West


Select West Surname Genealogy

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

Wests, curiously, were mainly to be found in the east of the country.  The first West surname recorded was in fact Maurice de West in the pipe rolls of Essex in 1152.  It was not where you were but where you had come from that determined your name here.

Select West Resources on The Internet

Select West Ancestry

England.  One West family in fact originated in Devon in the west country, from Thomas West of Hampton Cantilupe in the 13th century.  These Wests gained their spurs abroad, at Crecy and at Agincourt where Thomas West died in the battle. 

"A West, a la Warr and a Pelham took King John of France prisoner at Poitiers in 1356.  The West was knighted on the field of battle by the Black Prince and after receiving the honor said to the Prince, "Monseigneur, c'est Ie plus beau jour de ma vie."  The West and la Warr families were shortly afterwards united in marriage and "jour de ma vie" was adopted as the family motto."

Their home later, as Barons West and de la Warr, was Oakhanger in Hampshire.  One line made a name for themselves in Virginia across the Atlantic.  The main line eventually became the Sackville-Wests and numbered Vita Sackville-West of the Bloomsbury set.

Another notable West family began traces back to Edmund West, clergyman at St. Pauls in London in the 1550's.  The Rev. Richard West married into the well-connected Temple family and was appointed Archdeacon of Berkshire in the early 1700's.  His children were: Vice Admiral Temple West (from whom came a judge in Bombay and the private secretary to Prime Minster Gladstone); Mary West who married Admiral Hood; and the writer and minor poet Gilbert West.

One West family started with Thomas West, born in the village of Sibsey in Lincolnshire around 1470.  These Wests were yeomen farmers in the fens.  Nicholas West, the Tudor bishop and diplomat, was born in Putney.  Another family line included the scrivener John West, born in Twickenham near London in 1641.

America.  The Wests/de la Warrs came to America with Thomas West, Lord Delaware, who arrived in Virginia in 1610 but died eight years later.  Later came Colonel John West who held land at West Point along the York river and was also, like Thomas and another brother Francis, governor of colonial Virginia.

Matthew West was a Baptist tailor who came to New England in 1635 and settled with his brothers in Rhode Island.  Another West, Francis West, was also in Rhode Island by this time.  He had married Susannah Soule, daughter of one of the Mayflower passengers.  These Wests became large landowners in North Kingsdown, Rhode Island.  William West was a militia general during the Revolutionary War and later served as deputy governor of the state.    

Other early Wests in America were:
  • Anthony West of Accomac county, Virginia - thought to be related to the Wests/de la Warrs - who arrived in the colony as early as 1622.   His descendants were among the early landed gentry on the Eastern Shore.
  • and Francis West who came to Duxbury, Massachusetts in the 1630's and whose son Thomas West, a doctor, had moved to Martha's Vineyard by the 1670's.  This line was covered in Carlton West's 1987 book Descendants of Francis West of Duxbury.
Lette Brock Stone's 1928 book The West Family Register traced the early Wests in America.  Later West arrivals included some Wests from Germany.

Select West Miscellany

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


Select West Names

Nicholas West
, sometime Bishop of Ely and chaplain to Catherine of Aragon, served as an English diplomatic envoy in the early 16th century.
Thomas West, Baron de la Warr, was captain general in Virginia in 1610.  The state of Delaware was named after him.
Captain John West was a Scottish emigrant to Oregon on the West Coast who started the canning and exports of salmon.  His name has continued in the John West Foods brand.
Vita Sackville-West was an English author and poet, part of the Bloomsbury set.
Rebecca West, born Cicely Fairfield, was an English writer and journalist.
Mae West was an American actress and sex symbol of the 1920's and 30's.

Select Wests Today
  • 57,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lincolnshire)
  • 64,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 23,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

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 500 common and notable surnames in the English-speaking world.