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Tracing My English Roots

Updated on October 26, 2019
Virginia Allain profile image

I'm carrying on my mother's research into our family history. I've self-published some family memoirs & learned a lot about different eras.

Map of England And Wales in 1800s


Mapping My English Ancestors

In working on my family tree, I'm finding quite a few ancestors linking back to England. To keep track of these, I'm mapping them here. I'll add more as I trace various branches back through the generations.

The names that I'm starting with are Tower, Long, Martin, Babcock, Ashlock, Bixby, but there will be many more surnames as my search for my roots continues.

I've just added Pease which seems to be a well-documented English surname. If you are searching for any of those names, maybe we are related.

I've included some books to help you find your British ancestors.

Overview of English Roots

Click on the red flags in the map below to see the family name and dates that go with each location.

  • Bates family came from Aston Clinton, Buckinhamshire
  • Bixby ancestor came from Thorpe Morieux, Suffolk
  • Browning family came from Maldon, Essex
  • Collier family came from Southwark, Surrey
  • Goodale ancestor came from Ipswich, Suffolk
  • King, West, and Pease ancestors came from Great Baddow, Essex
  • Long ancestors came from West Riding, Yorkshire
  • Putnam ancestors came from Tring, Hertfordshire
  • Tower family came from Hingham
  • Vining ancestors came from Wincanton
  • Joy family (earlier Joyce) came from Kingston upon Thames

Tower Family Crest

Tower Family Name History and Coat of Arms / Family Crest
Tower Family Name History and Coat of Arms / Family Crest
I think this would look lovely on the wall in my genealogy room (hint, hint). Although many companies want to sell you a family crest, some aren't well-documented. I belong to the Tower Genealogical Society and it is a well-researched line, having come from England to America in the 1600s.

Vining Ancestors - The Vining family came from near Plymouth, England

I traced them back to Wincanton in Somerset. My ancestor came by Mr. Stratton's ship to Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1652. He was about 16 years old.

I was able to track back in Wincanton to his grandfather, John Vinning or Vining born in 1587, but stalled out there.

A Map of My British Ancestors According to DNA Results

I took the DNA test with 23andMe. That enables them to pinpoint 10 regions where my ancestors lived within the last 200 years.
I took the DNA test with 23andMe. That enables them to pinpoint 10 regions where my ancestors lived within the last 200 years. | Source

Where My Ancestors Originated

The regions named in the 23andMe DNA results are:

  • Greater London
  • Glasgow City
  • Merseyside
  • West Midlands
  • Greater Manchester
  • Belfast
  • West Yorkshire
  • Edinburgh
  • Cumbria
  • Lancashire

Check Out the English Surnames in This Dictionary

A Dictionary of English Surnames
A Dictionary of English Surnames
Some surnames like Baker or Butcher obviously trace to the occupation of your long-ago ancestor. The book gives early examples of a name and how it may have evolved. For instance, our Tower line may be descended from Gilbert le Tower 1255 or Thomas le Touere 1275. The meaning coud be "dweller by the tower." Having read that, it gives me incentive to keep working on my line to see if I can trace it to either of those names. Wow, who wouldn't like to get your surname traced back to that early in history. On Amazon, this book has a Look-Inside-the-Book feature. That lets you search a name you are interested in and it brings up the pages where it is mentioned. Some last names come from an Old English first name (example: Swift, Snell and Tate). Browse the Preface and Introduction which are most informative on how English surnames developed over the centuries.

Books to Help Trace Your English Ancestors

You can get the overseas version of but before you go to that extra expense, try some of books. The public library can get some for you. Here's an example of a useful title: A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your English Ancestors: How to Find and Record Your Unique Heritage. Another title is Ancestral Trails. The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History.

There is much free information online that you can get outside of

My sister was able to use free online searches to take the Joy line back to England in 1580. She was surprised to see that the name changed at that time to Joyce which is probably Irish.

In Search of Your British & Irish Roots A Complete Guide to Tracing Your
In Search of Your British & Irish Roots A Complete Guide to Tracing Your
To get started, it's helpful to use a book like this. British and Irish records are quite a bit different from using sources like the U.S. census and passenger immigration lists. You won't flounder around as much with a book like this to advise you in your research. I was lucky that my mom already had a copy of this on her bookshelf, but I need to get an updated edition. Hers is an early one.

Do You Have English Ancestry?

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The Names And Dates of My English Ancestors

  • Tower ancestors came from Hingham in 1637: Hingham, England to Hingham, Massachusetts Colony
  • Vining ancestors came from here: Wincanton England to Weymouth, Massachusetts Colony
  • My Browning ancestors: Maldon, Essex, England
  • My Goodale ancestors: Ipswich, Suffolk, EnglandKing, West and Pease ancestors are from West Riding: Great Baddow, Essex, England
  • Bixby ancestors came from here: Thorpe Morieux, Suffolk, UK
  • Edward Bates 1605 (grandfather of Nabby Bates who married Mathew Tower): Aston Clinton, Buckinghamshire, England
  • Susanna Putnam - born 28 Jan 1610, married Edward Bates: Tring, Hertfordshire, England
  • Richard Joy and John Joyce: Kingston upon Thames, England
  • Thomas Long born 11 August 1717: East Riding of Yorkshire, UK

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Virginia Allain

Tell Me about Your English Roots

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    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      @Paul Ward: I'm finding it very rewarding to put the family history on Squidoo. I've been contacted by several long lost relatives that help me in my genealogy search.

    • Paul Ward profile image


      7 years ago from Liverpool, England

      I could do a lens on a grandmother and great grandmother but one of my parents wouldn't be pleased!

    • Virginia Allain profile imageAUTHOR

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      @Scarlettohairy: It surprised me to see the number of family roots that went in that direction. I've always told people that I'm of Scottish and Irish background.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I don't know if I have any English roots. I have Scottish, Irish, and German roots, for sure. Your search looks like a lot of fun.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      What a wonderful idea to study your English Roots.

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 

      8 years ago

      My entire family is from Britain - mostly English, but some Scottish and Welsh mixed in there as well. I was the first to be born in Canada.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I also am tracing my genealogy and have lots of English ancestors. Very interesting!


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