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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Irish

The ancient name Heron is a Norman name that would have been developed in England after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. This name was a name given to a person who was long legged or of tall stature. The name Heron is derived from the Old English word heiroun, which meant heron. As in this instance, nickname surnames often described strong traits or features of animals. In the pre-Christian era, many pagan gods and demigods were believed to be a mixture of animals and humans, such as the Greek god Pan who was the god of flocks and herds and was represented as a man with the legs, horns and ears of a goat. In the Middle Ages, anthropomorphic ideas, which attributed human qualities and form to gods or animals, were held about the characters of other living creatures. They were based on the creature's habits. Moreover, these associations were reflected in folk tales, mythology, and legends which portrayed animals behaving as humans


The surname Heron was first found in Northumberland at Thornton, a township, in the parish of Norham, union of Berwick-upon-Tweed. "This place was the manor and residence of a family named Heron." [1] And in the parish of Ford, Northumberland, another early family record was found. " On the western side of the village is Ford Castle, erected in 1287 by Sir William Heron, and rebuilt by the late Lord Delaval; two towers, the remains of the former castle, are retained in the present structure. The castle was demolished by the Scots in 1385." [1]

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Herron, Heron and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Heron research. Another 233 words (17 lines of text) covering the years 1795, 1865 and are included under the topic Early Heron History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Heron Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Heron family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 107 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Heron or a variant listed above:

Heron Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • John Heron, who settled in Barbados in 1635
  • John Heron, aged 18, arrived in Virginia in 1635

Heron Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Ben j Heron, who arrived in North Carolina in 1770

Heron Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Thos Heron, aged 22, landed in Rhode Island in 1812
  • Alexander Heron, aged 33, landed in Maryland in 1813
  • Matthew Heron, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1842
  • George Heron, who arrived in Arkansas in 1860
  • Patrick Heron, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1867

Heron Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Andrew Heron, aged 32, who settled in America from Donegal, in 1906
  • Andrew Heron, aged 39, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Albert Heron, aged 30, who landed in America from London, England, in 1907
  • Annie Heron, aged 21, who landed in America from Cloonelly, Ireland, in 1911
  • Catherine Heron, aged 19, who emigrated to the United States from Upperlands, Ireland, in 1911

Heron Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Mr. Andrew Heron U.E. who settled in Fredericksburgh [Greater Napanee], Ontario c. 1786

Heron Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Francis Heron, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • James Heron, who arrived in Canada in 1812

Heron Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century

  • Alexander Jones Heron, aged 28, who emigrated to Hamilton, Canada, in 1912

Heron Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Joseph Heron, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia
  • James Heron, a shoemaker, arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • James Heron, a dyer, arrived in Van Diemenís Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Frederick Heron, aged 19, a joiner, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Dirigo"
  • John Heron, aged 21, a mason, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Dirigo"

Heron Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Mary A. Heron arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "African" in 1860
  • Margaret Heron, aged 18, a servant, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "British Queen" in 1883


  • John M. Heron, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Redding, 1828
  • James R. Heron (b. 1899), American Democrat politician, Speaker of the Arizona State House of Representatives, 1941-42
  • Gil-Scott Heron (b. 1949), American poet and civil rights activist
  • Patrick Heron (1920-1999), Cornish abstract painter
  • John Heron (b. 1928), English social scientist
  • Francis Heron (1853-1914), English footballer
  • Hubert Heron (1852-1914), English footballer
  • Patrick Heron (1952-2014), Irish author
  • Mike Heron (b. 1942), Scottish musician and composer


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: Nil desperandum
Motto Translation: Never despairing.


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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  2. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  5. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  6. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  7. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  8. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  9. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  11. ...

The Heron Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Heron 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 May 2016 at 14:00.

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