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About the study

I began to study the surname Pettypool and its variants in 1980 when I first discovered that my mother's surname (Pool) derived from it. Since that time, I have collected and documented any instance of the surname and any variant when I encounter it.

Variant names

Pettypoole, Pettipool(e), P'Pool(e), P.Pool(e), Ppool(e), Pool(e)

Name origin

The origin of the Pettypool surname is locative. It arose from the name of a farmstead in the parish of Roxwell in Essex. In a recent article in the Journal of One Name Studies, I discuss the origin of the surname and the process by which I made this discovery. To obtain an electronic copy of the article, please contact me at the email address below.

Distribution of the name

The surname Pettypool arose from a single Medieval family living in Essex, England. The name appears to have 'daughtered out' in England by the early 17th century. Apparently, a single Pettypool male, William, was the last to receive the name, and he immigrated from the London area to Virginia, USA in the mid 1650's. His son, also William, fathered two documented sons and from them all the known Pettypools in the world today appear to have sprung. In America from the late 17th century through the late 18th century, most lines of the family continued to be known either by Pettypool or Pettipool (the most common variant). Sometimes in written documents from this era, deviant spellings of these two names appeared (e.g. Petteypool, Pettiepool, Petepoole, etc.), but I would call them deviants and not true variants as it is not clear that the families themselves would have recognized them as valid and they appear mostly as singular instances.

After the Revolutionary War and the opening of the American western and southern frontiers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many branches of the family, particularly those that left Virginia for points west and south, started to use or at least be identified by an abbreviated form of the name, i.e. P.Pool. One branch of the family adopted the form P'Pool. It is not clear how or why this change arose. Perhaps the widespread use of abbreviated forms by legal clerks was adopted by the families themselves. Finally, in the mid to latter part of the 19th century, many branches only inconsistently used the P.Pool and P'Pool forms and the name became assimilated in some branches to the more common surname, Pool or Poole.


In 2003 The Virginia Genealogist, edited by John Frederick Dorman, published an account I have written called 'The William Pettypool Family of Southside Virginia: Lineage Reconstruction Based on Current Review of Evidence.' This article summarizes 25 years of research and presents a history of the earliest members of the Pettypool family that not only recounts the American pedigree but also sets the story of their activities and accomplishments in social and historical context.

While some of the reported information has appeared earlier in printed form, the article represents an effort to collate, analyze and interpret systematically available early records pertaining to the immigrant and his earliest colonial descendants. It also contains, to my knowledge, some heretofore unpublished records referring the various members of the family, reevaluates portions of the seminal Pettypool history written in the mid-20th century by David Bruce P'Pool, and attempts to document accurately the relationships within the earliest generations of this old Virginia family.

It can be found in Volume 47, Number 1 (January-March 2003) and continued in Volume 47, Number 2 (April-June 2003). To obtain an electronic copy of the article, please contact me at the email address below.


12/17/10: An analysis and summary of data for the first 12 confirmed Pettypool descendants participating in the Pettypool DNA study have recently been posted for the Pettypool DNA Project. Pettypool family and private markers have been noted, and work is underway to establish branch markers that may assist those from 'orphaned' lines to determine their Pettypool ancestry. Check it all out at the Pettypool DNA Project public web site:

Information about how to participate in the Pettypool DNA Project can be found at the Family Tree DNA web site:
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