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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Dickens family come from? What is the English Dickens family crest and coat of arms? When did the Dickens family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Dickens family history?

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.


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.

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."


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Dickens research. Another 165 words (12 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.


Another 23 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Dickens Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Dickens family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 103 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


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, landed in New York in 1812
  • Samuel Dickens, aged 46, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Mr. Dickens, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1822
  • Henry Dickens settled in Nantucket in 1823

Dickens Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • William Dickens, who landed in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1862

Dickens Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Andrew Dickens, aged 24, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Isabella Watson" in 1845
  • Henry Dickens, aged 25, arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Stag"
  • Henry Dickens, aged 27, a schoolmaster, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "South Sea"

Dickens Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Alice E. Dickens, aged 13, a servant, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bebington" in 1872


  • James Cecil "Little Jimmy" Dickens (1920-2015), American country music singer
  • Phil Dickens (1915-1983), American college football player and coach
  • Hazel Jane Dickens (1935-2011), American bluegrass singer and songwriter
  • Gerald R Dickens Ph.D., Professor of Earth Science at Rice University
  • William T Dickens, American Nonresident Senior Fellow, Economic Studies at the Brookings Institute
  • Admiral Sir Gerald Louis Charles Dickens KCVO, CB, CMG, RN (1879-1962), senior Royal Navy officer and the grandson of the novelist Charles Dickens
  • Mary 'Mamie' Dickens (1838-1896), oldest daughter of English novelist Charles Dickens
  • Charles Culliford Boz Dickens (1837-1896), the first child of the novelist Charles Dickens
  • John Dickens (1785-1851), English father of the novelist Charles Dickens
  • Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1879), English novelist, considered one of the English language's greatest writers, best remembered for "A Tale of Two Cities" and "A Christmas Carol"



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  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)

Other References

  1. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  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).
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  7. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  8. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  9. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Dickens Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Dickens 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 1 November 2015 at 00:35.

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