Pluckroses and Plucks

When I started my researches into the origins of my grandmother, Louisa PLUCK, I had no idea that I would end up researching ancestors with the surname of PLUCKROSE. Initially, I ignored PLUCKROSES in the parish records, believing that they were nothing to do with me. It didn't take me long, however, to realise that I was wrong.

There have been both Pluckroses and Plucks around since written records began. If you look in the History section you will find early records for both. I have a record of William Plockerose paying taxes in 1332 and John Pluck becoming a Freeman of Canterbury in 1349.

I have no proof, yet, but I suspect that the early Pluck lines have died out, except possibly in Ireland. I think it likely that all present-day Plucks (apart, possibly, for the Irish branch) are descended from Pluckroses, in particular John Plukerose of Lyntone, who was recorded as taking an Oath in 1434, and his kin.

How did some Pluckroses become Plucks?

A search of my database retrieves 402 records from the parish of Linton covering the period 1571-1927. If these are sorted into date order the first PLUCK entry is the baptism of my 6 x great grandfather, William PLUCK, at Linton parish church on 30 March 1662, his father is John PLUCK, his mother, Margery. However, the Bishop's Transcript of the same event records the surname as PLUCKROSE. Eighty years later, in 1741, still in Linton, the parish register records the baptism of Frances Pluckrose, but in the Bishop's transcript the name is recorded as PLUCK.

Three years later, in 1665, we find the marriage of John PLUCK to Margaret BADDY. This is the same John; it is possible that Margaret is the Margery recorded in 1662. John's surname is definitely recorded as PLUCK.

John and Margaret have five children after their marriage. In all instances the surname is given as PLUCKROSE. When John is buried in 1706 his name is recorded as PLUCKROSE.

Returning to my 6 x great grandfather, William. We have already seen that he was a PLUCK at the time of his baptism. However, when he married Helen WIBROW in Linton in 1692, the full PLUCKROSE version was used. John and Helen baptised five children: Jane PLUCKROSE in 1693, Stephen PLUCKROSE in 1697, William PLUCKE in 1701, John PLUCK in 1703 and Elizabeth PLUCK in 1710.

When William was buried in 1729 his name was recorded as PLUCK.

By 1750 there are about 50:50 PLUCKS and PLUCKROSES in Linton. After about 1800 there are only PLUCKS in the Linton records.


I often wonder just how the change came about. It seems to have happened more or less simultaneously in several branches of the family - not all in Linton, or even the same county.

I suspect the impetus for the change came from friends or neighbours who abbreviated the name, purely out of laziness, with members of the family only adopting the change at a later date. What went into registers probably depended on whether the vicar (or parish clerk) knew the family by repute and didn't ask them their name when a record was to be made, or whether he asked them what they were called and got the full version.

Obviously a significant number of PLUCKROSEs resisted the change.

Some Earlier Pluck Records

In 1332 John Pluck becomes a Freeman of the City of Canterbury.

In 1418 James Plucke of Dorset was left 2 ewes and 5 cooms of barley in the Will of John Streche.

Plucks can also be found in the English-Scottish border area in Elizabethan times.

There are a couple of other early recordings of the name PLUCK. The IGI records that Joan PLUCK marries Tho PHETIPLACE at Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire in 1615. I have not had time to check the original source but there seem to be no other records of Plucks in the area at that time. It is possible, of course, that this is a mis-transcription of a similar name such as PLACK.

There are also a couple of references to PLUQUE in the IGI, baptisms in 1641 and 1711, both at the French Huguenot church in London. It is possible that there are PLUCKs resident in the UK, today, who are descended from these French PLUQUEs. Indeed, it is also possible (although there is no evidence for it), that the first Plucks came over from Normandy with William I when he invaded England in 1066.

Some other PLUCKs originate from Ireland. This may explain the cluster of PLUCKs that is found in Liverpool. The Channel Island Plucks certainly have Irish origins. It is not clear, yet, whether the Irish branch of the PLUCKs is a separate line or whether it is descended from an earlier immigrant, possibly a soldier, from England. They could be linked to the PLUCKs in northern England mentioned above.

Two maps showing the distribution of Plucks and Pluckroses at the time of the 1881 census are particularly important.

    select   Pluckrose distribution

    select   Pluck distribution

The Pluckroses are very much confined to Essex and the adjacent counties. Plucks seem to have ventured a little further afield - but not much. The small groups in Lancashire and Lanarkshire certainly have Irish origins.

In Bedfordshire, much nearer to the usual Essex and Cambs sources of Plucks, there is a record in the 1539 Muster list for Bedfordshire: "John PLUK was a bylman from Lytlyngton (i.e. Lidlington) in that year." "Bylman" is probably a billman, i.e. a soldier armed with a spiked axe at the end of a long wooden pole. This appearance of a Pluck is well before the split in the 18th century and is difficult to explain.


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