A University College London research project investigated the distribution of surnames in Great Britain, both current and historic, in order to understand patterns of regional economic development, population movement and cultural identity. This website allows users to search the databases to trace the geography and history of their family names.

This map shows the distribution of the Fitch surname across the UK in 1881.
Fitch UK Distribution 1881

This map shows the distribution in 1998
Fitch UK Distribution 1998

Cambridge is the top area and Haverhill the top postal town.


Forty seven Fitch births were registered in England in 1844, 13 of them were in the Oct-Nov-Dec quarter and two of those were in Hertfordshire. Both of them were in Ware and both were for a child named John. In fact, both births were on the same day (October 11) and in the same town (Hoddesdon) however the first child is registered as the son of John and Ann Fitch while the second is the illegitimate son of Mary Fitch.

John Fitch's first birth certificate from 1844 John Fitch's second birth certificate from 1844

This is a little too coincidental for me, especially when the 1851 and 1861 census returns for Hoddesdon have John junior listed as the nephew of John senior. It looks likely that Mary’s brother raised her illegitimate son but to be sure I need to find John senior’s family to see if he had a sister called Mary and to trace her life to ensure she didn’t die or marry before John junior was born 1844.

John senior’s census returns all point to him being born around 1820 in Shoreditch in London and the IGI only lists one John Fitch baptised in Shoreditch around that time. On December 28, 1818 John, the son of John and Sarah Fitch was baptised in the parish of St Leonards after being born on December 11.

The IGI lists only one Mary born to John and Sarah Fitch in London and it is in the same St Leonards parish. On July 30, 1827 Mary Ann Fitch was baptised after being born on July 17.

The problem with the surname Fitch is that it is often interchanged with Finch and in searching the St Leonards parish register on IGI I found the following children born to John and Sarah Fitch or Finch:

  • Sarah Maria Finch (1815)
  • John Fitch (1818) <– likely uncle
  • Elizabeth Finch (1821)
  • Joseph Finch (1824)
  • Mary Ann Fitch (1827) <– likely mother
  • Susannah Fitch (1829)

Parents called John and Sarah are hardly uncommon so I need to be careful that I’m not looking at two separate families, one Fitch and one Finch, and overlapping birth years for their children would be a giveaway. However, you can see here that they are sufficiently spaced for this to possibly be one family.

The fly in the ointment came when I found only one marriage between a John Fitch or Finch and Sarah in Shoreditch and it is in 1820, two years after John Fitch was born.

It looks like I need to set aside some time at the London Metropolitan Archives to do some digging.

[UPDATE 5 Oct 2007]

I’ve started a separate genealogy blog: http://myfitchfamilytree.wordpress.com/