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Whitten Name Study

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Surnames: Whitten, Whitton, Whidden
Profile manager: Chris Whitten private message [send private message]
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Categories: Surnames | Whitten Name Study | One Name Studies | DNA Projects | Nominated Profiles.


Here is a central location for organizing family history based on the last name "Whitten".

Contents

Meaning of Last Name 'Whitton'

The last name Whitten comes from a more common alternate spelling: Whitton. Its first recorded use as a surname seems to be in 1165. It was used to refer to someone from an area called Whitton in Morebattle in the Scotland border area.

The area name itself comes from the Old English words "Hwita" or "Whit" (i.e. the color white, which was used as a personal name) and the suffix "ten" or "ton" or "tun" (i.e., a settlement or town). Therefore, the name could be roughly translated as "someone from Hwita's settlement" or "a person from White's town".

Whitten Demographics

Ancestry.com has collated some interesting Whitten demographics. Here are some of the numbers.

From US immigrant passenger lists (which are heavily weighted toward the 19th century immigration) the top places of origin were given as:

  1. Ireland (37 people)
  2. England (31)
  3. Scotland (12)

The top county distribution of Whitten families in Scotland in 1891 were:

  1. Lanarkshire (35 families)
  2. Ayrshire (14)
  3. Midlothian (13)

The top county distribution of Whitten families in England in 1891 were:

  1. London (124 families)
  2. Cumberland (50)
  3. Essex (33)
  4. Middlesex (27)

Obviously, the concentration in London can be discounted for genealogical purposes, as many people would have moved to London from elsewhere in Great Britain. The same may be true for the London "suburban counties" of Essex and Middlesex. This makes the Northern concentration in Cumberland especially interesting.

According to another source, The Whitten and Allied Families Genealogy by William C. Whitten (1985), as cited at Origins and Meaning of Surname Whitten, the concentrations in Ireland are in Ulster, Armagh and Londonderry.

In the US, from data from the 1920 census, Whittens were concentrated in the following states:

  1. Massachusetts (156 of 1,934 families counted)
  2. Texas (153)
  3. Maine (142)
  4. Alabama (103)
  5. Illinois (87)
  6. Mississippi (86)

Sadly, some of the Southern US distribution is attributable to the legacy of slavery. Freed slaves often took their former slaveholders' surname. The concentration in Massachusetts and Illinois could be partially a result of the population centers around Boston and Chicago. This all makes the concentrations in Texas and Maine more notable.

Going further back in time, in 1880 the top US states were:

  1. Maine (524 of 3,293 families)
  2. Alabama (240)
  3. Massachusetts (233)
  4. Mississippi (229)
  5. Ohio (197)
  6. Texas (182)
  7. Illinois (136)
  8. Georgia (133)

The Maine concentration is even more stark here.

In the US in 1840:

  1. Maine (76 of 221 families)
  2. Ohio (23)
  3. New Hampshire (15)
  4. Massachusetts (15)
  5. Indiana (14)

Here, in the earliest survey, it's even more clear that the Maine concentration has genealogical significance. The Midwestern numbers are interesting too. Perhaps there is a pattern of movement with the Western frontier.

Another notable demographic observation: in the Civil War, there were more than twice as many Union soldiers named Whitten as Confederate soldiers named Whitten (2,213,363 Northern to 1,050,000 Southern).

Whitten DNA

Since DNA can be traced along a patrilineal (father to father to father) line it can be interesting for someone studying the genealogy of a surname, theoretically at least. The Y chromosome conveniently follows our Western Europe convention on last names.

Although there are now hundreds (?) of companies offering DNA testing for genealogical purposes, Family Tree DNA is the largest. They have groups organized around surnames including this one for Whittens.

However, at this point the group of Whittens with DNA results is too small to have any interesting results or patterns. Selfishly speaking, the best reason to use DNA right now is if you want to test a connection with someone in particular. Altruistically, you'd be helping all Whittens trace their genealogy by having a male in your family get tested and publishing the results.


Discussion Boards

  • Whitten Q&A in G2G: WikiTree's own question and answer forum. This page gives all Q&A tagged with the surname Whitten.

Famous Whittens

Danny Whitten (May 8, 1943 - November 18, 1972), a musician and songwriter.

Jamie Whitten (April 18, 1910 – September 9, 1995), a US representative from Mississippi.

Edward James "Ted" Whitten (27 July 1933 - 17 August 1995), an Australian Rules Football player.

Whittens on WikiTree

Here is the complete Whitten Index.

When you add yourself or a Whitten relative to WikiTree your addition(s) will automatically be included on the index the following day.





Memories: 1

On January 12, 2009 Chris Whitten wrote:

I've been experimenting with DNA testing for genealogy. There are now growing databases with tens of thousands of people you can compare your DNA with. Given that the Western European convention for last names is patrilineal I expected that some of my closest yDNA matches would be named Whitten. However, of the 70 or so closest matches in the databases I've checked, none of them are named Whitten. The most common last name for our matches is Wilkes. The second most common last name is McClellan/McClelland. What makes this ironic for me is that McClellan is my wife's maiden name! (The McClellans originated in the western Scottish border area while it appears that Whittens originated in the eastern Scottish border area. Maybe a connection makes sense.)

P.S. All this is of almost no real scientific value. I had a 12-marker test done. A 12-marker match is a good indication that you share an ancestor in the last one or two thousand years. That's it. This is about the time frame where last names started being used in the British Isles. So, even leaving aside adoption, name change, and illigitimacy, it's not surprising that people who share an ancestor from one or two thousand years ago wouldn't have the same last name. Also, when a last name appears more than once in this list it's a good possibility that two people with the same last name were testing together for a genetic connection. Before these large databases that was the most common usage of DNA testing for genealogy. So, despite what I'm implying above, frequency of last name doesn't mean much.



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Images: 2.
View by popularity, date, or upload date.
Whitten Ancestral Home
Whitten Ancestral Home

Whitton, The Scottish Borders, UK map 2008 Comments: 1. WikiTree Popularity: 8.


 


Statue of Ted Whitten
Statue of Ted Whitten

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia map [date?] Comments: 1. WikiTree Popularity: 5.


 


Collaboration

On February 10, 2014 Maggie N. wrote:

This is an interesting One Name Study page, Chris . I just discovered how well ONS is working on here (-:


On October 16, 2012 Lianne Lavoie wrote:

I tracked down where that Geocities site moved to when Geocities shut down and updated your link. :)


On January 12, 2009 Chris Whitten wrote:

What can you add? I just wanted to get something started here. Please contribute. Click to join the Trusted List and help me grow this resource. Thanks!