If you are trying to trace the Matlock surname and its origins, you may be interested
in some references to the surname within Derbyshire, England, which
is where the town named Matlock is situated. However, we should note the following:
- People living in the early Middle Ages did not have a surname as we
would recognise it; instead, it was common for them to insert
the name of the parish where they were born after their Christian
name as a method of identifying themselves when they went somewhere
- Surnames did not develop until the mid-thirteenth
century, so from approximately 1250. An example is given
below with the reference taken from a book by J. Charles Cox;
he identifies a Gilbert de Matlock, which means Gilbert of
Matlock. In later centuries, this man would have become simply
Gilbert Matlock, just as John the Smith became John SMITH,
though in the latter case John was named after his occupation
of smith rather
than the place he was born. There were two additional ways
surnames originated - from the father's name (patronymic) and
It therefore isn't unreasonable to suppose that those who were and are born
with the surname of Matlock should originate from the early inhabitants of
the place known as Matlock in Derbyshire, England.
| But what is the evidence?
There's little to go on at present, I'm afraid,
despite knowing that people with the surname de Matlock owned land
in Matlock in the mid thirteenth century. But then there weren't
all that many Matlock's around anyway (see below
for the number of Matlock's alive in Britain in the nineteenth and
early twentieth century census returns).
Nevertheless, some references linking the surname and the town
called Matlock have been found and are reproduced here. Of course,
if you have any more references from recognizable sources, I would
be delighted to include them. I haven't found the surname Matlock
in any English surname dictionaries, unfortunately, though MATTOCK
is given as a derivation of MADDOCK or MADOC.
| Known references from
old books on Derbyshire and some documents, arranged chronologically.
- Robert de Matlock is named in an undated document amongst the
Wolley documents (Wensley deeds).
- "1388. Gilbert de Matlock".
J. Charles Cox found the name under the Institutions to the Chantry
of the Blessed Virgin for the church at Dronfield, Derbyshire.
The Guild of the Blessed Virgin was founded within the church
at Dronfield in the year 1349 and Gilbert's name was the first
on the list.
Cox used as his source the Lichfield Episcopal Registers,
vol. vi., fo. 104 and Addy's "Beauchief Abbey",
- "From the particulars of the 'Gild of Our Blessed Lady of Dronfield'
we get the fact that "Gilbert de Mateloc, chaplain, and his
companions enfeoffed Johanna, widow of Robert Bretone" ...'
Although the above quotation is undated, it is clearly the
same Gilbert as that found by Cox.
- In 1840 William Adam wrote:
|"The following singular circumstance was communicated to
the Author by a respected inhabitant of Matlock Bath, who conversed
with the party named:-
A person engaged in Mercantile affairs in New York came to Liverpool
on business, in 1816, and finding himself on his arrival, not
far distant from Matlock, he felt exceedingly desirous to visit
it, being the birthplace of his ancestors, and from whom, in his
youth, he had heard some wonderful things respecting it. He came
accordingly. On conversing with the parties here, he stated that
he always understood that hot water flowed out plentifully at the foot of the hill where his ancestors resided.
He gave his name as Timothy Matlock. This name being singular,
and no one recollecting such a name, search was made in an old
Parish Register, where the following entries were found -
"Richd. Filius Thos. Matlock, Baptised April 28th 1660.
Grace the daughter of Richd. Thos. baptised May 1st, 1661"
It would appear that the place alluded to was the Upper Wood,
a small hamlet, as all the hot springs issue out at the foot of
the hill below it ; and this somewhat confirms the idea already
thrown out, that this was the original Metesford".
[Written in a footnote at the bottom of page 25]:
"Filius" means son of.
Adam also noted that Mestesford or Nestford was assumed to
have derived from the Nester Mine as Nestes or Nestus was the
name originally given to the Heights of Abraham. There was supposedly
also a ford across the river below this.
- "In an early volume of The Reliquary there are
recorded a series of Matlock deeds, in which occur the names
of Henry de Matlock and Maud, relict of John de Matlock" (Benjamin
- Bryan also wrote of the possibility of people being named after
the place they lived, as I have discussed above. He also mentioned
the story recounted by Adam, though changing the parish register
finding slightly to Grace, daughter of Thomas [Matlock].
The baptism of Grace Matlock is also recorded in the IGI (FamilySearch),
although the year in that is given as 1662. There were also a
few Matlocks said to have been recorded in Bonsall's parish register,
but these have now been removed from the IGI.
- Bryan also mentions the Memorial Inscription in All Saints'
Church, Derby :-
"Near this place lies the body of Robert, only child of Robert
and Sarah Matlock, who was born October 26th, 1726, and departed
this life October 25th, 1730".
This clearly refers to the son of Robert Matlock who married
Sarah Partridge at Duffield, DBY on 6th February 1725/6.
See: So how many Matlocks were there in the
- The following extract is taken from an early twentieth century
publication and the points raised by the church historian W.
N. Statham are
discussed below it. The book includes details from the Domesday
Book and then discusses the various early forms of Matlock (i.e.Meslach,
Mathlac and Matlok). The author then goes on to say:
"In the list of Rectors who held
the living of Matlock[Note
1] it will be found that two possessed the name
of Matlock, vix.: William de MATLOKKE in 1325[Note
2] and Robert de MATLOKKE in 1397, these were
undoubtedly the eldest sons of the descendants of the
first Knight of Matlokke or Meslach, or Mathlac, who undoubtedly
must have owned at that time the greater part of the land
and possessions round about the Parish Church and would
in all probability hold and live at the Manor House. In
all cases where an individual's Christian name followed
by de and the name of the place where he lived is
recorded, the meaning is that his title would be Sir of
Knight of that place. [Note
It may be of interest to the readers of this
history that within the last few years I have seen communications
from two heads of families living in America who are
descendants of the de Matlock's, and are seeking any
information respecting their ancestors that can be obtained;
one of these took a very prominent part in the government
of that country at the time of the Declaration of Independence
and lived to a good age of between eighty and ninety,
thus showing that Derbyshire stock is of an enduring
kind and full of grit.
I believe one branch of the family
eventually became Quakers[Note
4] and would possibly leave this country at
the time, those holding that belief were more or less
persecuted, with a view to stamp out the denomination.
It is just possible therefore the American families are
descendants of these emigrants from Matlock; there are
still in existence old Deeds recording the transfer of
lands from the de Matlocks of long ago".
This is very interesting, as Statham has made some fascinating
points, though some of them cannot be proved.
Disappointingly for those researching the name, this statement
cannot be verified at present. No Matlock rectors have been
found with the name de Matlock, though there was a William
de Matlok, clerk, living in the 14th century. Without further
checks, this writer is unsure whether William was directly connected
to the church in Matlock.
from St. Giles Church
There is documentary confirmation of William, son of Richard
de MATLOKKE, living in the fourteenth century. He would have
been the same William identified in Note 1.
Please see below, under "suggested areas for further research".
This interpretation of "de Matlock" possibly gives more importance
to the rank of people with the surname than may have been the
case, although the de Matlocks certainly held land within Matlock.
Manor of Matlock | Charters
and Early Deeds | Ancient
Deeds - from the reign of Edward I to the reign of Philip & Mary | The
Statham's belief can only be proved by the examination of the names
of early emigrants from England to the United States and in Quaker
records, but it seems unlikely that anyone named Matlock emigrated
to the New World directly from Matlock itself although Matlock
families (Ludlam and Bowne) were amongst the early settlers.
Jana Black writes
that researchers in the United States have traced their origins
to John Matlock, known to have been born in England between 1560
and 1580 in the adjacent county of Nottinghamshire. From what
we know so far, it is quite possible that early inhabitants of
Matlock, known by the name de Matlock in the fourteenth century,
moved from Derbyshire to Nottinghamshire. But this is pure speculation
at the present.
| So how many Matlocks were there in the area?
Unfortunately, neither marriages (1637-1837)
nor burials (1662-1812) for people with the surname
Matlock have been found in the Matlock Parish Registers apart from
Grace, although even her entry is doubtful.
Nor are Matlocks to be found in the registers of other parishes
in the district. For example, in Wirksworth's Parish Registers
the nearest match and only entry is for a marriage on 9 Oct 1689
between Mary Mattock and John Shore, though Mattock could be a
spelling variant of Matlock.
There is only one probate document for the surname listed at Lichfield,
where many Derbyshire Wills are held. This is
for the administration of the estate of Richard
Matlock of Derby, an Inn Holder who was a widower with no children
and who was buried at All Saints', Derby on 27 Jul 1751. Richard's
two brothers Robert and Matthew, both of whom were Writing Masters,
administered the estate[a].
Although there are traces of both these brothers in the registers
for All Saints, Robert moved to Nottingham and Matthew was in Lichfield.
Robert died in Nottingham in 1754[aa].
Robert is mentioned above. See: Known references
from old books on Derbyshire and some documents, arranged chronologically [item
found in the U.K. in census returns.
In the first full census, that of 1841, there were just 69 people
with the surname Matlock in England and Wales. The number dropped
to 53 Matlocks in 1851, but a further 6 Mattlocks were living in
Martock in Somerset. By 1861 the number had increased to 138 persons.
Twenty years later, at the time of the 1881 census, 173 people
with the surname of Matlock were living in England, Wales and Scotland
though none had been born in Derbyshire. Henry and Rose Matlock
were the only Matlocks living in the county in 1881 and they were
at Litchurch near Derby.
A further five Matlock's were in neighbouring
county of Nottinghamshire.
The oldest and youngest Matlock's alive in 1881 were both female.
Mary Matlock, a widow, was the oldest and aged 72; she was living
alone in Essex at Workhouse Cottage, Peldon.
The youngest, Fanny Matlock, only 2 weeks old, was in the "Union
Work House", Union Place, Loughborough, Leicestershire. She
was with her mother Elizabeth, brother, sister and 21 other people
were also inmates.
The oldest male was 70
year old gardener Joseph Matlock of In The Park, Trumpington, Cambridge.
By 1891 the numbers had declined to 168 Matlocks;
Henry Matlock (49), Rose Matlock (50)
and Sarah Ann Matlock (7) were living in Derby St Werburgh. By
1901 Henry and Rose were in Derby Workhouse; Henry died later that
year but Rose lived until 1915. Sarah Ann's fate is unknown at
present although she might have married John Salt in 1901 at Derby
Register Office. The 1901 census lists 199 Matlock's in England,
Wales and Scotland.
In 1911, the last census currently in the public domain, there
were 173 Matlocks in England and Wales.
| Suggested areas for further
Local newspapers have occasionally featured requests from people
with the surname for information about the town. For example,
I have a copy of The Derbyshire Times of 21 March, 1958 which
featured a photograph of a letter from Maryland requesting a copy
of the paper's latest issue.
| Additional Information
- Matlock Churches
- References to early forms of spelling the place name, such
and Mathlac are to be found in Volume XXIX of the English
Place-Name Society Series:
Cameron, Kenneth (1959) "The place-names of Derbyshire".
Cambridge University Press, Part II. See: pp.388-339
MATLOCK Family Association Website. Shaun Matlock and
Jana Black collaborated on "Matlocks in America" but
their information can't be found at present
for the Matlock surname on the Surname Web
to the Rootsweb Matlock Mailing List if you wish to contact
others who are interested in this surname. To subscribe, just write
the word "subscribe" in the body of the message, and nothing
else. To unsubscribe, just write just the word "unsubscribe"
in the body of the message, and nothing else. It helps the list
owner if you turn your signature files off before sending the e-mail.
- There is information about other Derbyshire surnames elsewhere
on the Internet, though it doesn't include the surname MATLOCK.
in a Name?
1. Whilst I've attempted to establish the link between the surname
and the parish, none of my own known ancestors had the surname
2. Quite a few people who live in the United States have been
told their ancestors were originally from Matlock in Derbyshire
and there are now entries in the IGI (FamilySearch) for an early
Matlock marriage as well as baptisms that supposedly took place
in Matlock, but these have no source. One example records a given
birth year of 1643 in Matlock followed by a death given as 1778
but it clearly cannot be correct.
3. I would very much like to hear from anyone who has definitely
traced their Matlock surname ancestry back to the town or knows
of further references or documents which point to people with
the surname of Matlock living in the parish in early times (go
to Contact Ann in the footer).
Researched and written by and © Ann Andrews.
Intended for personal use only.
hyperlinks are to transcripts elsewhere on this website):
All books below are also referred to on: Old
Books & Other Publications
 Indexes to the Wolley Manuscripts
are on this web site. See Volume 6669.
 J Charles Cox (1879) "Notes
on the Churches of Derbyshire" Chesterfield: Palmer
and Edmunds, London: Bemrose and Sons, 10 Paternoster Buildings;
and Derby. Volume 4, p.459. Addenda.
 R. P. Ely, W. S. Ely and D. B. Ely
Revell and Stacye families" Fleming H. Revell Company,
New York, Chicago, Toronto, London, Edinburgh, p.98
 W. Adam  "The Gem of
the Peak" by pub. London; Longman & Co., Paternoster
Richard Matlock, mentioned by William Adam, does not appear in the IGI (FamilySearch).
See the link to FamilySearch on our Useful Sources page.
 Benjamin Bryan (1903) "History
of Matlock - Matlock, Manor and Parish": London by Bemrose
& Sons, Limited, pp.116-117. The heirs of Henry Matlock are
mentioned in the Indexes to the Wolley Manuscripts: See
A transcript of "The Reliquary", mentioned
by Bryan, is now available on this web site: Ancient
Deeds - from the reign of Edward I to the reign of Philip & Mary
 Grace Matlock is, and the Bonsall
parish register entries were, listed in the IGI (Family Search)
but the Bonsall names seem to have been removed or corrected; it
is quite possible that a transcriber misread the surname as there
were people in Bonsall with the surname Maddock (e.g. Will of William
Maddock[e], Bonsall, 1615).
Grace's baptism in the IGI is recorded
as 11 May 1662, but is now under Matlock rather than Bonsall.
A baptism for a Grace Hursthouse (or Matlocke), d. of Thomas and
christened 11 May 1662 at Matlock is provided in Val and Ivor Neal's
PR transcripts that
are available on CD.
 Bryan would have extracted the
MI is from Stephen Glover (1833) "History & Gazetteer
of the County of Derby", pub. Derby, p.467
 "History of Matlock Parish
Church", W. N. Statham, (1925) Printed by Geo. Hodgkinson,
pp.5-7. With thanks to Jana Black who
manages the Rootsweb Matlock-L
 St. Giles
Church Hatches, Matches and Dispatches - baptisms, marriages
and burials at the Parish Church
 With thanks to John Palmer for the
[a] Administration of the estate of Richard
Matlock granted 1751, 24 Sept. Document held by Lichfield Record
Office. Richard Matlock had married Ann Moore
at All Saints', Derby on 8 May 1731. She was buried there on 20
[aa] Some children of Robert and Matthew
Matlock were christened at All Saints'. Robert Matlock was also
buried at All Saints' on 20 Nov 1753. The Will of Robert
Matlock of Nottingham was proved in 1754 (Prerogative & Exchequer
Courts of York Probate Index, 1688-1858).
 U.K. census information is available
on the Find
My Past web site (the link will open in a new tab or window).