Select Wilcox Surname Genealogy

English surnames such as Wilcock or Hancock married the personal names of Will (a pet form of William) or of Hann (a pet form of John) with the suffix cock which was a nickname for a young lad.

Wilcock, like Hancock, has been mainly a west country name.  It appeared as Wilkoks in Wales, Wylcock in Somerset, and Wilcoc in Cheshire during the 13th century.  Wilcox is the main spelling today.  Other spellings are Willcox, Wilcock, Willcock, and Willcocks

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EnglandThere had been a Wilcocks family at Lydd on the Kent coast since the early 1400’s.  William Wilcocks of Jacques Court represented the port of New Romney in Parliament in 1572, as did his brother Edward.  A descendant John Wilcocks moved to Hitchin in Hertfordshire where he died in 1636.

But the main Wilcox presence was west.
  Henry Guppy in his 1890 book Homes of Family Names wrote the following about Wilcox:

“Wilcox is characteristic of Somerset, Gloucestershire, and Nottinghamshire; Willcox of Somerset; Willcock and Willcocks of Devon; and Wilcock of Lancashire and the West Riding.”

has the largest numbers today.
The name extended wider than Guppy had suggested – from Somerset in the south through Gloucestershire and Warwickshire northwards into Staffordshire and further:
  • in Bristol, Barnabus Wilcox was a Quaker who departed with his family for Pennsylvania in 1683.  He was a rope maker by trade.
  • in Warwickshire, there were local gentry Wilcox at Wolston near Coventry and at Tysoe near Stratford (these Wilcox subsequently moved to Berkshire).
  • in Staffordshire, one early record was the marriage of Jone and Francis Wilcox at St. Mathew church in Walsall in 1598.
  • while Robert Wilcox, born in Chester in 1558, was a Catholic priest who was martyred in Canterbury in 1588.
Wilcock was the main spelling in Lancashire and across the border in Yorkshire.  A Wilcock family in Chorley dates back to Alexander Wilcock who married Ann Finch, the daughter of his business partner, in 1629.  These Wilcocks held Wilcock farm in nearby Rivington in the late 1600’s and later Wilcock House in Chorley (which still stands). Michael Wilcock, born in Chorley in 1780, was the forebear of Wilcocks who emigrated to Canada in the 1880’s.

A Wilcock line in Ribblesdale in north Yorkshire dates back to William Wilcock of North Cote in the hamlet of Selside in 1774.  He and his descendants were farmers there and remained so until 1996 when the farm was sold.

Willcock and Willcocks  These have been mainly Devon names.  Simon Willcock who died in Sheepstor in 1720 was the forebear of one Devon family.  Thomas Willcocks was a piano builder in Exeter in the 1820’s.  Sadly he and three of his children died during a cholera epidemic in the town in 1832.  Mary Willcocks, born near Ermington in south Devon, was a successful writer of romantic novels in the early 1900’s.

James and Elizabeth Willcocks were married at Horton in nearby Dorset in 1745.  By 1800 their family name had changed to Wilcox. 

The origins of Captain William Willcocks
of the Bengal Horse Artillery at the time of the 1857 Indian Mutiny are unclear.  But the careers of two of his sons, both born in India, were remarkable.  Sir William was a civil engineer who proposed and built the first Aswan dam in Egypt; while Sir James was a British army officer who commanded the Indian troops in Europe during the First World War.

WilcocksonWilcockson was another spelling variant, found really only in Derbyshire.  Some Wilcocksons emigrated in the 17th century to America where they later became Wilcox.

.  Wilcocks was a family name found in the 1659 Dublin census.  Quaker Wilcocks, possibly from Bristol, settled there and prospered.  Joshua Wilcocks was a Dublin merchant in the 1690’s, followed by his son Issachar. Robert Wilcocks grew rich at the Quaker stronghold of Mountmellick and had money enough to purchase the Palmerston estate outside Dublin in 1705.

When Robert died in 1711, he left the property to his nephew, also Robert.  He and his son Robert held Palmerston until 1763.  There were two later offspring - Joseph and Richard Willcocks, dubbed the traitor and the knight - who had contrasting fortunes.  Joseph left for Canada where he was considered a traitor.  Richard stayed in Ireland, became Deputy Inspector of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and was knighted on his retirement.

.  There were three main early lines into New England, none of whom apparently coming from the west country of England:
  • William and Margaret Wilcockson from Derbyshire who arrived on the Planter in 1635 and settled in Stratford, Connecticut.  The family name here became Wilcox by the 1700’s.
  • Edward and Susanna Wilcox from Lincolnshire who came to Rhode Island around 1638.  Benjamin Wilcox of this family was among the Loyalists who departed for Canada with his family in 1787.
  • and John Wilcox from Suffolk who was recorded as one of the first settlers of Hartford, Connecticut in 1639.  His son John moved to Middletown in 1653.
The line of William Wilcockson was covered in Thomas Wilcox’s 1963 book Descendants of William Wilcockson of Derbyshire and Stratford.

Among his descendants were Josiah Wilcox who migrated to Ohio, Abner Wilcox a missionary to Hawaii, and Edward Wilcox a doctor in Illinois, plus a number who made their home in upstate New York:
  • Levi Wilcox came to Ticonderoga as a practicing physician.  His dedication led to his death in 1837, being thrown from his horse and getting killed while on a mission of mercy.
  • while Lester Wilcox settled in Montgomery county.  His son William fought in the Civil War, but was captured in 1863 and spent fifteen months in Confederate prisons.
Pennsylvania.  Barnabus Wilcox was a Quaker from Bristol who emigrated to Philadelphia in 1683 with his wife and five children.  Barnabus died there seven years later.

George Wilcockson from Derbyshire, also a Quaker, arrived in Chester county in 1719.  John, maybe his son, was born a year later and
married Sarah Boone, sister of the famous frontiersman Daniel Boone.  They raised many children, went with Daniel into Kentucky, and were commemorated on the Fort Boonesborough monument.

John’s descendants were known as Boonies.   Several of their lines did change their name from Wilcockson to Wilcox; while others held onto Wilcockson or a variation thereof.

One Wilcox line via Isaiah Wilcox led to North Carolina and the Baptist preacher the Rev. Billy Wilcox.  Reuben Wilcox was a house member of the Greene County Assembly in 1818.  One son John served in the Confederate Congress during the Civil War, another son Cadmus was a Confederate general.

.  Harvey Wilcox, born in New York, and his wife Ida moved out to Los Angeles in 1883.

“Harvey and Ida had one child, a son named Harry, who died in 1886 at the age of 18 months.  Family tradition said that to console themselves over the death of their baby, Harvey and Ida would take buggy rides to the beautiful canyons west of Los Angeles. Harvey then purchased one of their favorite areas for $150 per acre.”

His wife named the tract Hollywood.  By the early 1900’s Hollywood had become the center of the American movie industry.

  There were two Yankee Wilcox lines in Hawaii.

Abner Wilcox from Connecticut arrived as a missionary in 1837 and made his home at Hilo.  His sons Albert and George developed sugar plantations on the islands and became prominent landowners.

Captain William Wilcox from Rhode Island arrived on a whaling ship in 1843 and married a local woman.  Their son Robert, known as the Iron Duke of Hawaii, took up the Hawaiian cause and led uprisings against both the old compromised monarchy and the subsequent American republic in the late 1800’s.  He was elected as the first delegate to the US Congress from Hawaii.

.  There were some early Wilcoxes from Rhode Island in America who came to Canada:
  • Benjamin Wilcox arrived in Nova Scotia in 1760 soon after the French had left.  He was recorded as dying there in 1813 at the age of ninety-three.  It is thought that James Wilcox - who was born in 1819 and established the Wilcox hardware business in Windsor, Nova Scotia - was a descendant.
  • Hazard Wilcox, the son of Edward and Mercy Wilcox and an Empire Loyalist, fled with his family to Canada in 1777 after losing his property in New York following the Battle of Bennington.  He died in battle three years later.  His son Hazard made his home on land granted to the family in Leeds county, Ontario.  However, he later returned to America, settling in Missouri in 1812.
  • and another Benjamin Wilcox, the son of William and Deborah Wilcox and also a Loyalist, arrived from New Jersey in 1787.   He settled in Grimsby in Lincoln county, Ontario.  In later life he moved in with his son Richard near Simcoe in Norfolk county where he died in 1812.  Many of Richard’s offspring later returned to the US.
William Willcocks and his nephew Joseph both left Ireland for Canada under something of a cloud – William because of his failed business enterprises and Joseph for his suspected support for the 1798 Irish Rebellion.  Both ended up in Toronto.  William’s failures continued.  Joseph turned traitor and joined the Americans during the War of 1812.

Wilcox brothers from St. Neots in Huntingdonshire began emigrating to South Australia.  First in 1858 came the eldest son Thomas who established a successful grocery and drapery business in Gawler.  His brothers George, Emery and Joseph soon joined him.

It was George Wilcox who returned with his bride Annie on the City of Adelaide in 1864 who was to have the greatest success.  His first business was based on his acumen in buying and importing goods from Britain and Europe and selling them in South Australia.   He later became a wool and produce merchant, specializing in hides and skins.

Select Wilcox Miscellany

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

Select Wilcox Names

Thomas Wilcox was a controversial Puritan scholar and preacher in London in the late 1500’s.
Robert Wilcox
, known as the Iron Duke of Hawaii, led uprisings against the old compromised monarchy and the new American republic there in the late 1800’s.
Sir James Willcocks
, born in India, was a British army officer held high command over Indian troops on the Western Front during the First World War.
Herbert Wilcox was one of the most successful British film-makers from the 1920’s to 1950’s.  He is best known for the films he made with his wife Anna Neagle.

Select Wilcox Today
  • 24,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 26,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 13,000 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 800 surnames.

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