Most families with European origins have been affected by migration The
Exons are no exception. Many migrated around the united Kingdom in
search of work but a significant number left, mostly for the United States
and Australia. They wanted a better life free from the uncertainties
caused by cyclical agricultural depression and what they may have
seen as the entrenched social order of rural England.
Early emigrants are more likely than later ones to have come from the
Midlands, because the name was more prevalent in that area in the earlier
period. However, I do not yet have enough data to test that assumption.
Certainly the first Exon to be securely identified as living in America came
from Loughborough to Maryland in the seventeenth century.
Emigration to North America started early. There are two Exons in
the records of apprentices shipped out from Bristol in the seventeenth century
to work in the American colonies. These may well be Somerset Exons. Another,
Henry Exon (known to be from Loughborough, Leicestershire), arrived
in Maryland in 1669. I know nothing as yet of later descendants of
any of these men. There are occasional mentions of the name in
the eighteenth century, but no discernable connections between them.
The real beginning of known Exon settlement in North America is when William
Exon took up land in Hancock County, Illinois in 1835. By 1850 he and
his family were joined by the children of John Exon of Banwell, Somerset
and Charlotte Morgan (married in Long Ashton Somerset in 1822), who settled
in the adjoining county, Adams. Unfortunately, no connection between
them is proved but it is most unlikely that they were not related. It
is not known when William and John and their families arrived. Descendants
of these Exons are found in Oklahoma, Colorado and Oregon.
The one securely dated migration with known descendants is that
of the family of Judge James H. Exon, also of Somerset origins, to South
Dakota and Nebraska in 1882. (See my Notable Exons page).
There were later migrations of individual members of the family but I
have not as yet been contacted by any of their families so have little idea
where they settled.
There are a couple of ethnic oddities about the occurrence of the name in the United States. The US censuses show black families with the name mostly in the Carolinas and Georgia, but spread widely over the South. They are possibly descended from an early Exon settler but it has not been possible to show an specific link. There are also a number of Hispanic families with the name in Texas. Again their origin is unknown.
I live with my family in Australia, but we are very late migrants (1980).
All but one of the six known families/individuals who went to Australia
between 1852 and 1980 (including us) have Somerset origins. The other family
came from Nottinghamshire, and there is evidence of the predominant use of
the Exton form in their ancestry.
Nineteenth-century immigrants to Australia mostly headed for the Goldfields area of Victoria, although none of them, as far as I know, found any gold. Later families settled in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Last updated October 7 2004