Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
Variants: Whiffen, Whiffin, Wiffen, Wiffin
Category: 2 - A study where research using core genealogical datasets and transcriptions is well under way, but currently in some countries only.
DNA website: www.familytreedna.com/public/whiffen
Contact: Mrs Sally Whiffing
Suggested origins include: * WIFFEN (& variants Whiffen & Whiffin): English: of uncertain origin, possibly a habitation name from an unidentified place named with the Old English elements 'hwit' (white, i.e. phosphorescent) + 'fen' (marsh*) Patrick Hanks & Flavia Hodges, in 'A Dictionary of Surnames' Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1988
(*The Oxford English Dictionary gives FEN: Low land covered wholly or partially with shallow water, or subject to frequent inundations;- a marsh)
Patrick Hanks is the lead researcher for the project 'Family Names of the UK' (FaNUK) based at the University West of England, Bristol.
* WIFFIN: Anglo Saxon WIF, WIFARE: a personal name; Dutch WIJVERING; a family local name: Wifre, a weaver. Rev. H Barber, 'British Family Names, their origin and meaning' Elliot Stock, London. 1894
* WIJVERING - from Dutch immigrants who came to England to help drain the Fens from the 1630's. But the name Whiffen (etc.) predates this, occurring frequently back into the 16th century and also noted back to the 13th century.
* WHIFFING - a means of catching mackerel with a handline, a west country term which the Oxford English Dictionary can only date back to the 1830's
*Benjamin Barron Wiffen (1794-1867)* - Quaker, biographer and translator of early Spanish writers
*Mrs. Thomas Whiffen (1845-1936)* - Actress, maiden name Blanche Galton
*Thomas Whiffen (1819-1904)* - Owner of a chemical Company which was eventually acquired by Fison's in 1947
*Captain Thomas William Whiffen (1878-1922)* - Explorer, and author of 'Northwest Amazon: notes of some months spent among cannibal tribes'
There are also some places named after Whiffen's:
*Whiffin Spit* -Sooke Harbour, British Columbia, Canada
*Whiffen's Avenue*, Chatham, Kent, UK
Surname Count Ranking WHIFFEN 657 9185 WHIFFIN 610 9714 WHIFFING 80 38094 WIFFEN 1151 5919 WIFFIN 111 31017 Total: 2609
According to the 1841 census for England and Wales, these were the figures 160 years earlier, when the total population was approximately 15.91 million people. This gives a frequency of 1 in 14,691 or 0.007% of the population
Surname Count WHIFFEN 227 WHIFFIN 247 WHIFFING 17 WIFFEN 368 WIFFIN 224 Total: 1083
Do have a look at the Whiffen DNA Project pages:
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: