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920,140 WHITE members around the world
Family spelling variants includes Whyte, Whites, Whitt, Whitta, Witte, Witt, Witts, Wythe, Whiteson, Wight
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WHITE Family History
This surname has two main origins. The first relates to the nickname of an ancestor, and comes from the Old English 'wit' or Anglo-Saxon 'hwit', and would mean in this context someone who had fair hair or a pale complexion.
The second derivation has a topographical root, and in this sense would refer to an ancestor who lived by a bend or curve in a river or road, as the Old English 'wiht' meant 'bend'. This is the origin of the place name Great Whyte near Ramsey in Cammbridgeshire.
Early bearers of the surname include Alestanus hwit and Alwin Wit of Hampshire who are both named in the Domesday Book of 1086; Lewinus Wite of Staffordshire who, in 1114, was named in the Burton Chartulary; and Hugo Wit who in 1190 was living in Bury Saint Edmunds, Suffolk.
It is a surname that is fairly popular in Scotland, where it also derives from the Old English 'hwit' although in some cases it also stems from an anglicisation of the Gaelic M'Illebhàin (MacChillebhilin). Early records name Adam Quhyt who was granted the charter of the lands of Stayhar in Ayrshire by Robert I (1274–1329), Gilbert Qwhyt who was bailie of the burgh of Rutherglen in 1376, and Thome White who held land in Irvine in 1426.
It is less frequently seen in Wales on the old records, however there are nevertheless late 16th and early 17th century references to it on the registers of parishes near to the border with England, in particular in the counties of Flintshire, Montgomeryshire and Monmouthshire, as well as in some market and port towns elsewhere in the country, including in the county of Glamorgan.
In 1891 census, there were 94,312 occurrences in England and Wales and a further 8,939 in Scotland.
In 1881, the surname was widespread across England. In Kent for example there were 3,926 occurrences of the surname on that year's census.
In 1881, White family members primarily worked as agricultural and general labourers, and farmers.
Today there are approximately 920,140 White family members around the world. It is estimated that the largest group lives in the USA with 660,491 (71.8%) members, followed by England with 98,791, Canada with 52,381, Australia with 51,916, South Africa with 27,122, Ireland with 9,513, Scotland with 8,191, New Zealand with 6,565, and Wales with 5,170 members.
1881, 1891 Census
Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003
Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016
1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain
1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain
The Surnames of Scotland (1946) by George Fraser Black (1866-1948)
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