As described in the Origin and Medieval Families sections, the Estlake/Eastlake surname originated in Bratton Clovelly and reached a number of locations in Devon by the end of the 16th century. Parish registers enable us to see the slow spread of the name through Devon over the following centuries, with migration patterns influenced by geography. Devon is bounded by north and south coasts and a significant portion of south central Devon is covered by the mostly uninhabited Dartmoor. The River Tamar forms the historic boundary between Devon and Cornwall.
The surname quickly reached the key port of Exeter and also Plymouth which was growing in importance as a commercial centre. It spread through West Devon to Lamerton as well as Marytavy and Petertavy on the edge of Dartmoor. Near the end of the 17th century, it reached the well-established market town of Tavistock. By 1800, the families had mostly concentrated in the major economic centres of Tavistock, Exeter and the port area of Plymouth and Stoke Damerel. A strong preference for West Devon persisted.
Unconfirmed evidence identifies that Robert Estlake crossed the Tamar River to Cornwall in about 1550 with his parents. Robert raised his 18 children in Bodmin, only thirty miles from Bratton Clovelly, doing much to ensure the survival of the surname in the British Isles today. Of the 172 Eastlake baptisms found to date in the British Isles before 1700, Bodmin accounted for well over half of them.
Through the 1700s, the surname reached the length of Cornwall. Key locations included the communities of Bodmin, Kenwyn, Gwennap and Cubert, where the families engaged primarily in mining and the building trades. The Eslick variant took root in Kenwyn and the Easlick variant appeared in Fowey.
Spreading through the British Isles
Given the transport challenges and geographic isolation of Cornwall and Devon before the 20th century, our ancestors didn’t travel far from the southwestern peninsula until relatively recently. The following map shows the earliest births we have found in other counties in our reconstruction to date.
Using the England & Wales GRO Birth Index which became available from 1837 and includes all births rather than just those we’ve reconstructed, we can see more detail on the timing of the spread of our surnames. The following chart includes the ten counties with the greatest number of Eastlake, Eslick, Estlick, Easlick or Eastlick births for the period 1841-2000.
The commercial powerhouse of London drew the earliest internal migrants that we’re currently aware of, with several children of Pascho and Joan Eastlake of Tavistock arriving in the 1720s. Baptisms have been found in London beginning in 1770 and London’s draw continues to this day. However, many of these migrants were young women in domestic service who generally married in London but passed on their husband’s surname rather than the Eastlake name. Young men, especially clerks and traders, were also drawn to the City but there were only a few who left significant numbers of male descendants in the area to carry on the Eastlake and variant names.
Just two couples out of perhaps 100 migrants account for about two-thirds of those born with one of our surnames in the Greater London area. William Eastlake and his wife Elizabeth Allen who arrived from Devon in the 1820s account for about 150 Eastlake descendants in London. William’s parents were Daniel Eslick and his wife Mary Wallace from our Kenwyn, Cornwall line. Also, Richard Eastlake, originating from the Tavistock area of Devon, and his wife Hersilia Wotton arrived in the 1860s and account for almost 40 more Eastlake descendants born in London.
One couple is mainly responsible for the continuing presence of Eslick families in Scotland to this day, where we’ve found over 100 baptisms to date. Nathaniel Eslick, who we believe was the son of George Eslick and Elizabeth Davis from Kenwyn, Cornwall, married Elisabeth Mavor in 1804 and subsequently Janet Fyfe in 1811 in Renfrew, Scotland. Hopefully, a living descendant is aware of what prompted Nathaniel’s move to Scotland and will get in touch.
The Northern Counties of England
In the latter 1800s, families began moving to the Northern Counties, primarily Northumberland, Lancashire, Durham and Yorkshire. The numbers were small but part of a much larger exodus of miners from Cornwall, many to overseas locations, upon the collapse of the copper mining industry in the 1860s. Today, Northumberland is the most likely place in the British Isles for births of children with our surnames, over three-quarters of whom descend from only one migrant couple, George Eastlake and his wife Mary Ann Arscott, originally from West Devon but tin mining in Cornwall in the 1860s. A living descendant thinks it is probable that George was brought in as a strike-breaker for the Northern coal mines and, although we haven’t yet found the evidence, we understand that trains were arranged from Cornwall to the North for this purpose given the excess labour and dire economic conditions of Cornwall at the time.
Some of the earliest migrations of our families were overseas, resulting in a worldwide distribution today where our surnames are more likely to be found abroad than in the British Isles. The following chart shows the distribution of those in our reconstruction to date.
Although we don’t know where some of our emigrants originated and the reconstruction is incomplete, we have detailed the countries of birth by family line and investigated the growth of our surnames in the most popular destinations.
Today, the United States accounts for perhaps 70% of those living with our surnames worldwide. The vast majority of these people descend from a small handful of early pioneers who emigrated in the late 1600s and early to mid-1700s. We believe that Robert Estlack, likely descended from our Bodmin, Cornwall line, went to Bermuda in the early 1600s just shortly after the island settled. His son Francis was born in Bermuda and grew up to become a schoolmaster and Quaker minister. When faced with persecution in about 1680, Francis took his family to New Jersey and started the Eastlack line which was the most prevalent form of our surnames in the 1851 US Census.
In the first half of the 18th century, Samuel Eslick arrived in North Carolina to start what has become the largest US line today. In a similar timeframe, Isaac Eslick arrived as a sea captain in Rhode Island and gave rise to what became the Esleeck line. Within a few decades, several Easlick/Eastlick migrants appeared in the New Jersey and New York area, leading to sizeable lines of both these names today. We don’t yet know where these migrants came from. Later migrations included William Eastlake and his wife Mary Ann Cudlipp from Devon, as well as a number of small mining families from Cornwall, mainly in the 1850s to 1880s as a result of the mining industry collapse in Cornwall.
Another early emigrant whose origin we don’t yet know was John Eslick born about 1785 in England who was in Canada before censuses began early in the 19th century. John and his wife Rebecca are responsible for virtually all Canadians born with our surnames, including Eslick, Estlick and Eastlake.
Later migrants, in the second half of the 19th century, turned to the South Pacific, mostly farm labourers from Devon and miners from Cornwall. George Harvie Eslick, a copper miner working in Kea, Cornwall, and his wife Elizabeth Harris, arrived in Australia in the 1860s following several of their sons who had already migrated. At least 90 Eslicks born in Australia descend from this couple. Francis Eastlake, farm labourer, and his wife Ann Abbott migrated from West Devon in 1857 and are responsible for almost 50 Eastlake descendants born in Australia and another 15 in New Zealand.
The family of Henry Manship Ackford Eslick and Edith Cave migrated from London to Natal in about 1890 and gave rise to an Eslick family still thriving in South Africa today. Henry was a commercial traveller from the Kenwyn, Cornwall line.