MySource:Martygrant/Dugger Origins

MySource Dugger Origins
Place Virginia, United States
Year range -
Surname Dugger
Dugger Origins.


Dugger Origins

Where did the Dugger family originate? England, Scotland, France? Somewhere else? All of the above may be correct and then some. The earliest American Dugger families seem to have come from England. Later arrivals (mainly using the Dugar and Dugard spellings) were probably from France.

Looking at the 1850-1880 census records one can see several Dugger, Duggar, Dugar and Dugard families in America who were born in England and Ireland. There were a few born in France but not many. Notably, there were none born in Scotland who were in America in that era. By 1880 there were several from Italy and Germany as well as more from England and Ireland. By the 1900 census there were some in America from England, France, Ireland, Germany, Canada, Italy and elsewhere. By this time a few from Scotland had also appeared in the United States.

James M. Dugger (Jim) has an interesting study of the Dugger surname on his website.

Les Dugger has an interesting history of the Dugger name on his site.


A Case for England by Lynn Dawson

This essay was prepared by Lynn Dawson March 19, 1999. Reprinted with permission.

Let me agree that we Dugger's "could" be Scot, Irish, German, French or almost anything. But, the odds are we are English. As the old saying goes, "If you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras."

Let me quote from Richard Hofstadter's book "America at 1750" : "....not less than half, and perhaps considerably more of all the white immigrants to the colonies were indentured servants, redemptioners, or convicts. Certainly a good many more than half of all persons who went to the colonies south of New England were servants in bondage to planters, farmers, speculators, and proprietors. The tobacco economy of Virginia and Maryland was founded upon the labor of gangs of indentured servants, who were substantially replaced by slaves only during the course of the eighteenth century." "The planters' fortunes" wrote the governor of Maryland in 1755 "consist in the number of their servants (who are purchased at high rates) much as the estates of an English farmer do in the multitude of cattle." "Everywhere indentured servants were used, and almost everywhere outside New England they were vital to the economy. The labor of the colonies, said Benjamin Franklin in 1759, "is performed chiefly by indentured servants brought from Great Britain, Ireland, and Germany, because the high price it bears cannot be performed in any other way."

"Indentured servitude had its roots in the widespread poverty and human dislocation of seventeenth-century England. Still a largely .......backward economy with a great part of its population permanently unemployed......"

"One of the horrendous figures in the folklore of lower-class London in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the "spirit" -the recruiting agent who waylaid-kidnapped, or induced adults to get aboard a ship for America. The spirits, who worked for respectable merchants, were known to lure children with sweets, to seize the weak or the gin-sodden and take them aboard ship, and to bedazzle the credulous or weak-minded by fabulous promises of an easy life in the New World. Often their victims were taken roughly in hand and, pending departure, held in imprisonment either on shipboard or in low-grade hostels or brothels. To escaped criminals and other fugitives who wanted help in getting out of the country, the spirits could appear as ministering angels. Although efforts were made to regulate or check their activities, and they diminished in importance in the eighteenth century, it remains true that a certain small part of the white colonial population of America was brought by force, and a much larger portion came in response to deceit and misrepresentation on the part of the spirits."

In addition, many of the people who came to America "voluntarily" between 1640 and 1680, did so to escape the consequence of their backing the wrong side in the English Civil War.

My point is that between the founding of Jamestown in 1607 and the first records we are sure about in 1695 (i.e. Daniel Dugger) a lot more than half of the people, who came to Virginia, were from England.

And, we can find some evidence of an English origin of the Duggers, for example:

In Coldham's book "Immigrants to America", compiled from English Court Records there were three Duggards (also spelled Dugard and Duggar) who were bonded for passage to the new world - there were two John's and an Abraham. One John was reprieved (he was in jail for murder) for passage to Barbados and one John and an Abraham were bonded for passage to Virginia. All this was around and about 1675. Abraham and John Dugger show up as 'headrights' in Virginia.

Before 1700 there were at least three Duggard's (various spellings, mostly Duggard; note that as late as 1725 Daniel was spelling his name Duggard) in VA: Richard, John and Abraham. A John Dugger was listed among 180 headrights in a patent of 1674 and an Abraham Dugger was among 4 headrights in a 1689 patent. [I should say that Ralph Dugger got me to read Coldham and he has done more work in this area than I have.]

In summary, I think the Dugger immigrant came from England. However, England was invaded by the French in 1066, The Scandinavians (Vikings) from 700 to 1000, the Germans (Angles and Saxons) from 400 to 600 and and before that the Romans and before them the Celts, add to that the considerable movement between England, Ireland and Scotland and our name could have had an origin in almost any country in Europe. Never-the-less, I think the hoof beats are from horses!

Addendum written March 20, 1999 by Lynn Dawson

In the Hofstadter book I quoted in my last message, the author makes the point that before 1710 the vast majority of all immigrants were English. Between 1710 and 1740 Germans and Scotch Irish came in large numbers; Scots came in large numbers from about 1740 to 1760, but before that time most immigrants were English. My purpose in writing yesterday was to point out that the "most likely" origin of the Dugger family (and name) is England.

I do not believe that Daniel was a indentured or bonded immigrant. I think he was the son or grandson of an immigrant and that the immigrant may have been a bonded or indentured servant. I think that John, Abraham (or someone) was the immigrant. ( "bonded" usually means some one who was taken out of jail and transported. This doesn't necessarily mean a crook, for many people were in jail for religious or political reasons and the term "indentured" usually means a free man or woman who promised labor in return for passage.

This is my understanding of headrights system: Since Virginia was chronically short of labor. The headright system was created to bring laborers to the colony. In the beginning, all, immigrants, were granted 50 acres, free of charge in return for transporting himself. Very quickly, the system was changed so that free grants were given for bringing others, (an indentured servant for example). An indentured servant kept his headright, and the person who paid his way also got a headright. (Don't forget land was plentiful.) So that when the indenture, usually 5 to 7 years, was completed, the person got 50 acres to start life in Virginia on. This system lead to a whole sub-economy of selling, and dealing in headrights and of course a great deal of fraud and evasion as people made repeated claims and people disembarked at two or three different ports to claim headrights. (I'm sure no Dugger's did of these things.) Even people "bonded" out of jail got headrights or at least the people who paid their way did.

On the question of how Daniel became a land owner, there are several possibilities. He could have bought it: The typical cost for 100 acres was10 shillings, which was not very much even then. Labor was so scarce in the early 17th century and tobacco was so profitable that, unlike England, it was fairly easy to accumulate 10 shillings. A man could, on his "free" 50 acres, make a very good profit. If he invested the profits in more land, it did not take long to accumulate several hundred acres. Surry County was much bigger in the 17th century. I believe the part that Daniel and Mary lived in, is now Isle of Wight County, which was off the beaten path at that time (and now) so, land probably was even cheaper. Another thing, land on the frontier (Brunswick County was the frontier in mid 17th century!) was so plentiful and cheap that the government gave it away at every opportunity. Service in the military (or almost any Service to the government) was commonly rewarded with land grants. One other way to get land, of course, is to marry it! As smart as Duggers were (are), it probably wasn't a big problem to get land, even legally!

I'm going to stop here for I don't want to write another essay. I didn't want to write an essay yesterday. I just want to make sure we consider the most obvious place as we discuss or country of origin.


More study needed


More study needed


A History of Watauga County, North Carolina. with Sketches of Prominent Families by John Preston Arthur. Richmond: Everett Waddey Co. 1915.

There were three DUGGER brothers who came from Scotland and stopped awhile near Petersburg, VA., named Benjamin, Daniel and Julius. Ben stopped at Yadkin Elk, Daniel went to Kentucky and Julius settled near Fish Springs on the Watauga River, Tennessee. It was from Julius' children that the Banner's Elk Duggers descended.

This makes the case that the Duggers were from Scotland. Other than what was written here in 1915, no other evidence has been seen linking the early American Duggers to Scotland.

Based only on census records (1850-1900), there were no Scottish Duggers in America until the 1900 census.