Surname Saturday: DEWEY

The Dewey surname is my closest linking ancestral name after my own surname.

There are many Dewey name bearers in the world – including a decimal system for libraries and a cartoon duck.

My own branch have lived in the county of Cambridgeshire, England since at least the 1700s, inhabiting the villages of Wentworth, Wilburton, Witchford and Witcham.

The earliest ancestor that I have confirmed so far was Thomas Dewey, who in 1768 married Elizabeth Covell at Witchford’s church of St. Andrew (this is where my own name comes from!). The couple had at least 3 daughters and a son George, and it is this son who travelled to Witcham where he married Mary Long in 1790. Sadly by 1807, Mary had died. This led to George heading to Wentworth to re-marry to a Mary Payton and continuing his family. In all, he fathered at least 11 children – 6 with his first wife.

George’s first child, William born in Witchford, is my ancestor and he married Ellen Markerham of Waterbeach. The couple set up home in Witchford where they had 6 children – 5 of them sons. The Dewey family grew and soon those children were having children and grandchildren themselves – continuing to grow the family throughout the county.


The surname has many variants: Dewey, Douay, Duey, Doway, Dowee, Doweay, Dewe, Dowey and Dewy, although as literacy rates improve, the surname generally ends up as Dewey or sometimes Dewy.


It is believed to be of Welsh origin, from the River Dewi area, although none of my ancestors have revealed their Welsh connections yet.

Author: Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin is a British author, family historian, tech nerd, AFOL, and host of The Family Histories Podcast.

3 thoughts on “Surname Saturday: DEWEY”

  1. I have Dewey twigs in my database, A George Dewey c1781 who married a Sarah Dann 1801 in Littleport. Census 1851 states both born in Littleport, however Sarah Widow in 1861 states Wilburton and a baptism matches for her there. There is not a baptism for a George Dewey in Littleport, so cannot take him back further.


    1. Hello Bob,

      I too have located the marriage between George and Sarah, but I have drawn a blank at finding a baptism for him. I’ve looked through a long list of parishes and have found Dewey (and its many variants) either side of that 1781 approx birth, but nothing that fits.


  2. Hello
    I’m distantly related to the Deweys of Cambridgeshire in fact, the four Dewey gents in your Twitter header photo are my 6th cousins 2x removed! Strangely, although I grew up in the Fens on the Norfolk (Wisbech/King’s Lynn) side of the border which is my mother’s side of the family, your Dewey side is on my father’s side of the family who’s from London? Susanna Pedley (1767–1845) wife of Thomas Markham (1763–1841) was my 7th great-aunt and it’s through the Pedley family thatI’m related to the Deweys.


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