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

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

The name Wait is from the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name was given to a person who was a watchman. Wait is an occupational surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Occupational surnames were derived from the primary activity of the bearer. In the Middle Ages, people did not generally live off of the fruits of their labor in a particular job. Rather, they performed a specialized task, as well as farming, for subsistence. Other occupational names were derived from an object associated with a particular activity. This surname comes from the Anglo-Norman-French word waite, which means watch. Waits or Waites were British town pipers. Up until 1835, every British town and city of note had a band of Waites and more often than not, they played and instrument called the Wait-pipe.

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Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Wait family name include Waite, Wait, Wayte, Waits, Waight and others.

First found in Cornwall where they were Lords of the manor of Arwennick, and held a family seat from very ancient times some say well before the Norman Conquest in 1066.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wait research. Another 121 words(9 lines of text) covering the years 1611, 1699 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Wait History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 71 words(5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wait Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Wait family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 37 words(3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Wait or a variant listed above:

Wait Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Wait, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1634
  • Thomas Wait, who arrived in Rhode Island in 1638
  • John Wait, who landed in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1662

Wait Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Raynes Wait settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1767
  • Hugh Wait, aged 27, arrived in New York or Georgia in 1775

Wait Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • William Wait, who landed in New York in 1822
  • Edward Wait, who arrived in New York in 1822
  • Benjamin Wait, who landed in New York in 1845
  • Hester Wait, who arrived in New York in 1847

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  • Arthur John Wait (1910-1981), English builder and former chairman and life president of Crystal Palace F.C


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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: Pro aris et focis
Motto Translation: For our altars and our home.

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  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  2. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  3. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  4. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  5. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  7. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  8. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  9. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The Wait Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Wait 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 3 April 2014 at 09:07.

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