Rick Wickwire's Blog

What’s in a Name

At the time of the conquest, 1066, surnames were not in common use among the Britons, and the practice of using surnames was not fully established for a century or two afterwards. And it was much later that many surnames attained their final forms.

The definite, connected history of the surname Wickware begins about 1500, though earlier traces have been discovered.

It seems probable that a branch of the Warre family, residing at or near the manor of Wick, or Wick-Warre, assumed that name to distinguish themselves from the main branch of the family which, after a few generations, had their principal seat, not at Wick but in Sussex county.

In the first half of the 16th century two brothers, John and Thomas Wickwarre, were living at Calne, in Wiltshire, about thirty miles southeast of Wickwar. Thomas Wickware, who was probably their father, was buried at Calne, 21 Jan. 1568. Jane Wickwarre, buried at Calne 7 Oct. 1559, may have been the wife of Thomas Sr.

In the earliest entries the name is spelled Wyckwarre, Wyckwarr, Wyckware, Wickwarr and Wickware. In a considerable number of entries in the latter half of the century the name is written “Wickwarr alias Clarke,” or Clarke alias Wickwarr.” This use of a double surname was quite common at that time, being somewhat analogous to the more modern hyphenated surname. It is probable that a marriage took place between a member of the Wickwarr family and a member of the Clarke family, and that both names were thereafter used, in order to preserve the right to an inheritance, or for some similar reason.

Some years ago an inquiry was sent by a member of the family in Canada to the Heraldry Office in London as to the Crest of the family, and the following is a copy of the information furnished by the Heraldry Office:

Crest of Wickwar or Wykwarre
A Griffin’s head out of Coronet, in beak a fleur-de-lis.
The name is taken from Wickwar in Gloucestershire and is a most ancient family, dating as far back as the Conqueror, whose Queen presented the hamlet of Wickwar to her Chamberlain and named it after him for his faithful services.

The town of Wickwar and the Wickware family are entwined throughout history. Following is a list of the names associated with the town and the family both.

The following tabulation, taken from patents, inquisitions, wills and other historical records, shows the transition from Wick to Wickwar, and the variations in spelling since the name assumed the latter form.

Year(s) AD    Name                 Source
46-410           Vicus                 Roman Settlement or Villa (probably)
798                 Wiche                 Grant of King of Mercia
930                 Wichen               Tenure of Hailward
1086               Wichen              Domesday Book
1175               Wiche                 Bull of Alexander the Third
1207              Wick                    Charter of King John to John La Warre
1261               Wike                    Inquisition of Lands of Abbot of Wyke
1261               Wyke                   Inquisition of Lands of Abbot of Wyke
1268               Wykewauer      Inquisition of Lands of William de Bello
1275              Wyke                   Inquisition of Manorial Franchises
1281               Warre-Wike      Franchise of Edward I
1282              Wykeware         Appointment of Walter de Wykeware Abbot of Winchcomb
1284-90       Wyk                     Kirby’s Quest
1287             Warrewyche     Pleas to the Crown
1321              Wyke-warre      Escheator’s Inquisition
1346              Wykewarre       Royal Aids Levied in Gloucestershire
1346              Wykware           Royal Aids Levied in Gloucestershire
1355              Wickwar            Fine Levied of Manor and Advowson
1402             Wykewarre       Knights Fees Under Lay Subsidies
1451              Wyke-warr        Seizin of Richard Lord de la Warr
1479             Wykwarre         Will at Canterbury
1503             Wykewarre       Will at Canterbury
1510             Wyckwarr         Will at Canterbury
1533             Warre-Wyks     Patent of Henry VII
1534             Wike                    Watar John Leland’s Mss.
1552             Wickware          Parish Register at Calne, Wilts
1554            Wickwarre         Siezin of Thomas Lord de la Warr
1560            Wickwarre        List of Recusants in Gloucestershire
1577            Wickwar            Parish Register at Wotton-Under-Edge
1583             Wyckwar          Will of John, of Calne
1588             Wickware         Will of Alice, of Calne
1588             Wickwarre       Feet of Fines in Gloucestershire
1592             Wickwarr         Will of Nicholas, of Calne
1595             Wickwarr         Suit in Chancery by Margery
1608            Wickwarre       Gloucestershire Muster Roll
1615             Wickwarr         Parish Register at Wotton-Under-Edge
1629             Warre-Wyks   Inspeximus of Charles I
1636             Wickwar          Wiltshire Inquisitions
1649             Wickwarr        Parish Register, Tetbury
1653             Wickeware     Parish Register, Berkeley
1658             Wickware       Parish Register, Tetbury
1659             Wickware       Parish Register, London
1664             Wickwar         Parish Register, Tetbury
1676-1697 Wickware      Vital Records, Numerous, New London, Connecticut
1692              Wickwayr      Land Records, Numerous, New London, Connecticut
1692-1736 Wickware       Land Records, Numerous, New London, Connecticut
1707             Wickwarre     Will of William of Tortworth, England
1712              Wickwere       Will of John of New London, Connecticut
1712              Wickwire        Probate Record, Clerks error, New London, Connecticut
1716-1742 Wickwere        Land Records, New London, Connecticut
1725-1735 Wickwer          Vital Records, New London, Connecticut
1734             Wickwire         Land Records, New London, Connecticut
1736             Wickwear        Deed, New London, Connecticut
1744             Wickwere        Will of Peter of New London, Connecticut
1746             Wickwere        Will of Christopher of Lyme, Connecticut

It will be seen from the foregoing that Wickware has been the form in most general use for the past six centuries. This is the form that appears upon the New London, Connecticut records for at least thirty-five years after John Wickware settled there, in 1675. Wickwire is a variation apparently first devised in 1712 by the clerk of the Probate Court, when the will of John Wickware was offer for probate. Some branches have accepted and adhered to this corrupted form, while others still retain the correct spelling.


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