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About the study
I started researching the rare maiden name of my wife, Seagroatt about 20 years ago, being lucky in inheriting a family tree researched by a professional genealogist in the 1940's which took me back to a Thomas Seagroatt (1790-1861), who was a Ship's Carpenter & Joiner in Poplar, East London. At that time all the civil registration records pointed to them being a London-based family, with several generations of ships carpenters until wooden ships died out, later generations working mainly as ordinary carpenters or dockers in the area.
By 1995, I had sufficient data to register the surname with the Guild, and at the same time I also registered the names Segrott, Sagrott and Secret(t) as variants as I had some evidence from parish records that they came from the same areas of East Anglia and were used within the same families. But still I was curious to know which surname came first, and whether Se(a)gro(a)tt and Secrett were true variants of the same family name, or simply deviant spellings.
I have a number of family trees relating to Sagrott in Norfolk, London and Essex, Segrott from Ousden, Suffolk who settled in the Lambeth area of London, and Seagroatt in Norwich, Norfolk who settled in the Stepney & Poplar area of East London. Most of these I can supply as GEDCOM files or narrative family trees. A number of these lines have settled in North America and Australia. Copies of any trees that you hold will be most welcome. There is a bulletin board for Seagroatt on Ancestry.com.
The origins of the surname Seagro(a)tt are uncertain, although there are several oral traditions that they came from the Continent, perhaps France, Germany or the Netherlands. One theory is that the name derives from the Dutch/Flemish words See, meaning a lake and Groot, meaning large. Thus the name may first have been given to a person who lived beside a lake or stretch of water. The name SEEGROOT can be found in the parish registers of Krefeld on the River Rhine ca1700. Another possible meaning is occupational from the cutting of Sedge roots (segroot) or reeds which are common in the fenlands of Norfolk. On the surnames Segrott and Secret, the web site of The Historical Research Center says "The French surname Segrott shares common origins with the surname Segret, which derives from the OF "Segrai", meaning secret or hidden. The surname is thus of nickname origin, indicating a characteristic or attribute of the original bearer....a bearer of a secret message or for someone of unusual discretion. In the Middle Ages, great value was placed on preserving the more sacred and mysterious doctrines of the Church.... from blasphemy by pagans. The word for secret from the Latin "Secretus" was thus used in a number of senses, any of which could have contributed to the formation of this surname. Or the name could be linked to the French surname Segrestain which derives from "Sacristain" the French word for a Sexton or church official. The name is also linked to "Segretin" deriving from "secretary".... literally someone who keeps secrets. E.g. Free Masons or the Knights Templar. Other forms are Segretien, Segresian, Segrest, Seguet, Segoot? and Secretan. The latter is born by Antione-Joseph Secretan, confirmed as Baron on Aug 16, 1813. He served as a colonel in the infantry. Also Henri-Marcial de Segond, a French baron in 1812". It is also possible that the surname may derive from a placename - there are about six places in France spelled 'Seguret'.
In England the name is found from about 1540 in East Anglia, first around Yarmouth on the Norfolk coast (where SECRETT is also found), then inland around Norwich, Newmarket and down into Suffolk around Ousden. The variant SAGROTT appears to have originated in Stoke Ferry, Norfolk. There were also a few occurrences of SEGRODT in the City of London ca1680. The SEGROTTs came from Suffolk to London ca1800, and I have been unable to link them to our Seagroatt line. Heraldic records show no grants of Arms. Many followed the trade of Cordwainers (Shoemakers) in early times. From the above it is clear that much more work needs to be done to understand how these surnames arose in England.
Seagroatt is my wife's family name which I began researching in 1988. Much of the spade work had been done back to 1830 by a cousin Lawrence Seagroatt (L.E.G.S.) who had hired a professional genealogist to produce a tree going back to Thomas Seagroatt (ca1794-1861), a Shipwright in the London Docks at Poplar, Middlesex. I have since found his baptism and marriage, and also filled in a lot of gaps on the tree by contacting other cousins. His parents were Roger, a Shoemaker and Elizabeth who lived at New Road in Stepney ca1785-1800. It seems probable that Roger came from Norwich in Norfolk, as there is a baptism (see IGI) at St.John Timberland in 1741 of a Roger Seagroatt son of Roger who was also a Shoemaker/Cordwainer, but I have no firm documentary evidence, and have been unable to locate the marriage of Roger & Elizabeth ca1780 in any indexes or East London registers. Most present-day Seagroatts descend from Thomas (1790-1861) a Ships Joiner who lived in Cottage Row, Poplar.
Distribution of the name
If you are seeking a birth, marriage or death in England or Wales from 1837, you can search my extensive extracts from the GRO indexes on my personal web site at www.sherwoodfam.plus.com/ancestry (Tip: There are many births and some deaths where a forename was not registered. These appear in the Indexes as Male or Female.) There are gaps for some years which you may need to supplement from FreeBMD or other sites.
I also have English extracts from some parish registers, census returns, wills, probate and military records. Pictures of various family members and links to other researchers may be found on my web site below.