Select Waugh Surname Genealogy

Waugh derived from the Old English word walh meaning "foreign" and, like the surname Wallace, was a term used to describe outsiders - in particular, it is thought, the Welsh-speaking Strathclyde Britons who survived as a separate group in Scotland well into the Middle Ages. 

Waugh is usually pronounced as "Waw," rather than "Woff" or "Woch."  The possessive apparently is "Wavian."  Wauchope which comes from similar roots has a "ch" which is pronounced as in "loch."    

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Select Waugh Ancestry

Scotland.  The first record of the Waugh name was to be found in Dumfriesshire on the Scottish borders about the year 1250, in a place called Wauchopedale.  Wauchope and its abbreviation Waugh emerged as Border clan names, notably in Roxburghshire.  The Waughs of Heap or Hope in Wilton held their land from the 13th to the 17th century.  Many Waughs then dispersed as the English and Scottish crowns began to pacify the region.

There were still Waughs in the Borders as the 19th century proceeded, in Dumfriesshire and Roxburghshire, but they were fewer in number.  Many had crossed the Irish Sea as part of the Protestant plantation, in particular to Armagh (Waugh's Farm in Armagh was the ancestral home of the America general Stonewall Jackson).  Other Waughs later migrated to Glasgow or south across the border into England. 

EnglandWaughs in England were outnumbering Waughs in Scotland by almost three to one by the mid 19th century.  Most of these Waughs were to be found in the Border counties of Northumberland, Durham and Cumberland.  Robert Waugh, for instance, was baptized around the year 1750 in the village of Alston in Cumberland. 

From slightly further afield came the Victorian social reformer the Rev. Benjamin Waugh, born in Settle in north Yorkshire; and the Lancastrian writer Edwin Waugh, born in Rochdale.

One famous Waugh family in England had its Border roots in East Gordon, Berwickshire where John Waugh was a tenant farmer in the early 17th century.  It was Dr. Alexander Waugh, a powerful preacher and anti-slaver, who brought his family to England and they eventually settled in Midsomer Norton in Somerset in 1865. The line of descent then went to: Alexander Waugh, the surgeon; Arthur Waugh, the writer and literary critic; Evelyn Waugh the novelist; and Auberon (Bron) Waugh, the journalist and satirist.  Evelyn's mother Catherine said:

"The Waughs were very middle class, but clever and original."
Alexander Waugh's 2004 book Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family described five generations of this family, beginning with his namesake whom he called "the Brute."

Dr. Alexander Waugh had a brother Thomas and his line descended to William Waugh, a wealthy English merchant, and to Alexander Waugh who emigrated to Australia in 1848.

.  Scots Waughs were present at the siege of Londonderry in 1690 and were later among the early 18th century settlers in Londonderry, New Hampshire.  The Waugh name also appeared in Derry Protestant householders in 1740, notably in Tamlaught Finlagen parish.  The 19th century records show Waughs as landowners in Ballymoney, Antrim.

America.  The Rev. John Waugh, or Parson Waugh as he was remembered at the time, had come to Virginia from Scotland sometime in the 1670’s and served as a minister at the Overton parish in Stafford county.  His son John was curiously nicknamed Poison to distinguish him from Parson.  Later Waughs settled in Ohio in the early 1800’s

Scots Irish.  Some of the early Waugh arrivals had come via Ireland.  Several Waughs, for instance, had left Scotland in 1688 for religious reasons and established themselves in Londonderry.  A party - including three Waugh brothers - set sail for America in 1718, landing on the coast of Maine and making their way to Londonderry, New Hampshire.  One line of these Waughs settled in Litchfield, Connecticut.  Later Waughs were to be found in Ohio and Indiana.  The Litchfield Waugh line was traced in Patricia Waugh’s 1986 book A Waugh Family History. 

Another early Waugh line, also Scots Irish, began with William and Jane Waugh who came to Pennsylvania in 1735 and farmed at the Marsh Creek settlement.  A long line of these Waughs can be found at the Marsh Creek graveyard.  A descendant was the 19th century Philadelphia portrait painter Samuel Waugh.

Canada.  James Waugh was an early settler in Hamilton, Ontario.  He married Elizabeth Bawtinheimer in Ancaster nearby in 1817 and he and his son James were farmers there.  Francis and Anne Waugh arrived from Fermanagh in Ireland in 1848 and settled in Wellington county, Ontario. 

A later arrival, from Melrose on the Scottish borders, was Richard Waugh who came with his family to Winnipeg in 1882.  He had been a builder in Scotland.  But in Winnipeg he pursued a second career as a writer and promoter of the Manitoba dairy industry.  His son Richard Waugh was elected mayor of Winnipeg in 1912.

Australia.  Waughs from the Scottish border family, known as the “Aussie” Waughs, had come to NSW in the first half of the 19th century.  William arrived in the 1830’s but was murdered in Newcastle in 1854.  His family later settled in Tenterfield.  His cousin Alexander came to NSW in 1848 and he and his wife Elizabeth also had many descendants.

Select Waugh Miscellany

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

Select Waugh Names

Samuel Waugh was one of the most famous portrait painters of Philadelphia in the 19th century.
Edwin Waugh was a 19th century writer from Lancashire who wrote in the Lancastrian idiom.
Evelyn Waugh was the English novelist best known for his work Brideshead Revisited.
Steve and Mark Waugh, twin brothers, were born into a sporting family in Sydney, Australia.  Both brothers were Australian cricketers and Steve Waugh captained his country from 1999 to 2004.

Select Waughs Today
  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous in Edinburgh)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio) 
  • 6,000 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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