Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Origins of the Vick Surname

There are many origins for the Vick surname. The surname appears to have arisen independently in at least France, England, Germany, and Norway. The name has both occupational and locational origins.

The Dictionary of English Surnames by Reaney & Wilson says that the Vick surname is a variant of Veck. Veck comes from the Old French name le Eveske meaning the bishop. Dr. Andrew Millard told me “Vic is found as a placename and a surname in France, with the surname concentrated in two areas: around Vic-en-Bigorre in the Pyrenees, and in the Département de l'Hérault, around Montpelier. Given the historical links between England and Aquitaine (which included Bigorre) there is the possibility of a connection with English VICKs.”

Hudson John Powell found what may indicate a locational origin of the Vick surname in England. Mr. Powell found an entry in Abstracts of feet of fines relating to Gloucestershire 1199-1299 (The Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society; Gloucestershire Record Series Vol. 16; Edited by C.R. Elrington; 2003; ISBN 0 900197 58 7) that references John de Wyk (Wick) of Randwick (page 185, entry number 913 for the year 1287). Dr. Andrew Millard said “The Old English term for a settlement or a market or trading place was wic pronounced either witch (as in Ispwich) or wick (as in Hardwick).” Dr. Millard said the “de” means “He is 'of' Wyk, which could mean he lives there, or his ancestors did, or that he is lord of the place. There are a number of places with this name in Gloucestershire and neighbouring counties.” Dr. Millard also said “As most medieval legal documents in England were written in Medieval French or Medieval Latin, it is frequently used in them where in everyday speech the Middle English 'of' or 'at' might have been used, as well as a direct transcription of what was spoken in the names of the nobility who used French as their first language. So someone described as 'de molendarius', meaning 'of the mill', probably had a spoken name 'at Mill' or 'Miller'. 'de' as a prefix to surnames formed from English words rarely, if ever, became part of the name. So John De Wyk's decendants, if they inherited his name, probably did not use 'of Wyk', but just Wyk. Eventually this is reflected in Latin documents, as scribes wrote what they were told. If a man was stated to be called John of Wyk, it was written down as Johannes de Wyk, but his descendant a few generations later when surnames had become fixed, would be called John Wyk and recorded in written Latin as Johannes Wyk.”

Mr. Powell also found the following on page 81 of A History of Standish Gloucestershire: “Two other small transactions are of local interest. In 1549, William Sawle and William Bridges paid into the Court of Augmentations (a sort of clearing-house for Monastic plunder) the sum of £1,228 16s. 6d., in exchange for sundry properties, including 'the land, one acre, called Norfeld in Randwicke, within Standishe, in the tenure of Thomas Wike, given to a lamp in the Parish Church (of Standish)' and also 'the land, one acre in Alkeley Felde, in Hardewicke, in tenure of Thomas Haresfeld, given to a lamp in the Parish Church.' In the Hardwicke Return this appears as 'Certein land given to finde a lamp there. To the yerelie value of xjd., the whole (now) Distributed to the poor.' Is (sic) is probable that the name Wike became Vicke a century later.” Mr. Powell believes it is probable that this Thomas Wike is the Thomas Veke that was buried in Randwick in 1574.

A Thomas Vick had a son named James (born about 1575 in Randwick). According to Mr. Powell, James married Elizabeth Myll. Mr. Powell also found that Men & Armour for Gloucestershire in 1608, by John Smith (Republished by Alan Sutton; 1980; ISBN/ISSN: 0904387496) lists on page 308 “under Oxlinge (Oxlinch) James Bycke, mason one pike. Also listed is John Bycke his servant.” Mr. Powell also found on page 199 of A History of Standish Gloucestershire the following “…Elizabeth Vick did not surrender her interest in the place till 10th May, 1642; she was the widow of James Vycke, mason to Sir Ralph Dutton” and on page 200 “By an earlier grant, James Vicke of Oxlinche in Randwicke, masson, had handed over lands to Sir Ralph, including Conygeare, Greate Combe, and Calfestyles Grove, and on 10th May, 1642, Elizabeth Vick, his widow had surrendered a pasture called Cleve (p. 149), and a little grove in Oxlinche.”

The quotes Mr. Powell found show how the surname Wyk could have evolved to Wike, Veke, Vycke, Vicke, and Vick. However, Dr. Millard said “As to whether this could be the origin of the name, I am doubtful. To get from a place called Wick to the surname Vick requires a W to V sound transition that I think is unlikely in an English context….” Dr. Millard said further, “The letter W in an English context, from as far back as the first written Old English, is pronounced as it is today.”

The Vick surname may also have arisen independently in Sussex and Hampshire. A John Ficke was christened on June 30, 1650, in Compton, Sussex, England according to the International Genealogical Index (IGI). The IGI also says a Jhon Veick was christened on October 12, 1593, in Saint Maurice, Winchester, Hampshire, England. The 1841 Census of England shows three clusters of Vicks in England. The largest is in Gloucestershire (53 percent), followed by Hampshire (18 percent) and Sussex (14 percent). The remaining Vicks (15 percent) were scattered across ten other counties.

According to information from The Isle of Man Family History Society, Vick on the Isle of Man is derived from Ficke. All the Fickes on the Isle of Man prior to 1850 appear to be descendants of Johann Danael Ficke who was originally of Lubeck. He married Elizabeth Stone/Oliver of Peel in Germany on April 9, 1761. “Vick was used post 1820 as John Fick was given as John Vick in Malew.” A Fick family in Canada traces its origins to Johhan on the Isle of Mann.

Dr. Rita Heuser of Johannes Gutenberg-Universitat Mainz wrote “The surname of Vick definitely goes back to a person's name, namely the Old Germanic name of Friedrich. It displays the dithematic structure typical for Germanic names, combining the parts fridu- 'peace' and -rihhi 'mighty, powerful'. Those names were in Germanic times probably meant as a kind of metaphorical blessing for the child. By sound change and regional orthographic conventions, Friedrich became Vick/Fick in some areas… A broad variety of surname variants emerged from the Germanic name of Friedrich, e.g. Fick(e), Vicke, Feck(e).” Roger Kenneth Vick’s great great grandfather, Hans Christian Fredericksen, lived on the boarder of Denmark and Germany. Hans’ son, Hans Peter, took the Vick surname. Hans Peter died in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Vik is a Norwegian word meaning an inlet or cove. There are at least four cities in Norway with the name Vik – Buskerud, Nordland, Rogaland, and Sogn Og Fjordane. Jonas Jonason Vik (born January 23, 1841, in Trondheim, Sør-Trøndelag, Norway, according to a descendant John S. Houselog) changed his surname to Vick after immigrating to the United States. . The 1880 U.S. Census of Lincoln County, Minnesota says that Jonas immigrated to the U.S. in 1868.

Other immigrants to the United States also changed their surname to one more familiar in America. For example, Jan Nepomuk Vich (born June 11, 1869 of the district of Vysoke Myto, of what is today the Czech Republic) had changed his name to John Vick by the time he appeared in the 1910 U.S. Census of Benton Co., Wisconsin (Source: Frank Wolniak – great grandson of Jan).

Do you know of other origins for the Vick surname? I would like to include them all in my Vick One-Name Study.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Where Was Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, Born and Who Was His Father?

In their book Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia and His Descendants, John Beatty and Di Ann Vick said on page 3 ““JOSEPH1 VICK, planter of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, was probably a native of Gloucestershire in England. His exact place of birth is unknown….”

You do not have to look far on the internet to find pedigrees that say that Joseph1 was born in Gloucestershire, England, and that he was the son of Richard who was also born in Gloucestershire.

Since John and Di Ann could not find any record of Joseph1 being born in Gloucestershire (or England), one of the goals of the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project is to answer the question of Joseph1’s ancestry. This will require combining genetics with traditional research. Where was Joseph1 born and who was his father? While Y-DNA cannot directly answer those questions, it can help focus our research in a geographic area and narrow down the list of possible recent common ancestors. Perhaps if we have a better idea of where to look, we may find answers to our questions. Y-DNA can also rule out recent common ancestry with a person who does not share the Y-DNA signature of Joseph1’s descendants. While it would be best if we could find a written record of Joseph1’s birth that was supported by DNA evidence, we may have to settle ultimately for circumstantial paper evidence that is supported by Y-DNA test results.

Since Joseph1 lived in Southeastern Virginia, it is highly likely that he either came from England or was of English descent. The Tidewater area of Virginia was settled by Englishmen, and according to Albion’s Seed by David Hackett Fisher there was a “mass migration…of southern English cavaliers and their servants to the Chesapeake Bay region between 1640 and 1675.”

If Joseph1 was English or of English ancestry, we may be able to find someone in England or of proven English patrilineal descent that matches his Y-DNA signature. A look at the 1841 Census of England reveals where it is most likely that Joseph1 or his ancestor could have been born. The 1841 census shows that 85 percent of the people with the Vick surname lived in just three counties in England – Gloucestershire (53 percent), Hampshire (18 percent), and Sussex (14 percent).

Using census information, we can then focus our Y-DNA search on where it is most likely to bear fruit. The fact that Y-DNA can prove that two men do not share a recent common patrilineal ancestor (i.e. within the approximately 800 years that surnames were used in England), can be very helpful. By comparing the Y-DNA signature of men in each of these three counties we can determine if we can rule out any of the men as sharing a recent common patrilineal ancestor with the Joseph1 patrilineal descendants. While it would not be practical to test every man or every line from these counties, we could start with those that appear to have the greatest probability of success and hope that we get lucky. Throughout this blog when I use the term “ancestor” I am referring to the male line only (since Y-DNA is only passed from father to son).

We are fortunate because early on Lannes Ray Vick convinced Arthur Stanley Vick to join the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project. Stan could prove his ancestry to Gloucestershire, and he agreed to be Y-DNA tested. Stan believed that he shared a recent common ancestor with Joseph1. Stan’s line is as follows: Arthur Stanley, Valentine, Frederick, Walter, Elihu, Emanuel, John, William, William.

Stan’s Y-DNA signature showed that he did not share a recent ancestor with the descendants of Joseph1. Since it is important to check multiple lines to ensure there are no errors in pedigrees or lab results, we were again very lucky when Franklin James Vick of Saskatchewan, Canada, joined our project. Frank also had proven roots to Gloucestershire, and the most recent common patrilineal ancestor of Stan and Frank was Elihu (christened about 1759 in Standish, Gloucestershire). Frank’s line to Elihu is Franklin James, Henry William III, Henry William II, Henry William I, Miles, Elihu. Frank also did not have the Y-DNA signature of the Joseph1 descendants, but he matched Stan. The fact that the two matched told us that it was highly unlikely that Joseph1 and Elihu shared a recent common ancestor.

Next, we must see if we can find any other Vick lines in Gloucestershire that do not share a recent common patrilineal ancestor with Elihu and that have a living male descendant who is willing to test his Y-DNA. We cannot rule out the possibility that Joseph1 did come from Gloucestershire. It is possible his line is unrelated to Elihu’s. The Joseph Vick, born in 1813 in Gloucestershire, England, and who moved to Jo Daviess County, Illinois, in 1842, may share this line. Y-DNA testing of a paternal line male VICK descendant of Joseph could help resolve this question.

Hampshire is the next county of interest in England. James Vick “the Seedsman” founder of the Vick Seed Company and Vick’s Illustrated Monthly Magazine, was born on November 23, 1818, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. He immigrated with his parents to the United States in 1833. He eventually lived in Rochester, New York. Lannes Ray Vick found Albert F.W. Vick, a descendant of James. Albert tested his Y-DNA. Albert’s line is Albert Fisher Woodruff, Albert Fisher Woodruff, Albert Fisher Woodruff, James, James “the Seedsman,” James C., James, James, Joseph, John, John. Again, the results showed that Albert and the descendants of Joseph1 did not share a recent common ancestor. Also, Albert’s Y-DNA signature did not match the one Stan and Frank share. Since Albert does not match Stan and Frank, the Vick surname appears to have multiple origins in England.

We need to recruit at least one more descendant of James (from a different son of James) to see if another descendant matches Albert. We also need to recruit other Vicks from Hampshire to test. The descendants of Charles J. Vick (born July 1826 in Sub Deanery, Chichester, Sussex, England, and who moved to Rochester, NY, about 1841) may share a recent common patrilineal ancestor with the descendants of James. Y-DNA testing of a paternal line male VICK descendant of Charles could help resolve this question.

We have yet to find a male Vick with proven roots to Sussex to test. When we do find someone who is willing to be tested, it will be interesting to see if he matches any of the English Vick clans we have found thus far (i.e. Elihu’s, James “the Seedsman’s” or Joseph1’s – assuming Joseph1 does have English ancestry). We know there are at least two English clans, and maybe three, if Joseph1’s was English.

We also have members of the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project who trace their roots to Denmark, Germany, Norway, and even Africa (no doubt the descendant of a slave). None of those Vick clans shares a recent common ancestor with the Joseph1 descendants. So, we are looking in places other than England.

Looking at even deeper roots we have found that Joseph1’s Y-DNA signature matches those found in a couple of men with ancestry from Norway. These men lived in Shetland and Orkney off of mainland Scotland. Professor Stephen Oppenheimer of Oxford University examined James Larry Vick’s Y-DNA signature and compared it to the small number of research samples that had the same Y-DNA signature. In an e-mail on February 18, 2007, Professor Oppenheimer said, “While, with these very small numbers, it is impossible to date the movement to from Norway to Shetland/Orkney, the information is nonetheless very specific and places your male ancestor most likely as an invader from northern Norway and ultimately from Asia.”

Our search continues for Joseph1’s oldest ancestors. Since these ancestors will predate the use of surnames and written records, Y-DNA will be our only way to recognize them.

If you are a male with the surname Vick and you are interested in joining the Vick Y-DNA Surname Project contact Ray Vick ( or Larry Vick ( for more information.

Monday, November 17, 2008

An Introduction

Frankly, I am consumed with a desire to learn all I can about Vick family history. However, I was not always so interested in my roots. I grew up in an Air Force family. My father took us to places as far east as England and as far west as Japan (and many places in between). Unlike my father who grew up in the same county his father grew up in (and his father before him, and his father before him, and his father before him), I really did not have a sense of being from any particular place. Home was where the Air Force sent us. When I graduated from college I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and I served in the Air Force for over 26 years. For my wife and children, home was also where the Air Force sent us.

In 1991 my family and I were visiting my father’s grave in Greenville, KY. My father’s brother, Robert Edward Vick, Sr., who lives in Greenville, organized a small family reunion of sorts for our visit. My daughter, Kathy, was 13 and my son, James, was nine. They had never been around so many Vicks and did not really know their extended Vick family. My father had died before they were born, so they never knew him. During this visit, out of the blue, my daughter asked her great uncle Bob Ed where the Vicks came from. Uncle Bob Ed told my daughter the name of his Vick ancestors that were buried in Muhlenberg County. After we returned home, Uncle Bob Ed mailed my daughter a pedigree chart detailing her Vick line for eight generations including dates and places. The chart listed all of the Vicks in our line back through Stephen Vick (born 11 Nov 1786 and died 3 Jun 1847), the first of our line to come to Muhlenberg County. The chart also showed that Jacob and Mary were Stephen’s parents. My uncle Bob Ed had taken us to the Williams Family cemetery where he had relocated Stephen and all of our family buried in the Vick Family cemetery. Due to strip mining near the Vick Family cemetery, Uncle Bob Ed filed a civil suit in 1957 (Muhlenberg County, KY, Circuit Court Action; File No. 863; 1 Nov 1957) to relocate those buried there. On Stephen’s monument, it said he was the son of Jacob and Mary and was “of” Dobbs County, NC.

When my daughter studied the pedigree chart, she wondered why it stopped with Jacob. She wanted to know who Jacob was and who his father was. At the time, we lived in Tidewater Virginia. We spent many days together visiting libraries and the local Family History Center researching all we could find about Jacob and Mary Vick. Eventually, we found a Jacob and Mary that we thought must be our Jacob and Mary.

In the course of our research, we learned that John D. Beatty was writing a book about the descendants of Joseph Vick of Isle of Wight County, Virginia (John would publish the book, Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia and His Descendants, along with Di Ann Vick in 2004). So, we decided to write him and see if he knew anything about our branch of the Vick family. John replied right back and told us he did not believe the Jacob and Mary we had found were the ones we were looking for. He also shared his research with us on what he believed was our correct line (although he could not prove his conclusion since the relevant records had been destroyed in courthouse fires).

Kathy and I had found a Jacob and Mary who John believed were too old and in the wrong place in North Carolina to be the Jacob and Mary of Dobbs County, NC. This Jacob’s line was Jacob4, Jacob3, Richard2, Joseph1. There was no evidence that they had children.

John suggested the more likely Jacob was of the line Jacob4, ?Isaac3, William2, Joseph1. No matter where we looked or how hard we searched, we could not find any proof as to who our Jacob was. We also developed a deep sense of respect for the thoroughness of John’s research. John also pointed me to Joseph and Billie Jurlina who provided a wealth of information on the Vick family.

So, we hit a brick wall with Jacob in 1991 and nothing changed until 2005. By 2005, my daughter had long lost her zeal for Vick research, but I had not. My daughter had gotten me more than interested in family history. In 2005, I heard a program about a project the National Geographic Society, IBM, and the Waitt Family Foundation had funded to trace the migration of man around the world using DNA. This effort was called the Genographic Project. The program said that by purchasing a kit and donating a sample of my DNA, I could discover my deep ancestry and trace my genetic lineage. I was not sure what all of that meant, but it seemed like a worthy project.

When my DNA test was finished and the results were in, I was a little in awe that geneticists could find out so much from my DNA (a small snippet of my Y chromosome to be exact). I was also very surprised to learn that my Y-DNA could also be used in our Vick genealogical research. There was a link at the bottom of my Genographic page that said, “Click on the link below to learn how Family Tree DNA, our testing partner, can help you apply your results from the Genographic Project to research your family genealogy.” Little did I know that I was about to enter a whole new world of possibilities useful in resolving the question of which Jacob4 was my ancestor.

When I clicked the link, I found that I was the first male Vick that had Y-DNA results in the Family Tree DNA database (or at least the first that was willing to share his results). I had wondered if I would match a Vick, or if I would match another surname. I had no idea whether my Y-DNA signature would be common or rare. As it turns out, the patrilineal descendants of Joseph share a rare Y-DNA signature. As it also turned out, I did not match anyone in the Family Tree DNA database that was willing to share his Y-DNA signature. So, I was in for a wait to see when someone would turn up as a match. Five months later, Lannes Melvin Ray Vick showed up as a match. Ray had also tested through the Genographic Project, and he too was eager to learn about his Vick family history. Ray started contacting as many Vicks as he could find to try to get them to join our project. He set up a website, and we were off and running with a goal to reconstruct the Vick family tree.

I will not drag you through all of the details, but the answer to which Jacob I am descended from became clear as more and more Vick men tested. We are very lucky that John and Di Ann wrote such a great reference book for our family. Only by combining the research of John and Di Ann along with the Y-DNA results was I able to see that John was right in his conclusion that my Jacob was the one from the William2 line.

Now I would like to find who Joseph1’s father was and where they lived. In fact, I would like to find the origin of the Vick surname and the origin of as many Vick clans as possible. That will be a subject for another blog.