Whitaker History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Whitaker has a long Anglo-Saxon heritage. The name comes from when a family lived in one of a number of similarly-named places. The settlement of Wheatacre is in Norfolk, while Whiteacre in Waltham is in Kent; both of these names literally mean wheat-field. The place named Whitacre is in Warwickshire, while High Whitaker is in Lancashire; these names both mean white field. The surname Whitaker belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Whitaker family

The surname Whitaker was first found in Warwickshire where the first record of the name was Johias Whitacre (1042-1066), who died while fighting at the Battle of Hastings on the side of King Harold. Despite the fact he was on the losing side of the battle, his family was permitted to keep their estates. The place names Whitacre, Over Whitacre and Nether Whitacre were listed in the Domesday Book as Witacre and literally meant "white cultivated land" from the Old English words "hwit" + "aecer." [1]

One of the earliest rolls was the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273. Those rolls listed: Alan Witacur in Oxfordshire; and Richard de Whitacre in Northamptonshire. Years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Henricus Wyteacre; Willelmus de Wetaker; and Rogerus Whitteacres. [2]

"The Whittakers or Whitakers are numerous in Lancashire. From the 14th to the 16th century a gentle family of this name lived at High Whitaker or Whitacre in the vills of Simonstone and Padiham, in the parish of Whalley: the Whitakers of Holme and those of Henthorn branched off in the 15th century and those of Healy about 1620. " [3]

One of the more interesting etymologies we found was the following: " local. The north part of a graveyard allotted to the poor was called Whittaker, from wite, a penalty, and acre,-a place of burial for criminals. A culprit who could not discharge the penalty or wite became a "witetheow," and was buried in the wite-acre. Bailey defines Whittaker "the north-east part of a flat or shoal-the middle ground." [4]

We tend to believe that name was more likely "derived from a geographical locality. 'of the white acre.' " [2] as the former entry would suppose that there would be many such listings of the surname scattered throughout ancient Britain and this was clearly not the case.

Early History of the Whitaker family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Whitaker research. Another 101 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1300, 1375, 1548, 1595, 1586, 1580, 1646, 1640, 1622, 1695, 1659, 1661, 1679, 1642, 1715, 1695, 1696, 1701, 1702, 1660, 1735 and 1704 are included under the topic Early Whitaker History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Whitaker Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Whitaker have been found, including Whittaker, Whittakers, Whitaker, Whitacre and others.

Early Notables of the Whitaker family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Richard de Whitacre (c.1300-1375), Lord of the Manors of Nether Whitacre, Over Whitacre, Elmdon, and Freasley, he claimed direct descendancy for the aforementioned Johias Whitacre; William Whitaker (1548-1595), English Anglican theologian, Master of St. John's College, Cambridge; Henry Whitaker, English politician, Member of Parliament for Westbury in 1586; William Whitaker (c.1580-1646) of Shaftesbury, an English lawyer and politician, Member of Parliament for Shaftesbury in 1640; Henry Whitaker (c...
Another 77 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Whitaker Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Whitaker family to Ireland

Some of the Whitaker family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Whitaker migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Whitaker, or a variant listed above:

Whitaker Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Alexander Whitaker, who landed in Virginia in 1617 [5]
  • Mary Whitaker, who landed in Virginia in 1622 [5]
  • George Whitaker, who settled in Virginia in 1638
  • Georg Whitaker, who landed in Virginia in 1638 [5]
  • Elizabeth Whitaker, who arrived in Maryland in 1678 [5]
Whitaker Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Avis Whitaker, who landed in Virginia in 1721 [5]
  • Phineas Whitaker, who landed in Virginia in 1724 [5]
  • Nathaniel Whitaker, who arrived in Maryland in 1741-1742 [5]
  • David Whitaker, who landed in America in 1766
Whitaker Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John Whitaker, aged 27, who landed in New York in 1812 [5]
  • Samuel Whitaker, who arrived in New York in 1824 [5]
  • William Whitaker, who landed in Texas in 1835 [5]
  • James Whitaker, aged 44, who arrived in Harford County, Maryland in 1837 [5]
  • Anthony Whitaker, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1850 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Whitaker migration to Australia +

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

Whitaker Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Whitaker, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]

New Zealand Whitaker 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:

Whitaker Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • F Whitaker, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1839
  • Miss Whitaker, British settler travelling from England aboard the ship "Martha Ridgway" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 14th November 1840 [7]
  • Frederick Whitaker, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1841
  • Richard Whitaker, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ann Wilson" in 1857
  • John Whitaker, aged 21, a labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Resolute" in 1865
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Whitaker (post 1700) +

  • Matthew George Whitaker (b. 1969), American lawyer and the Acting United States Attorney General (2018-), Chief of Staff to the United States Attorney General (2017-2018)
  • Ed Whitaker (1938-2014), American stock car team owner
  • Norris J. "Jim" Whitaker (1950-2003), American politician, 9th Mayor of the Fairbanks North Star Borough, Alaska (2003-2009)
  • Jack Whitaker (b. 1924), American retired sportscaster who worked for both CBS and ABC
  • Charles "Slim" Whitaker (1893-1960), American film actor who appeared in 345 films between 1914 and 1949
  • Louis Rodman Whitaker Jr. (1957-1977), nicknamed "Sweet Lou," American former Major League Baseball player who played from 1977 to 1995
  • Pernell Whitaker (b. 1964), nicknamed "Sweet Pea," retired American professional boxer, former WBA Light Middleweight Champion
  • Berry M. Whitaker (1890-1984), American college football coach for the Texas Longhorns (1920-1922)
  • Lance Whitaker (b. 1971), American bronze medalist heavyweight boxer at the 1995 Pan American Games
  • Forest Steven Whitaker (b. 1961), American Academy Award, Golden Globe and BAFTA Award winning actor, producer, and director
  • ... (Another 73 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Fred Whitaker, British Marine, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [8]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. John William Whitaker Jr., American Seaman First Class from Louisiana, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [9]


The Whitaker Motto +

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: Spes et fides
Motto Translation: Hope and faith.


Suggested Readings for the name Whitaker +

  • 543 Dr. John McCaa of Camden, South Carolina, 1793-1859, His Descendants by John McCaa, Genealogy: Spaid, Anderson, Whitacre, and a Number of Allied Families by Raul Purcell Anderson, Higdon-Whitaker and Allied Families by Bettina Pearson Higdon.

  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. ^ Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  7. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  8. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  9. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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