Select Atkinson Surname Genealogy

Here are some Atkinson stories and accounts over the years:

Atkinson Origin

Atkinson - like the surname Hodgson - had its origins in Cumbria in NW England, an area of Norse settlement.  However, whereas Hodgson DNA suggests a Norse origin, the haplogroup R1b prevalent for Atkinson indicates indigenous British origin. 

One theory is that Atkinson was the alter ego of the Hodgson surname – signifying British and Christian origins but one that was formed by and owed its existence to contact with the pagan Scandinavian settlers. 

“Atkinson means “son of Adam’s kin.”  Could “Adam’s kin” be the name given by the Norse settlers to the original British inhabitants?  The British had been Christian for several centuries when the pagan Vikings arrived.  The incomers would have enquired of the British as to their origins. 

The British would have reported their Biblical belief that they were descended from Adam.  The Norse may then have described the British as of “Adam’s kin,” from which the name Atkinson would then have evolved.” 

The different genetic profiles for Atkinson and Hodgson endured for some 400 years - from the Viking invasions around 900 AD until the formation of conventional surnames.  This suggests the survival and coexistence of different cultures and separate clans in Cumbria for several hundred centuries.

Early Atkinsons in the Grewelthorpe Area of North Yorkshire

Atkinson is a common name in this area.  The first record of an Atkinson appeared before 1500.  The following is a list of identifiable early families: 

  • William Atkinson was recorded in 1496 as holding part of the Grange of Pott in Mashamshire.  In 1518 the Abbott of Fountains indented to Margaret Atkinson and her son Richard that part of the Grange called Pott.  They had to deliver 13 stones and four pounds of cheese and six stones and eight pounds of butter to the monastery every year. 
  • Christopher Atkinson of The Hutts in Grewelthorpe died in 1654, around the same time as his children William and Marie. 
  • William Atkinson was recorded in 1656 as a fellmonger at Grewelthorpe mill.
  • John Atkinson lived at Kirkby Malzeard in the 1690’s.  His son John and daughter Helen were recorded as being baptized at that time. 
  • Thomas Atkinson was born around 1776, married Ellen Richmond, and they lived at Low Ray Carr in Dallowgill.  One of his sons Richard emigrated to America, another William became a blacksmith, and a third Thomas a tailor.  
Several Atkinsons remained Catholics long after the Reformation.  In 1618 Richard Atkinson and his wife Agnes and Margaret Atkinson and her son Marmaduke were presented in the Peculiar Court in Masham for not appearing to answer for their recusancy.

Atkinsons in the 1881 English Census

Numbers (000's)

Captain Roger Atkinson of Castle Atkinson

Captain Roger Atkinson, who had been in command of 100 footmen at Lough Foyle, obtained a grant for 4,500 acres in Fermanagh in 1611 which included the manor of Coole.   He was the first member of Parliament for the borough of Enniskillen, having been returned there in 1613.  He changed the name of his estate from Castle Coole to Castle Atkinson by patent in 1639.  However, two years later, Castle Atkinson was burnt down by Rory Maguire during the Irish Rebellion. 

Captain Atkinson deposed that on the 23rd day of October 1641 he and his wife were "constrained to forsake and depart from Castle Atkinson for the safeguard of their lives - with the loss of castle, houses and plantings and the closing of his gardens and grounds.  The loss of cattle, household stuff, goods, and rents he suffered was to the extent of £2,918."

Joseph Atkinson of Leeds

A fine oil portrait of the 19th century Leeds businessman Joseph Atkinson, captured in Victorian evening dress, surfaced recently.  Born in 1783, he acquired the cotton mill, Bank Mills, with his partner John Hives in 1823.  A fire destroyed the mill a year later, but Atkinson and Hives built a new flax mill there of fireproof construction in 1831.

A churchman and a staunch Conservative, he ploughed much of his wealth into the building of St Matthew's Church in Little London.  He was later made a magistrate and at one time might have become Mayor.

Ephraim Atkinson, Nova Scotia Boat Builder

Ephraim Atkinson had been a carpenter all his life, starting with his apprenticeship in 1874 at the age of 16. He moved to Cape Sable Island in 1883 and there set up shop as a house builder to support his growing family. 

Ephraim was the man who designed and built the original Cape Island boat in 1905.  His forward-thinking design was a complete departure from the existing fishing boat designs.  While the other builders were still turning out boats propelled by ketch or sloop sailing rig, Ephraim was building stronger and beamier hulls with a deeper keel and designed to be powered by gasoline motor.  His boats achieved far greater stability and carrying capacity than any of the others, enabling the fishermen to go out more days of the year, to stay out in worse weather, and to carry heavier loads of traps and gear.  It was not uncommon for a fisherman to use his Atkinson Cape Islander for more than twenty years. 

By the time Ephraim retired in 1938 at the age of 80, his three sons had taken over the business.  During those early years he had seen his creation, the Cape Islander, become the standard for inshore fishing boats.  So successful has been the design that some 80 percent of Nova Scotia’s commercial fishing fleet of under 65-feet are Cape Islanders, and the grandsons of Ephraim Atkinson, Bruce and Freebert, still build the Cape Islander on Clark’s Harbor in Cape Sable Island.

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