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.