Last name: Whitehead

Recorded in a number of spellings including Whithead, Whitehed, Whithed, and Whitsed, this surname is of English origins. It usually derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century word "hwit" meaning white, plus "heafod", a head, combined to form a descriptive nickname for someone with white hair. Many early surnames originate from medieval nicknames, and this is one of them. With men generally dying at about age forty, and women even younger, people with white hair were quite rare. Early recordings of the surname include Roger Witheved, who appeared in the Hundred Rolls of Huntingdonshire, dated 1273, and Adam Whytehevde of Hoton, who was a juror on an inquisition before the sheriff of Berwick in 1300. In 1338 Robert Whitede was recorded in the Manorial Records of Sheffield, Yorkshire. Occasionally, the name may derive from "Hwithod", meaning white hood, and an occupational name for one who made white hoods for use in monasteries. An early example is that of Agnes Wythod recorded in the Hundred Rolls of Oxfordshire, for 1279. Finally, but more rarely, the name may be locational from residence on a chalky headland, as in Henry de Whiteheved, of Cornwall, in 1297. Recordings from surviving early London registers include: the marriage of John Whitehead and Margret Malwins on August 13th 1564, Srah Whithed, christened at St Giles Cripplegate, on October 13th 1643, and Richard Whitshead, who married Alice Rye at St James Paddington, on October 4th 1783. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Whithaved. This was dated 1219, in the "Pipe Rolls" of Leicestershire, during the reign of King Henry 111rd, 1216 - 1272. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017

Surname Scroll

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Paul whitehead
I am from michigan also, 989 448 1188

Vagner Whitehead
I'm a Whitehead from Brazil.... there is a family branch there who's been in the country since the 1870s... my great grand-father had 11 kids, the youngest being my grandfather (who was born around 1890s), and my father being his youngest as well (born in 1940), and I am his youngest, born in 1973 and now living in the US (metro Detroit area, Michigan)... while most of the family does indeed look Anglo (the great-grandfather married a German woman in Brazil), my father took after his mother (Portuguese/Italian), so we look mediterranean, making us the equivalent of "Black Irish" in the family =-)

my dads form England but moved to Ireland a while ago, any other Irish Whiteheads

Georgina Whitehead
The reggae artist Chuck Fender was born Chuck Whitehead. As a popular black artist he's dropped our last name, most probably so people stopped pointing out he actually had a black head not a white one. I'm blonde and the amount of people who still point out, "Oh you're called Whitehead and you have white hair!' As if it's some sort of revelation. My conclusion is there was either a) a number of Whitehead slave owners who gave their last name to their slaves or b) a white male Whitehead met a nice black lady, had a mixed raced son, who then married another nice black lady and the name Whitehead was passed down traditionally, although the pale skintone and hair died out over generations. I personally prefer the more romantic idea b) to the Whitehead's being involved in the salve trade but realise a) is more likely. Has anyone got proof of Whitehead's owning slaves once we'd emigrated from Britain?

Mr M Whitehead
In 1066 William the conquer almost destroyed Yorkshire's population. Around 200 years later Whitehead is recorded as a last name in the area. I'm a Whitehead from Yorkshire and the surname seems most frequent in the Yorkshire and NE, NW of England to this day. I'm going to undertake a dna test (ydna) which traces the male line (my father's father's father's father's father's father's father's. .. etc line) which is just the same as how last names are passed on ( traditionally that is, with children being born in wedlock and taking their father's surname). My hope is to see where the male line originated: we're we norman or saxon invadors who settled up north? A viking line? Or, perhaps older and Whitehead is a translation of the old germanic whitehead name which is very similar... were we here before medieval times, and the lastname was given as a nickname to a Britain bloodline older than the invadors language... ?

My mum is a whitehead but my grandad is German and my grandma was French!!!!

Jimi C Whitehead
I'm the last whitehead left in my family. Always good to know where we come from.

Keith Whitehead
Me and my family are from the north west of England not sure of family history prior to 1900

Neil Barrow
The WHITEHEAD families in 1881

In the 1881 census there are 20,256 Whiteheads and it is ranked the 185th most common surname, more common than eg Potter, Black & Bates. It probably originated simply as a nickname and as might be expected it is widely scattered across England.
However it is also heavily concentrated. Over half (55%) of Whiteheads were living in Lancashire & the West Riding of Yorkshire and here particularly along a band from Liverpool to Leeds. Closer inspection reveals that most Whiteheads were found in a group of adjacent parishes

Oldham 1622 2nd highest concentration
(i.e. how common locally compared to how common nationally)
Rochdale 766 Huddersfield 445
Ashton 865 Saddleworth 396 highest concentration
Prestwich 533 Burnley 395

with West Derby (Liverpool), Salford, Bury and Bolton having the next highest numbers.

This analysis has used the data from The British 19th Century Surname Atlas

There is a DNA project

Neil Barrow

Saddleworth Historical Society has established a Saddleworth Families DNA project with the aim of establishing a database for family history and other researchers.
The project will initially focus on the earliest Saddleworth surnames including WHITEHEAD, which are known locally from the 1642 Protestation return or earlier documents. These are still common not only in Saddleworth but in the adjacent areas of the South Pennines. Many have well researched family trees.

We are therefore keen to include other Societies and researchers.

The project's database is located at

in the Geographical projects section as Saddleworth, Yorkshire, UK


Family Tree DNA - Saddleworth, Yorkshire, England Surnames

dylan whitehead
my last name is whitehead and my family has a family castle in wales

sarah whitehead

I have no idea about my family history Im wonder if im related to paul whitehead of the hell fire club or the man who first bottled cococola he was a whitehead.

Kevin Whitehead

Whitehead here in California. My father is from New Jersey.

Elisa Whitehead

This is great to know because I didn't think that my last name was a common last name

Elaine Whitehead

Looking for Whiteheads in or around the Liverpool area that has a relation John Edward or Stuart Ian. x

kurt whitehead
I live in Virginia. My ancestors came from Yorkshire to Virginia in ~ 1648 and settled in.....believe it or not, York Shire VA (now York County). There are many Whiteheads living throughout VA. Some interesting local history is that Catherine Whitehead and 5 of her children were killed in 1831 in Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion. Another Whitehead descendant was Colgate Whitehead Darden, Governor of VA in the 1940s.

Thomas Whitehead
My family is from Yorkshire but relocated to south Wales. Fun fact, in Welsh it translates to Pengwyn (pronounced as penguin)

Jess Whitehead
Im in South Africa, but did come from England It could also mean the sun coming up from over a hill, creates a white rim...or head, Whitehead Or the first Whitehead just lived longer

Gayle Whitehead
This was my pre-married name and all the members of my Whitehead family line (father, aunt, uncle, nephews) that I knew had dark hair which went white very prematurely (including me) - not just grey, but pure white .

Joshua Whitehead
Was there ever any Cherokee Indians with the name Whitehead ?

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