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

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

The name York is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in the county of Yorkshire. Yorkshire, which was the largest county in northern England, was divided into three administrative ridings: North Riding, West Riding, and East Riding. The town of York was the military capital of Roman Britain, the capital of Northumbria, and was the seat of an Archbishop. Yorkshire was also the home of the House of York, which was an English royal dynasty from 1461 to 1485. The reigning members of the House of York were Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III. Their rivalry with the House of Lancaster resulted in the Wars of the Roses, which lasted from 1455 to 1485 and ended when the Lancastrian Henry VII united the two houses by marrying Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV. The surname York belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

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It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like York are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. 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. The variations of the name York include: York, Yorke and others.

First found in Wiltshire where they were first listed at Carne, and soon after the Conquest branched to Fillack in Cornwall, and Wellington in Somerset.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our York research. Another 203 words(14 lines of text) covering the years 1461, 1569, 1549, 1609, 1666, 1654, 1666, 1690, 1764, 1658, 1716, 1689, 1690, 1695 and 1707 are included under the topic Early York History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 147 words(10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early York Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the York family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name York or a variant listed above:

York Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • John York, who arrived in Barbados in 1635
  • James York and his wife Catherine, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Kat York, aged 19, landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Thomas York, who arrived in Maryland in 1636
  • James York, who arrived in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1647


York Settlers in the United States in the 18th Century


  • Eliza York, who landed in Virginia in 1700
  • Tho York, who landed in Virginia in 1706
  • Matthew York, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Esther York, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Sarah York, who settled in Jamaica in 1722

York Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • William York, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1836
  • John York, who landed in Mississippi in 1840
  • George York, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Levi York, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1876

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  • Alvin Cullum "Sergeant" York (1887-1964), American WWI hero, nicknamed Sergeant York, one of the most decorated American soldiers, recipient of the Medal of Honor
  • Herbert F York (1921-2009), American nuclear physicist
  • Duke James W. York Jr. (b. 1939), American mathematical physicist
  • Richard Allen "Dick" York (1928-1992), American actor perhaps best remembered for his role as the first Darrin Stephens in the fantasy sitcom Bewitched
  • Andrew York (b. 1958), American classical guitarist and composer
  • Jerome Bailey "Jerry" York (1938-2010), American businessman, Chairman, President and CEO of Harwinton Capital, former CFO of IBM and Chrysler
  • John Joseph Robert York (b. 1958), American actor
  • John Foley York (b. 1946), American bassist and guitarist, best known for his work with The Byrds
  • Michael York (b. 1942), English stage and film actor
  • Susannah York (1939-2011), award winning English film, stage and television actress

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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: Nec cupias, nec metuas
Motto Translation: Neither desire nor fear.

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  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. 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.
  3. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  4. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  5. 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).
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  7. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  9. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  10. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  11. ...

The York Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The York 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 July 2014 at 13:39.

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