Whitney Surname Meaning, History & Origin
Herefordshire, recorded as Witenie in the 1086 Domesday Book and
Whyteneye in the 1283 Herefordshire charter rolls. A Robert de
Wytenye was the first surname to be found there.
The name probably refers to the river Wye which runs through the
area and can become a torrent when heavy rains in the Welsh mountains
cause it to swell.
Whitney Resources on
Whitney-on-Wye and Clifford in Herefordshire date from the
13th century and the Whitney name continued to be reported in
Herefordshire in succeeding centuries. However, by the time of
the 1891 census, the number of Whitneys recorded in Herefordshire
was quite small.
by then had moved north towards Cheshire and Lancashire. The
Whitneys of Coole Pilate near Nantwich in Cheshire, first recorded in
century, included the poets Geoffrey and Isabella Whitney.
London and Northamptonshire Whitneys also
started to appear at this time. They
included in the 1600’s the Whitney pirate and highwayman – Thomas Whitney the pirate and James Whitney the highwayman. John Whitney the emigrant departed from London in 1635.
Unlike America, no Whitney in England really claimed the headlines.
America. John Whitney embarked from London on the Elizabeth and Ann for New England and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1635. His descendants, enumerated in Frederick Pierce’s 1895 book The Descendants of John Whitney, are legion and include:
- Eli Whitney was the American inventor best known for inventing the cotton gin. It was
one of the key inventions of the Industrial Revolution and shaped the economy of the antebellum South.
- David Whitney was a Midwestern lumber baron of the late 19th century who made his home in Detroit.
- William Whitney was an American financier and politician of the late 19th century and founder of the socially prominent Whitney family.
- Jock Whitney of the Whitney family was one of America’s first venture capitalists. He was reportedly one of the ten wealthiest men in the world in the 1970’s.
Select Whitney Numbers Today
- 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
- 13,000 in America (most numerous in California)
- 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)
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