Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,744 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

5,372 total views, 3 views today




About the study

This study concerns the Chew surname worldwide, though mainly excluding the name of Chinese origin whose history is (at least until recent times) quite separate.

Variant names

Variants of the name include Chewe, Chue, Cheu, Chow; I have no firm evidence that 'Tew' is a variant of the same name, but have an open mind on the subject.

Name origin

The origin of the name is unknown. North American genealogies tend to favour the speculation (due to Robert L. Chew and earlier writers, see below) that it originated as Cheux in Normandy and was introduced to England under William the Conqueror. There may be a link (also suggested by Robert L. Chew and others) with the geographical name Chew (River Chew, Chew Valley, Chew Stoke, etc - places near Bristol) although it is not clear that the name originated there, nor is the origin of the geographical names clear. Other origins have also been suggested.

Historical occurrences of the name

Distinguished bearers of the Chew name include:
(1) William CHEW (d. March 1712/13), distiller of London and founder of Chew's Foundation, Dunstable (see
(2) Benjamin CHEW (1722-1810), American jurist and politician (monograph by B. A. Konkle, _Benjamin Chew, 1722–1810: Head of the Pennsylvania Judiciary System under Colony and Commonwealth_, 1932, and article in the _Dictionary of National Biography_)
(3) Ada Nield CHEW (1870-1945), English labour organizer, suffragist and pacifist (biography by her daughter, Doris Nield Chew, _Ada Nield Chew_, 1982, and article in the _Dictionary of National Biography_)
(4) Alfred Ambrose Chew LEETE (1882-1933), English artist, son of John Alfred LEETE and Harriet Eliza CHEW, most famous for his Lord Kitchener propaganda poster for First World War recruitment (described as the 'best and most efficient of British posters'), and his characteristic comic drawings (see article in the _Dictionary of National Biography_)
(5) Geoffrey F. CHEW (b. 1924), American theoretical physicist, developer of the so-called 'bootstrap theory' (see

Distribution of the name

In Britain, the name has historically been concentrated mainly in England in the north-west (Lancashire, Yorkshire) and west (Gloucestershire), though it is found from the 16th century at least also in Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and London, and from the 18th and 19th centuries in Northamptonshire and in Birmingham. Since the 17th century, with the arrival of a John Chew at Cape Cod in 1622, there have been Chews in North America; since the 18th century there have been Chews of British origin in India; and the name is found also elsewhere in the English-speaking world from the 19th century onwards.


My data is held principally on gedcom files, and their content is mainly British, reflecting material from UK censuses, the General Register Office indexes, parish records, etc, which I have assembled and verified (the intention being to verify all such data eventually). I do have, at second hand, gedcom files with North American data, most of which seem to be based on the book by Robert L. Chew, _Genealogy of the Chew Family_ (Woodbury, NJ: Gloucester County Historical Society, 1982 and later edns, 488 pp). Some of this material is fairly speculative, and will eventually require critical verification; Chew based his book itself avowedly on earlier local publications, whose content he admits to adopting without verifying it.


I am currently co-administrator of a Chew DNA project, shared with Tim Chew (contactable at