Select West Surname Genealogy

Here are some West stories and accounts over the years:

West, East, North and South

The four points of the compass transposed in England into surnames.  Of these, West has been by far the most popular.  The numbers in England today are:

in England
 Numbers (000's)
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West and De La Warr

Baron West was a title created in 1402 for Sir Thomas West of Oakhanger, Northampton.  He married the heiress Joan de la Warr, through whom his second son eventually became Baron De La Warr.  The two titles descended in tandem until the death of Thomas West, the 6th Lord West and 9th Lord de la Warr, in 1554.  Then, in 1572, the heir male and nephew of the co-heirs general was created Baron de la Warr, but not Baron West. 

In America Thomas West, the 12th Baron de la Warr, is usually named in history books as Lord Delaware.  He served as governor of the Jamestown colony.  The Delaware bay, Delaware river, and the state of Delaware were named after him.

John and Francis West of Twickenham

The Wests had come originally from Guildford in Surrey.  Edward West, described variously as a weaver and a yeoman, had married in Guildford in 1584 and again there in 1605.  He and his family moved to Twickenham a few years later.  At a Court of the Manor of Isleworth held in early 1611 he was admitted to “one cottage with appurtenances, lying and being in Twickenham.” 

Remarkably, four generations of this West family supplied churchwardens to the Twickenham parish over the course of the 17th century.  A branch of the family moved to Hampton, remaining there until the early 1700’s. 

The best-known of these Wests was Edward’s grandson, John West, born in Twickenham in 1641.  He became a scrivener (scribe) and an extremely wealthy one.  He and his wife Francis were public benefactors.  And they are remembered today.  “West Day” is an annual event held by the John and Francis Family Group to celebrate the history of this family and its descendants.

Early Wests in America

Lette Brock Stone's 1928 book The West Family Register traced the early Wests in America.  These Wests included: 
  • Captain John West, Governor of Virginia, and his descendants, among whom was the noted Antarctic explorer, Richard E. Byrd  
  • Anthony West of Accomac, Virginia, who was said to have come to the colonies in the James in 1622, and his descendants 
  • Joseph West of Prince Georges county, Maryland and his descendants elsewhere in Maryland and Kentucky  
  • Sir Stephen West who settled in Prince Georges County in 1700 and his descendants 
  • Ignatius West of Chatham county, North Carolina and his descendants  
  • William West, also of Chatham County, who later relocated to Kentucky  
  • Francis West of Duxbury, Massachusetts  
  • Caleb West of Philadelphia  
  • Benjamin West the artist, his English ancestry and American descendants  
  • the West families of Stafford, Prince William, and Fairfax counties Virginia  
  • William West from Sligo in Ireland and his descendants in Pennsylvania and Maryland  
  • Robert West of Sussex county, Delaware  
  • Walker West of Garrard county, Kentucky  
  • William West and his descendants of Norfolk and Princess Anne counties, Virginia  
  • and various other miscellaneous West families.

The Wests on the Eastern Shore

The Wests were part of the early landed gentry on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  John West had married Matilda Scarburgh - the daughter of Colonel Edmund Scarburgh, a leading figure in the area.  The Wests lived on Onacock Creek. 

Calvin West described a visit to that area in the 1930’s: 

“We found the old homestead located on the shore of Deep Creek, an arm of  Chesapeake Bay, on land that had been in the family since their arrival on the Eastern Shore.  The old English colonial house, with the ends of brick and the front and back of hewn timbers, still stands but, being unoccupied, shows neglect. 

A few feet from the southwest corner of the house is the family burying ground, where several generations lie buried.  The marble headstones were brought from England."

Thomas West of Martha's Vineyard

Thomas West was evidently a man of education and superior ability and, arriving on Martha’s Vineyard in the early 1670’s, was its first known practitioner of medicine and surgery.  He also prosecuted the first trials for murder on the island.

Thomas had the further distinction of being a member with his wife Elizabeth of the Third Sabbatarian (Seventh Day) Baptist Church.  He was elected 'townsman' of Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard in 1678 and was on a committee to make rates the following year. 

But he was also indicted and fined in 1678 for 'unsavory speeches,' sued for defamation in 1687, and in 1702 excommunicated from his church for disobeying the tenets of the communion (although his wife and other members of his family continued in good standing). 

He died in 1706, aged sixty.  His son Thomas was a seaman and pilot at Martha's Vineyard, his grandson Thomas a clergyman there.

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