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

Origins Available: English, German

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

The proud Norman name of But was developed in England soon after Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It was name for a nickname for the Middle English word butt meaning "thicker end" or "stump," in other words a name for a thickset person. Alternatively the name could have been derived from the Middle English word "butt" or the Old French word "but" which both meant a target or mark for archery. In this latter case, the name would be ascribed to one who lived near archery butts or perhaps an archer [1].

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Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence in the eras before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate regularly changed the spellings of their names as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name But have been found, including Butt, But, Butte and others.

First found in the village named Butt in Normandy where William Bot was listed in 1195-8 (Norman People). The earliest records of the name in England was Robertus filius But who was listed in 1137 and Godlambus filius But who was listed in Norfolk 133-60. A few years later, Walter Botte was listed in Oxfordshire in 1189 (Rotulus Pipe Rolls) and Roger But who was Viscount of Southampton in 1203 (Magn. Rotulus).


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our But research. Another 179 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1203, 1486, and 1545 are included under the topic Early But History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 31 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early But Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the But family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 133 words(10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For many English families, the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. For such families, the shores of Ireland, Australia, and the New World beckoned. They left their homeland at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. Many arrived after the long voyage sick, starving, and without a penny. But even those were greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. Numerous English settlers who arrived in the United States and Canada at this time went on to make important contributions to the developing cultures of those countries. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name But were among those contributors:

But Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard But who arrived in New England in 1662
  • Richard But, who arrived in New England in 1662

But Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • Jacob But who settled in Charleston, South Carolina in 1859
  • Jacob But, who landed in Charleston, South Carolina in 1859

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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: Possunt quia posse videntur
Motto Translation: They are able because they seem to be.

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  1. ^ Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)

Other References

  1. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  2. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  3. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  6. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  7. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  8. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  10. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  11. ...

The But Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The But 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 18 January 2011 at 09:31.

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