Abyss History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Abyss comes from the kingdom of Dalriada in ancient Scotland. It was a name 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 Abyss family

The surname Abyss 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 Abyss family

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

Abyss Spelling Variations

The translation of Gaelic names in the Middle Ages was not a task undertaken with great care. Records from that era show an enormous number of spelling variations, even in names referring to the same person. Over the years Abyss has appeared as Abbey, Aba, Abbe, Abbie, Abey, Abbeys, Aby and others.

Early Notables of the Abyss family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Abyss family

Ancestors of many of the Dalriadan families who crossed the Atlantic still live along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Some Scottish settlers arrived in Canada during the American War of Independence as United Empire Loyalists, while others stayed south to fight for a new nation. The descendants of Scottish settlers in both countries began to rediscover their heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries through Clan societies and highland games. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Abyss or a variant listed above: Sarah Abbey who settled in Barbados in 1679; William Abbeys settled in Virginia in 1638; Thomas Abbeys settled in Virginia in 1637; Thomas Abbe settled in Virginia in 1673.



  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)


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