William Wood Jacobs
  b: ~1725
  d: ~1787

Spouse: Elizabeth *****

Child-1: Roland (Roley)
          2: William
          3: John - b: 1764
                        d: Apr/1811
                       m: Edith (Edy) Grub - 29/Dec/1790 - Fredrick Co., VA

Biographical Details:

The surname "Jacobs" is an obvious patronymic derived from an associated personal name and, as such, must have a similar history as other English patronymic surnames.1  Of course, it derives from the proper name "Jacob" which descends from the ancient Hebrew name "Yaakov" through the Greek and Latin forms "Iakobos" and "Jacobus", respectively.2  The meaning has been traditionally interpreted as "heel", being first applied to Jacob, son and grandson of the Hebrew patriarchs, Isaac and Abraham, who was a second-born twin and reportedly grasped the heel of his first-born brother, Esau, at the time of their birth, cf. Genesis 25:26.  Moreover, as portrayed in the Bible and in keeping with ancient tradition, this name was reflective of Jacob's personality as a grasping trickster.

No definite biographical details are known for William Wood Jacobs.  However, it is likely that he was born in Virginia, perhaps, around 1725, but this remains largely conjectural.  The names of his parents are unknown.  It is also possible that his wife was named Elizabeth, but her maiden name is not known.  Finally, it is believed that William Wood Jacobs died after 1787, again, probably in Virginia.

Source Notes and Citations:
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.
     "Jewish and English: patronymic from the personal name Jacob.  As a Jewish surname it has also assimilated various other patronymics from the same personal name, as for example Jacobowitz."
back to bio.

2. ibid.
     "Jewish, English, German, Portuguese, French, Dutch, and southern Indian: derivative, via Latin Jacobus, from the Hebrew personal name ya'aqobh (Yaakov).  In the Bible, this is the name of the younger twin brother of Esau (Genesis 25:26), who took advantage of the latter's hunger and impetuousness to persuade him to part with his birthright 'for a mess of potage'.  The name is traditionally interpreted as coming from Hebrew akev 'heel', and Jacob is said to have been born holding on to Esau's heel.  In English Jacob and James are now regarded as quite distinct names, but they are of identical origin (see James), and in most European languages the two names are not distinguished.  It is used as a given name among Christians in India, and in the U. S. has come to be used as a surname among families from southern India."
back to bio.

Return to Index