Whitehead History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the Whitehead surname date back to the time of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It comes from an early member of the family who was a whitehaired or fair-haired person. The surname Whitehead is derived from the Old English words hwit, which means white, and heafod, which means head. [1]

Early Origins of the Whitehead family

The surname Whitehead was first found in Lancashire and "especially in North England. " [2]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included two entries for the family with very early spellings: Roger Witheyed, Huntingdonshire; and William Witheyed, Cambridgeshire. And in Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed Adam Whiteheued; Johannes Whittehed; and Robertus Qwytheued. [2]

Further to the north in Scotland, the first record of the family was "Adam Whytehevde de Hoton, juror on inquisition before the sheriff of Berwick, 1300. " [3]

Early History of the Whitehead family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Whitehead research. Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1300, 1423, 1485, 1523, 1492, 1557, 1585, 1585, 1492, 1571, 1492, 1551, 1519, 1540, 1541, 1636, 1723, 1661, 1672, 1723, 1630, 1696, 1629, 1609, 1625, 1594, 1663, 1628, 1653, 1629, 1684 and 1660 are included under the topic Early Whitehead History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Whitehead Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Whitehead has been spelled many different ways, including Whitehedd, Whited, Whitehead, Whytehead and others.

Early Notables of the Whitehead family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include David Whithead (1492?-1571), English divine, born about 1492, a native of Hampshire (Wood), where the Whiteheads had some landed property. "His contemporary, Hugh Whitehead (d. 1551), with whom David has been confused, belonged to a Durham branch of the family, was from 1519 to 1540 last prior, and from 1541 first dean of Durham. " [4] George Whitehead (1636?-1723), was an English Quaker, born at Sun Bigs, parish of Orton, Westmorland. From 1661 to 1672 Whitehead spent most of his time in prison. He died on 8 March 1723, in his eighty-seventh...
Another 98 words (7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Whitehead Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Whitehead family to Ireland

Some of the Whitehead family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 32 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Whitehead migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Whiteheads to arrive in North America:

Whitehead Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Whitehead, who settled in New England in 1630
  • John Whitehead, who settled in New Haven Conn. in 1630
  • Daniel Whitehead settled at Hempstead in New York in 1631
  • Arth Whitehead, who landed in Virginia in 1643 [5]
  • Daniel Whitehead, who landed in Long Island in 1653 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Whitehead Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Alice Whitehead, who arrived in Virginia in 1701 [5]
  • Arthur Whitehead, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [5]
  • John Whitehead, who landed in Charles Town, South Carolina in 1714 [5]
  • Thomas Whitehead, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1719-1720 [5]
  • Mary Whitehead, who settled in Virginia in 1722
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Whitehead Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Ralph Whitehead, who landed in America in 1804 [5]
  • Sol Whitehead, aged 27, who arrived in New York in 1812 [5]
  • Christopher Whitehead, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1822 [5]
  • Frederick Whitehead, who arrived in Mississippi in 1874 [5]
  • Isaiah Whitehead, aged 26, who arrived in Kentucky in 1874 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Whitehead migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Whitehead Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Rumboll Whitehead, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749
Whitehead Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Whitehead, aged 30 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Triton" departing 14th May 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 24th July 1847 but he died on board [6]

Australia Whitehead migration to Australia +

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

Whitehead Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Whitehead, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [7]
  • William Whitehead, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on October 22nd, 1824, settling in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Daniel Whitehead, a weaver, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mary Whitehead, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "America" on December 30, 1830, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [9]
  • Mr. William Whitehead, English convict who was convicted in Chester, Cheshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 3rd November 1833, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Whitehead 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:

Whitehead Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Whitehead, who landed in Bay of Islands, New Zealand in 1840
  • Art Whitehead, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Brougham
  • A. Whitehead, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Brougham" in 1842
  • G. Whitehead, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Matoaka" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th September 1859 [11]
  • F. Whitehead, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Matoaka" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 26th September 1859 [11]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Whitehead (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Whitehead (1864-1906), American lawyer, co-founder of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company
  • John Cunningham Whitehead (b. 1922), American banker, former chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
  • Gustave Whitehead (1874-1927), born Gustav Albin Weisskopf, German-born, American aviation pioneer, who allegedly made the first powered airplane flight in 1901
  • George William Whitehead (1918-2004), American professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Colson Whitehead (b. 1969), American author, best known for his novel John Henry Days, recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship Award in 2002
  • Bill Whitehead, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Montana, 1996 ; Candidate in primary for Montana State House of Representatives 31st District, 2010 [12]
  • Asa Whitehead, American politician, Delegate to Whig National Convention from New Jersey, 1839 ; Member of New Jersey State Senate from Essex County, 1849-51 [12]
  • Alfred K. Whitehead, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1996, 2000 [12]
  • Alfred E. Whitehead, American Democrat politician, Candidate for New York State Senate 57th District, 1954, 1956 [12]
  • A. Carter Whitehead, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, 1951-53 [12]
  • ... (Another 74 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Reginald C Whitehead (b. 1913), English Sergeant serving for the Royal Marine from Willesden, London, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [13]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Geoffrey Whitehead, British Able Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [14]
  • Mr. Geoffrey Whitehead, English Petty Officer from England, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking [14]
RMS Lusitania
  • Miss Florence Whitehead, English 2nd Class passenger residing in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking by escaping in life boat 13 [15]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Ulmont Irving Whitehead Jr., American Ensign from Connecticut, 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 [16]


The Whitehead 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: Dum spiro spero
Motto Translation: While I have breath I hope.


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  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. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. 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. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 99)
  7. ^ 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
  8. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1824 with 9 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1824
  9. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1830 with 135 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1830
  10. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 29) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  14. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  15. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/
  16. ^ 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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