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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the Scottish Bethea family come from? What is the Scottish Bethea family crest and coat of arms? When did the Bethea family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Bethea family history?

Bethea was first used as a surname in the Scottish/English Borderlands in the medieval era. It came from the personal name Edmond. Bethea is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Many patronyms were formed by a son using his father's personal name as a surname. Others were taken from the names of important religious and secular figures. Members of the Bethea family settled in Scotland, just following the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066.

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Boernician names that evolved in the largely preliterate Middle Ages are often marked by considerable spelling variations. Bethea has been spelled Edmondson, Edmonson, Edminson, Edminston, Edmiston, Edmeston, Edmondon and many more.

First found in Edinburghshire, a former county, now part of the Midlothian council area where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Queen Margaret of Scotland. They take their name from the place name Edmondstone, the tun of Eadmund, near Edinburgh. The name may have been derived from Aedmund filius Forn, one of the witnesses to a charter by Thor filius Swani (c. 1150)[1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bethea research. Another 325 words(23 lines of text) covering the years 1070, 1560, 1607, 1659, 1622, 1627, 1712 and 1654 are included under the topic Early Bethea History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 37 words(3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bethea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Bethea family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 171 words(12 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Boernician-Scottish Clan families who came to North America were Loyalists who went north to Canada after the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border went on to found two of the world's great nations. This century, families with Scottish roots have rediscovered their heritage through highland games and clan societies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Bethea or a variant listed above:

Bethea Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Flora or Mrs. J.K. Bethea, aged 35, who emigrated to the United States, in 1913
  • James K. Bethea, aged 45, who landed in America, in 1914
  • Robert C. Bethea, aged 28, who landed in America, in 1918
  • John G. Bethea, who emigrated to America, in 1919
  • John Goodman Bethea, aged 29, who arrived at New York, in 1920


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  • Antoine Bethea (b. 1984), American NFL football safety
  • Ellen Bethea (b. 1967), American actress, best known for her role as Rachel Gannon on One Life to Live
  • Elvin Bethea (b. 1946), former American football defensive end, inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Erin Bethea (b. 1982), American actress
  • James Bethea (b. 1965), American producer and occasional actor
  • Larry Bethea (1956-1987), American NFL football defensive lineman
  • Major-General James Albertus Bethea (1887-1984), American Chief Surgeon, Far East Command (1948-1949)
  • Solomon Hicks Bethea (1852-1909), United States federal judge


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The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Virtus auget honorem
Motto Translation: Virtue increases honour.

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  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)

Other References

  1. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  2. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  3. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  4. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  6. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  11. ...

The Bethea Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Bethea Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 25 March 2014 at 10:03.

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