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

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

The ancestors of the Spencer family migrated to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The surname Spencer is for a butler or steward. The surname Spencer was originally derived from the Old French word despensier, of the same meaning.


Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Spencer family name include Spencer, Spenser, Spensor and others.

First found in Leicestershire where they held a family seat from early times.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Spencer research. Another 289 words(21 lines of text) covering the years 1259, 1342, 1402, 1593, 1661, 1621, 1629, 1661, 1570, 1627, 1591, 1636, 1594, 1656, 1621, 1648, 1620, 1643, 1617, 1684, 1601, 1671, 1630 and 1693 are included under the topic Early Spencer History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 323 words(23 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Spencer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Spencer family to immigrate North America:

Spencer Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century

  • Thomas Spencer settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Kathren Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1623
  • William Spencer settled in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630
  • Thomas Spencer settled in Maine in 1630
  • Gerard Spencer, who landed in New England in 1632

Spencer Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century

  • Mary Hilles Spencer, who arrived in Virginia in 1701
  • Wm Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1701
  • Mottrom Spencer, who arrived in Virginia in 1703
  • Eliza Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1711
  • Peter Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1714

Spencer Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century

  • James Spencer, who arrived in America in 1807
  • John Spencer, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808
  • Henry Spencer, aged 26, arrived in New York in 1812
  • Houghton Spencer, aged 34, landed in Connecticut in 1812
  • Benjamin Spencer, aged 39, landed in West Indies in 1812

Spencer Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century

  • Richard Oliver Spencer, who arrived in Michigan in 1904


  • Emerson Lane "Bud" Spencer (1906-1985), American athlete, winner of gold medal in 4x400 m relay at the 1928 Summer Olympics
  • Joel Spencer (b. 1946), American mathematician
  • Percy LeBaron Spencer (1894-1970), American engineer and inventor of the microwave oven
  • Octavia Lenora Spencer (b. 1972), American Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award winning actress
  • John Spencer (1946-2005), American Emmy Award winning actor, best known for his role as White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on the NBC political drama series The West Wing
  • Mr. William Augustus Spencer (d. 1912), aged 57, American First Class passenger from New York City, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking
  • Mrs. Marie Eugenie Spencer, aged 45, American First Class passenger from New York City, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 6
  • Roger David Spencer (b. 1945), English-born, Australian horticultural botanist
  • Herbert Spencer (1820-1903), English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist and sociologist, best known for coining the expression "survival of the fittest"
  • John Spencer (1935-2006), English professional snooker player, 1972 World Champion



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: Dieu defend le droit
Motto Translation: God defends the right.


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  1. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  2. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  3. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  4. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  8. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  9. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  10. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  11. ...

The Spencer Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Spencer 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 15 October 2014 at 20:07.

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