Select Tate/Tait Surname Genealogy

Tate and Tait are Border names, the Tate spelling on the English side of the border and the Tait spelling on the Scottish side.  

The Tate and Tait names are probably of Viking origin, deriving from the Old Norse word teitr meaning "glad" or "cheerful."  The English Tate surname may also have originated in some places from the Old English personal name Tata.  

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Select Tate/Tait Ancestry

England.  A Tate family was recorded in Coventry as early as the 13th century.  They founded there a chauntry known as Tate's chauntry. 

A descendant, Sir Robert Tate, prospered in London and was its Lord Mayor in 1488, as later was his son Sir John.  Sir John acquired the Delapre abbey in Northamptonshire in 1546 for his son Bartholomew following the dissolution of the monasteries.  This estate stayed with the Tates until the 1750's when Mary Tate died and her husband, Sir Charles Hardy who was to become Governor of New York, sold it.  

Northern Tates.  Tate as a surname, however, was more to be found mainly in the northern counties of Northumberland and Yorkshire.  A Tate family lived for a long time at Bank House in Guizance, a village just outside Alnwick in Northumberland.  John Tate, born in Berwick, was believed to have joined the whaling ship King George which went down with all hands on the return voyage from Greenland some time around 1827.

Notable 18th century Tates in Yorkshire were William Tate, the Barnsley-born portrait painter, and James Tate, the headmaster of Richmond School in north Yorkshire.  There were also Tate glassmakers just outside Wakefield at this time.  Sir Henry Tate, the founder of the Tate & Lyle sugar empire, was born in Chorley, Lancashire in 1819.

Scotland.. Tayt as a surname was first recorded in Scotland in the 13th century.  The name probably originated on the Scottish borders.  Hemming Tait was one of the first Taits of Pirn.   These Taits, from Innerleithen in Peeblesshire, were an ancient family of Tweeddale and one of the smaller Border reiver families. 

There was also a Tait family prominent in Ayr and Loudoun Hall in Ayr was built by James Tait.  After 1603 the Taits were encouraged to relocate to Ulster.  Their name became Tate in Antrim and Down and stayed Tait in Derry.

The Tait name began to appear in the Orkney and Shetland isles in the 16th century, probably because of their Viking heritage (the islands only became part of Scotland in 1470).

A Tait family in the 1650ís built a dam across the river Don in Aberdeenshire to provide power for a mill at Port Elphinstone.  They were later farmers and lumber merchants in the area.  Thomas Tait started a paper mill at Inverurie in 1852.  The mill remained under five generations of the family until its sale in 1996.

Ireland.  There was an interesting Tate family in Ireland.  It began with Faithful Teate or Tate, a Protestant clergyman who was made rector at Ballyhaise in county Cavan in the 1630's.  Reports that he informed on the rebels during the 1641 Rebellion resulted in his house being burned down.  His grandson Nahum Tate, a Cromwell supporter, moved to England in the 1650's and later on in his life was made England's Poet Laureate.

America.  Tate is the usual spelling in America, irrespective of whether the immigrant came from England, Scotland or Ireland.

The first Tate to arrive was probably James Tate from a Northumbrian family.  He had come to Virginia, aged 17, in 1615 and settled in York county as a planter.  His grandson James, called the "Scotsman Emigrant," was a hatter by trade and lived near Page's warehouse in Hanover county.  Later Tates of this line moved to Orange county, North Carolina.  Robert Tate, a Presbyterian minister, settled in Tennessee in the early 1800ís. 

The next arrival may well have been Magnus Tate from the Orkney islands off Scotland who came to Philadelphia in 1696 and made his home in Frederick county, Virginia.  A later Magnus Tate was a Virginia Congressman in the early 1800ís.  There was subsequently a Dr. Magnus W. Tate of Lexington, Missouri and a Dr. Magnus A. Tate of Cincinnati, Ohio. 

Two later arrivals in the colonial era were: 
  • George Tate and his brother William from Aberdeenshire who came in the 1740ís and were among the first settlers of Hawfields in Orange county, North Carolina.  Georgeís grandson Samuel was a farmer and merchant there in the first half of the 19th century. 
  • and David Tate, from Derry in northern Ireland, who had come to America as a lieutenant in the British army in the 1750's.  He decided to stay after his term of service was over and ended up in Botetourt county, Virginia. These Tates later settled in eastern Tennessee.  
Tate Families of the Southern States was published in two volumes by Ethel Updike in 1984.

Caribbean.  Thomas Tate, a doctor, and his wife Mary came to Jamaica from Durham in the 1790's.  Their son Thomas Dale Tate, a plantation overseer, married into the family that owned the Orange Grove plantation in Westmoreland.  He later acquired the Shafston estate and its Great House, which has remained the Tate family home in Jamaica.  Thomas had nine children with his wife Mary and numerous illegitimate children by mulatto mistresses to whom he gave gifts of land, slaves and cattle during his lifetime. 

Canada.  James Tait had been recruited in the Orkneys to work for the Hudson Bay Company and joined their service in 1778 at the age of 20.  Later Taits worked for the company at the Red River settlement in Manitoba and elsewhere in Canada.  Jackie Hobbsí 2002 book Tate/Tait Family History recounted this history.

Australia.  George Tate and his family left their home on the Scottish borders in 1819 as the only free passengers on the Minerva, bound for Australia.  George received a land grant in Wollongong, NSW where he built an hotel and was the first recognised publican in Illawarra.  He died in 1835 at the age of 41 after being gored by a bull.  His son George became a cattle breeder and dealer. 

Some Tait arrivels were:
  • William and Jane Tait who departed Derry with their family on the Adam Lodge in 1837.  Jane died after giving birth to twins in Sydney.  William remarried, to Catherine Monger.
  • A Tait family from Stow in Midlothian who came to South Australia in the 1840's.  David Tait died in 1850.  His sons moved onto the Victorian goldfields. 
  • John Turnbull Tait, a Scotsman from the Shetland isles, who migrated to Victoria in 1862.   His five sons were all involved in theatrical and early film management in Australia for many years (a story recorded in Viola Tait's 1971 book A Family of Brothers). 
  • while the Tait winery in the Borossa valley of South Australia was founded by Giovanni Tait, an immigrant from Italy in the 1950's.
Select Tate/Tait Miscellany

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

Select Tate/Tait Names
Nahum Tate
was an Irish poet who became England's Poet Laureate in 1692.
Sir Henry Tate was the founder of the sugar firm Tate & Lyle in 1869.  He also started the Tate Gallery in London.
Archibald Tait was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1862 to 1882.
Maurice Tate, known as "Chub," was the leading bowler of the English cricket team in the mid/late 1920's.
John Tate was briefly world heavyweight boxing champion in 1979.

Select Tates/Taits Today
  • 29,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 25,000 in America (most numerous in Tennessee) 
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

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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