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2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

This one name study of the very rare surname EDGOOSE began one afternoon over fifty years ago when a cousin took me to see what he called the 'family churchyard' at West Walton in Norfolk.  On arrival we were horrified to find that the gravestones behind the church were in the process of being deliberately smashed to pieces.
We protested to the rector, with the result that our great grandfather's and great great grandfather's gravestones were spared.  A life-long passion for family history began that afternoon which very quickly blossomed into an attempt to link all living Edgooses to a common ancestor, in other words what is now known as a one-name study.  It took over 40 years to achieve that goal.
Today, fifty years later, those two headstones lie flat on their faces behind the church, perhaps already overgrown by grass.   There is nothing left to remind us that our ancestors lived in this village for two hundred years after 1796.

Variant names

There have been several deviant surnames but only one true variant: EDGOSS.  This was introduced when the second child of James Edgoose (1740-1772) was baptised William Edgoss at Stamford St. George, Lincolnshire, on 16 March 1764.  It was used by all of James's descendants and disappeared with the death of his last surviving grandchild in 1867.

Name origin

The earliest known reference to the modern spelling EDGOOSE can be found in the Calendar of State Papers Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII Volume 2 Part 1, which records payments made in 1515 to John Edgoose and John Rowley for lime used on Battersey (sic) Bridge.  The name ATGOOS can be found in the 14th century court rolls of the Manor of Poplar in Middlesex and the names ATGOOS and ETGOOS in 15th century Wapping.  The name may have arisen independently elsewhere: EDECOUS and EDECUS can be found at Quadring, Lincolnshire, in 1332, 1366 and 1367, as can ETGOSSE (1521), ETGOSE (1521), EDGOSSE (1525), ETGOOSE (1541).  In Cheshire, it can be shown that ETKUS and ETEGOS were synonymous in 1371 and 1372, and EDCUS and ETGOSE in 1440 and 1441.
An article on the origins of the EDGOOSE surname entitled 'Origins of a Surname - Food for Thought' was published in the July-September issue of the Journal of the Guild of One-Name Studies.
A few years ago I co-operated with the University of the West of England's FANUK project which culminated in the publication of the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland.  On publication date in December 2016 the four volume work was reviewed in the Guardian and Daily Mirror newspapers and on the BBC Today program.  In all three cases the surname EDGOOSE was one of a select few chosen for comment.  The EDGOOSE entry quotes Michael Edgoose's research under Further Information and the URL of this Profile under References.

Historical occurrences of the name

The only Edgoose entry in Who's Who was the wife of the late Martin Stanley Andrew Ballinger, the former chief executive of the Go-Ahead Group Plc.

The only 'Edgoose' to be found in the Dictionary of National Biography or the Dictionary of Labour Biography is James Headgoose Holmes (1861-1934), illegitimate son of Maria Holmes of Kirton in Lincolnshire, former Organising Secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen.


Name frequency

In September 2002 there were 269,353 surnames registered with the British National Health Service, representing 54,412,638 people. Of these 117 were named Edgoose, making it =30,024 in the list of most common surnames.

The name occurs 59 times in the 1881 Census of England & Wales and just 3 times in the 1880 US Federal Census.

Distribution of the name

Today, the name is found mainly in the UK and Australia.  I know of one family in the United States, and one in Portugal.  The surname has died out in Jamaica and Fiji.  The several Edgoose families in the Spalding and Boston areas of South Lincolnshire today can trace their lines back to one of the five illegitimate children of Sarah Lawson Edgoose (1832-1874) before her marriage to John Metcalf Westmoreland in 1861.  My own great, great, great grandfather John Edgoose (1770-1820) moved from Gosberton in Lincolnshire to West Walton, Norfolk, in 1796.  His descendants are now widely dispersed throughout England.

The earliest known emigrant from England was Lieutenant (later Captain) John Edgoose who was granted land in Jamaica in 1660 and who died there in 1673.

John Edgoose (1766-1833), the 'notorious Edgoose of Holland Fen', was transported to Australia in 1833 but died on passage.  At his trial he was said to be the father of sons who had been 'expatriated for felonies'.  When or where they went has never been discovered.  

A John Lewin Edgoose (1827-1890) from West Walton, Norfolk, emigrated to Wisconsin, USA, in 1846 but had no male heirs.

John James Edgoose (1830-1930) from Gosberton, Lincolnshire, sailed for Tasmania on 19 February 1859.  His numerous descendants are thriving in Australia today.

A John Edgoose sired a child Juliana with Ueri Uata in Fiji in 1872 but had no male heir.  He was probably the John Thomas Edgoose (1838-????) who ran away to sea never to be heard of again.  Juliana's descendants live in Fiji and New Zealand today but do not of course bear the Edgoose name.

A widowed great great granddaughter is all that remains of the families started by two sons and a grandson of Joel Edgoose (1804-1883) who emigrated to the USA in the 1800s.  The surname's only presence in that great country appears to be a recent immigrant from the UK and his family, and the widow of the last descendant of James Edgoose of Kirkby-on-Bain, Lincolnshire.

With one exception, Edgoose was predominantly a Lincolnshire surname until the early 1800s.  Its subsequent occurrence almost everywhere else can readily be traced back to the fens of south Lincolnshire.


Births, marriages and deaths, IGI, wills, National Probate Calendar, census returns, parish register entries, marriage bonds and allegations, monumental inscriptions, military records, etc., combined with interesting material from manorial court records, Quarter Sessions and Assizes, poor law documents, apprenticeship records, newspapers, and family letters, have been used in writing individual profiles of every one of the Edgoose and Edgoss entries in the online database.  See Link below.

In addition, all personal names have been extracted from the wills of residents of the Lincolnshire parishes of Kirkby-on-Bain (1750-1800) and Pinchbeck (1600-1750) in an attempt to widen our knowledge of the inhabitants of the parishes in which our ancestors once lived. 

An academic wrote recently: 'What makes the Edgoose database so fascinating is that it is an honest slice of life.  Your unusual surname has made it somewhat easier for you to document some ordinary lives in extraordinary detail and honesty and that has made the Edgoose site invaluable.'

Guild member Marie BYATT oversaw the transfer of the database from FamilyTreeMaker to Legacy and then to the facility made available to the Guild of One-Name Studies by  On completion of the transfer she wrote: 'You have a very impressive file, very thorough.   You have obviously done a lot of careful work.'


A practical example of how three DNA tests enabled three lineages to be linked in the absence of documentary evidence can be found on my website at


It is also available on under Records/Genealogies/Guild of One-Name Studies.

The database lists all bearers of the surname worldwide known to me, with the exception of living individuals whose privacy is respected.   It is a vast family reconstruction covering nearly five centuries down to the present day.