Viking history of the family

The Viking invasion

History tells us of many Danish Viking raids on Anglo-Saxon England, but they never stayed. But when the ‘Great Viking Army’ invaded in 856, they slowly made their way across England.

By 866, the Vikings led by Ivar The Boneless had taken the city of York. They changed its name from ‘Eoforwic’ to ‘Jorvik’ and made it the capital of their territory in Northern England. 

Over the following ten years, more than 1,000 Viking warriors settled in York. They built farms and intermarried with the local population, as York became an important market for overseas trade.

The Old Norse language

The language of the Vikings was the Old Norse language, which was originally a North Germanic language. It included the word ‘Muceltoit’ from which the name Micklethwait originated, and it meant a large clearing. Read about the full origin and history of the family name.

Several places in the UK were named accordingly by the Vikings. The Micklethwaite village near Bingley in West Yorks originated as a Viking settlement in the 10th Century, and the Domesday Book gives the name as Muceltoit, Norse for ‘great clearing’. 

Micklethwait village sign, Bingly, West Yorks
Micklethwaite village near Bingley, West Yorks

The advent of family names

In the 13th Century, the population was expanding, and there was a concerted movement from the countryside to the towns and villages. It had become necessary to be able to distinguish reliably between individuals for many reasons, and a number of methods evolved including the one of naming people after the area in which they lived.

Hence there are records of people whose name was for example given as John de Micklethwait or Jane de Micklethwait. It therefore follows that one cannot assume that all people with the surname Micklethwait(e) are from the same family.

Earliest records of the family name indicate that our Viking ancestors arrived in England, started work as yeomen – no doubt once again creating large clearings that later became villages and in due course towns.

From the 11th Century onwards

There are records that refer to the Micklethwait name from the 11th Century onwards. However, it has not yet been possible to definitively prove that these earliest records refer to our ancestors. See a summary of these unconnected Micklethwaits who lived prior to the 15th Century. 

From this century onwards, we do have evidence to show a direct line of descent. There are now more than 1,800 ancestors and relatives listed on the Find Family Members page including those who married Micklethwaits.

Micklethwait family members in the UK and USA have had DNA testing of the Y-chromosome, which shows that they have common ancestry that is very likely to be Viking. However, all we know for sure is that we are named after a place that was named by folks who used Old Norse.