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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Origins Available: English, German

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

Helms 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 herdsman. The surname Helms is derived from the Old English word helm, which means a covering. In some later dialects, this word took on the which means of a roofed shelter for cattle. Occupational names such as Helms frequently were derived from the principal object associated with the activity of the original bearer, such as tools or products. These types of occupational surnames are called metonymic surnames.


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 Helms include Helme, Helm, Helms and others.

First found in Surrey where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Helms research. Another 279 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1180 and 1500 are included under the topic Early Helms History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Helms Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


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 Helms were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Helms Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Hans Helms, who arrived in New Netherland(s) in 1642
  • Johan Helms, who landed in New Netherland(s) in 1642
  • Jan Helms, who landed in New York, NY in 1642

Helms Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Emus Helms, who landed in New York in 1746
  • Andrew Helms, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1763
  • Peter Helms, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1766

Helms Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Henry Helms, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1860
  • Margaretha Helms, aged 24, arrived in New York, NY in 1893

Helms Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Ellen Helms, aged 30, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1834 aboard the brig "Preston" from Sligo


  • Susan Jane Helms (b. 1958), former United States Air Force Brigadier General and a former NASA astronaut. She was a crew member on four Space Shuttle missions and was a resident of the International Space Station (ISS) for over five months in 2001
  • Chester Leo "Chet" Helms (1942-2005), American founder and manager of "Big Brother and the Holding Company", he recruited Janis Joplin as its lead singer. He was often called the father of San Francisco's "1967 Summer of Love"
  • Richard McGarrah Helms (1913-2002), American Director of Central Intelligence (DCI) from 1966 to 1973
  • Jesse Alexander Helms Jr. (1921-2008), former five-term Republican U.S. Senator from North Carolina


  • Chronicles of a Virginia Family: the Klomans of Warrenton by Erasmum Helm Kloman.
  • Helms Descendants 1720-1991 by Gerald C. Helms.

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  1. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  2. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  3. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  6. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  8. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  9. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  10. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  11. ...

The Helms Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Helms 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 1 November 2015 at 23:38.

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