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About the study

Since registering the One-Name Study into the Pitkin/Pipkin names with the Guild of One-Name Studies in early 1994 contact has been made with several researchers into the same names - although very few have yet found common links. The Study includes all references to the name worldwide - this has mainly been in the UK, America and Australia.

All contributions and enquiries are most welcome.

Variant names

Whilst the current bearers of the name battle against the misspelling of their name, vigorously defending the PITKIN or PIPKIN spelling, records indicate that there has always been a drift between the spellings often changing for the same individual several times in their life! The drift seems to have settled after the start of Civil Registration of Births, Marriages and Deaths in 1837.

Other variants include: Pitkins and Pitkyn.

Name origin

The earliest record found so far is in London of the marriage between John Pitkin and Margaret Forward of St Magnus on 19 November 1546 - he was a citizen of London and a fishmonger.

However, some definitions of origin are:

Pitkin - baptised 'the son of Peter' from diminutive Peterkin corrupted to Pitkin. (A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames by C W Bardsley)

Apparently the old spelling (16th Century) of Peter was PITRE and so 'son of Peter' was written PITREKIN. PIPSWEEK was the Saxon name for a small person and PETIT QUIN was the Norman version - perhaps thus PIPKIN and PITKIN? (Letter from Ian Pitkin)

Pitkin and Pipkin are certainly related names, both derived from the Christian name Philip. (Achievements Ltd quoted in letter from Col W P Pipkin)

Derivations from the parent name, Peter: Petre, Peters, Peterkin, Pitkin, Peterken, Peterson, Peterham, Pierce, Pierson, Perkin, Perkins and others. (Patronymica Britannica by M A Lower)

'And Simon he surnamed Peter' Mark 3v16

Historical occurrences of the name

The Pitkin name has often been borne by determined people who know their mind. This has meant that whilst some have been prominent citizens for good reasons there are others who have not. There seem to be some trades which crop in most generations, in addition to the 'Ag Lab - Agricultural Labourer' - namely fishmongers, lawyers and haberdashers/tailors.

Probably the most famous Pitkin was one who went to America. William Pitkin (born in 1635/6) was the son of the Headmaster of Berkhamsted School. He went to America in 1659 and settled there in Hartford, Connecticut as a school teacher in 1661. There he married a daughter of an important settler - Hannah Goodwin - and started a career in law, for which he had been trained in England and he became King's Attorney for the Colony. William and Hannah founded a family who played a major part in the development of the State of Connecticut producing a Governor, Speakers, Senators, Judges and Lawyers. Other Pitkins who went to America include other Williams who went in 1693 and 1742, Thomas, aged 15 who went to New York in 1775, and James, aged 26, also to New York in 1822.

Name frequency

The present numbers of Pitkins in the UK has been calculated as 565 and of Pipkins, 325. Hardly a common name!

Distribution of the name

Present day distribution of the name is very similar to that of 400 years ago, although some spreading out has occurred. Most of the families can trace their lines back to the area where Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire meet with early appearances of the name in London.


So far, the One-Name Study comprises extracts from Indexes (Births, Marriages and Deaths - 1837 to 1900), the IGI index for the UK, extracts from Censuses and Parish Records and notes of occurrences of the name in Sessions Records, newspapers etc.