Abbey History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The story of the name Abbey reaches back through Scottish history to the kingdom of Dalriada. The name evolved for a person who worked as a person who was a lay-abbot of a monastery. In the Middle Ages, this was the title held usually by the leading family of the village. [1]

Early Origins of the Abbey family

The surname Abbey was first found in the county of Angus, in the parish of Abbey and Brechin. The first record was of Douenaldus (Donald) Abbe of Brechin in 1178, who witnessed a charter with Turpin, Bishop of Brechin, and later he gifted the lands of Balegillegrand to the Abbey of Arbroath, which grant was confirmed by King William the Lion. "Maurice Abbe of Abireloth or Abereloth appears as witness in charters by Gilchrist, earl of Angus and of John de Mountfort between 1201 and 1214. Between 1211 and 1214 Johannes Abbe with the advice and consent of his son Morgund granted to the monks of Abirebroth (Arbroath) permission to take charcoal from 'nemore jaeo de Edale,' now Edzell. The same John Abbe and Morgund his son were present at the perambulation of the boundaries of the lands of the Abbey of Arbroath and the barony of Kynblathmond in 1219. Nicholas Abbe appears as juror on an Inquest in 1250, Simon del Abbeye, Scottish merchant, complained in 1370 of being plundered by English wreckers." [2]

As one would expect the name was scattered throughout ancient England. Ralph le Abbe was found in Devon as was William del Abbay. In Lancashire, Robert del Abbay was listed there in 1332. [3]

William filius Abi was recorded in Buckinghamshire, 1273. Willelmus Abson of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379. [3] John Abbys was documented in County Norfolk in the year 1480. [4]

London records list Ralph le Abbe in the Pipe Rolls of 1177 and in Cornwall, John Abby was listed there in 1297. William del Abbay was a Freeman of York in 1283. [5]

Early History of the Abbey family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Abbey research. Another 69 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1219 and 1370 are included under the topic Early Abbey History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Abbey Spelling Variations

Spelling variations are the result of the medieval practice of spelling according to sound and repeated translation between Gaelic and English. Many spelling variations of Abbey have been recorded over the years, including Abbey, Aba, Abbe, Abbie, Abey, Abbeys, Aby and others.

Early Notables of the Abbey family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Abbey Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Abbey Ranking

In the United States, the name Abbey is the 6,457th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [6]


United States Abbey migration to the United States +

Numerous Scottish settlers settled along the east coast of the colonies that would become the United States and Canada. Others traveled to the open country of the west. At the time of the American War of Independence, some remained in the United States, while those who remained loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The highland games and Clan societies that sprang up across North America in the 20th century have helped many Scots to recover parts of their lost traditions. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Abbeys to arrive in North America:

Abbey Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Abbey, who arrived in Virginia in 1608 [7]
  • John Abbey, who landed in Salem, Massachusetts in 1634 [7]
Abbey Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William D Abbey, who landed in Arkansas in 1880 [7]
Abbey Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Albert Abbey, aged 4, who immigrated to the United States from London, in 1906
  • Constantine Abbey, aged 35, who immigrated to America from Leeds, England, in 1914
  • Allan Abbey, aged 36, who landed in America, in 1918
  • Ann Abbey, aged 26, who settled in America from Essex, England, in 1919
  • Alban Abbey, aged 37, who landed in America, in 1919
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Abbey migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [8]
Abbey Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Sarah Abbey who settled in Barbados in 1679

Contemporary Notables of the name Abbey (post 1700) +

  • Leon Abbey (1900-1975), American jazz violinist and bandleader
  • Henry Abbey (1842-1911), American poet, best known for his poem "What do we plant when we plant a tree?"
  • George William Samuel Abbey (b. 1932), American former director of the Johnson Space Center (JSC)
  • Bert Wood Abbey (1869-1962), American Major League baseball pitcher
  • Edward Abbey (1927-1989), American writer and environmentalist
  • Edwin Austin Abbey (1852-1911), American illustrator and muralist who moved to England and became famous for his graceful depictions of 17th and 18th century England
  • Henry Abbey, American Democratic Party politician, Chair of Edwards County Democratic Party, 1950 [9]
  • Glenn Allan Abbey (1898-1962), American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Johannesburg, 1928-31; U.S. Consul General in Salonika, 1949-51 [9]
  • George W. Abbey, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Michigan 8th District, 1886 [9]
  • Elmer C. Abbey, American Republican politician, Secretary of Colorado Republican Party, 1937 [9]
  • ... (Another 14 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  5. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, September 30) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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