This curious and uncommon name is of Old Cornish origin, found chiefly in the south eastern and northern parts of this ancient region. The surname has two possible interpretations; firstly, it may derive from the Cornish "ughella", translating literally as "higher", and used originally as a byname of nickname to indicate status, the yeomen or "upper" people. Secondly, Uglow may derive from the Cornish "ughlogh", upper inlet, used as a topographical surname to denote residence by or near such a feature. The Cornish historian, A.L.Rowse wrote to my wife and explained that it meant something mundane such as 'people from the uplands'. Topographical surnames were among the earliest created in Europe, since both natural and man-made features in the landscape provided easily recognisable distinguishing names in the small communities of the Middle Ages. There are a variety of spellings and surname development has included the following examples from Cornish Church Registers: Joan Ugler (1597); Nicholas Uglo (1599); and Thomas Ugloe (1609).
However there are alternative
esoteric explanations - John from Thorverton in Devon and Tony Rivett
in Birmingham have researched this more than I but I remain wedded to
the mundane 'uplands' theory of our name, a straightforward topographical
approach. David Hey in the Oxford Guide to Family History wrote:
It is common to find
a belief that the family has had a romantic past, that they are descended
from someone important (perhaps in an illegitimate line), or that
vast sums of money wait to be inherited.... ...remain
sceptical about claims that the family are descended from King Canute,
the Duke of Marlborough, Huguenot refugees, Border cattle-rustlers
or all of these people...
However, as I said,
John 1921 and Tony Rivett have thought about
this more than I................
A. John's thoughts
on the possible origin of the name
The origin of the UGLOWs,
before the early 16th century when they are recorded in Cornwall,
is uncertain, and in my view, among many suggestions, there are three
- Descent from a
local Celtic tribe.
Celtic surnames in
Cornwall (Richard Blewitt 1970) - quotesUGLO-etymology:-
ugh=super, over, upper; logh (silent 'g')=inlet of
Handbook of Cornish
Surnames (G Pawley White 1980) - quotes origin of UGALDE (mainly
Liskeard area), from UGHEL-DYR meaning 'Upland'.
Rivett (notes 4:3) suggests:
UGLOW from UGHELLA meaning
'Higher',-hence 'Yeoman' or 'Upper people', or from UGH-LOO meaning
'Upper inlet', a geographical region.
- Descent from a
Scandinavian shipwrecked person, or person from a trading vessel
The Scandinavian origin
theory from UGGA or variations does not take into account the fact
that the early family name was often spelt OGLO or OGLU as well
as UGLOWE, which have near similar phonetic sound. It can be argued
that the U is easily miswritten O and vice/versa.
The Celtic origin theory
and the Scandinavian origin theory do not take into account the
information passed on from generation to generation quoted by great-uncle
Edward, which could be a load of rubbish!!
Letter (c.1988) from
Don DAVEY [UGLOW mother-relative of the Denbury branch, ].
"A local man
in Oxford who is an enthusiastic expert in such matters, says it
is a very old English name going back many hundreds of years in
the West Country. He thinks that there was a tribal leader somewhere
between the seventh and ninth centuries who could'nt stop his friends
finding out that his name was UGGA (thats the UG bit accounted
for) and when he was buried he was placed in a 'LOW',-burial ground-
so all the people that lived in this famous place where the great
man was laid became known as Lofty or Tiny or whatever from UGGASLOW.
This finally became abbreviated to UGLOW. That is one possibility
- The Spanish Connection
Information from the
Peterborough branch of UGLOW indicates that:-
Maud 1887 was a telephonist
at Woolwich Arsenal [World War 1] in August 1914. She was suspended
owing to a spy scare while UGLOW family records were found in Bude
church, Devon, by two detectives. But we were cleared as family
records were traced back to a Spaniard landing in North Cornwall
in the 16th century.
Maurice Hones quote,
"-That James UGLOW (b 1850 d 1929 at Spalding), had a family
tree made at the outbreak of World War 1 as the UGLOW name was suspected
of being German. Traced back to records in Bude church of a Spaniard
landing in Cornwall in the 16th century."
- Descent is from
a shipwrecked Turkish pirate as the family legend suggests
"I (John 1921) am
probably biased in my view that the Uglows originated from Turkey,
because I have been brought up with the legend passed on to
me from my great-uncle Edward Picken 1848. In a letter (1925) Edward
Picken 1848 to Edward Date1892 , he wrote:
I know nothing certain
about the UGLOWs beyond John UGLOW of Trevows Mill [probably
Trefuese mill ] in Mary Week parish. Family legends are generally
true. Father impressed that upon me... My father's story,
which I heard corroborated by old members of the family was -
A Turkish ship of war was shipwrecked in St Gennys Bay - which
is only a few miles from Jacobstow church - towards the end of
the 17th century. [If this were to be true, any wreck is more
likely ti have occurred in the early 16th century or
A young officer
who was saved was taken to a farm house, fell in love with the
daughter, married and settled in the parish.
I have since found
out that the name UGLOW is a corruption of the Turkish name OGLOU
[there is no letter W in Turkish] which occurs frequently in
Turkish history. One of the forts at KARS [120 miles south
east of BATUM] was called Fort OGLOU. The ancient OGLOU PALACE
at BRUSA, Asia Minor, the ancient capital of the Turks, according
to the Daily Telegraph, excelled that of the Sultan. OGLOU PASHA
commanded the Turks at St Jean D'Acre when it was besieged by
Napoleon 1st, who tried to take it by assault-after severest failures
and heavy losses he abandoned the siege. In the book 'The Life
of Ali Pasha', the history of the governor of VIDIN, -
OGLOU PASHA- is given, he could muster 10000 fighting men and
defied the Sultan Salim's command.
The shipwreck and a survivor
marrying a farmer's daughter and raising a family at some place
near St Genny's Bay, Cornwall - (between Crackington Haven &
Bude). Also, his quotation " family legends are
generally true, father impressed that upon me." and
"My father's story, which I heard corroborated by old members
of the family " indicates that old members
born in the 18th century believed the origin
was Turkish. How a foreign shipwreck survivor became
accepted into the community at that time is another question!!
The spelling OGLO and
UGLOE in early records and references to Pasvan Oglou in the Life
of Ali Pasha noted by Edward Picken 1848 suggests to me that
the name may well be of Turkish origin. The name of a Turkish competitor
at the 1992 Olympics had an ending OGLU, which means
'son'. On the 21st Nov.1994 the Daily Mail carried a news report
on weightlifting as follows:-
'TURKEY'S Naim Suleymanoglu
twice broke a world record at the World Championships in Istanbul
Certain fact is that in
the early 16th century there were some UGLOWs (however the name is
spelt) in the Stratton and Marhamchurch area of Cornwall. This is
indicated by the Cornwall Military Survey dated 1522, 1525,
1543 and by the Church records of burials and baptisms at Marhamchurch
in the mid-16 century. Here possibly three or more different families
of UGLOW were having children baptised and the earlier UGLOWs who
are recorded on documents dated 1522, 1525 and 1543, were the subjects
of burial records. Also, in no other parish in the UK have I found
UGLOW records as early and numerous as these at Marhamchurch, Cornwall.
UGLOW church records number
38 from the start of 1558 to 1600 and 135 between 1600 to 1700 at
Marhamchurch, which is probably less than 11 km / 7 miles from the
legendary ship-wreck site at St Genny's Bay.
UGLOW WILLS held by the
Cornwall Record Office, Truro, suggest that some of the UGLOWs were
substantial property and landowners by the 18th century, although
many followed "a more humble way of life".
The UGLOWs appear to have
made a strong Non-Conformist break-away from the Protestant religion
to the Bible Christian and Methodist Churches. I first came across
evidence of this when I started my research, when two UGLOW families
living in the same parish claimed they were not related. At the time,
I felt it was because of differences in religious belief, but it may
have been deeper rooted in the social levels of the families.
Other surnames with variation
in the spelling which are fairly certain to be of the same origin
The earliest date noted
in Cornwall is 1522 OGLOW & UGLOWE at Stratton, 1525 1543 1558
UGLOWE at Marhamchurch, 1586 OUGLO Marhamchurch, OGLO Plymouth, 1592
UGLO at Marhamchurch, UGLOE (1604 Marhamchurch), U'GLOW (1893 Falmouth),
OGLE, UGLER & UGLAR, and variations spelt with Roman "V"
replacing the "U". [see Anthony RIVETT
Surnames with variation
in the spelling which may or may not be of the same origin:-
Extracts from Tony Rivetts "A Study on the origins of the
UGLOWs". (Feb. 1994)
by Anthony B.
8. Martin Rise,
Birmingham. B37 7AH
1. Origins of the name
book "Surnames of the U.K."
UGLOW - Dweller at UGGA'S
(Burial) MOUND (Anglo Saxon - HLOEW-)
UGGAN genitive of UGGA of
Scandinavian origin from Old Norse
UGGR - fear, awe. UGGA was
presumably a Scandinavian chief of awesome or fearful aspect.
Bardsley's book "English
and Welsh Surnames"
gives no derivation but says
it must be looked for in Cornwall. He then by way of example gives a
marriage at St Georges Hanover Square in Mayfair, London on 4/2/1750
of Sarah Uglow, whereas a Cornish example would have been much more
2. Distribution of the
Over the period 1558 to about
1880 the distribution of UGLOWs was predominantly Cornwall, mainly Atlantic
coast, but with small pockets on the south coast and inland. Devon was
the only other county with a significant UGLOW population. Minor numbers
occurred in Warwickshire and London.
At the present time Cornwall
remains predominant, followed by Devon, Surrey, Hampshire, Worcestershire,
Lancashire and Warwickshire.
This distribution suggests
an early in Cornwall/Devon with migrations to cities such as Birmingham,
London and Manchester in the late 18th and early 19th centuries as agriculture
became depressed in Cornwall/Devon driving those seeking work to the
newly industrialised cities.
3. Variations in spelling
of the UGLOW name.
(a) Phonetically similar
with accent on the initial syllable - UGLOW, UGLO, UGLOWE, *VGLOW, *VGLOE,
UGLEW, *VGLOWE, UGLOWER, UGLOO, U'GLOW, OUGLO, OGLOW
(b) Predominantly a Devon
variation containing the intrusive "n" and possibly an accent
of the final syllable. UGLON, *VGLONE, UGLONCE, UGESLONE
(c) Predominantly a Devon
variation containing the intrusive "r" possibly indicating
an accented final syllable. UGLER, UGLAR, *VGLORE, *VGLER, *VGLAR, UGLOR,
UGLIER, *VGLYER, UGLORYE. * V=Roman U, used in late medieval times
4. The ancestral home
of the UGLOWs ?
This popular suggestion as
connected to the Armada is the easiest to discount as Marhamchurch records
pre-date the Armada of 1588 and the UG element is unknown in Spanish
(a) The Turkish for thief
or pirate is UGRU which could by corruption approach UGLOW, but very
(b) The Turkish explorer
Piri Reis was known to have mapped the Atlantic seaboard of central
and southern America in 1368 but there is no record of him or his compatriots
or contemporaries visiting Cornwall, although such a visit is not out
of the question.
(c) Transliteration of the
Arabic style Turkish script to Roman style did not occur until 1928
and could not possibly have resulted in a terminal W as in UGLOW.
(d) The common Turkish name
ending OGLU means "son" and is used in the same sense as in
English when applied to personal names.
4.3. The Basque country
(north Spain/south west France)
[Possible but unlikely]
The UG element of the name
UGALDE is a pure Basque name
- UG=water / ALDE=place i.e. river/coast
UGALDES are descended from
Joseph UGALDE, a Basque who was shipwrecked near Looe in the early 1800's
The most likely ancestral
home of the UGLOWs would appear to be Scandinavia, in general, and specifically
Jutland, the northern part of Denmark.
The UG/UGG element abounds
in both personal names and place names in Southern Norway, Northern
Denmark, and Western Sweden.
Considering North Denmark
there are eight place names incorporating the initial UG/UGG and ten
personal names one of which is UGELOW, Copenhagen has fourteen
Norway has two place
names, Oslo has eleven personal names.
Sweden has one personal
name (in Goteborg) and one place name on the coast.
4.4. In these paragraphs
six possible routes by which an Anglo Saxon, or Scandinavian name could
have arrived in Cornwall/Devon and are abbreviated here.
The Jute route, i.e.
when the Jutes invaded England in about 450 A.D.
The Angle route when
settlers came from the north west German coast.
The Saxon route when
the Saxons arrived in England from 477 A.D.
The early (793 A.D.) and
late (893 A.D.) Viking route.
It is interesting that the
commemorative saint for Poughill parish church is St. Olaf, one of the
few non-Irish, non-Cornish, non-English saints commemorated in this
way in Cornwall. Olaf is a Scandinavian name, St.Olaf a Norwegian
The Canute route in
- - - - - - - - - - -
There is circumstantial evidence
to support a Danish/Norwegian/Viking source for UGLOWs for the following
1. Present place and personal
names suggest UGGA was a chieftain living in either southern Norway,
southern Sweden and Denmark.
2. A corresponding distribution
in Devon and Cornwall.
3. UGGA folk could have arrived
by one or more routes from 450 to 1017, possibly settling in Poughill,
near Bude and spreading throughout the Atlantic coast of Cornwall and
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