Ancient History

The ancient history of the distinguished surname Endicott. The most important surname of Endecott makes an impressive claim to being one of the oldest Anglo/Saxon surnames on record.

The history of the name is closely woven into the intricate tapestry of ancient chronicles of England. Professional researchers have carefully scrutinized such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday Book (1086), the Ragman Rolls (1291-1296), the Curia Regis Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismal, tax records and other ancient documents and found the first record of the name Endecott in Devonshire where they had been seated from very early times. Many different spellings were encountered in the research of the Endicott surname. Although the name Endecott, occurred in many manuscripts and documents, from time to time the surname was also officially spelled Endacott, Endecott, Endicott, and these variations in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Scribes and church officials, often traveling great distances, even from other countries, frequently spelt the names they were recording as they heard it. As a result, the same person could find different spellings of the name recorded on birth, baptismal, marriage and death certificates as well as the other numerous records such as tax records and census records. The Saxon race gave birth to many English surnames not the least of which was the surname Endicott.

The Saxons were invited into England by the ancient Britons in the 5th century. They were a race of fair skinned people living along the Rhine Valley as far northeast as Denmark. They were led by General Commanders Hengist and Horsa. The Saxons settled in the county of Kent, on the southeast coast of England. Gradually, they probed north and westward, and during the next four hundred years forced the Ancient Britons back into Wales and Cornwall in the west, Cumberland to the north. The Angles, on the other hand, occupied the eastern coast, the south folk in Suffolk, north folk in Norfolk. Under Saxon rule England prospered under a series of high Kings, the last of which was Harold.

In 1066, the Norman invasion from France occurred and their victory at the Battle of Hastings. Subsequently, many of the vanquished Saxon landowners forfeited their land to Duke William and his invading Norman nobles. Generally , the Saxons who remained in the south were not treated well under Norman rule, and many moved northward to the midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire away from the Norman oppression. The notable English family name, Endecott, emerged as an influential name Endicoot, and Endicott, was first found in the southern English county of Devonshire where there was a hamlet by the same name. As was the custom in the early 13thcentury, some of the inhabitants took the name of the hamlet as their last name when an early census was taken. The family name is taken from the Old English word “endecot” meaning “home at the end of town”. The family seat was established in Devon from the 1200s and the estates there were to remain in the family for several generations. One branch moved early to London in the 1300s where John Endacott opened a business establishment. Over the next several hundred years, the name flourished in southern England. Notable amongst the family at this time was Endacott of Devonshire. During the middle ages, the surname Endecott flourished and played an important role in local affairs and in the political development of England.

During the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, England was ravaged by plaques and religious conflict. Puritanism, the newly found political fervor of Cromwellianism, the remnants of the Roman church rejected all non-believers, each promoting their own cause. The conflicts between church groups, the Crown and political groups all claimed their followers, and their impositions, tithes, and demands on rich and poor alike broke the spirit of men and many turned away from religion. Many families were freely “encouraged” to migrate to Ireland, or to the “colonies”. Some were rewarded with grants of lands, others were banished. Some families were forced to migrate to Ireland, where they became known as the Adventurers for land in Ireland, Protestant settlers “undertook” to keep their faith, being granted lands previously owned by the Catholic Irish. The New World offered better opportunities, and some migrated voluntarily, some were banished mostly for religious reasons. Some left Ireland disillusioned, but many left directly from England, their home territories. Some also moved to the European continent. Members of the family name Endecott sailed aboard the huge armada of three masted sailing known as the “White Sails” which piled the stormy Atlantic. These overcrowded ships such as the Hector, the Dove and the Rambler, were pestilence ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passenger list never reaching their destination, their numbers reduced by dysentery, cholera, smallpox and typhoid. In North America, included amongst the first migrants who could be considered a kinsman of the surname Endecott, or a variable spelling of that family name was John and Anne Endecott who settled in Massachusetts and became Governor of Massachusetts in 1628. From the port of entry many settlers made their way west, joining the wagon trains to the prairies or to the west coast. During the War of Independence, many loyalists made their way north to Canada about 1790 and became known as the United Empire Loyalists.

Contemporary notables of this surname, Endecott, include many distinguished contributors; and the family continued to make important contributions to the societies on both sides of the Atlantic. During the course of our research, we also determined the many Coats Of Arms granted to different branches of the family name. The most ancient grant of a coat of arms found was: Silver on blue horizontal stripe, between three red diamond shapes, a gold griffin. The Crest was: A Lion’s head.

(Courtesy of Helen Endicott)

Editorial Notes: With the Endicott Cousins and others having conducted Endicott research over the years, many variant spellings of the family name have surfaced. These variant spellings come from a variety of primary and secondary sources. This research includes that conducted in Chagford, Devon, England, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana and several other locations. Some 47+ variant spellings of the surname Endicott have been discovered. The first of the family in America used the Endecott spelling for four generations, but after that, the Endicott spelling prevailed. GSH (Gordon Harmon)

Article from Our Endicott Heritage Trail - 2007 vol 3 #2