While our recent ancestors and famous people bearing the last name Whitehurst may be unknown to you, it is often a family distant past which fades into the unknown over the centuries. Research has shown the surname Whitehurst is of Anglo-Saxon origin. Few cultures have shown the lasting impact on English society as that of the Anglo-Saxons. The Whitehurst family history draws upon this heritage as the bearers of the name influenced and were influenced by the history of the English nation. Historians have carefully scrutinized such ancient manuscripts as the Domesday book, compiled in1086 A.D., the Ragman Rolls (1291-1296), the Curia Regis Rolls, the Pipe Rolls, the Hearth Rolls, parish registers, baptismals, tax records, and other ancient documents that found the first record of the name Whitehurst in Sussex, where they held a family seat for ancient times. Many different spellings of the surnames were found in the archives researched. Although the spelling Whitehurst appeared in many manuscripts, from time to time the surname was spelt Whitehurst, Whitehest, Whiteherst, Whithurst, Whitherst,Whyteherst, and these variations in spelling frequently occurred even between father and son. It was also common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname.

The Saxons were a Teutonic tribe originally from Northern Germany who began to settle in England in about the year 400A.D. Their first settlements were in Kent, on the south east coast. Gradually, they probed north and westward from Kent and during the next four hundred years forced the ancient Britons back into Whales and Cornwall to the west. They won territories as far north as Lancashire and Yorkshire pushing the Britons into Cumbria and Southern Scotland. The Angles, another Teutonic tribe, occupied the eastern coast, the south folk in Suffolk, and the north folk in Norfolk. The Angles sometimes invaded as far north as Northumbria and the Scottish border. The Angle and Saxon cultures blended together as they came to dominate the country. Four hundreds of years England was comprised of five independent Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until unification in the 9th century. By 1066, England, under Harold, was enjoying reasonable peace and prosperity. However the Norman invasion from France and their victory at the Battle of Hastings meant that the Anglo-Saxon landowners lost their property to the invaders. The Saxons were restive under Norman rule, and many moved northward to the midlands, Lancashire and Yorkshire, where Norman influence was less pervasive. Rebellious Norman nobles frequently joined them in their flight northward.

As peace was restored, the Whitehurst surname emerged as that of a notable English family in the county of Sussex, where Richard Whitehurst was registered in 1327, the year in which King Edward III came to the throne. Edward’s reign was dominated by the outbreak of the Hundred Years War between England and France in 1339. Early English triumps, including the conquest of Calais in 1347, led Edwards to complete his scheme for the establishment of the Order of the Garter. For the English people, however, the privations induced by the war were magnified by the spread of the Black Death in 1349 and social and economic disturbances multiplied throughout the country. Once the domestic crisis eased the war with France was resumed in 1369 by the Kings son, Edward the Black Prince. Meanwhile the Whitehurst family had branched to Somerset before the end of the 14th Century, with Hawise Whytehurst being recorded there in 1387. By the 18th century the family had established themselves in Cheshire, where John Whitehurst was born in Congleton in 1713. He later settled in London where he died in 1788 after a distinguished career as a scientist. Distinguished members of the family include John Whitehurst, an English pioneer of the geological sciences in the 18th century.

Turmoil at home made the New World appear attractive to many families in England. They immigrated to Canada, the United States, Australia, and some moved to continental Europe. Members of the Whitehurst family risked the hazardous voyage to start a new life in new lands. This decision to emigrate was never made casually, for awhile there were hardships at home; the journey across the sea was so perilous that up to 40% of a ship’s passengers would not reach their destination. Early immigrants bearing the Whitehurst surname, or a spelling variation of this name, include William Whitehurst, who sailed to Virginia in 1636; Mary Whitehurst, who came to Virginia in 1720; and William Whitehest, who arrived in New Orleans in 1813.

By the time of the American Revolution (1775-1783), the colonial population had reached approximately 2.5 million people. Black slaves constituted roughly 22% of the total; about 250,000 were Scots-Irish; approximately 200,000 were Germans. Approximately 50,000 people loyal to the British crown made their way north to Canada following the American Revolution. They were known as the United Empire Loyalists, and were granted land in Novia Scotia, along the St. Lawrence River and along the Niagara Peninsula.

Contemporary notables bearing the surname Whitehurst include Robert B Whitehurst (1951) American production sound mixer; ClintonWhitehurst, American economist; George Whitehurst, prominent American Congressman; Henry Purefoy Whitehurst Jr., who was killed in 1942 in a suicide bomber attack, eponym of the USS Whitehurst (DE-634); William “Billy” Whitehurst, English professional footballer; and John Whitehurst (1713-1788) English clockmaker and scientist. The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was: A silver shield with a red lion’s head erased, and three silver bendlets on a red chief. The Crest: A black cross crosslet fitchee between two green palm branches.
This information was researched by certificate #218360/copyright 1998-2010