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About the study

We are interested in connecting all references to the name Whincup, Whincop, Winkup, Wincup etc. to the massive connected family trees in the database. The database presently holds more than 7,000 references to the name. There are references to the name in the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Chile.

The research was begun in the mid 1970s by Paul Smith's late uncle Leslie Whincup in the day's before computers and the Internet. Paul took over the study in the early 1990s, computerised the information and significantly expanded the database and source material. In 2000 Paul was contacted by brothers Ken and Ray Whincup from West Yorkshire who have now joined him in a concerted effort to successfully build the database. They each concentate their research in slightly different ways but are all committed to expanding and linking Whincups to the family tree.

Ray Whincup was born 1937 in Leeds. He married Hazel Watson in 1959 and has two children Simon and Alison. Ray has survived lung cancer for 26 years and whilst no longer doing a large scale annual update maintains his interest in family history. His excellent article entitled '20 expert census search tips' was published in the August 2008 edition of Family Tree Magazine.

Ken Whincup was born in Hunslet in 1935. Formerly of East Ardsley he sadly died peacefully in June 2014 aged 78 he is greatly missed by wife Christine and his two children Helen & Michael.

Ray and Ken's parents were Fawcett Whincup and Dorothy Sellers. Fawcett was born 1910 son of Tom Whincup.

Paul Smith was born 1947, married Pam Rondeau in 1968 and has two children. By amazing coincidence, despite living miles apart Paul and Ray both married girls from Westcott Street, Hull, in the same Church, years apart. Paul is linked to Ray by another coincidence in that he worked and trained at the same hospital as Ray's niece. Paul worked as a Charge Nurse at Bridlington Hospital before he retired in 2010. Paul's mother was Mabel Whincup born 1923 in Hull daughter of Charles Cyril Whincup born 1885 in Shiptonthorpe. Mabel was the sister of Leslie Whincup who originally started the research. Paul co-ordinates the study by keeping the computerised database.

Paul, Ken & Ray, plus several correspondents all descend from the marriage between Joseph Whincup and Elizabeth Helmsley on 23rd March 1782, in Kirk Deighton.

We welcome new references and enquiries for existing information. All queries will receive a reply.

Variant names

The name has several variants, currently Whincup, Whincop, Wincup, Wincop, Winkup, Winkcup, Whincap, Whinkup. In previous centuries the variants where more numerous as society was less literate.

Name origin

Origin of Whincup

The origin of the Whincup name is not known for certain. The earliest references found to date are in the 16th century in Yorkshire (Spofforth, Collingham, Copgrove) and Lincolnshire, and with a large separate branch in Suffolk (usually spelt Whincop).

Surnames originated in the 12th and 13th centuries and primarily came from one of four sources:

Occupational e.g. Archer, Baker, Carter, Farmer, Mason, Smith, etc.
Place associated e.g. Deighton, London, Newton, Preston, York or more loosely Brook, Dale, Hill, Pond, Rivers, Underwood etc.
Patronymic e.g. Edmundson or Edmunds, John-son, Richard-son, Thom-son.
Nicknames e.g. Green, Long, New-man, Short, Redhead, Round.

The Place name, Wincup

The surname, Whincup could well derive from a place (see below). As to the origin of the place name, Wincup, the reference books give two possibilities : From Winkup, from Winkhope. A wink was a draw or well. Hop was old English for a hoop. In place terms this might mean a round enclosure or ring or round hollow. Another reference guide mentions a Viking origin and a translation that means "€œgorse bush"€.

The Surname'€™s origin in a place name

The surname is most probably place-associated from either of the two possibilities above. The families called "€œWincoppes"€, "€œWhincuppes"€ and "€œWinchoppes"€ seem to have been of farming stock. Perhaps their strip/strips of land were associated with one of the above descriptions when, in the medieval period, they were adding a second name to distinguish the Williams and Johns that lived in a particular village.

Germanic Origin?

One reference not fully explored is that of the name Whincoop/Wincoop, which seems to be of Dutch, German or Scandinavian origin. The Germanic name Wijnkooper means a wine cooper. The earliest references to Whincup and variants appear in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Suffolk and no other counties at all, that is in the east coastal region. Could this be a pointer to the origin? However, there are no foreign-sounding Christian names amongst the very early Whincup references which, as we know, often pass down several generations, suggesting either there is no Dutch connection, they anglicised very quickly or the connection is much further back.

Instances of the name Whincup recorded

The Whincup name does not appear very often in surname-origin textbooks. On the odd occasion when it does occur it is spelt Winkup, but the pre-1600 spelling was more likely to be Whincop, Wyncoppe, Whinkopp, Whinkcoppe, Wyncope, Whyncope, Whyncup, Wynchope, Whincoppe, Wyncopp or Winchop, rather than Whincup. Even as late as 1746 Richard of Spofforth used the name Whincop and had all eight of his children baptised Whincop.

Three of the very earliest references come from Wills. There is a Peter Wynchope of Lynton who was buried at Spofforth (possibly the family'€™s home village) in 1558; he mentions a wife and children. A Henry Wyncoppe of Swyllington died 1552. A William Wyncope of Knaresborough died about 1549, "€œto be buried within the sanctuarie of our lady at Knarisburghe"€). These three were probably mature men who would have been born about or before 1500.

It would seem the name possibly began as sounding like Whincop. It is possible an early family moved to Lincolnshire, to Norfolk and then to Suffolk, keeping the Whincop pronunciation, whereas in Yorkshire it gradually changed to Whincup. The early spellings are not really important as very few people could write, never mind spell, but they would have tried to spell phonetically. All the evidence points to a Win-cop sound.

According to K H Rogers book, Vikings and Surnames, in which he discusses the origins of surnames, there is a brief reference to Whincup being derived from an early place name Whincop, the name being of Cumberland origin, but more research is needed on this. The Domesday Book has been checked for any reference to a medieval Whincop hamlet, village, settlement or field name, but Cumberland is not well covered. Many hamlets will not have survived the centuries and if Whincop was a field name it may not even be documented. Or it may derive more from a topographical feature rather than a named place. In old English the word "€œhop"€ is a type of valley. Little work has been done on the Whincup study of place names. This is worthy of more research and there is plenty of literature about. There is an "€œEnglish Place Name Society"€, and some very good reference works and place-name dictionaries. In one reference book there is mention of a computerised database of place-name material being compiled at Nottingham University. A current Ordnance Survey map of Cumberland, shows a hamlet/farmstead named Whincop. Research in local libraries and the record office did not produce any further information. There are no very early Whincup / Whincop parish register references in Cumberland.

The Cumberland Quarter Sessions (Coroner's Inquests) in 1762 looked into the death of Elizabeth Benson, aged 30, who died walking from Whincop in Birker to Boot in Eskdale, when she tried to ford Birker Beck at the site of a footbridge which had been destroyed by earlier floods, and was swept into the River Esk and drowned. This shows Whincop was a place in 1762 but does not show when the place was established.

All the evidence points to a West Yorkshire origin, as the further you go back in time the less mobile people were. A rough way of establishing origin is to look at the geographical distribution of the name. Even today a trawl of telephone directories gives a preponderance of Whincups in Yorkshire; a similar distribution characterised IGI parish record references; and this was continued in the Census details for 1881 and 1901.

Many surnames were common to many villages - like smith, baker, green - and they have a multi-placed origin. Some names are unique and can be traced back to the origin of one family. As the early Yorkshire Whincup references are so tightly contained rather than being widely scattered, it is likely it originated from one family farming a piece of land on the "€œWinkop"€ ( the hollow, near the well, covered in gorse). The Suffolk branch is as yet unconnected but earlier references are concentrated around Bungay. There is a John Wyncop of Bungay (1560) who baptises several children. Another interesting point is that there are some early clergy references to a Robert Whincoppe of Great Melton in Lincolnshire, baptised 1540 with a father named John (who would have been born about 1510), and perhaps the clergy were a little more mobile than the average yeoman. It is possible the origin may be in Suffolk, bearing in mind the proximity of the Low Countries, and a branch may have migrated northwards instead of the other way round.

A couple of recent theories which fit with the above but are as yet unsubstantiated are:

Place name origin. There is some high ground near Ribston (near Hunsingore, to the east of Harrogate) that used to be called Whincop Hill. Perhaps the family lived/farmed near the "€œgorse (whin) covered hill"€.

Occupational. A gatherer of gorse. However most occupational names tend to end with "€œer"€ such as Farmer, Carter, Thatcher, Tyler, Potter, Brewer; and I would expect occupational-originating names to be more widespread in origin. The names Chandler, Smith, Baker, Cooper, Joiner, Carpenter, etc., all being occupational, have multiple origins as many villages would have had these occupations. I guess if we read deeper into surname origins some occupations will be localised, or at least the name given to what they do may be of local origin.


The best guess remains that the name Whincup is a place-name origin surname, associated with a gorse area where a family or families lived and farmed.

Historical occurrences of the name

There was a Robert Wincup transported to Australia.

A Police Superintenant in Yorkshire born in 1833

A surgeon born in 1895

Whincups with 13 and 14 children

A Whincup with 4 wives (one at a time)

There are Street names in Leeds and Knaresborough named after the Whincups of Stockwell House

A Whincup Close in High Wycombe named after William Arthur Whincup and his family.

Whincup Gardens, a sheltered housing complex in Leeds is named after Elsie Whincup a single lady who campaigned for better housing and amenities in the Hunslet area.

A Whincup born 1903 who was a pioneer of the early days of the Cinema.

A bust of the Rev. Thomas Whincop is situated in Holy Trinity Church, Hull.

The shop sign and facade of a William Whincup Wine and Spirits Merchant is displayed in the Castle Museum, York.

'By the River Nidd' by Lucy Hainsworth, (memories of Yorkshire villages) contains many references to the Whincup family.

Notable Whincups

Jamie Whincup, Australian motor racing driver

Tony Whincup, New Zealand photographic artist

Name frequency

The name is relatively rare.

There are about 800 Whincup (and variants in the UK today) on the electoral register. (excludes under 18s)

Whincup 618
Whincop 77
Wincup 78
Whincap 10
Whinkup 3
Winkup 7

ONS statistics for 2002 give a result of 1017

In the 1911 census a provisional total of 885 have been recorded.
In the 1901 census a total of 837 have been recorded
In the 1891 census a total of 755 have been recorded
In the 1881 census a total of 640 have been recorded.
In the 1871 census a total of 618 have been recorded
In the 1861 census a total of 477 have been recorded
In the 1851 census a total of 376 have been recorded
In the 1841 census a total of 418 have been recorded

Distribution of the name

The name originated in two areas so far unconnected: in West Yorkshire around the villages of Hunsingore, Spofforth and Whixley and North Suffolk straddling the Norfolk boarder. There are some early references in Lincolnshire around 1530.

Today the name has travelled far and wide, overseas to North America and Australia but is still largely concentrated in East Anglia and Yorkshire.


The source of material is too numerous to mention in full but includes:

All birth, marriage and death references from the GRO

Linked families in GEDCOM format with printable records and trees

Census details from the 1911, 1901, 1891, 1881, 1871, 1861, 1851, and 1841 censuses.

IGI references,

Electoral register and telephone details.

Hundreds of Parish Register refs.

All known Whincup/Whincop Wills

Trade Directory refs

Probate indexes

Electoral register refs

Merchant Seamen

Ellis Island Refs

Passenger immigration/emigration records

Information from dozens of Whincup contacts who have supplied details of their family trees.


In due course it would be interesting to discover if there is any connection between the Yorkshire Whincup/Whincops and the Suffolk Whincops. So far no genealogical link has been proven. If there is a connection it must be prior to 1550. Any male Whincup/Whincops willing to partake and help fund a DNA project please contact Paul Smith.