Select North Surname Genealogy

The four points of the compass transposed in England into surnames.  Of these, North was the second most popular as a surname.

North might describe where someone had come from.  But the largest number of Norths in England in the past seem to have been resident in the north of England.  This has led some to speculate that North the surname described someone who came from the north end of a village; or that it described a Norseman; or that its derivation was a place-name in Norfolk or somewhere else now lost.

North could also be of Irish or German origin.  North in Ireland would be an anglicized form of the McNulty name found in Ulster (if it is not an English import).  The German North in America, originally Nordt, was an anglicized form of nord meaning "north" and sometimes used as a personal name.

Select North Resources on The Internet

Select North Ancestry

England.  The North surname is best known in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.  A North line can be traced back to Robert North, born around 1390 in the village of Kirtling in Cambridgeshire.  From this family came Edward North who prospered as a lawyer and politician in the Tudor court and was ennobled as Baron North.  He made his home at Kirtling Hall which has remained in the possession of his descendants.  Notable among these descendants have been:
  • Sir Thomas North, the English translator of Plutarch
  • Roger North, who established a short-lived colony in Guyana under Sir Walter Raleigh in 1620
  • Sir Dudley North, the 17th century merchant trader and economics writer
  • and Frederick North, the English Prime Minister under George III who lost the American colonies in their War of Independence.
The architect Roger North of these Norths settled in the village of Rougham in Norfolk in the late 17th century.  His line later extended to Hastings on the south coast where Frederick North was a prosperous landowner and local MP in the mid 19th century and his daughter Marianne a naturalist and botanical artist who exhibited her work at Kew Gardens. 

Meanwhile Frederick Lord North was the second in a family line, the Earls of Guilford, which has extended to the present day.

Yorkshire.  The largest number of Norths were to be found in Yorkshire.  The names of Wilelmus, Margareta, and Johannes del North were recorded there in 1379.  Earliest family records show Norths in the West Ridings, around Huddersfield. 

The Norths of Fenay lived at Almondbury near Huddersfield from 1520 to 1800.  An Edward North, a husbandman of Kirkheaton, was recorded as a leasor of land in Westheton in 1565; and the North name was to feature prominently in Kirkheaton and Almondbury parish records of the 17th and 18th centuries.  Joseph North for instance, who married Hannah Armitage in 1751, worked as a clothier in Almondbury.

Lincolnshire.  The North name also spilled southwards into Lincolnshire.  It appeared in Boston registers from 1563.  John North, born around 1746, was the predecessor of two North brothers who emigrated to America in 1845.  The family history was recounted in Mack Omer North's 1966 book John North of Lincolnshire and His Descendants.  Another North family from Louth emigrated to Australia in 1876.  

AmericaJohn North was an early settler in New England, arriving from London in 1635 and being among the original settlers of Farmington, Connecticut.  His line was traced in Dexter North's 1921 book John North of Farmington, Connecticut.  Richard and Joan North had come from Buckinghamshire to Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1639.  Their daughter Susannah (North) Martin was caught up in the Salem witch trials and hanged as a witch in 1692. 

Other New England Norths were descendants of Thomas North who came to Providence, Rhode Island around 1670.  These Norths later settled on Long Island. 

Pennsylvania.  Many Norths in Pennsylvania probably originated from Caleb North who had arrived with his wife and eleven children from Westmeath in Ireland in 1729 (his forebears having settled there from Cambridgeshire a century earlier).  He bought land from the Penn family at Gilbert Manor near Philadelphia in 1734.  Eight of his grandsons, the sons of Roger North, fought in the Revolutionary War.  John Ringling North of Ringling circus fame, born in Wisconsin in 1903, may have been related to this family. 

Meanwhile Daniel North arrived in Philadelphia from Wurttemberg in Germany in 1740.

New Zealand.  Alfred North, the son of a London draper, trained as a Baptist minister and came out to Dunedin in 1882 to help form the Baptist Union of New Zealand.  Son John and grandson Lawrence continued his Baptist mission.

Select North Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select North Names

Sir Edward North
, a Tudor politician, was the first Lord North.
Sir Dudley North was a 17th century merchant trader and economics writer.
Frederick North, Lord North, was the English Prime Minister who under George III lost the American War of Independence.
John Ringling North ran the Ringling Brothers circus from 1938 to 1967.
Oliver North was the US Marine Corps officer caught up in the Iran-Contra scandal who later became a media personality.

Select Norths Today
  • 14,000 in the UK (most numerous in Sussex)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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