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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Underwood is a name of ancient Anglo-Saxon origin and comes from a family once having lived in a forest, below a forest on a hillside, or in either of the settlements called Underwood in Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire. The surname Underwood belongs to both the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads, and the class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.


The surname Underwood was first found in Derbyshire at Underwood, a liberty, in the parish of Ashbourn, hundred of Wirksworth. Underwood is also a hamlet, in the parish of Selston, union of Basford in Nottinghamshire, but it it the former from where the family originated. [1] Literally the place names mean "place within or near a wood," from the Old English "under" + "wudu." [2] However, we must look to Suffolk for the first records of the surname for it is there in 1188 William de Underwode was found. A few years later in Yorkshire, William Underwude de Clokton was listed in the Assize Rolls of 1219. William Under the Wode was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Staffordshire in 1332. [3] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had two listings: John Underwode in Oxfordshire; and Hugh Underwod in Cambridgeshire. Robertus Vndrewode was listed in a Latin form of then name in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. [4]

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore, spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Underwood has been recorded under many different variations, including Underwood, Underwoode and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Underwood research. Another 149 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 163 and 1632 are included under the topic Early Underwood History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Underwood Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Underwood or a variant listed above:

Underwood Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • James Underwood settled in Salem, Massachusetts in 1630
  • Casander Underwood, who landed in Virginia in 1633
  • Martin Underwood and his wife Martha settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1634
  • Martin Underwood, aged 38, arrived in America in 1634
  • Robert Underwood, aged 30, landed in Virginia in 1635

Underwood Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Saml Underwood, who landed in Virginia in 1704
  • James Underwood, who landed in Virginia in 1705
  • Abraham Underwood, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Anthony Underwood, who arrived in New England in 1720

Underwood Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • William Underwood, who landed in America in 1810
  • Edwin Underwood, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1879

Underwood Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Michael Underwood arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Orleana" in 1840
  • William Underwood, English convict from Staffordshire, who was transported aboard the "Anna Maria" on March 6, 1848, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia
  • Abraham Underwood, aged 31, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Lysander"
  • Henry Underwood, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Sultana"
  • John Underwood, aged 21, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Oregon"

Underwood Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Thomas Underwood landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Mandarin
  • Thomas Underwood arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Mandarin" in 1841
  • Jessie Underwood, aged 24, a cook, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Conflict" in 1874
  • Adelaide Underwood, aged 18 months, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Conflict" in 1874
  • Emanuel Underwood, aged 21, a shoemaker, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ocean Mail" in 1875


  • George Underwood (1883-1943), American winner of an Olympic gold medal for athletics at the 1904 games
  • James Holland "Jim" Underwood II (1946-2013), American politician who served in the Guam Legislature 1975-1984
  • Blair Erwin Underwood (b. 1964), American television, film, and stage actor and director, best known for his role on the NBC legal drama L.A. Law
  • Captain Gordon Waite Underwood (1910-1978), United States Navy Captain, recipient of the Navy Cross, eponym of the USS Underwood (FFG-36)
  • Brittany Underwood (b. 1988), American actress from New Jersey, best known for her role on the daytime soap opera One Life to Live
  • Horace Grant Underwood (1859-1916), American Presbyterian missionary, educator, and translator, brother of John Thomas Underwood
  • John Thomas Underwood (1857-1937), American founder of Underwood Typewriters, New York City in 1895
  • Ruth Underwood (b. 1946), American retired professional musician best known for her work in Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention from 1967 to 1977
  • General George Vernon Underwood (1913-1984), Commander in Chief, United States Southern Command (USCINCSO) from 1971 to 1973
  • Captain Edmund Beardsley Underwood (1853-1928), acting-Governor of American Samoa from 1903 to 1905



  • Isaac W. Underwood: His Ancestors and Descendants by Willie Bruce Underwood.
  • The Underwood Families of America by Lucien Marcus Underwood.

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Omnes arbusta juvant
Motto Translation: Groves (Underwood) delight all men.


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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  3. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)

Other References

  1. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  2. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  8. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  9. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  10. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  11. ...

The Underwood Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Underwood Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 2 April 2016 at 00:30.

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