AFRICAN-AMERICAN

WALCOTTS & WILCOTS


Revised November 2011

This information is intended for genealogical research purposes only and may not be used without permission, except that single copies may be printed for private use.  Questions and additions or corrections to this page may be sent to John Wolcott, ( johnwolcott at mail.com)

Some African-American Walcotts have achieved significant positions in the world. Most Black Walcotts originated in Barbados and Jamaica, where white Walcotts were early settlers and slaveholders. It is often difficult to find if they are related, as most rose from slavery where surnames were generally not used. The Walcott surname was adopted by different individuals at different times after slavery was abolished in Barbados in 1834. This is also true of Black Americans descended from slaves brought to the United States, who adopted surnames following the Civil War. 

We have two Black participants in our Wolcott/Walcott DNA project; one a Walcott and one a Wilcott. Their DNA tests show unrelated descent in the male lines, both with origins in Central Africa. We encourage other Black Wolcott/Walcotts to partcipate.

Notable African-American Walcotts include:

Jersey Joe Walcott was born New Jersey in 1914.  He fought Joe Louis for the championship in 1947, and became World Heavyweight Boxing Champion in 1951 by defeating Ezard Charles. Joe's birth name was Arnold Cream.  When he got into professional fighting, he took the name, Joe Walcott. Arnold’s father had been born in the British West Indies, and his father’s favorite fighter was from the same region, Joe Walcott, the Welterweight Champion.

The original Joe Walcott was born in British Guyana in 1873, but grew up in Barbados.  He got a job as a cabin boy on a sailing ship and sailed to Boston where he got a job in a gym, and started boxing.  Joe was under 5 ft. 2 in. and weighed less than 150 pounds, but he had an 18 in. neck and a 41 in. chest; impressive for his size.  He sometimes fought and beat Light Heavyweights and Heavyweights. He was called “The Barbados Demon”. In 1901 he became World Welterweight Champion, a title he held until 1904, when he accidentally shot himself in the hand during a New Year's celebration.  He is credited with originating the saying: "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."

Another Joe Walcott, known as “Fighting Joe” Walcott, was also well known in the world of boxing.  He was born in New Orleans in 1904 and came north to Philadelphia for better opportunities. Walcott, a lightweight, boxed about 200 fights before he became a trainer in the 1930s. He trained World Champions Joe Frazier, Jersey Joe Walcott, and Earnie Terrell.  For many of his fighters, Walcott was a stern father-figure.  To support his own family, Walcott also washed windows for about 30 years. He helped organize a local unit of the window cleaners' union.  One day, while hanging from 20 stories up on a Center City highrise, one of Walcott's belts loosened. He would have plunged to his death if not for his strength to hold on to the ropes.  He died in Philadelphia in 1998.

Sir Clyde Leopold Walcott, born in Bridgetown, Barbados in 1926, was a world famous cricket player.  His father was an engineer with the Barbados Advocate, the island's only newspaper, and Clyde was born borderline Barbadian upper-class in New Orleans, St Michael Parish, in the comfort of a home built for a plantation manager.  In the 1950s he was considered the best batsman in the world.  From 1954 to 1970, he lived in British Guiana, which in 1966 achieved independence as the nation of Guyana. There he played for and captained the national team while also developing its cricket program.  He retired from active playing in 1960, and became the first non-English and non-white chairman of the International Cricket Council.  In 1966 he was granted knighthood by the government of Barbados as Knight of St. Andrew, Gold Crown of Merit.  

A current star in the world of Soccer is Theo James Walcott. He was born in London in 1989 to a Jamaican father and an English mother, Don and Lynn Walcott. Wendell Walcott, Theo's grandfather, moved to England from Jamaica in the 1950s. Theo was born in London, but the family moved to Compton when he was 10.  Theo and his father moved from Compton back to London when he signed with Arsenal team with a 9 million pound contract when he was only 17.  Don Walcott a former RAF technician turned gas fitter, resigned when his boss refused to give him the day off so he could see his son make his full debut with Southampton at Leeds in 2005. When Theo was picked to play for England for the 2006 World Cup, the whole family – mother Lynn, a midwife; brother Ashley and sister Holly – flew to Baden-Baden to be near him. Theo shunned the luxurious England quarters for the modest hotel where his family stayed. He has still not been known to enter a nightclub and does not drink.  On 6 April 2008, Walcott was a torchbearer for the Olympic Flame as it was paraded around London.

A Walcott we often hear of is Nobel Prize Winner, Derek Alton Walcott.  Dereck was born in 1830 on the island of St. Lucia, in the Caribbean.  Both his grandmothers were said to have been the descendants of slaves.  His mother, Alix, ran the town's Methodist school.  His father, Warwick Walcott, was a civil servant working in the Office of the Attorney General. Warwick was an amateur artist, and an opera fan.  He died at age 34, when Derek and his twin brother, the future playwright Roderick Walcott, were only a few years old.  Warwick’s father, Charles Walcott, was white, and a member of the Barbados Walcott family.   He came to St. Lucia and bought a plantation, where he had 5 children by a local woman of mixed race. The first poem Derek published was a religious poem.  He was then only 14 years old. In the newspaper, an English Catholic priest condemned the Methodist-inspired poem as blasphemous. By 19, he had self-published his two first collections of poems, which he distributed himself. He later said, "I went to my mother and said, 'I’d like to publish a book of poems, and I think it’s going to cost me two hundred dollars.' She was just a seamstress and a schoolteacher, and I remember her being very upset because she wanted to do it. Somehow she got it—a lot of money for a woman to have found on her salary. She gave it to me, and I sent off to Trinidad and had the book printed. When the books came back I sold them to friends. I made the money back.” Derek obtained a scholarship and studied at the University of the West Indies in Kingston, and then moved to Trinidad in 1953, becoming a critic, teacher and journalist.  He then taught literature and writing at Boston University, retiring in 2007. Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992, the first Caribbean writer to receive the honor.  

Sir Frank Leslie Walcott was born in 1916 in Barbados, a son of a black policeman.  He played a key role in organizing the Barbados labor movement and was a major figure in stimulating participation in the nation's political process.  He was General Secretary of the Barbados Worker's Union 1945-1991, and 1999.  He served in Barbados Parliament 1945-1966 and 1971-76.   He became General-Secretary of the Progressive League, and was President of the Caribbean Congress of Labor 1960-1980.  He was appointed as a Privy Councillor 1970-76.  He served as Barbados' first ambassador to the United Nations, and was a leader in the fight against apartheid.  He was declared a National Hero by the Barbados government and was awarded the Order of the British Empire.  He died in 1999.

Louis Eugene Walcott, a. k. a. Louis Farrakhan, was the founder and leader of the church known as Nation of Islam.  Louis was born in the Bronx in 1933, the son of Sarah Mae Clark and a Walcott step-father.  He received his first violin at the age of six.  By the time he turned thirteen years old, he had played with the Boston College Orchestra and the Boston Civic Symphony.  He competed in and won several national competitions.  In 1946, he was one of the first Black performers to appear on the Ted Mack “Original Amateur Hour”.  He attended the Boston Latin School, and the English High School in Boston, and then completed three years of college at the Winston-Salem Teacher’s College, where he had a track scholarship. In the 1950s, he started a professional music career by recording several calypso albums.  He also performed on tour.  Converting to Islam, he took the name, Farrakhan, an Arabic name meaning 'charmer'.  After nine months of being a registered Muslim and a member of Muhammad's Temple of Islam in Boston, he became assistant minister under the mentorship of Malcolm X, and then minister of the church.  He was minister of the Harlem mosque from 1965 to 1975.  He gained notoriety for his outspoken criticism of America on racial matters, advocacy of separatism, and anti-Jewish remarks, but he also encouraged African-Americans to embrace their heritage and claim their rights as Americans.  In October 1995, he organized and led the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., calling on black men to renew their commitments to their families and communities.

William Henry Walcott was born in 1884 at Westmoreland, Jamaica, son of Sameul and Rebecca Curtis Walcott. He immigrated to the United States in 1894.  He graduated from the Hampton Institute in 1907, and became assistant commandant of the military department at Tuskeegee Institute in that year.  He was a professor at the Tuskegee Institute 1910-1930. His wife, Elizabeth Bolden Walcott, graduated from Oberlin College in 1908 and was recruited by Booker T. Washington to organize a library at the Tuskeegee Institute. She worked for the Tuskegee Institute from 1908 to 1962, as librarian, teacher, writer, editor administrator, and curator. She established a Red Cross chapter at the Institute and was Executive Director for 30 years. She and was the first black female Acting Field Director of the American Red Cross. She was Public Relations Director at Tuskeegee 1942-1946, and was curator of the Carver Museum from 1951 to 1952. In 1962 she was elected National Vice President of the International League for Peace and Freedom. In 2003 she was inducted into the Alabama Woman's Hall of Fame. She died in 1988.

Some early African-American Walcott/Wilcots families were:

1. Maria, b. c. 1820 S. C., lived Savannah GA. Maria's son, Charles DeLyons, opened an account with the Freedmen's Bank in 1870 saying he was age 28, born Savannah, Georgia, complexion Brown, raised Savannah and Tatnal County, worked as wheelwright for Sears Ferribee, step father Mark Sharp, parents George DeLyons and Maria Sharp, wife Emeline, siblings Edwin Walcott, Thomas Walcott, and Isaiah Walcott, children Georgiana, William Henry, Burrill, and Charles. Maria's son Isaiah Walcott was born Jan. 1843 in Savannah and lived at Libery Co. GA. He married Hester and had 6 children: Josephine, Henry, Lizzie, Sam, Sarah, and Alice Walcott. Edwin Walcott, was born in GA in 1849, and Thomas Walcott in 1851.

2. Solomon Wilcuts, b. 1842 GA., d. Kaufman Co. TX. Sol settled in Shelby Co. TX with his wife Sophia Cartwright, where they raised 7 children: William Sherman Wilcuts born 1865 TX, Henry F. Wilcots b. 1866, John Markus Wilcots b. 1872 Panola Co. TX, Liza Wilcots b. 1870 Shelby Co. TX, Ida Wilcots b. 1875 Panola Co. TX, EllaWilcots b. 1877 Panola Co. TX, and Mary Wilcots. This family has held a family reunion for the past 10 years. One of Solomon's descendants was Solomon Wilcots who was a NFL football player and sports commentator.

3. Littleton Walcott, born in 1849 in Marlboro Co., South Carolina, was a farmer and blacksmith in Marlboro County. He and his wife, Martha Prince, raised a family of 10 children, Nancy, Aaron, Maritta, Catherine, Henrietta, Hannah, James, Katie, Hattie, and Thomas.

More families will be added to this list as we collect additional information.

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