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

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

The ancient history of the name Joliffe began soon after 1066 when the Norman Conquest of England occurred. It was a name given to a happy and lively person. The surname of Jolliffe was originally derived from the Old French word joli, of the same meaning. A broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character.

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It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Joliffe are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Joliffe include Jolliffe, Jolli, Jolliff and others.

First found in Staffordshire where they were an ancient family granted lands by William the Conqueror, and "allied to some of the chief nobles of the Kingdom." A northern branch enjoyed power and affluence in Europe before the Norman Conquest, and were originally known as Jolli. This spelling changed with the years to Jollye, to Jolliff, and finally to Jolliffe.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Joliffe research. Another 305 words(22 lines of text) covering the years 1824, 1613, 1680, 1660, 1679, 1660, 1750, 1734, 1741, 1697 and 1771 are included under the topic Early Joliffe History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 93 words(7 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Joliffe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Joliffe, or a variant listed above:

Joliffe Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • John Joliffe settled in Barbados in 1685

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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: Tant que je puis
Motto Translation: As much as I can.

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  1. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  4. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  5. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  6. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  7. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  8. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  9. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  10. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  11. ...

The Joliffe Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Joliffe 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 5 June 2014 at 10:45.

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