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Our 2,768 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

FISHWICK is the maiden name of my maternal great-grandmother. It is also the reason that my interest in genealogy continued after immediate goals were reached and easily traceable lines documented. Emma Theresa FISHWICK (born in Sunderland, Durham, at the very end of 1879) was a professional census dodger and, to this day, cannot be pinned down in 1881. That fact led me down various research routes until the 1901 census finally became available online and I was able to extract all instances of the surname for consideration. The task of identifying Emma was not easy even at that point. However, I discovered that it was enjoyable to connect FISHWICK family groups in geographical areas that I would not otherwise have reason to investigate. The data collected in those early days has subsequently grown into a research project with a life of its own.

The largest volume of information in my database relates to the United Kingdom. However, enquiries and research partners are welcome from any geographical location because a single name or date often leads to a new and mutually satisfying line of research. Please contact me using the e-mail address below and I will be happy to share any information from my records that are relevant to your family tree. This can be particularly helpful if you need to make sense of a selection of John FISHWICKs or if a second marriage is causing confusion. I can often assist with this type of problem because my database takes into account surname variations/deviations and cross-references baptism, marriage, burial, census and other important records. In return, I learn from people who have detailed knowledge of particular families and am able to reference your assistance so you can be put in contact with other researchers.


Variant names

True variants of FISHWICK arise from the days before dictionaries and standardised spelling. Thus the name has been found as FISHACK, FISHICK, FYSHWYKE, FISSWICK, FISSICK, FISWICK, FYSSICK and PHYSWICK. An interesting anomaly occurs when individuals are recorded as PHYSICK or PHYSIC. My research shows that this variation often results from FISHWICK being written as it sounds. However, VISICK is found as a name in its own right - particularly in Devon and Cornwall - and it is easy to see how VISICK could be mis-heard or mis-spelt as PHYSICK.

Name origin

Most sources that mention the surname FISHWICK assume that it arose as a locational name that was probably given to individuals as a means of identification after they moved away from their childhood home of Fishwick in Lancashire. The place of birth argument is attractive but remains to be proved because FISHWICK is a relatively common name and a large volume of data must be reviewed before conclusions can be drawn. This also means that much further research will be required to formulate a final opinion on interaction between the names FISHWICK, PHYSICK and VISICK.

Historical occurrences of the name

My interest in the FISHWICK surname is firmly rooted in the diversity of the families who have used it over the centuries. This means that, without actively looking for famous people, interesting circumstances frequently come to light:
1806: The marriage of Robert FISHACK and Jane THOMPSON in Kirkleatham, North Yorkshire, leads back to the sister of Captain James COOK.
1822: A strange tale of abduction and burglary in Heapy, Lancashire, is revealed by a newspaper report.
1861: The reason for FISHWICKs being absent on census night is not always a clerical error - even the judge was shocked by an audacious fraud trial involving a family from Salford, Lancashire.
1917: A young man from Bolton, Lancashire, was killed in action in France.
1930: Diana FISHWICK astounded the world with her golfing ability.

Name frequency

Overlooking the disappointing absence of my great-grandmother and her parents, and basing calculations on the modern spelling of FISHWICK, there are 1,501 instances of the name in 1881 census records for England, Wales and Scotland. I have also found 134 occurrences of the name PHYSICK. By 1901 there were 1,966 individuals stating their name as FISHWICK when asked by the census enumerator. People recorded as PHYSICK adds another 115 individuals. Internet sources suggest that the current UK frequency is 55-60 per million people for FISHWICK and 5 per million people for PHYSICK.

Distribution of the name

Even today, the FISHWICK name is found almost exclusively in England, notably in Lancashire. As a result, worldwide FISHWICK details will be collected when time and interested research partners are available. The findings from that broader research will add to stories of migration already investigated via contacts in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.


My FISHWICK database concentrates on construction of family trees and incorporates supplementary information whenever available. Documented sources include census and parish records, aspects of local history from various publications, newspaper reports, military records, probate information, and details provided by others with an interest in the name.


The frequency with which the surnames FISHWICK and PHYSICK occur in paper records (plus some changes back and forth) means that construction of family trees is the primary focus of my research. This will provide a firm foundation on which a DNA study may become useful in the future.