Dickens History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms 

Dickens is an ancient name whose history on English soil dates back to the wave of emigration that followed the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The name comes from the Norman baptismal name which means the son of Diccon, which is a diminution of the parent name, Richard. [1] Baptismal names began to appear as surnames relatively late in the growth of the naming tradition. This is a little surprising, given the popularity of biblical figures in the Christian countries of Europe. Nevertheless, surnames derived from baptismal names grew in popularity during the Middle Ages, and have become one of the foremost sources for surnames. Most of the early appearances of the name were found in the French form Dicon, which lingered until the 16th century.

Early Origins of the Dickens family

The surname Dickens was first found in Staffordshire where one of the first listings of the name was Richard Dicum who listed in the Assize Rolls there in 1203. The Subsidy Rolls of Staffordshire list John Dycon in 1327. [2] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 lists: Richard Digon in London; Roger Digun; and Alice Dikun while the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 lists: Alicia Dycon, mayden; Ricardus Dicon; and Willwlmus Diconson. [1] The reader should pay special attention to the term "mayden" in the last entry as while the modern spelling is obviously "maiden," we must realize that as it was noted in the rolls, Alicia Dycon was a woman who held lands and was a person of distinction; a feat rarely seen in the 13th century! Today most of the spellings of the surname are usually seen appended with "s."

Important Dates for the Dickens family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dickens research. Another 83 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1150, 1812 and 1870 are included under the topic Early Dickens History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dickens Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Dickens, Dickins, Diggons, Diggens, Diggins, Dikens, Digons, Diquon and many more.

Early Notables of the Dickens family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Dickens Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Dickens family to Ireland

Some of the Dickens family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 58 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Dickens migration to the United States

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Dickens or a variant listed above:

Dickens Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Dickens who settled in Barbados in 1683
Dickens Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Henry Dickens, aged 26, who landed in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Samuel Dickens, aged 46, who arrived in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Mr. Dickens, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1822 [3]
  • Henry Dickens, who settled in Nantucket in 1823

Dickens migration to Canada

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Dickens Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Dickens, who landed in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1862

Dickens migration to Australia

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Dickens Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Andrew Dickens, aged 24, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Isabella Watson" in 1845 [4]
  • Henry Dickens, aged 25, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Stag" [5]
  • Henry Dickens, aged 27, a schoolmaster, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "South Sea"

Dickens migration to New Zealand

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Dickens Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Alice E. Dickens, aged 13, a servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872
  • Mrs. Dickens, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Queen Bee" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 10th January 1872 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Dickens (post 1700)

  • Thomas Dickens, American politician, Justice of New York Supreme Court 1st District, 1968 [7]
  • Thomas Dickens, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from New York County 11th District, 1949-50 [7]
  • Samuel Dickens (d. 1840), American politician, Member of North Carolina House of Commons, 1813-15, 1818; U.S. Representative from North Carolina 8th District, 1816-17 [7]
  • Marc A. Dickens, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1988 [7]
  • Lloyd E. Dickens, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1956, 1960, 1964; Member of New York State Assembly from New York County 11th District, 1959-64 [7]
  • L. Everett Dickens, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1948 [7]
  • Inez E. Dickens, American Democrat politician, Presidential Elector for New York, 1996, 2000; Member of Democratic National Committee from New York, 2004 [7]
  • E. Dana Dickens, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from North Carolina, 1932, 1944 [7]
  • James Cecil "Little Jimmy" Dickens (1920-2015), American country music singer
  • Phil Dickens (1915-1983), American college football player and coach
  • ... (Another 11 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

You May Also Like


  1. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The ISABELLA WATSON 1845. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1845IsabellaWatson.htm
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STAG 1850. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850Stag.htm
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 29) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
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