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

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

The surname Poe is derived from a nickname in the Old French. A broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character.

In the pre-Christian era, many pagan gods and demi-gods 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 that portrayed animals behaving as humans. The Old French nickname Poe, meant peacock. It was a nickname given to people known for their florid manner and pride in their appearance. Nicknames were a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and were a type of hereditary surname. Nickname surnames referred to a characteristic of the first person who used the name. They can describe the bearer's favored style of clothing, appearance, habits, or character. Often nicknames described strong traits or attributes that people wished to emulate in a specific animal. 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.

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The Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules, and therefore, Breton surnames have many spelling variations. Latin and French, which were the official court languages, were also influential on the spelling of surnames. The spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. Therefore, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England after the Norman Conquest, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. The name has been spelled Poe, Po, Poee, Pow, Pough and others.

First found in Devon where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Blackborough. The family can trace their ancestry to 846 in Brittany to the Lords of Poncar. Descended were the Viscounts of Poncar in the 11th century. Accompanying William the Conqueror at Hastings in 1066, they were granted lands in Devon.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Poe research. Another 173 words(12 lines of text) covering the years 1172 and 1299 are included under the topic Early Poe History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 22 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Poe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Poe family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 92 words(7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Poe family to immigrate North America:

Poe Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Phil Poe, who arrived in Maryland in 1676

Poe Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • John Poe who settled in North America in 1750

Poe Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • W. W. Poe settled in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • W W Poe, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Miguel L Poe, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1858
  • Francis Poe, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1860

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  • Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), one of the most famous American poets and short story writers, best known for his poem The Raven, eponym of the Edgar Award
  • Wilford B. Poe (b. 1937), American academic
  • William F. Poe (b. 1931), Florida politician
  • William Henry Leonard Poe (1807-1831), American poet and presumed collaborator with brother Edgar Allan Poe
  • Michael Poe, American webcomics artist
  • Orlando Poe (1832-1895), United States Army officer
  • Raymond Poe (b. 1944), Illinois politician
  • Richard Poe (b. 1946), American actor
  • Ron Poe (b. 1942), American football coach
  • Tony Poe (1924-2003), Central Intelligence Agency paramilitary officer

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  • Poe Genealogy by Walter R. McCarley.
  • Poe Pages by Anne Long.
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  1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  2. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  3. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  4. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  5. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  6. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  7. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  8. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  9. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  10. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  11. ...

The Poe Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Poe 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 13 June 2015 at 15:11.

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