The Vickress Surname Project

Vickress Surname England 1881

Distribution of the Vickress surname throughout the UK in 1881, showing it was more common in Hereforshire, Surrey and, to a lesser extent, Norfolk. Source.

My grandmother’s maternal grandmother’s family, the Vickresses, formed a tight-knit network of cousins who have inhabited the Herefordshire vales for at least four hundred years.

This unusual surname is often spelt in many different forms which try to emulate the phonetic pronunciation of the original, giving the following alternative  variations: Vicearidge, Viccaridge, Vicaridge, Vickrage, Vickerage, Vickridge, Vickerridge, Viccors, Vickrise, Vickery… Spellings of course reflect accents, and the forms mentioned above more probably correspond to a corruption of the word Vicarage, as the surname probably denotes a vicar or someone who lives in a vicarage. In fact the form Vickress, which is how it has been maintained until the present, only appears in the mid 1700’s. An online source credits a William Vickress, who married Sarah Oliver in London’s St George Hanover Square in 1765 to be the first known user of the surname. In actual fact I have found at least one other reference to the spelling when a James Vickress, also of St. George Hanover Square, made his last will and testament, dated 21 August 1762. Ironically, that same James appears to be the uncle of the above-mentioned William and, even more bizarrely, his surname also appears as Vickers on the same document. This shows Mr Vickress used both forms of the family name – a genealogist’s nightmare. (source).

James Vickress or Vickers

The name of “James Vickress otherwise Vickerss” on his own last will and testament, dated 21 August 1762.

It seems the surname (in one of its primitive forms) appears for the first time in the Middle Ages, specifically during the reign of Edward III, when the country was on the brink of civil war. At the time, a man called Hugh Vicaries is mentioned in a Calendar of Letter Books of the City of London. The year was 1332.

Despite the connections to London mentioned above, my family seem to have had no link whatsoever to the capital. In fact, as far as my research has been able to prove, my ancestors on the Vickress side all came from Herefordshire, wedged between the English Midlands and the Welsh Marches.

William Vickress, 1841 Census

My ancestor William Vickress’s entry in the 1841 Herefordshire census giving his estimated age as 50. His profession, a carpenter.


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