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About the study
I was motivated to look into and encourage others to study the Huxley family because two of the women with whom my maternal grandfather grew up were Huxleys - his mother Helen Rebecca Huxley-Casewell (born circa 1869 in Silverdale, Staffordshire) and his grandmother Jane Huxley (born circa 1843 in Dudley Port, Tipton, Staffordshire). For at least the last dozen years of her life Jane lived with her daughter's family in the coal-mining village of Leycett, Madeley, Staffordshire.
What is known about Jane has been gleaned almost entirely from the 1891 and 1901 censuses - no birth certificate has turned-up nor is it likely she ever married her daughter's father, Joseph Cooley, himself an elusive figure. This being the case, I have met a brick wall as to which line of Huxleys - via her father or perhaps her mother - Jane came from. In hopes that DNA will eventually lead to an answer (my mtDNA haplogroup is H3b1a), I have traced several Huxley lines (mainly to the U.S.) in case a distant cousin match would show that not every Huxley tree I've 'barked up' has been wrong.
The main variant of Huxley is Uxley. Sometimes 'Huxley' has been so poorly written as to suffer transcription as 'Hurley' or even 'Harley'.
While in the past few centuries people carrying the name Huxley have been more numerous in Staffordshire and Shropshire than elsewhere, its origins are in Cheshire (note village of that name slightly over eight miles southeast of Chester) and from Old English - Huxeleg / Huxelegh.
Apparently the name was first recorded in 1260 as 'de Huxeley' (specifically Robert), a witness in the Assize Court Rolls of Cheshire during the time of Henry III (1207-1272), whose reign began in 1216.
Historical occurrences of the name
Some of the more illustrious Huxleys have been:
- Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895), an autodidact born into a downwardly-mobile middle-class family in Ealing, Middlesex. A zoologist, THH was called 'Darwin's Bulldog'.
- Margaret Huxley (1854-1840), a pioneer of scientific training for nurses
- Julian S. Huxley (1887-1975), a eugenicist who was the first director of UNESCO
- Aldous L. Huxley (1894-1963), a dystopian philosopher and novelist
Having escaped the Staffordshire coal-pits and though emigration to Canada become middle-class, my grandfather liked to imagine we were related to these Huxley. If so, presumably the connection stretches back through Warwickshire, where both of Thomas Henry Huxley's parents were born, to the vicinity of Huxley, Cheshire.
Distribution of the name
Outside England, Huxleys are most numerous in Australia, followed by in the U.S., Canada, Wales, Argentina, and South Africa.