Mead Family Genealogy

The earliest mention of the surname Mead, Mede or atte Mede in the records dates back to about 1250. There may have been people with this name before that, but very few records survive from before 1200.

At this early date this was not a hereditary surname, just a nickname indicating someone who lived at a meadow. At the same time in the early records there were people called de prato or ad pratum, the Latin equivalent of atte Mede. This was not a surname, just a descriptive name, like faber (smith) or filio Ricardi (Richard's son).

By about 1300 there are indications that the name had become hereditary, particularly in Somerset and in the counties north of London, especially in Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Interestingly, this pattern continued at least until 1881.
Some of these families can be traced for several generations during the 14th and 15th centuries, but they are not related to each other. The surname Mead originated in several locations, so there are several unrelated families with the same name.

This is a work in progress. The author reserves the right to make changes without prior notice. My own research covers the Mead family in England between 1250 and 1600. It is based, as far as possible, on wills, parish records, patent rolls and other contemporary sources, and is as accurate as I can make it. No doubt I have made mistakes. Caveat emptor.

vance dot mead at welho dot com

A note on the different Mead families

There were several Mead families in England. They are completely unrelated. If there is some connection between any of them, I have not seen any evidence, other than is presented on this site. This has not stopped people, for example on Wikitree, from connecting together different families from all over England simply because they have the same surname. This creates a complete mess.

I have more information on all of these families and on many other unconnected individuals elsewhere on this site.

Watford, Herts
The earliest known member of this family is Richard Mede. He was born in, say, 1515, married in 1545 and died in 1560. His descendants lived in Watford until at least the 1620s. His grandson, William Mead, settled in Stamford, Connecticut, in 1641.

Henley on Thames, Oxon
This family begins with Thomas Meades, who married Emlin Carter in 1578. Thomas was born in about 1550. Nothing is known about his origins. His son, Gabriel Meades, born in 1590, is the Gabriel Mead who settled in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in the 1630s.

Soulbury, Bucks
I have traced this family back to Richard Mede, who was in the muster rolls in 1522 and the lay subsidy in 1525. He was born in about 1480. His descendants include Matthew Meade, a non-Conformist minister, and William Mead, an early Quaker.

Whitchurch, Bucks
I have found several Medes here, from the 1440s to the 1540s. I don’t know how they are related; I can only list them chronologically.

Wing, Bucks
There were Medes in Wing from about 1500 until the 17th century. The first found was John Mede, in a Common Pleas record in 1501. William Meade of Wing, husbandman, left a will in 1568.

Stewkley, Bucks
The first Mede I have found in this family is John Mede, in Common Pleas records in 1484, so he was probably born before 1460. Meads continued to live in Stewkley for centuries afterwards. Possibly the Meads in Stewkley, Wing, Whitchurch, and Soulbury are related – the parishes are nearby – but I haven’t found any evidence.

Saunderton, Bucks
The key figure in this family is Thomas Mede, who left a will in 1538. He was born in about 1470 and mentioned several adult children in his will. I have found several other Medes in Saunderton going back to the 1440s, but I don’t know how they are related.

Towersey, Bucks
There were Medes here from at least the 1470s. John Mede was in a Common Pleas case in 1472. His grandson, also John Mede, was in the muster rolls in 1522. John’s son, William Meade, husbandman, is found in several records in the 1550s. Towersey and Saunderton are just a few miles apart, so it’s possible that these two families are related.

Clavering, Essex
The key figure in this family is Thomas Mede, who left a will in 1504. His descendants lived here and nearby until at least the 18th century. Despite claims sometimes made, he is not related to any of the Mede families in Buckinghamshire. It is generally believed that he is related to the Mede family of Somerset and Bristol. In the Herald’s Visitation of Cambridgeshire, it is stated that Thomas Mede came from Somerset; Simon Meade of Gilston, Herts, (relationship unknown) in his will in 1545, left money to “my mother church of Wells”, suggesting that he was originally from Somerset. On the other hand, there were Medes in Clavering and within a few miles of it going back to at least the 1440s.

Wraxall, Soms, and Bristol
There is a chantry tomb for this family in the church of St Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. Thomas, Philip, Richard, and John Mede, and their wives, are buried here.  This family originated in Wraxall, Somerset, a few miles from Bristol. The first record of them there is in 1327, when Nicholas atte Mede was assessed for the lay subsidy. Despite claims made, there is no evidence of the parentage of Nicholas atte Mede.