The Churchward One-Name Study


Roadworks Site under construction.

This is the very early start of a website which will hopefully be a lot more sophisticated in time.

It will, eventually, be the source of all information associated with the Churchward surname and many of the holders of that surname.

Distribution "Coat of Arms" Family Groups DNA Project Records    


What is a One-Name Study?

A one-name study is a project researching all occurrences of a surname, as opposed to a particular pedigree (ancestors of one person) or descendancy (descendants of one person or a couple). The research is usually carried out globally, and covers all holders of that particular surname, whether it was acquired by birth, marriage, adoption, illegitimacy or deed poll. The Guild of One-Name Studies is the premier UK-based organisation for one-name studies, and the Guild's archive facilities will hold many of the records of the Churchward surname, collected over 40 years of research.

The Origins of the Churchward surname.

It is undoubtedly occupational in origin, based upon the churchwarden's function in the village church, and all early occurrences have been found in a fairly localised area of the South Hams district in the county of Devon, England.


There are no variants of the surname. Even today, many Churchwards find their name wrongly recorded as Churchwood, and all Churchwoods found in the records have, to date, turned out to be mistranscribed Churchwards. It should not be confused with the surname Churchyard, and its variant Churchard, which has its origins on the other side of England in the county of Suffolk.

Historical Occurrences.

All the early occurrences of the surname are found in Devon, the earliest one found so far being that of Walter Churchward of Paignton, in the Devonshire Lay Subsidy of 1332, when his liability was assessed at 2 shillings.

Frequency of the name.

In spite of infant mortality and emigration, the UK Churchwards continued a healthy growth in numbers throughout the second half of the 19th. Century and into the early 20th. Century. From the census returns for England and Wales there were:- 236 in 1841; 298 in 1851; 343 in 1861; 394 in 1871; 452 in 1881; 495 in 1891; 516 in 1901 and then 523 in 1911.

Distribution of the name.

Before the advent of the railways, very few Churchwards escaped from South Devon. They were most numerous in Stoke Gabriel; Buckfastleigh; Paignton and adjoining parishes, although they are also found in the early registers of Brixham. It is from Brixham that possibly a few found their way to Newfoundland and hence Canada and America. Once the railways had been established, several (my own family included) went further afield to seek work, whilst some of the better-educated became engineers; missionaries and soldiers in various parts of the world. Australia and Canada were favourite destinations.

Family Groups.

Since there is not yet a link of all Churchwards back to a single common ancestor, the various family groups are subdivided into geographical groups depending upon the earliest proven ancestor.


ALL new Churchward contacts are welcome, as is any new information on Churchwards - far and wide.

Please contact

Brian G. Churchward.