Select Tate/Tait Surname Genealogy

Here are some Tate/Tait stories and accounts over the years:

The Meaning of Tait

The following was the account by George F. Black in his 1946 book Surnames of Scotland. 

"Tait was originally a nickname.  Bede tells us that Ethelberga, daughter of Ethelbert, King of Kent, was called 'Tate' (fem.) and nine individuals named 'Tata' (masc.) were recorded in Birch's Cartularium Saxonicum.  The word, meaning 'glad' or 'cheerful,' appeared in Old Norse as teitr and, as a proper name, Teitr occurred several times in the Icelandic saga Landnamabok.

Tate and Tait

Tate is the English spelling and Tait the Scottish.  The following were the numbers in the 1891 census in England and Scotland.

Numbers (000's)

Reader Feedback - Tait/Tate Norse Origins

Tait and the alternative Tate are definitely Norse.  They are names you find adhere to the east coast of Britain - which sort of goes with the territory for Norse words and names ranging from the northern isles, through Caithness, Sutherland, Aberdeenshire and smatterings through to Northumberland, Newcastle, York, Humberside, Lincolnshire and East Anglia and down.  

To me Tait comes from the Norse given male name Teitur, pronounced “Tait” as this is pronounced here + “ur” (as in slur - with lips slightly rounded and the R rolled).  It is not a name used very often these days, perhaps falling out of use some forty plus years ago.  But you find it occasionally in Iceland and Faeroe and it means “happy.”  

Kind regards  
Emma Blackburn (embla.0064@gmail.com)    

Taits in the Orkneys and Shetlands

An old tradition holds that the first Tait arrived in the 13th century from Norway, having left there due to a disagreement with the local ruler on taxes.  The name William Tait appeared in Orkney in 1547 and Jacob Tait, who married Christian Edwardsdaughter, in Shetland around 1575.  These Taits were initially to be found at Fetlar and Dingwall, but then spread out around Shetland. 

A Tait family were prominent merchants and drapers in Lerwick during the 19th century.  Their son Reid was a keen collector of books and articles about Shetland and founder of the Shetland Folk Society.  He was also a prominent activist in the local temperance movement's successful bid to introduce alcohol prohibition in Shetland in 1921.

The Faithful Teates

There were two Faithful Teates, father and son.  The elder Teate was a Puritan preacher who was made rector at Ballyhaise in county Cavan.  He was forced to flee to Dublin during the 1641 rebellion when his home was set on fire and his wife and children wounded after it had been discovered that he had supplied information to the government.  Three of his children died of their injuries. 

His eldest son was also called Faithful.  He moved to England and was minister at Sudbury in Suffolk.  He returned to Ireland in 1660 and was appointed rector of St. Werburgh's church in Dublin.  But his Puritan principles would not allow him to accept the new Restoration policy on Episcopacy and he was sacked.  Whilst at Suffolk he composed in 1658 a long meditative poem Ter Tria or The Doctrine of the Three Sacred Persons, Father, Son and Spirit.  The poem enjoyed considerable success in its day.  This Faithful Teate was the father of the poet Nahum Tate.

James Tate of Richmond in Yorkshire

The Tates had come originally from Berwick upon Tweed on the Scottish borders.  James Tate was born in Richmond in north Yorkshire.  His father and grandfather had been maltsters.  But James attended Richmond School and had an academic career in mind. 

In 1796 he was appointed headmaster of Richmond School, the fulfillment of a childhood ambition.  Tate was responsible for transforming Richmond School into one of the leading classical schools of its day.  Many of his scholars went on to Cambridge.  They became so "successful, admired and feared" whilst at Cambridge that they earned the title of “Tate's invincibles.” 

Half of the present grammar school at Richmond, opened in 1850, was built as a Tate memorial.  There is a bust of Tate in plaster in the scientific library at Richmond.  And his portrait by Pickersgill, which was engraved by Cousins, was left with the Rev. James Tate, the rector of Bletsoe in Bedfordshire. 

His story was told in L.P. Wenham’s 1991 book James Tate of Richmond School.

Reader Feedback - John Tate and the King George

The whaling ship King George must have sunk with all hands prior to 1827.  John Tate’s wife had received a Settlement Examination in January of that year, by which time she was already a widow.  The story goes that the King George helped another whaler which was in difficulties but then did not make it back to England itself. 

It seems that the one person who knew the full story emigrated to the United States and may have died since that person posted a note online. 

Julia Greenwood (j.j.greenwood@talk21.com)

Magnus Tate's Loss of Ear

Magnus Tate of Virginia, born in the late 1750’s, was a man whose subsequent life made up in a great measure for his youthful follies.

He appeared in the Frederick county records quite early as a fighter.  One of the first references to him is in consequence to a fight he had with some other young tough.  One of the items in the proceedings as recorded in the justices' order book recites that Magnus Tate appeared before the magistrates and lodged complaint against a party for biting off his ear.  Two witnesses testified to the fact.  The "biter" was held for trial and the ear retained as proof of the charge.

Magnus Tate afterward became sheriff of Berkeley county, one of its most respected magistrates, and was elected to Congress in 1815.  He lived, highly respected although having but one ear and a portion of another, until 1823.

The Tates and Their Great House in Jamaica

The descendants of Thomas Dale Tate continue to own and manage the Tate Shafston estate as a cattle and pimento plantation and still live in the 18th century Tate Shafston Great House to this day. 

The Great House, which was built in the 1750s from cut-stone, mahogany and cedar, is a typical old-fashioned Jamaican colonial plantation home.  It is a long, rectangular building one-storey high, slightly raised up on a stone basement, with the usual wide pillared verandah surrounding it on all four sides to give the maximum amount of shade from the sun.  The interior plan is also very typical with a central drawing room and dining room flanked on both sides by bedrooms. There are no ceilings and the lofty rooms are all completely open to the underside of the roof, exposing the heavy wooden beams. 

The walls are hung with ancestral portraits, oil paintings of Sir John and Lady Moore and Victorian photographs of various members of the Tate family.  Sir John's sword hangs above a mahogany archway and the house is furnished with Jamaican antique mahogany furniture, Georgian silver and Victorian china, rare and valuable items that have been inherited and lovingly passed down from generation to generation as treasured family heirlooms.  The panoramic views from the verandah of the Great House are said to be amongst the most beautiful in Jamaica. 

Thomas Dale Tate was the son of Thomas and Mary Brown Tate, who migrated to Jamaica in the 1790's. Thomas Tate Snr was a doctor and Mary his wife was previously married to Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, the victor of the Battle of Corunna during the Peninsular Wars. 

Sir Henry Tate's Background

Henry Tate was the son of Rev William Tate, a Unitarian Minister of the Dissenters' Chapel in Chorley, Lancashire and a teacher of poor children.  He learned much from his father, including a concern for others, hard work and an enquiring mind.  The house where he was born in 1819 on Terrace Mount still stands. 

In 1832 at the age of 13 he entered the grocery trade in Liverpool and served his apprenticeship for seven years.  He then bought a grocery business in Liverpool and begun to acquire other stores in the city.  But he sold these shops in 1859 when he became a partner in John Wright & Co, sugar refiners at Love Lane in Liverpool.  Ten years later, after the death of John Wright, this sugar refinery company became Henry Tate & Sons.

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