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Family Ancestors


Family History

Origins of the Surname

Variations of the Surname

Armorial Bearings

& Motto(es)

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Family history


Family History


     Very little is known about the Childress/Childer family line with the exception of our 4th great-grandmother Jane Childress whose surname may actually be Childers.   It is most probable that she was born around 1760 in the area of Virginia encompassed by what was then known as Albemarle County.   Jane married to Samuel Scott Scruggs around 1782.  There were several Childress families in Albemarle County at the time.  However there is no direct record of the marriage.  Jane settled with her husband Samuel on a farm at the juncture of Rockfish Creek and Dutch Creek in Nelson County, Virginia.  They remained there at least until 1830 when Samuel died.   She and Samuel produced seven children (5 sons and 2 daughters) between ca. 1783 and 1806.       It is believed that Jane passed away in 1842 in Nelson County, Virginia. 

     During the 18th century the Childers family name is prominent in that area of Albemarle county that became Amherst County in 1761and then Nelson County in 1803.  Good candidates for the parents of our Jane Childress are Benjamin Childers and his wife Ann Jopling whose father Thomas Jopling who in 1774 owned land at the branches of Dutch and Rockfish Creeks.  Benjamin and Ann produced off-spring between 1760 and 1773.  Some of whom appear to have held land in the vicinity of the Scruggs homestead.     Another possible candidate for the father of Jane is an Abraham Childers.  Records show an Abraham Childers performing several land transaction in the vicinity of Rockfish and Davis Creeks about 6 miles from where Jane and her husband Samuel settled in the early 1780’s.  


Origins of the surname


Origins of the Surname


·       An Introduction to the Name

·       Meaning of the Name

·        History of the Name

·                           Early Immigrants to North America

·                           More About Surname Meanings & Origins


An Introduction to the Name

    The practice of adopting hereditary surnames began in the southern areas of Germany during the second half of the 12th century, and gradually spread northwards during the Middle Ages.  .  With the passing of generations and the movement of families moved from place to place many of the original identifying names were altered into some of the versions that we are familiar with today.  Over the centuries, most of our European ancestors accepted their surname as an unchangeable part of their lives.  Thus people rarely changed their surname.  Variations of most surnames were usually the result of an involuntary act such as when a government official wrote a name phonetically or made an error in transcription.  Research into the record of this Childress family line indicates that the variations, meanings and history of this surname is most likely linked to that area of Europe where English, linguistic traditions are commonly found. 


Meaning of the Name

     Most of the modern family names throughout Europe have originated from with of the following circumstances: occupation (i.e., Carpenter, Cooper, Brewer, Mason); habitational (Middleton, Sidney, or Ireland) or topographical (i.e. Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale); nicknames (i.e., Moody Freeholder, Wise, Armstrong); status (i.e. Freeman, Bond, Knight); and acquired ornamental names that were simply made up.

     Childress an English surname is a metathesized variant of Childers.   Childers is probably a habitational name from some lost place named Childerhouse, from Old English cildra, genitive plural of cild ‘child’ + hus ‘house’. It is believed that the prime cause of the lost village phenomenon was the enforced "clearing" and dispersal of the former inhabitants to make way for sheep pastures at the height of the wool trade in the 14th Century, along with natural causes such as the Black Death of 1348.  This surname of Childress was also a name given to a child that was in a children's home, orphanage or school run by a religious order attached to some monastery or church.       


History of the Name

     Surnames as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th century. They were not in use in England or Scotland, before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and were first found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans who had adopted the custom just prior to this time.    Soon thereafter it became a mark of a generally higher socio-economic status and thus seen as disgraceful for a well-bred man to have only one name.  It was not until the middle of the 14th century that surnames became general practice among all people in the British Isles.

     It is quite clear from the evidence that the Childress surname and its variants sprang from the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk.  The earliest of the name on record appears to be Hemericus de Childerhus, who was recorded in "Close Rolls of Norfolk" in the year 1230.  Other early records containg this name where William de Childerhous, a witness, was recorded in the "Fine court Rolls of Norfolk", dated 1272, and an Alex del Childrehus in the 1273 Hundred Rolls.  Guy Childerhouse was rector of Stiffkey, Norfolk, in 1413, and on July 6th 1578 Thomas Childerhowse and Elizabeth Dimond were married in Attleborough, Norfolk.  On May 24th 1596, Edward Childerhouse married an Elizabeth Jonson in St. Julian's, Norwich.       Later instances of the name mention Thomas Childres, who was buried at St. James's, Clerkenwell, London in the year 1665, and William Knight and Phillis Childers, were married at St. George's Chapel, Mayfair, London in the year 1746.


Early Immigrants to North America

During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the perilous ocean voyage to America.  For many it was an escape from economic hardship and religious persecution.  For most it was an opportunity to start over, own their own land, and make a better future for their descendents.  Immigration records show a number of people bearing the name of Childress, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Some of these immigrants were: Philip Childers who arrived in the Virginia colony in 1673; John J. Childress who arrived in Texas in 1842;  T.J. and W.J. Childress who arrived in San Francisco, California, in 1850.

Use the following links to find more early immigrants with this surname:

$ Search Immigration Records; or Free Ship’s Passenger lists at


More About Surname Meanings & Origins

English Surnames

Although the Domesday Book compiled by William the Conqueror required surnames, the use of them in the British Isles did not become fixed until the time period between 1250 and 1450.  The broad range of ethnic and linguistic roots for British surnames reflects the history of Britain as an oft-invaded land. These roots include, but are not limited to, Old English, Middle English, Old French, Old Norse, Irish, Gaelic, Celtic, Pictish, Welsh, Gaulish, Germanic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.  Throughout the British Isles, there are basically five types of native surnames. Some surnames were derived from a man's occupation (Carpenter, Taylor, Brewer, Mason), a practice that was commonplace by the end of the 14th century.  Place names reflected a location of residence and were also commonly used (Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale) as a basis for the surname, for reasons that can be easily understood.  Nicknames that stuck also became surnames.  About one-third of all US surnames in the United States are Patronymic in origin, and identified the first bearer of the name by his father (or grandfather in the case of some Irish names).  Acquired ornamental names were simply made up, and had no specific reflection on the first who bore the name. They simply sounded nice, or were made up as a means of identification, generally much later than most surnames were adopted.  Source:

Variations of the surname


Variations of
the Surname


Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to unfold and expand often leading to an overwhelming number of variants.  As such one can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames because in early times, spelling in general and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized.  Later on spellings would change with the branching and movement of families.  Spelling variations of this family name include: Childers, Childress, Childres, and many others.   


The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may also have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents. The Soundex system was developed in an effort to assist with identifying spelling variations for a given surname.  Soundex is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Census, and can aid genealogists in their research.  The Soundex Code for Childress is C436.  Other surnames sharing this Soundex Code: CALDER | CALDERWOOD | CHILDERS | CHILDRESS | CLADER | CLOTHIER | CLOUTIER | CLUTTER | CLUTTERBUCK | COULTER | COULTHARD | COULTHURST


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Coat of arms


Armorial Bearings & Motto(es)

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

     There is one armorial bearing for a Childers of Cantley in Yorkshire recorded in Sir Bernard Burke’s General Armory.  This coat of arms as shown at the top of this page contains a silver shield with a red cross humette between four red buckles.  The crest is a cubit arm in chain armour holding a red buckle in the gauntlet.  These armorial bearings have descended from Hugh Childers of Carr House who was the Mayor of Doncaster in 1604.

     The figures shown at the left are all stylized versions of the aforementioned Childers coat of arms.   Any Childers/Childress/Childerhouse family motto is not known.

·     Burke, Sir Bernard, The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales: comprising a registry of armorial bearings from the earliest to the present time,  published by Harrison & sons, 1864, page 193.

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

A Coat of Arms is defined as a group of emblems and figures (heraldic bearings) usually arranged on and around a shield and serving as the special insignia of some person, family, or institution.  Except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms, more properly called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings or often just arms for short, is a design usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname.  Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  The rules and traditions regarding Coats of Arms vary from country to country. Therefore a Coat of Arms for an English family would differ from that of a German family even when the surname is the same.  The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. The use of coats of arms by countries, states, provinces, towns and villages is called civic heraldry.   Some of the more prominent elements incorporated into a  coat of arms are :

Crest - The word crest is often mistakenly applied to a coat of arms.  The crest was a later development arising from the love of pageantry.  Initially the crest consisted of charges painted onto a ridge on top of the helmet.

Wreath or TorseThe torse is a twist of cloth or wreath underneath and part of a crest. Always shown as six twists, the first tincture being the tincture of the field, the second the tincture of the metal, and so on.

Mantling – The mantling is a drapery tied to the helmet above the shield. It forms a backdrop for the shield.

Helm or Helmet - The helmet or helm is situated above the shield and bears the torse and crest. The style of helmet displayed varies according to rank and social status, and these styles developed over time, in step with the development of actual military helmets.

Shield or Arms - The basis of all coats of arms.  At their simplest, arms consist of a shield with a plain field on which appears a geometrical shape or object.  The items appearing on the shield are known as charges.

Motto - The motto was originally a war cry, but later mottoes often expressed some worthy sentiment. It may appear at the top or bottom of a family coat of arms.


Direct ancestors


Ancestral Lineage

Descendant Register

Generation 1

Jane Childress-1 was born on Abt. 1760 in Albemarle County, Virginia. She died on 24 Oct 1842 in Nelson County, Virginia. She married Samuel Scott Scruggs Sr. on Bet. 1781-1783 in Albemarle County, Virginia, son of II?? John Scruggs. He was born on 28 Mar 1757 in Albemarle County, Virginia. He died on 1830 in Nelson County, Virginia.


Children of Jane Childress and Samuel Scott Scruggs Sr. are:


2.           John Scruggs, B: Abt. 1783 in Amherst County, Virginia, D: Abt. 1823 in Nelson County, Virginia, M: 1806 in Amherst County, Virginia.


3.           Samuel Scott Scruggs Jr., B: Abt. 1788 in Amherst County, Virginia, D: Abt. 1831 in Nelson Co., Virginia, M: 06 Jun 1812 in Nelson Co., Virginia.


4.           William Scruggs, B: Abt. 1791 in Amherst County, Virginia, D: Abt. 1842 in Virginia.


5.           Joseph C. Scruggs, B: 14 Aug 1794 in Amherst County, Virginia, D: 29 Jan 1879 in Palmyra, Fluvanna Co., Virginia, M: 16 Dec 1824 in Fluvanna County, Virginia.


6.           Nancy C. Scruggs, B: Abt. 1795 in Amherst County, Virginia, D: Abt. 1847 in Virginia, M: 25 Jan 1813 in Nelson County, Virginia.


7.           Theophilus C. Scruggs, B: 14 Aug 1798 in Amherst County, Virginia, D: 20 Nov 1867 in Bedford Co., Virginia, M: 15 Feb 1821 in Nelson County, Virginia.


8.           Mary Scruggs, B: Abt. 1808 in Nelson County, Virginia.


Additional information about our DIRECT ANCESTORS  as well as a complete listing of individuals with this surname may be reviewed by clicking on the following LINK.


MMPS Surname Locator

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Ancestral locations




Researching the locations where our ancestors lived has provided us with valuable evidence needed to fill-in the gaps in our family trees.  It has also led us to many interesting facts that enhance the overall picture of each family group.  The names of states and counties on the following list were derived from the known places where the persons in the “Direct Ancestors” list (see above) were born, married, and / or died.






Albemarle Co.;  Amherst Co.;

Nelson Co.


Use this LINK to find out more about the locations listed above.



Where in the World

are My Ancestors?

Resources which enhance our knowledge of the places inhabited by our ancestors are almost as important as their names. The LINK



to the right will take you to Maps, Gazetteers,   and other helpful  resources  that will assist you in discovering Ancestral Locations. 

Source documents




The documents contained herein have been located during our research of this family, and used as evidence to prove many of the facts contained within the database of this family’s record.


     Most of these documents can be considered as primary or secondary.  Primary evidence is usually defined as the best available to prove the fact in question, usually in an original document or record.  Secondary evidence is in essence all that evidence which is inferior in its origin to primary evidence. That does not mean secondary evidence is always in error, but there is a greater chance of error.  Examples of this type of evidence would be a copy of an original record, or oral testimony of a record’s contents.  Published genealogies and family histories are also secondary evidence.

     Classifying evidence as either primary or secondary does not tell anything about its accuracy or ultimate value.  This is especially true of secondary evidence.  Thus it is always a good idea to ask the following questions: (1) How far removed from the original is it, (when it is a copy)?;  (2) What was the reason for the creation of the source which contains this evidence?; and (3) Who was responsible for creating this secondary evidence and what interest did they have in its accuracy?

SOURCE:  Greenwood, Val D., The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing  Co., Baltimore, MD 21202, 1990, pgs. 62-63


You are welcome to download any of the documents contained within this archive.

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 us via the contact information found at the end of this page.

Use the following LINK to view the source documents pertaining

 to this family.



Web resources


Web Resources


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General Surname Resources

Your genealogy research of this surname can be facilitated by use of SURNAME WEB. This website links to the majority of the surname data on the web, as well as to individual family trees, origin and surname meaning if known, and many other related genealogy resources. 


SURNAME FINDER provides easy access to free and commercial resources for 1,731,359 surnames. On each surname specific "finder" page, you can search a variety of online databases all pre-programmed with your surname.


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Additional Sites That We Recommend

Linkpendium Surnames - Web sites, obituaries, biographies, and other material specific to a surname.

Cyndi's List - Surnames, Family Associations & Family Newsletters Index - Sites or resources dedicated to specific, individual family surnames. - Family History and Genealogy Records - The largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world.

Top Genealogical Websites - These mighty roots resources compiled by “Family Tree Magazine”, will give you the power to bust through research brick walls and find answers about your ancestors—all from your home computer.

SurnameDB Free database of surname meanings - This site SurnameDB.Com contains a large FREE to access database (almost 50,000 surnames) on the history and meaning of family last names.

The Childers ~ Childress Family Association Childress Genealogy - The Childers/Childress Family Association was formed in 1982 and is the repository and clearinghouse for information on the Childers and Childress surname(s) and various other spellings of the name. These families are in or from England and the United States and Canada.




The following Link will take you to our library of genealogy reference books.   Here you will find bibliographies, family histories and books about names.  In addition, there are texts that pertain to ethnic and religion groups, history, geography as well as other books that will assist you with your research.


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Images gallery


Family Images

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Contact Information



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