Do not take that headline too seriously. It was written a bit tongue in cheek, although with a serious intention.

There are several variants of the surname Wicks, but the most common are Weeks and Wicks. Together they form about three quarters of Weeks/Wicks variants in the UK 1881 census.

A map showing the distribution of the two surnames is interesting.

Map drawn in GenMap UK - details below


The map shows the 10 counties for each of the variants where the surname is most concentrated. They are in distinct areas. The only county where both variants occur is Wiltshire. Wicks is found to the East of Wiltshire and Weeks to the South and West of Wiltshire with an outlier in Kent. Why the outlier in Kent?

The question arises as to whether Wicks and Weeks are true variants of one another. Most of the surname websites are in agreement that they are, and that the origin is in the Old English word "wic" meaning a settlement, often a dairy farm. The Wicks variant can be seen in various forms in modern day place names - Wick, Gatwick, Ipswich, Norwich and the Weeks variant in lesser known place names mainly in Devon.

DNA tests provide possible answers to some of these questions, but a few words of caution. DNA tests are not definitive statements of ethnicity, but estimates based on large databases. The relationship between DNA tests and surnames can be a controversial subject, as can early migration patterns and the coexistence and assimilation of various ethnic groups. It is one of the reasons I warned that my headline was written a bit tongue in cheek.

My y-DNA, that is the DNA through the male line, is R-U106. The haplogroup R is common in England being present in about one third of the male population. It is also common in The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Germany. It is sometimes known as the Saxon DNA. In my case DNA testing shows a genetic connection to Scandinavia and, in particular, Norway. It raises the question as to whether my heritage is Viking or Saxon. It also shows a related ancestry to the areas in England where the Weeks surname is concentrated.

Within Germany R-U106 is common in the North and especially in Schleswig-Holstein, although my detailed DNA results show no genetic connection to north Germany. The Wick variant of the surname Wicks is to be found on the west coast of Norway. (Interestingly the only Scandinavian area where a near variant of the Weeks surname occurs is small area in the south of Sweden.)

It was while looking at potential migration routes that one map stood out. It showed a 5th century AD Saxon migration from the south of Jutland to East Anglia and South England through the areas where the Wicks surname is concentrated. It also showed a Goth migration from north Jutland via the North Sea and the English Channel to the areas where the Weeks surname is concentrated. A sea migration route would explain the Kent outlier shown in the map and the presence of the surname in the Isle of Wight and Alderney.

It is noteworthy that both the Weeks and Wicks surnames are concentrated in areas that would have been Anglo-Saxon Wessex. In spite of the Scandinavian origins Wicks and Weeks appear to be more Anglo-Saxons than Vikings.

Recomended Software

British Surname Atlas gives the geographical distribution of surnames in the UK 1881 census.

GenMap UK is a tool for drawing your own maps similar to the one on this webpage


Recommended Website

Worldwide distribution of your surname:


Genealogy Index