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

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

Waits is a name that was formed by the Anglo-Saxon society of old Britain. The name was thought to have been used for someone who once worked as a watchman. Waits 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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Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Waits 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 Waits research. Another 121 words(9 lines of text) covering the years 1611, 1699 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Waits 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 Waits Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Waits 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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Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Waits were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Waits Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Elizabeth Waits, who landed in New Jersey in 1675

Waits Settlers in the United States in the 20th Century


  • Mrs. Edward Waits, aged 28, who emigrated to the United States, in 1907
  • E. Mc S. Waits, who emigrated to America, in 1912
  • Walter Waits, aged 27, who emigrated to the United States, in 1915
  • Richard L. Waits, aged 32, who landed in America, in 1917
  • Newton J. Waits, aged 33, who landed in America, in 1919


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  • Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits (b. 1949), American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor
  • Michael Richard Waits (b. 1952), former American professional baseball pitcher
  • Freddie Douglas Waits (1943-1989), American hard bop and post-bop drummer
  • Nasheet Waits, American jazz musician


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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. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  2. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  3. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  7. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  8. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The Waits Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Waits 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 19 December 2013 at 12:35.

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