Hanks


Select Hanks Surname Genealogy

Hanks is generally regarded as a Flemish pet-form of John.  Most of the early Hanks surname holders seem to have had a Flemish weaver origin.  Flemish weavers were to be found in England from the early 14th century.  There is an older Scandinavian origin, from the Old Norse personal name Anke, which could have resulted in some Hanks surnames.  DNA testing has shown that the Hanks surname has at least two separate groupings.

Select Hanks Resources on The Internet

Select Hanks Ancestry

EnglandThe Hanks surname was said to have been first found in Wiltshire in the west country.  Early stories have the name associated with the town of Malmesbury going back to pre-Norman times.  William Hanks was a photographer in Malmesbury in the late 19th century and there are still some Hanks in the area. 

What is known is that Thomas Hanks, probably from Malmesbury, settled in Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire around 1550.  The Hanks name was also evident in the Cotswold villages of a number of Gloucestershire parishes during the 17th and 18th centuries.  However, many of these Hanks may have come from Flemish weavers in the area.  Colonel Hercules Huncks, born in nearby Stratford, was certainly of Dutch origin. 

The Hanks name was still to be found in the area - in villages such as Horsley, where Elizabeth Hanks emigrated from in the 1830ís, and Naunton, where a Hanks family started quarrying Cotswold stone in the 1930's. 
James Hanks was an audacious young burglar in Oxford in 1793, but was finally caught, convicted, and transported to Australia

Ireland.  The Hanks in Dublin were a Quaker family that had begun with Hercules Huncks, a colonel with Oliver Cromwell.  They operated a mill at Rathangan outside Dublin and were also the agents for the Dublin and Liverpool Steam Navigation Company.  The 1794 wedding of Jeremiah Hanks and Sarah Lapham brought together the elite of Irish Quaker society.  Some of these Hanks emigrated to America in the early 1800ís, principally to Illinois.

America.  Benjamin Hanks from Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire came to New England with his wife Abigail in 1699 and settled in Pembroke, Massachusetts.  He died in Easton in 1755 ďin the ninetieth year of his age as he saith.Ē   Some of the later Hanks were Mormons.  They headed west to Salt Lake, Utah in the 1850's.

Thomas Hanks appeared in Virginia land records in Westmoreland county at an earlier date - in 1654.  He also, it is believed, came from Stow-on-the-Wold in Gloucestershire.  He had been captured by the Royalists at the battle of Cirencester and deported to America as an indentured servant.  His line led, among other people, to Nancy Hanks, the mother of Abraham Lincoln. 

Hanks in the South.  The Hanks numbers increased in Virginia during the 18th century and spread over the south.  Barbara Baberís 2009 book Hanks Family Chronicles, an expansion of the earlier Hanks of Virginia and Westward, covered this ground. 


Hanks were among the early settlers of Arkansas.  One line of Hanks came from Maryland and had been at one time Quakers.  Fleetwood Hanks and his two brothers arrived in 1827 and bought land outside Helena in the eastern part of the state where they built their Hanks homestead, Estevan Hall.  Another line was from North Carolina and Nathan Hanks who arrived in Arkansas a few years later.  His son, G.P. Hanks, was born in NW Arkansas in 1836 but spent most of his life travelling as an itinerant preacher before returning to Arkansas in the 1880's.

The Rev. Thomas Hanks was also an itinerant preacher, this time from Tennessee, who came with other Tennessee families to Texas in 1836 and continued to preach there until his death in 1857.  Meanwhile another Rev. Thomas Hanks, known as Father Tom, was a Baptist minister at a slightly later date in Christian county, SW Missouri. 


Today the largest number of Hanks in America are in Texas.
  The Rev. R.T. Hanks was a prominent Baptist minister first in Dallas in the 1880's and then in Abilene.  His son Bernard Hanks began in newspapers in Abilene and then in 1920 joined forces with Houston Harte of San Antonio to form the Harte-Hanks newspaper chain.

Canada.  Alfred and Selina Hanks emigrated from Yorkshire to Canada in 1905.  Both their sons Bill and Norman enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1915.  Norman died on the Western front in 1918, Bill survived.  He moved west to Manitoba in the 1920ís, starting out there as a civil engineer before entering the world of newspapers and local politics.

Select Hanks Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:


Select Hanks Names

Nancy Hanks Lincoln was the mother of President Abraham Lincoln.
Bernard Hanks helped found the Harte-Hanks newspaper chain in Texas in the 1920's.
Tom Hanks is a well-known American actor. 

Select Hanks Today
  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous in Gloucestershire)
  • 6,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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