The York Family

The York Family

It is generally agreed that York is a location surname, i.e. those with the York name have ancestors that hailed from the area of York, England (now the United Kingdom).  In early times, York was settled by the Brigantes, a tribe of Britons, at the junction of the Ouse and Foss Rivers.  Later it was occupied by the Romans, who named it Eboracum (from which it gets its modern name) and made it the military capital of all of Rome's British possessions.  The town was made the capital of the Angle kingdom of Northumbria in the seventh century, B.C.  Around 624 it became an archiespiscopal see.  The archbishop of York ranks second only to the archbishop of Canterbury in the Church of England.  The Cathedral of St. Peter, or York Minster, is the most famous architectural landmark of the city.  In the eighth century, B.C., York was renowned as a center of learning.  It was a kingdom under the Danes and later a vassal state of the West Saxons.  It was burned by William the Conqueror in 1068; the remains of Clifford's Tower, a castle built that same year by William, can be seen today.  During the middle ages, the city was a commercial center and Parliament occasionally met there.  Today it is a parliamentary and county borough, and administrative center of Yorkshire. 
(Source: Funk & Wagnalls Standard Reference Encyclopedia, Vol. 25 [Wash - Zyri], © 1960 by Wilfred Funk, Inc.)

I am currently awaiting permission from a photographer, John Potter, to publish one of his copyrighted photos of York Minster to this website.  He has some fabulous photos of the City of York and Yorkshire in general.  To view these, you can visit his website.

It is unknown when my York ancestors emigrated from England to North America.  It is likely they first settled in what is now New England in the United States, or perhaps what is now Canada.  At any rate, my first definitive York ancestor was Jeremiah F. York, I (1794 - 1876), a veteran of the War of 1812.  He is believed to be a son of Stephen York and Amy Franklin, but no evidence has been found to prove this theory.  From the table below, you can choose to read an AnceStory of Jeremiah, or learn more about his probable father Stephen York, some possible siblings, and the family legend of being related to Benjamin Franklin, founding father of the United States (which is very likely untrue).  The table begins with my great-grandfather, Howard Merkel York, and proceeds back through the generations.

Howard Merkel York
(1898 - 1945)

James L. York
(1867 - 1933)

John H. York
(1823 - 1898)
(this biography is found at a different website; use your "Back" button to return to this page)

Jeremiah F. York, I
(1794 - 1876)
(this individual is not the same as Jeremiah York, I listed below)

Stephen York
(1775 - unknown)


My sister-in-law Diane (Ludke) Midkiff, also has York ancestry.  Her York ancestors appear to have settled in Maryland after emigrating from England.  In the 1730s, they began a migration that started in North Carolina and led to Tennessee and Alabama.  During the Civil War, the family's Union sympathies caused them to be evacuated under Federal escort to Indiana.  After attempting to return to Alabama after the War, the family settled in Missouri for a time, then emigrated west to pioneer in what was then Washington Territory.  Seven generations of York descendants have made Washington State their home.  The table below begins with Diane's great-great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth (York) Behrens, the last of Diane's ancestors to bear the York surname, and proceeds back in time to the earliest of her known York ancestors.

Mary Elizabeth York
(1860 - 1958)

Caswell C. York
(1822 - 1914)

Enoch York
(1870 - 1883)

Seymore York, II.
(c. 1762 - after 1840 )

Seymore York, I
 (c. 1727 - 1783)

Jeremiah York, I
 (1701 - 1784)
(this individual is not the same as Jeremiah F. York, I listed above)


Looking for information on a different York than those listed above?  Do a search on my online database at WorldConnect, or contact Diane or myself for more information.

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