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

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

There is a town of Kelso in the Scottish Borders region, which followed from the creation of Kelso Abbey at that location in 1128. It is thought that in Scotland, Kelso was taken on as a surname from the place name.


Spelling variations of this family name include: Kelso and others.

First found in Roxburghshire, where they were granted lands by King Malcolm Canmore, King of Scotland, consisting of the Abbey and estates of Kelso, originally the Abbey of Selkirk.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Kelso research. Another 365 words(26 lines of text) covering the years 1076, 1180, 1214, 1296, and 1300 are included under the topic Early Kelso History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Kelso Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Kelso family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 91 words(6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Kelso Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • William Kelso, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1635

Kelso Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Hugh Kelso, who landed in New England in 1718
  • Samuel Kelso settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina with his wife and seven children in 1767
  • Elizabeth Kelso, who settled in Wilmington in 1774
  • Elizabeth Kelso, who landed in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1774

Kelso Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • Charles Kelso, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808
  • Joseph Kelso, aged 20, landed in New York in 1812
  • Mathew Kelso, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1821
  • John Kelso, who arrived in Mississippi in 1848
  • James, Oliver, Paul, Robert and William Kelso all arrived in Pennsylvania between 1840 and 1860


  • Louis O Kelso (1913-1991), American lawyer and economic thinker
  • Ed Kelso (1910-1969), American writer and screenwriter
  • Frank Benton Kelso II (1933-2013), United States Navy admiral, who served as Chief of Naval Operations in the early 1990s
  • Bill Kelso (1940-2009), Major League Baseball pitcher
  • Jack W. Kelso (1934-1952), Medal of Honor recipient
  • Mark Kelso (b. 1963), former Buffalo Bills defensive back
  • Thomas Kelso (1784-1878), Irish-born, American philanthropist
  • Phil Kelso (1871-1935), Scottish footballer
  • J. A. Scott Kelso (b. 1947), Irish-born neuroscientist
  • J. J. Kelso (1864-1935), creator of the Children's Aid Society in Canada


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: Otium cum dignitate
Motto Translation: Repose with dignity.


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  1. 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).
  2. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Scotch Irish Pioneers In Ulster and America. Montana: Kessinger Publishing. Print.
  3. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  4. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  5. Scarlett, James D. Tartan The Highland Textile. London: Shepheard-Walwyn, 1990. Print. (ISBN 0-85683-120-4).
  6. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  7. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  8. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and David Hicks. The Highland Clans The Dynastic Origins, Cheifs and Background of the Clans. New York: C.N. Potter, 1968. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Kelso Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Kelso 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 10 December 2013 at 14:03.

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