Dickinson


Select Dickinson Surname Genealogy

Dick is an abbreviation of Richard (it is said that some of the native English could not get their mouth around the Norman "R" and "R" became "D" or "H" instead).  Maybe this applied particularly to the folks in the north.  Dixon and its diminutive Dickinson are common surnames of the north.  Dickin and Dickens do crop up in the West Midlands.  But the possible southern candidate Dicks is not that common at all.

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England.  Dickinson is a north country name.  Early Dickinsons came from Yorkshire.  A Dickinson family from Hull dates from the 1400's and as Dykonsons possibly back to 1260.  During the 1500's they lived at Kenson Manor near Leeds and at Bradley Hall in south Staffordshire.  A Quaker family of Dickinsons lived at Birds Edge in the West Ridings from the 17th century.  There were also Dickinson Quakers in the East Ridings at this time.

Dickinsons have been numerous in Cumberland as well.  Dickinson estate records at Lamplugh near Cockermouth date from 1601, first at Streetgate and then at Red How.  Dickinsons have farmed in the Lyth valley for almost as long. 

London.  Some well-known Dickinsons have come from London.  These included Charles Dickinson and his son Walter who carried the family's arms to Virginia.  John Dickinson was brought up in London and trained as a stationer there.  In 1809 he invented a continuous mechanized process for papermaking and started a paper mill in Hertfordshire.  This was the forerunner of the John Dickinson stationery company.  Joan Evans' 1955 book The Endless Web described the history of John Dickinson & Co from its startup years.

Joseph Dickinson, originally from Northumberland, operated a stationery and lithography publishing business on Bond Street in London in the early 1800’s.  His son Lowes Cato Dickinson became a well-known Victorian portrait painter; his nephew John, also a portrait painter, made his home in California.  One of Lowes’s sons Arthur, later knighted, was an accountant of high repute; another son Goldsworthy or Goldie a pacifist in World War One and a member of the Bloomsbury set.

AmericaDickinson is most notably a New England name .

New England.  Nathaniel Dickinson was among the colonists who had left England in 1629 on the Winthrop fleet, settled in Wethersfield, and later removed to Hadley:
  • his descendants, via his son Samuel, came to Amherst in the 1740's, helped found Amherst College and included in their number a century later the poet Emily Dickinson.  
  • Oliver Dickinson, from another line via his son Thomas, migrated west to Randolph township, Ohio in the early 1800’s.  Alpheus Dickinson of Randolph township was notable for having six wives.
Captain John Dickinson was a Quaker sea captain who had first arrived in Boston from Ely in Cambridgeshire in 1630.  However, encountering religious persecution there, he resettled thirty years later in Oyster Bay on Long Island.  His line was covered in Marguerite Dickinson’s 1968 book Descendants of Captain John Dickinson and Elizabeth Howland.

Jonathan Dickinson, the first president of Princeton College, was born in Hatfield, Massachusetts in 1688.  His parents came from pioneer Connecticut valley stock.  Ebenezer Dickinson from Hatfield migrated to Litchfield, Connecticut and from his line came Oliver Dickinson, the architect of Trinity Church in Milton, and his son Anson, a nationally known painter of miniatures.

Elsewhere.  Walter Dickinson had emigrated to Virginia in 1654 and, having joined the Quaker movement, moved with others of that faith to Kent county, Delaware.  The family land-holdings increased with each generation so that, by the time of his great grandson John Dickinson of Revolutionary times, they had become extremely wealthy.  Dickinson College in Pennylvania was named in honor of John Dickinson.

Canada.  It is thought likely that the Loyalist Dickinsons from Dutchess county, New York were descended from Captain John Dickinson of Oyster Bay.  Amos Dickinson was the head of nine Dickinsons who came to New Brunswick at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War. 

Another New York Dickinson family, that of Barnabus Dickinson (a descendant of immigrant Nathaniel Dickinson), migrated to Cornwall, Ontario in 1827.  Barnabus died of cholera five years later.  But his son Moss established a business transporting goods along the Rideau Canal between Ottawa and Kingston.  Locals started to call him “the King of the Rideau.”  He began a grist mill at Manotick on the banks of the Rideau in 1860 which remained with the Dickinson family until 1929. 

Frank Dickinson and his family arrived in Canada from Bolton in Lancashire in 1910.  They eventually settled in Summerland, British Columbia where they started an apple orchard.  It remains with their family today
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If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


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John Dickinson was an American lawyer and politician, known as the "penman of the Revolution" for the role he played in constitutional matters at that time.
John Dickinson invented a continuous mechanized pepermaking process in 1809 and founded a paper mill in Hertfordshire which was the forerunner of the John Dickinson Stationery company.
Emily Dickinson was a well-known 19th century American poet.
Angie Dickinson, born Angie Brown, is an American actress.

Select Dickinsons Today
  • 16,000 in the UK (most numerous in Cumbria)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous in California) 
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Select Surname List

Ainsworth 
Chambers Hammond 
Middleton  
Stevenson 
Andrews Chandler Hayes Morrison Stone
Arnold Cole Hodgson Norman Sutton
Atkinson Cummings Howe North Tate
Barclay Cunningham Hunt O'Leary Thorpe
Barry Dickinson Innes O'Reilly Townsend
Beattie Dillon Irvine Oliver Underwood
Beck Dodd Jeffries Payne Unsworth
Bentley Doherty Jennings Penn Vance
Bernstein Duncan Kemp Pennington Venables
Bird East Kerr Pettigrew Walton
Boone Edgar Knight Phelan Watkins
Brady Emerson Lawrence Quigley Waugh
Branson Everett Leary Quirk West
Brooks Faulkner Levine Regan Whelan
Buck Fettiplace Levy Reilly Whitney
Burke Ford Lloyd Rhodes Wolfe
Bush Goldberg McIntosh Sharp Woodward
Carr Goodman McLaren Sheehan Yates
Carson Gordon McMillan Sinclair York

For other surnames check the select surname page where there are to be found the history and genealogy of more than 800 common and notable surnames in the English-speaking world.