Onions not Edgars

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While researching our Edgar family tree I noted a name change of John Thomas Onions (1842-1924) to Edgar in his childhood and that led me to document the lost history of our Onions ancestors. Download the full story in PDF format (4.7mb) or select from the following individual stories:

The DNA results from our family have confirmed that we are related to John Thomas’ mother, Martha Edgerton Onions (1822-1890), but not to any descendants of her husband John Edgar (1823-1853). It will take a great deal more research to determine who is the father of John Thomas. However we can confirm that our family are Onions, not Edgar.

Four generations of Onions family, over the course of 150 years, were intertwined with the industrial revolution and the resulting risks of life in the urban slums and tenements. Adelaide Edgar was the first of our family line to return to a more agrarian village lifestyle. That decision is likely to have reduced the risk of infant mortality for her children, which had plagued her siblings, born in both Tyneside and York.

Five generations of Onions

The origins of the Black Country family is quite concentrated despite their origins in Staffordshire, Shropshire, & Worcestershire. The county’s borders have shifted over time, and our family lived in those border regions, so their county of birth may no longer align with the current map. However the origin of the Onions family line is most likely even further west, Wales.

Googling the Onions family name will return something similar to the following, which must be taken with a pinch of salt:

Brythonic in origin, the name of Onions came from the rugged landscape of Wales. The name is from the common Welsh personal name Enion. The Old Welsh form of this name was Enniaun, which is ultimately derived from the Latin name Annianus. The name is also associated with the Welsh word “enion,” which literally means “anvil” and connotes the qualities of stability and fortitude. Some experts also associate the surname Onions with the Welsh word “uniawn,” which means “upright” or “just.”


If you have any photographs, documents, or personal stories about the family, I would be delighted to include them in this, or future, family histories. Thank you


Family archivist, genealogical researcher, writer, and always open to receive questions, comments, and feedback via JulianClark@mac.com


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