The Baggs tribe invades
Baggs is an ancient English name. The first origins of the Baggs family can be traced to the area around the town of Newbury in the county of Berkshire, England.
The name Baggs is a shortened form that evolved over the centuries from Baggson. This meant the sons of (i.e. the tribe of) Baga. Baga was one of the Angle or Saxon chieftains who invaded Britain after the Roman empire started to retreat.
The Angles (otherwise Engles) and Saxons (now called together the Anglo-Saxons) were fond of conquering, and renaming places that they invaded. After driving the older tribes of Britons, Celts, Picts and Scots out of Britain (literally the land of the Briton tribe), the Anglo-Saxons renamed the country England (land of the Engles). Just as Birmingham was named after the tribe led by the chieftain Beo (Beo + ming meaning tribe + ham meaning village), so the village of Baghurst near Newbury in Berkshire means the town of the Baggses.
With the introduction of Christianity into England, new surnames (patronymic tribal names or sire-names) came into being using the names of saints and apostles from the Bible. The many Joneses came from Johnson, the sons of John, a new politically-correct name. The Baggs tribe had more obstinate blood. Being a warrior and mystic race, they sternly refused to adopt any such new name. This did have one minor long-term disadvantage - have you ever heard of a Jones being asked to spell his surname?
Bagashire as people no longer say
The invaders gave their tribe's names to the areas where they settled. The Cantii tribe gave their name to what is now the county of Kent in south-east England. Baga's tribe settled in an area that became known as Baga's Shire. It was only a short step to calling the county Barkshire, as it is still now called. The fact that it is spelled Berkshire has little to do with how the English actually pronounce it. (If my American cousins think that I am teasing, try coming to England and pronouncing Worcestershire like a native!)
Baggses in Baghurst, Berkshire
Within living memory, every other person in the town of Baghurst in Berkshire was a Baggs. Your present author's father, Ernest William Baggs, came from Newbury, a larger town just a few miles from Baghurst. Apparently my grandfather built Newbury racecourse.
My father later married and moved to my mother's home town of Bitterne, outside the city of Southampton, in the neighbouring county of Hampshire. My father's family had a quaint custom, that I have observed in some other old country English families. His wife, friends and workmates all called my Dad "Bill", short for William. Whenever we visited his relatives in Newbury, however, he became "Ern", short for Ernest, again. Quite confusing for a young lad! Even more surprising is that my mother's family had the same custom in reverse. My mother, Elsie Constance née Freemantle, was always "Connie" to friends and family. It was only when she had to go into hospital that she reverted to the formal "Elsie". The hospital staff did a doubletake when I went to visit and appeared not to know my own mother's name!
Baggses in the West Country
My father apparently spent a lot of his childhood with relatives in the West Country (Devon, Cornwall and Somerset). All I know is that he loved to visit Devon and Somerset for holidays, and that he went to school in Tiverton, in North-east Devon.
I did leave my home town of Southampton for a while, and lived in Okehampton, Devon. I could not visit any local relatives, because I had no names or addresses.
My relatives in the West Country were a mystery to me, until I found the website of Steve Baggs from Somerset. Steve's website is at www.baggs.co.uk, and he offers full-colour answers to the question, "What is a Baggs?"
And now for a short word from our sponsor...
... or not as the case may be. New sponsor message soon.
In case my spelling of "colour" jarred with the American cousins who I hope will visit this site, I should explain that I have used the traditional English (and-HTML unfriendly) spelling. My wife Edwina is a copy editor and web designer, who offers as part of her services to Anglicize websites from American into the Queen's English.
My own new website at www.PAGEultra.com should be launched by the time you read this, advertising my PAGEultra shareware accounts software package for UK businesses.
But... to return to the plot...
Baggses in Dorset
The movement of part of the Baggs tribe from central southern England (counties of Berkshire and Hampshire) to the West Country (counties of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset) naturally took them through the county of Dorset.
A branch of the Baggs family stayed in Dorset, where their descendants thrive today. A privately-published book by my distant cousin F. J. W. Baggs tells of the history of his branch. I intend to seek permission to publish his work on the web.
Baggses at the Bar
Poole in Dorset is the home of the only other Baggs currently at the English Bar. We are both Barristers at Lincoln's Inn, the senior of the four Inns of Court. I hope to find time to peruse the Black Books at Lincoln's Inn to establish that this is a family tradition. David John Baggs was called to the Bar in 1975; I am a mere babe by comparison, being called in 1996.
Baggses migrate to the Web
Here are a few Baggs links that I found on the web:-
Baggses in England (John and Stephen were always popular Baggs names, as was William - where's his site?):-
www.baggs.co.uk Stephen's site, mentioned above
... and... apart from this present site by John Baggs, that seems to be all the sites in the Old Country. As I said above, we are a warrior and mystic clan. We took centuries to embrace Christianity. The internet may take even longer.
At least the mystery of the identities of Bill and Ben Baggs is explained at:- www.gallifreyone.com/altwho.htm
Andrew Baggs writes to say that his branch of the Baggs family is now back in central southern England, but they seem to have travelled a lot in the north. Andrew says, "I'm from Oxford, but I think my routes are predominantly in the north, Cumbria etc." You can link to a photo showing Andrew pulling the other one at www.clendonfamilytree.org.uk/d45.htm
Baggses in Australia:-
Kelvin Baggs still has 3 years of holiday snaps to show us (what are relatives for)?:- www.kelvin.baggs.com
The Baggs family in Australia has its own newsletter, the Babble:- www.chariot.net.au/~gbaggs/baggs.htm
Dr Sydney Baggs and family are architectural visionaries in NSW:- www.internetwire.com/technews/tn/tn981824.htx
Baggses in the USA:-
The L R Baggs company sounds great in California:- www.lrbaggs.com/
Baggs of Beer sounds soggy, but visit their not so wetsite in Gateway VA:- www.gateway-va.com/pages/talkbiz/apr/newbiz.htm
You could test drive Michael Baggs' site in Oregon:- www.baggsbmw.com/
Or learn a thing or two from Professor Raymond Baggs:- http://wwwminer.lib.rochester.edu/wwwrlp/niehsc/ur/baggs.htm
A geneology forum, with lots of messages from Baggses :- http://genforum.genealogy.com/baggs/
The Bill Baggs site might shed some light:- www.floridainfo.com/travel/southfla/mustsee/baggs.htm
A Baggs struck it rich in Colorado:- www.desertusa.com/colorado/lm_nra/lake_mohave/du_kathern.html
From the Baggs family in New Mexico, USA:- www.alvyray.com/Family/tree/d0/i0000932.htm
From early settlers of Montgomery Co, AR:- www.rootsweb.com/~armontgo/baggs.htm
In Preoria County, IL, 2 Merediths married a Baggs each:- www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/8828/fam00006.htm
Family of Archibald James Baggs:- http://members.atlantic.net/~flywfarm/d0000/g0000034.html
From the history of the Stanton and related families, San Francisco CA:- www.genealogysf.com/stanton/i0009920.htm
The Hyde family history, marriage to Amy Baggs:- www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/6173/Jhyde.html
From the Chapman family, marriages to Baggses:- members.atlantic.net/~flywfarm/d0002/g0000079.html
The Barlow family in Georgia also mention the local Baggses:- www.genweb.net/~barlow/morega.html
And Steven W. Baggs has written the history of South Dakota:- www.rootsweb.com/~sdgenweb/state/bookshelf.html
The town of Baggs in Little Snake River Valley, Carbon County, Wyoming:-
Baggs was named after rancher George Baggs:- www.wyoming.com./~DTE/valley/
General information:- www.pe.net/~rksnow/wycountybaggs.htm
The Rawlins-Carbon County Chamber of Commerce:- http://w3.trib.com/~rcccoc/index.htm
Location map of Baggs in Wyoming USA:- www.localeyes.com/1US8CPRWYAJ/07.html
Lots of Baggses reply to Kirsty Baggs about the town of Baggs:- www.fcinet.com/wwwboard/messages/741.html
Hotel info:- http://roomsplus.com/motels/wy/b/wyb10002.htm
Also... Baggs is the 18,820th most popular surname in the USA:- www.placesnamed.com/B/a/baggs.asp
Marc Porter studies elk and deer in Baggs:- www.uwyo.edu/a&s/zoology/co-op/marc.htm
There seem to be 2 churches in Baggs:- www.churchangel.com/WEBWY/baggs.htm (but no internet site of its own!)
And Baggs has a Top Educator:- www.k12.wy.us/educator/fleming.html
The Wyoming community is still thinking of linking to Baggs:- www.trib.com/WYOMING/wcomm.shtml
But Baggs seems close to lovely holiday trips:- www.gorp.com/gorp/resource/US_National_Forest/WY_MEDIC.HTM
Why did Altavista bring up Pinedale when I searched for "Baggs"? Looks nice anyway!:- www.pinedaleonline.com/
The AskSnoops engine finds Wyoming but not much in Baggs:- www.asksnoops.com/cgi/seeker.exe?a=Baggs+Wyoming
Butch Cassidy visited Baggs after he wasn't really killed in South Amercia:- www.brownspark.com/bassett.html
Variations on a Baggs (or a Baggs by any other name):-
Spelling was not people's strongest point in the English Middle Ages. Most people could not write their own name. It was only centuries later that writing came into vogue, and only years later that some people (usually schoolmasters) insisted that there was just one "right" way to spell a word. Some branches of the Baggs family doubtless had had their name subtly changed by mispronunciation over the generations.
There was also the point that some people would take as their surname the place where they lived. So the Baggs family gave its name to Baghurst, and then some of the Baggses of Baghurst started to give their name as Baghurst.
The Berkshire Family History Society has prepared a list of Surnames appearing in the 1851 Census Returns for Berkshire, which can be found on the web at http://www.vellum.demon.co.uk/genuki/BRK/brksurs.htm
It may well be that the residents of Newbury called Bagent, Baggus, Baghurst, Bagley, Bagnell, Bagnett, Bagster, and Bagus were all distant cousins of the Baggses who still were in Newbury.
Interestingly enough, there were no Beggs in Newbury. Some say that Beggs is a corruption of Baggs, but the absence of Beggses in Newbury seems to militate against this. There is another explanation for the name Beggs, for which there is written authority. This explanation is that Beggs is neither a patronymic nor a placename, but a trade name adopted in the same way that some families became Fletcher, Archer, Butcher, Cooper or the ubiquitous Smiths. Unfortunately for the Beggses, the authority traces their name to the humble trade of a beggar. There are however traces of people called Biggs around Newbury, and they may be our distant cousins.
An anthropologist might call it parallel evolution
Jim Baggs in California email@example.com says, "Our Baggs' originated from the Fir Bolg's in Ireland. We might have tried England for a while, but not to the family's knowledge... It is always good to read about others who share my last name, but exclusively English? No, my friend. May God Bless You."
The Biggs and Beggs families were mentioned above. There are also people with the name Boggs. Perhaps they are a missing link between the Fir Bolg and the California Baggses.
Mrs Baggs sounds a real doll in:- www.worldvillage.com/wv/school/html/reviews/dollhs.htm
We might also mention "Striking Out", the first of a series of Billy Baggs novels, by Will Weaver, published by HarperCollins and sold (of course) by Amazon. A 13-year-old Minnesota farm boy starts to play baseball. As I said above, William is one of the traditional Baggs boy's names.
Mike is a wannabe Baggs - a sign of good taste in the corporate signmakers at www.BaggsStudio.com
Are YOU a Baggs? Or from Baggs? Or would you like to be a Baggs?
If you have any links to Baggs sites, or any Baggs material for this site, please contact me. If you do not have the time or inclination to set up a website of your own, that's fine. Just e-mail any material to me (in Word or plain text format) and I can add it to this site. Pictures in GIF or JPEG format would be welcome.
The baggs.com and baggs.net domain names have already been taken by commercial organisations, but this is a free site for my family - and if you are a Baggs you are family. As Steve says on his site, "No business sense, you see, just public service." If the town of Baggs wants to use part of this site, it would be my pleasure. (I don't know who to write to... "The City Fathers?"... "The Baggses of Baggs?"... I'll just let them find this site.)
I look forward to hearing from you all out there!
Webmaster: John Baggs, London, England. E-mail: John@Baggs.Org
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