Whittaker Surname Genealogy

The root of this surname is the place-name
Whiteacre, from the Old English hwit meaning “white” and aecer
“cultivated land.” This place-name
translated into the early Whitacre name in Warwickshire and the later
name in Lancashire. The Warwickshire
line died out and Lancashire has been where most of this name were to
Whitaker and Whittaker are
the main spellings. The spelling in
Lancashire tended to end up Whittaker; while that in neighboring
Yorkshire and
for those emigrants to America it has been Whitaker

Whittaker Resources on

Whittaker Ancestry

England. Whitaker as a surname is Saxon in origin,
predating the Norman Conquest and going initially by the name of de
Whytacre. This
Whitacre family in
was to be found in the Domesday Book of 1086 and
rose to some
prominence in later medieval times.

Lancashire. It is possible that that
was some linkage
between the Whitacres of Warwickshire and the Whitakers in Lancashire,
but none
has really been documented.

There have been two long-established Whitaker families in
the Ribble valley district of Lancashire near Burnley, one at
Simonstone and
the other at Holme:

  • Richard de Whitaker, from High Whitaker, was recorded as living at Simonstone in 1333. The Whitakers of Simonstone Hall had their property seized and then restored during the Civil War and Restoration period. Charles Whitaker died at
    Simonstone in 1843.
  • Thomas Whitaker, recorded in 1431, is believed to have
    been the forebear of the Whitakers of Holme-in-Cliviger. Richard Whitaker was living at Holme in 1543.
“The most distinguished of the Whitakers of Holme was the celebrated divine, the Rev. William Whitaker, professor of divinity at Cambridge University, whose library was so famous that it was purchased after his death in 1595 by Queen Elizabeth I.

Later came Dr. T.D. Whitaker, born in 1759, who was the vicar of
Whalley and a well-known historian. The Holme estate remained in family hands until 1959.

Other branches in the area were the Whitakers at Broadclough and
Huncoat. One Whittaker line came from Whittaker near
Rochdale. The early spelling in Lancashire had been de
Quitacre. The transition in spelling from Whitaker to Whittaker
began in the 1500’s.

. Whitakers extended across the Pennines into the
West Riding of Yorkshire. Jeremiah Whitaker, the noted Puritan
clergyman, was born in Wakefield in 1599. Other Whitakers were to
be found in Dewsbury at this time. The name had reached the
parish of Howden in east Yorkshire by the 1640’s. A Whitaker
family there later took possession of Balkholme manor.

Joseph Whitaker, from a west Yorkshire trading family, had moved to
Sicily in the early 1800’s and developed a fortified wine industry at
Marsala on the island of Motya. A later Joseph Whitaker of
this family was a well-known ornithologist, as well as being an
anthropologist and wine producer. He died in Rome in 1936.
Meanwhile Benjamin Whitaker had returned to England and acquired Hesley Hall
near Doncaster.

Whitaker, born around 1520, was the forebear of one of the most
families of the Wiltshire woolen industry during Tudor times.
He may have come from one of the Lancashire Whitaker families,
but there is no proof
of this. He and his sons Henry and
Stephen operated a mill at Westbury.
Henry and his son William were both MP’s for Shaftesbury.

Another west country line dates back to the marriage of Nicholas and
Martha Whitaker in Halesowen, Worcestershire in 1623.

Ireland. There is a
Whittaker line at Abbeyleix in present-day county Laios that apparently
went back to three Whittaker brothers granted lands there at the time
of Cromwell. Their mill was burnt down by Irish rebels in
1798. Many of these Whittakers departed for Canada in 1848 at the
time of the potato famine.

America. Two sons
of the divine Dr William Whitaker of Holme in Lancashire came to the
early Jamestown colony in Virginia:

  • the
    first being Alexander, known as the
    Apostle of Virginia
    , who arrived in
    1611 but drowned in the James river in 1617.
  • and the
    second being the youngest son Jabez who arrived in 1619, survived the
    Indian massacre three years
    later, and
    died there in 1626.

Whitaker line
descended from Captain Jabez Whitaker was covered in Charles Brashear’s
book Whitakers of Holme and America. Richard
and William Whitaker were later
sizeable landowners in the Jamestown area.
One line moved to Enfield, North Carolina and thence to Georgia.
Another line settled in the Camden district
of South Carolina. William Whitaker
this line was an early settler in Florida in the place now known as

John Whitaker sometimes Whitacre was believed to have been an
indentured servant arriving in Virginia around the year 1690 who then
moved onto Maryland and acquired land known as Whitaker’s Ridge in the
vicinity of Baltimore.

His grandson the Rev. John Whitaker, born there in 1722, became head of
his family at the tender age of nineteen (after the death of his
parents) and moved them twice:

  • first
    he moved them west to new land along the Monongahela river in what is
    today Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He established the village of
    Whitaker there. Many Whitakers lived and died and were buried
  • then
    in 1780, with the Revolutionary War still raging (and his sons Abraham
    and Aquilla engaged in that conflict), he moved the family west again
    to Beargrass Creek in Kentucky. John was one of just five
    frontier Baptist preachers active in Kentucky at that time. He
    continued preaching at the Beargrass Baptist church in Shelby county
    until his death in 1798.

North Carolina.
William Whitaker was from a line of Quaker Whitakers from Lancashire
that had settled in Philadelphia in the early 1700’s. After a
devastating fire at his home there in 1751, he moved his family to
Rowan county in North Carolina. By 1767 Joshua and Mary
Whitaker were also to be found in Rowan county (their children later
moved to Buncombe county); while other Whitakers were in Surry county,
North Carolina at this time. Interestingly, North Carolina had
the largest number of Whitakers in America in 1840 and still has the
largest number today.

Australia and New Zealand. James Whittaker was a convict who was transported to Australia for
larceny in 1828. He later became a successful businessman in
South Australia. But he died when the ship on which he was
travelling hit the rocks in 1859 on its way to Melbourne.

James Henry Whittaker, born in Manchester, came to New Zealand in 1890
and six years later started making confectionary chocolate in
Wellington. His business remains family-owned with the
third generation, Andrew and Brian, now in charge and Whittaker’s rivalling Cadbury’s as the largest chocolate
brand in New Zealand.

Whittaker Miscellany

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

Whittaker Names

Sir Richard de Whitacre, from a Saxon
family, was Lord of the Manor of Nether Whitacre and a prominent
landowner of the 14th century.
Dr. William
from Holme in Lancashiire was one of the leading English
Protestant scholars and churchmen of the 16th century.  
Joseph Whitaker was the first of a
family of Whitakers that became important in the iron and steel
business in
Pennsylvania during the 19th and 20th centuries.
, a London bookseller,
launched Whitaker’s Almanack in 1869, an annual reference book
which was
to have immediate and lasting success

Select Whittakers Today

  • 33,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 28,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 9,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



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