The Upshaw Family Genealogy Page

UPDATE: As of January 2018, I am working to add many more Upshaws and descendants to the database, In the last 15-20 years, sadly, many people have died and much of an additional generation can be added now to many family tree branches. On the positive side, a great deal of good information has been put on the Find-a-Grave site by many dedicated volunteers and it is a rich source of information on many Upshaw families. I have added hundreds of new people to my records and that is just a start; I have no idea when I will finish the update. But I am actively working on it again. The caveat still applies: I am still employed for another year or so, and have little time to handle correspondence; it may be weeks before I reply to you.


This website is dedicated to the memory of Nancy Morel Carter, who generously provided me with the massive initial family tree database which I have been adding to over the past 20 years. Her dedication in researching ALL the Upshaws was unparalleled. Sadly, Nancy lost her battle wtih cancer in 2010, and she is always in mind when I turn to working on Upshaw genealogy.


This page is offered as a home base for genealogists researching the Upshaw and related families. I have plenty of room to share if you have related records or pictures to include here. If you have questions about your ancestors, please note that the web family tree (see below) contains all the names and dates for individuals in my database as of Sept 2001. Also, due to the large volume of e-mail I receive, I regrettably cannot promise to reply in a timely fashion.

More information will be posted at a future date. Please send me any information that I don't have already on individuals in the Upshaw and related families, their siblings, children, ancestors or descendants!

And please join the UPSHAW-L mailing list for ongoing sharing of genealogy information (see below).

Finally, please send any info you have on the Upcher/Upsher/Upshere family in England, which I am collecting in a database in the hope that the overseas link from Essex, England to the Upshaw family of Virginia can eventually be proven.

I have also begun collecting information on the African-American Upshaws (see family tree below), but the information so far is scant and is not connected together well. Progress is slow; any such information you could share would also be helpful.

Graphic courtesy of Malcolm Felmingham
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Origins of the Upshaw Surname

"The name Upshaw may possibly have been derived from the hamlet of Upshire, in the Parish of Waltham, County of Essex, England. Bishop Meade mentions the Upshaw family as one of the leading families in Eastern Virginia in Colonial times and immediately following the Revolution."

-- Lenora Higinbotham Sweeny, "The Upshaw Family of Essex,"
William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 18, Series 2, 1938, p 64.

The first Upshaw in the United States arrived in Virginia around 1660, and the Upshur family may be descended from the same lineage. Early families living in the same areas of pre-colonial England and colonial Virginia with similar names include Upcher, Upshur, Upsher, Upshott and Upshall. Less than two centuries ago, there were still Upshaws, Upchers and Upshers living in Essex Co. England and London. However, no proof of the connection to the Upshaws of early Virginia has yet been found.

Upcher Sheringham Hall, Sheringham, Norfolk, England
(courtesy of Malcolm Felmingham)

There is some speculation that the Upchurch or Abshire/Absher families may derive from the same origins. At least one English genealogy of the Upchers indicates that some generations may have spelled their name Upchurch. The Abshires may have originated in the same area of England (Essex).

It is also remotely possible that the Upshaw surname is related to the Welsh name ApShaw - a family that is of Scottish origin. I think this increases in likelihood if there is a connection with the Abshire family.

Old family legends have the family originating in France in the 1500's, and also designate Abel Upshaw as the first North American progenitor, his brother Arthur apparently giving rise to the Upshur family. The existence of Arthur Upshott/Upshur has apparently been confirmed. However, none of the many researchers of Upshaw family genealogy have to date found any confirming evidence to support the existence of Abel Upshaw, nor for a North American (i.e. recent) connection between the Upshaw and Upshur lineages. The progenitor of all caucasian Upshaws in North America appears to be Capt. William Upshaw and his father, probably named Jeremiah. Jeremiah was the first Upshaw to arrive in the Virginia Colony and apparently died not long after his son William was born, as there are no known siblings of William.

If you are familiar with any of these family names in England or have information on the possible overseas ancestry of the Upshaws of North America, please !

Most caucasian Upshaws living in North America today are descended from Capt. William's son John (and grandson Edwin) or from William's youngest son Forrest, whose line moved south to Georgia and Alabama. Some of Edwin's children (by his first wife Lucy Roane) moved West, taking the Upshaw name to Kentucky, Missississippi and Texas. Others stayed in Virginia, where Upshaws can still be found living today. Descendants of Forrest's sons LeRoy and John moved into Tennessee, Illinois, Missouri and Texas. Others stayed in Georgia and are found there still. In the subsequent four (now five) generations, Upshaws have spread throughout North America, although the largest families still appear to be located in the southern half of the United States, and Illinois.


UPSHAW-L Mailing List

I moderate an automated genealogy mailing list to discuss and share information on the Upshaw and other related/inter-married families, as well as families with alternate spellings such as Upshur, Upsher, Upcher, Upshar, Upshire, Upshot and Upshall, plus possibly-related names such as ApShaw and Upchurch. The various list subscribers collectively possess information to connect nearly every Upshaw in North America, or at least those born before 1900. The list is UPSHAW-L, it is hosted at the Rootsweb site, and you can subscribe to this low-volume mailing list by sending the simple message



Upshaw Family Journal

Again available for subscription! Reprints from back issues are also available from the editor, Ted Brooke. If you have a serious interest in Upshaw genealogy, these journals are a must-have.

  • Information about contents and pricing

  • They Met Challenges...With Memoirs - An Annotated Commentary" excerpted from The Upshaw Family Journal is available here for free download. Read it in PDF or Microsoft Word RTF format.

  • Upshaw Family Message Board at, formerly GenForum

  • - NEW! The Rice/Upshaw house in Randolph County, Arkansas

  • Descendants of Peter Upshaw

  • My Southern Family Website

  • Descendants of Middleton Knox Polk Upshaw

  • Jan Tucker Baldenweck's Upshaw Family Album web page (Andrew Jackson Upshaw family pictures)

  • My General Genealogy Links (Some are very out-dated!)

  • Abshire Family Message Board at, formerly GenForum

    Family Trees

    1. Descendants of Capt. William Upshaw of Virginia

    This is a huge linked family tree of all known (by me, anyway) Upshaw descendants in North America and can be used to find the ancestry and relationships between most caucasian Upshaws. The original database was provided in 1998 by Nancy Morel Carter who had been working with Ted Brooke to compile a master database of Upshaw descendants. I revised my own branch of the tree and added some descendant information for the Upshaws descended from Edwin Upshaw and Patsy Harrison, from the GEDcom file created by David Upshaw. More recently I have added extensive information on the Peter Upshaw, Elizabeth Upshaw Starling, Betsy Upshaw Staples and Sarah Upshaw Markham lines of descent.

    Over the last four years (as of 2001), I have added many new descendants provided by a wide variety of individuals through e-mail and snail mail correspondence. The web database has grown about 35% since the last update in 1999. A comprehensive list of all the contributors is impossible here, but many of them can be found on the Sources page. Thank you all for your contributions to the overall Upshaw family tree.

    NOTE: For privacy reasons, I have also attempted to eliminate all possibly-living individuals from this web version. If you have any further ancestors or relatives not found in their proper place in this family tree, and whom you know to be deceased, please let me know and provide their birth, death and marriage dates, if known. Also, if you object to your name and/or e-mail address being included on the Sources page, please let me know and I will remove it.

    2. Upshaw Family Fragments

    This tree is a small collection of Upshaws who have not yet been connected to the main family tree, from various sources. If you know how any of these people connect to other relatives, please let me know their names, time and place of birth, death, marriage.

    3. African-American Upshaws

    This tree is a small collection of Upshaw families of African American descent. I have only these few family fragments. If you have further information to add, please send it to me for inclusion.

    4. Upchers, Upshers and Abshawes

    This tree is a collection of families (primarily of England) with alternate spellings which are more or less likely related to the Upshaws. If you have further information to add, please send it to me for inclusion.


    Last updated on 26 Jan 2018 by Tom Upshaw