became Walter Scott.  Outsiders could also have been Welsh, Irish, French or Flemish.  These are some of the “outsider” surnames which are covered here.





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