Welcome to the world of one-place studies! Twenty-six of our members are sharing something in their particular place for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge. Today, Peter Cooper profiles the unusual surname of Elwig found in his one-place study of Holywell-cum-Needingworth.

In my place (Holywell-cum-Needingworth in Huntingdonshire - now Cambridgeshire, England) there are one or two families with the surname "Elwig". In my database I have over 2000 surnames, represented by over 3500 variations in spelling, but the Elwig name struck me as rather unusual.

At first I assumed it was a wrong transcription, or an enumerator writing down a surname they heard wrongly. But the name Elwig for our families does appear in UK censuses spelled in this way from 1841 to 1911. There are also modern Elwigs visible on the web.

Looking at the surname pages for the well-known websites:

  • Findmypast says the earliest occurrence of the Elwig surname in our family history documents is from 1725, and we currently have 287 records where Elwig appears, mostly in Kent. They also have 2,849 relevant newspaper articles.
  • Ancestry says they have 1,030 Historical Documents with Elwig.
  • MyHeritage say they have 259 people with the Elwig surname, and 531 records.
  • There is no One Name Study registered, the nearest being Elwick.

In my place the main Elwig family are headed by Edward born about 1815, and his records can be seen via my website. At his marriage our Parish Register shows his name as Helwing, but his signature is as Helwig. In the 1841/1851 censuses his name is clearly Elwig, and his occupation was Shoemaker/Cordwainer.

He married Elisa Piggott from one of our local familes. Their sons became a Cordwainer, Watchmaker and Engine Fitter.

Another family is headed by Rebecca Elwig who was a Shoemaker's widow, but I have not discovered yet how they are related. One of her sons became a Tailor.

An Elwig in the newspapers
from Findmypast © The British Library Board

Although I did my principle research about our families several years ago, I have used this challenge to revisit the Elwig families (mostly with Findmypast) and have found quite a few new facts and people. Newspaper reports about our families mention a bankruptcy, a conviction for disobedience as an apprentice to a master (above), appointment as a constable, and an election as Queen's scholar (below). However, the research has also raised more questions which I shall keep for another time.

An Elwig finds academic success
from Findmypast © The British Library Board

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