Family surnames are often recognizable as belonging to a particular nationality. When you see the name “Schmidt”, you think German, “Davoust”- French, and Carvaggio -Italian. But what nationality comes to mind when you see “ORCUTT”? According to ancestry.com, the name is English (Staffordshire), but the meaning is unknown. The website geni.com states “Orcutt is a fairly rare name. It seems to be based on location rather than occupation.” There are also variations in the spelling: ORCUTT, ORCUT, ORCOTT, ORCHUTE, URCHARD, URCHAR, URQUHART, ORQUART. The Urquhart spelling is Scottish and linked to both Fife as well as near Loch Ness. A Scottish Clan, Clan Chief, and a castle ruin has such a romantic appeal. I prefer the Scottish heritage origins and since I already have MacDonalds and Beatons from Scotland, Orcutt ties in quite nicely.
Ancestry.com has surname maps where you can discover the meaning and history behind your last name.
- Meaning and History
- Where your family lived in the U.S. and U.K.
- Average life expectancy
- When your family immigrated to the U.S.
- Common Occupations
In 1840 Orcutt families in the United States settled in New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
In 1891 Orcutt families in England lived primarily in London and in Warwickshire.
The 1841 census of Scotland shows the Urquhart families concentrated in Ross, Cromarty and Aberdeenshire.
The first male Orcutt in America, William, was either Scottish or English. One theory is that his family fled persecution in Scotland and settled first in Warwickshire, England and then immigrated to America. In 1663 William Orcutt and Mary Martha Lane were married in Hingham, Massachusetts. For more information about William’s heritage, Myrtle Orcutt has an informative blog: Sugden, B. Orcutt Family History.
Like William, my Orcutt ancestor’s background is in question. Daniel Heath Orcutt, my 3rd great-grandfather, was born in 1809 in Washington county, New York. Was his father William Orcutt (b. 1776 CT – d. 1859 NY)? OR Was his father John (b. 1773 CT – d. c. 1840 NY)? William’s wife is unknown, and John may have married Philinda Heath.
Whoever his parents were Daniel Heath Orcutt carried the adventurous genes of his forebearers, crossing land and sea to fulfill his dreams. In 1836, 27-year old Daniel bid farewell to the comfort and safety of a familiar home, family, and friends. What motivated Daniel to journey west to Illinois, California, across the isthmus of Panama, through the southern states, and then to Iowa?
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