Select Hemingway Surname Genealogy

The Hemingway surname has its origin in a now lost place-name in the West Riding of Yorkshire, possibly in the vicinity of Halifax to judge by the early distribution of the name.  Hemingway combines the Danish personal name Hemming with the Middle English way meaning “way” or “path.”  It appeared as a surname in the 1379 Yorkshire poll tax returns.

Hemingway is the main spelling.  Variants have been Hemmingway and Hemenway

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Select Hemingway Ancestry

England.  Hemingway as a surname seems to have first made its appearance in the vicinity of Southowram and Hipperholme sometime in the 1300’s.  It then spread along the Calder valley between Brighouse and Dewsbury:
  • William de Hemingway appeared in Brighouse court in 1391 for cutting green wood in Brynescoles forest.
  • Robert Hemingway of Overbrear, born in Northowram in 1539, was said to have been a usurer and grown wealthy as a result.
  • John and then Daniel Hemingway resided at Coley Hall until Daniel died there in the 1640’s.
  • while Abraham Hemingway of Southwood House in Northowram married the maid Ann Brefitt in 1703.
An earlier line from Robert Hemingway, born in Northowram in 1460, has been traced to Dewsbury in the mid-16th century and was still there in the late 19th century.

The Hemingway population remained concentrated in this part of west Yorkshire until well into the 19th century. Thomas Hemingway was a blanket manufacturer in Dewsbury in the early 1800’s.  Other Hemingways were masons and contractors in Dewsbury, the best known being John Hemingway who undertook the masonry for the Menai bridge in the 1840’s.  Many of these Hemingways were to be found in the Earlsheaton district of Dewsbury.

Of the 2,150 Hemingways in the 1891 UK census, more than 80% of them were recorded in Yorkshire.

  The forebear of many of the Hemingways in America was Ralph Hemenway or Hemingway who came to Roxbury, Massachusetts and married Elizabeth Hewes there in 1634.  Many reports show Ralph as having been born near Bradford in Yorkshire in 1603.  However, no such record of his birth nor of his parents exists there.  The descent from Ralph was covered in Patricia Hemingway’s 1988 book The Hemingways.  Of his descendants:

“The first US census taken in 1790 used the Hemenway spelling in Massachusetts and the Hemingway spelling in Connecticut.”

.  The line via Ralph’s son Joshua was to be found in Framingham, Massachusetts.  Jonathan Hemenway was an early settler there in 1700.  Jeffrey Hemenway, born around 1738, was an adopted foster child of these Hemenways.  Today Hemenway Elementary School in Framingham commemorates the Hemenway name.

.  Another son Samuel, a deacon, moved to the New Haven colony of Connecticut in the 1660’s.  Many of his Hemingway descendants remained in the area.  The Hemingway family was one of the founding families of the Hotchkiss boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut in 1891.

Allen Hemingway, however, moved his family to Chicago in 1854.  Three of his sons fought on the Union side during the Civil War.  Anson Hemingway and his son Clarence, a doctor, lived at Oak Park outside Chicago.  In 1909
Anson gave his grandson Ernest Hemingway, who was later to become the famous author, a special tenth birthday present of a 20-gauge shotgun.  This was believed to have sparked Ernest’s lifelong interest in hunting pursuits.

Hemingways in the South.  The largest number of Hemingways today in America is in South Carolina.  One forebear here seems to have been Thomas Hemingway who arrived from Aughton in east Yorkshire sometime in the 1790’s.  He died in Horry county in 1820.

From that line, it is believed, came J.A. Hemingway, born there in 1812, who became a plantation overseer and later a plantation owner in Williamsburg county.  His brother the Rev. W.A. Hemingway served as chaplain to Confederate troops during the Civil War.  Three later Hemingway brothers after the war were cotton growers and merchants at Lambert, which was renamed Hemingway after them in 1913.

Other Hemingways moved onto Mississippi.  William Hemingway was a judge and mayor of Jackson in the early 1900’s.  He was also the athletics director of Mississippi University and his name is commemorated in the Vaught-Hemingway stadium of Ole Miss.

William Hemingway came to South Carolina from Yorkshire in 1829.  His family later migrated to Mississippi

Australia and New Zealand.  Wilfred H. Hemingway, born in 1879, was an Auckland lawyer who co-founded the Hemingway Robertson Institute, a pioneer in correspondence courses.  He moved across the Tasman Sea to Sydney in 1920.  His daughter Dorothy was a theatrical producer there.  His son Bill played rugby for Australia.

Select Hemingway Miscellany

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

Select Hemingway Names

Ernest Hemingway was an American author who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.  Many of his works are considered classics of American literature.  His fame was accentuated by his virile public image and his love of adventure.

Select Hemingways Today
  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in South Carolina) 
  • 1,000 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 1,000 surnames.

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