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* Paddock - Surname Origins, Distribution and Family History*

Updated July 25, 2005

As a bearer of the surname Paddock, I am interested in both my own family history and the origins and distribution of the name. Summary comments on my findings to date follow.

Own Family. My great-grandfather, George Paddock, was born at Valeswood, Little Ness, Shropshire in 1856. George left his native county when he enlisted in the Royal Artillery in 1879. His ancestry can be traced back with certainty to the marriage of Thomas Paddock to Sarah Plimley at Montford in 1739. Tentatively, the family line can be taken back further, through the parishes of Whittington and Ellesmere, to the marriage of Richard Paddock (Padog) and Jane Davies at Oswestry in 1656. Richard was living at Hordley when he married but, in all likelihood, he originally came from Rednal in the parish of West Felton, where the associated name Parrock was well established in the 1620s/30s (the surviving parish registers for West Felton date back to 1628).

Distribution. Extending into adjacent areas of Denbighshire, Flintshire, Montgomeryshire and Staffordshire, Shropshire was the main 'home' of the surname Paddock from the mid-17th century until the late 19th century. Today, the largest concentration of Paddocks in the UK is to be found in the modern county of the West Midlands. This eastwards shift in focal point is indicative of rural-urban migration and the relative decline of Shropshire as the principal home of Paddock was exacerbated by an emerging trend of movement to Cheshire and Lancashire over the second half of the 19th century. Secondary to the Shropshire/West Midlands area in terms of numbers, the name also has an historical association with the southern counties of England in general. Centred on Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire in the mid-19th century, the numerically smaller and more dispersed Paddock grouping in the south nonetheless appears to pre-date any Salopian connection. At High Ham in Somerset, for example, the surname is recorded as early as 1324.

Origins. The surname Paddock has two accepted etymologies: deriving from either 'padde' (plus the diminutive suffix -ock, meaning a toad or frog) or 'pearroc' (meaning a field or enclosure and originally preceded by a preposition; eg 'at' or 'de'). In Shropshire, there is clear evidence of the surname having derived from Parrock. The change from -rr- to -dd- did not occur before the 17th century and is not readily explained. Whilst the overall trend in surname development was from Parrock to Paddock, changes were not always linear. At times the two names were used interchangeably and sometimes reverted back from Paddock to Parrock. Many American bearers of the surname claim French descent through an early settler, taken to have been Robert Paddock who was born in Dublin in 1584 of Huguenot parentage.

Variants. Sometimes recorded with only one ‘d’ and occasionally with a final ‘s’ (or as –ox), early versions of the surname include the suffix –og, and the ending can be given as –uck, or more rarely –ack, but the most distinct variant of Paddock is the southern form, Paddick. The suffix –ick is unusual in Shropshire and the West Midlands, where instances in printed historical sources are more often than not transcription errors. The same applies to Parrock and Parrick, although the suffix -ack occurs more frequently, primarily in the south. In Hampshire, there is also evidence of synonymity with the name Padwick, which is distinctive in its own right (in which case Paddock, via Paddick, is probably a derivative of Padwick rather than vice versa).

Population. Contemporary surname population estimates vary, ranging from about 1,550 to 2,200 for Paddock in the British Isles. Worldwide, there may be as many as 9,300 people with the surname Paddock; of whom about two-thirds live in the USA.

I welcome enquiries or exchanges of information on any of the above topics.

Rory Paddock
426 Karori Road
Wellington, New Zealand
+64 4 476 6236

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