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2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

The Vicary/Vickery One-Name Study was started by myself, Ian Vicary back in 1988 when I was trying to trace my own family tree. My daughter was visiting Brighton University and I had a few hours free time there. I remembered that several years earlier my father had shown me where his Grandfather was buried, in a church yard on the Brighton Hove boarder. I found the church - alas no graves, just a brand new church hall. But some kind soul had recorded all the headstones and deposited the details in the local library.
After searching all my own family records and speaking to as many relatives as I could, I set everything down on paper, paid for some research but eventually got stuck in 1799. I began to write to all the Vicary's in the telephone directory. This brought a flood of replies, letters, family trees, documents, and recollections. None, however, helped me with my own tree.
All of this, together with the information collected by extracting data from public records and indexes has been compiled into some sort of order. It comprises over one hundred separate trees and many thousands of individuals. Some of the trees are very large and span several continents, others are small with just two or three generations. The further back I can research, the more data that is added, I am sure that many of the smaller trees will link into one of the larger ones. It is inevitable that some will never be, the information needed lost in the mists of time

Variant names

By far the most common variant of the name is VICKERY, at least two thirds, perhaps close to three quarters are spelt this way. The VICARY spelling is the next most common.
Other modern variants include VICKARY, VICCARY and VICAREY. However, the further back you go the greater the number of variants. In the Middle Ages the name would have been spelt Vicarie, Viccarie, Vicarye or even Vycarie. Remember in those days few could spell their own name, even fewer write it, and it was left to the parish priest or clerk to write down the name as he thought it should be spelt.

Name origin

There are a number of theories as to the origins of the name, Spanish sailors shipwrecked after the Armada and French Huguenots fleeing the Revolution are two of the more romantic ones. It is more likely to have come as someone associated with the church - the vicar, who carried out the pastoral duties on behalf of the absentee holder of a benefice. The derivation is from the Anglo French 'Vicare' or 'Vicaire', perhaps this originally from the Latin 'Vicarius', the word used for a deputy or substitute minor official in Roman times. Thus back to the medieval, one acting as Parish priest in place of the parson or rector.
The earliest known record of the name is that of Henrie Vicarie in 1249. Roberto Vicario de Acford (now called Oakford) was witness to a deed in 1260. Also a William Vikery was noted on the 1319 Rolls of London.
One noble bearer of the name was Thomas Vicary, surgeon to King Henry VIII about 1528 and for several years master of the Barber Surgeons Company. He was also a Governor of St Bartholomews Hospital, London. There is a painting by Holbein in the Barber-Surgeons Hall showing Thomas receiving the Royal Charter from the King.
In the Guildhall library is a lease bearing his signature.
A coat of arms was granted to the Vicary family of Warminster in Wiltshire in 1558 comprising a black shield with two red cinuefoils on a silver chief, the crest being a gold peacock close.

Historical occurrences of the name

The most famous bearer of the name was Thomas Vicary, barbour surgeon to King Henry V111 and founding governor of St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. Another was Leonard Vicary who accompanied Sir Francis Drake on one of his voyages to South America in 1577/1578.

Name frequency

The various UK census returns show the ferquency of the name in all its variants -
                 Vicary          Vickery           Viccary              Vicarey             Vickary        
1841          692               1350                   9                         2                       47
1851          678               1535                   7                        9                        50
1861          599               1427                 23                      10                     138
1871          669               1954                 18                       17                     118      

1881          809               2197                12                         6                      114
1891          875               2355                16                       15                       88
1901         939                3071                12                       21                       63

1911          995                3226                17                      26                       36

These figures are taken from the census indexes, not the actual census returns, so include transcription errors made by the enumerators on the night of the census as well as by the transcribers when compiling the indexes.  some of these are Vickrey, Vickry, Vicory, Vickury, Vicorry, Viccari and Vicari.

By comparison the 1900 US census has the following

                    89                 2785                  0                         4                          38                 

Distribution of the name

The VICARY spelling appears to originate in Devon whereas the VICKERY spelling in Somerset. This is almost certainly due to the difference in local dialect. Before about the mid 1800's perhaps ninety-five percent of the name bearers lived in these two counties.


My VICARY/VICKERY data includes -
Birth, marriage and death indexes from the beginning of civil registration in 1837 right up to 2008.
The ten yearly UK census returns from 1841 to 1911.
Extracts from the International Genealogical Index (IGI)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
and many other smaller indexes
Telephone directories
Kellys Trade Directories
Electoral rolls
Indexes of many local parish registers
Outbound and inbound passenger records
Hundreds of individual family trees sent to me over the past thirty years.
Many other miscellaneous indexes, and this is growing all the time.
I am also accumulating a quantity of VICKERY data.
Over 20,000 individuals on my database and increasing daily.

The process of gathering data is ongoing and if you have not yet written or emailed me with your own tree I would be extremely interested in hearing from you and to receive all the VICARY and/or VICKERY information that you have. If I make a connection I will of course write and let you know.


A VICARY/VICKERY DNA project was started in January 2012 and the results of the first test as expected. The name is also included in the Devon DNA project.
To follow and/or to participate in this project please follow the link below.