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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


The name York is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family lived in the county of Yorkshire. Yorkshire, which was the largest county in northern England, was divided into three administrative ridings: North Riding, West Riding, and East Riding. The town of York was the military capital of Roman Britain, the capital of Northumbria, and was the seat of an Archbishop. Yorkshire was also the home of the House of York, which was an English royal dynasty from 1461 to 1485. The reigning members of the House of York were Edward IV, Edward V and Richard III. Their rivalry with the House of Lancaster resulted in the Wars of the Roses, which lasted from 1455 to 1485 and ended when the Lancastrian Henry VII united the two houses by marrying Elizabeth, the daughter of Edward IV. The surname York belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

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It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like York are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. The variations of the name York include: York, Yorke and others.

First found in Wiltshire where they were first listed at Carne, and soon after the Conquest branched to Fillack in Cornwall, and Wellington in Somerset. The church parish of Guilden Morden in Cambridgeshire has an interesting story about the family. " The parish appears to have taken the affix to its name from the decoration of the steeple of its church with stripes of gilding. It is recorded that Charles Yorke, son of the first lord Hardwicke, died suddenly while the patent for raising him to the peerage by the title of Baron Morden, taken from this place, was in preparation." [1] And in Wimpole, Cambridgeshire more early records were found of the family. The reader should note that Philip Yorke, 1st Baron Hardwicke, Lord Chancellor of Great Britain from 1737 to 1756 was the first Earl of Hardwicke. "This place, which is on the road from Royston to Huntingdon, is remarkable as the residence of the Earl of Hardwicke, whose magnificent seat of Wimpole Hall, splendidly embellished, and surrounded by a beautiful demesne, was visited by Her Majesty and Prince Albert in October 1843. The church, which has been enlarged by fitting up a private chapel with seats, contains various monuments to the Yorke family, including one to the memory of Lord Chancellor Hardwicke, who was interred here." [1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our York research. Another 329 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1461, 1569, 1549, 1609, 1666, 1654, 1666, 1690, 1764, 1658, 1716, 1689, 1690, 1695 and 1707 are included under the topic Early York History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 147 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early York Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the York family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name York or a variant listed above:

York Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • John York, who arrived in Barbados in 1635
  • James York and his wife Catherine, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Kat York, aged 19, landed in Virginia in 1635
  • Thomas York, who arrived in Maryland in 1636
  • James York, who arrived in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1647


York Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Eliza York, who landed in Virginia in 1700
  • Tho York, who landed in Virginia in 1706
  • Matthew York, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Esther York, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Sarah York, who settled in Jamaica in 1722

York Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • William York, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1836
  • John York, who landed in Mississippi in 1840
  • George York, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • Levi York, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1876

York Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Edward York, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1760

York Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Robert S York, who landed in Canada in 1836
  • Susanna York, aged 21, arrived in Montreal in 1849
  • Mary Ann York, aged 1, landed in Montreal in 1849
  • Joseph York, who arrived in Esquimalt, British Columbia in 1862

York Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Richard York, English convict from Somerset, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on March 5th, 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila

York Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Thomas York landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841
  • Henry York arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "John Masterman" in 1857
  • George York arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "John Masterman" in 1857
  • Mary Ann York arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Armstrong" in 1865
  • Albert York, aged 19, a farm labourer, arrived in Taranaki aboard the ship "Hermione" in 1878

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  • John Foley York (b. 1946), American bassist and guitarist, best known for his work with The Byrds
  • John Joseph Robert York (b. 1958), American actor
  • Jerome Bailey "Jerry" York (1938-2010), American businessman, Chairman, President and CEO of Harwinton Capital, former CFO of IBM and Chrysler
  • Andrew York (b. 1958), American classical guitarist and composer
  • Richard Allen "Dick" York (1928-1992), American actor perhaps best remembered for his role as the first Darrin Stephens in the fantasy sitcom Bewitched
  • Benjamin York, American politician, Candidate for Missouri State House of Representatives from St. Louis County 2nd District, 1936
  • Anna Rachel York, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Tennessee, 2004
  • A. Blaine York, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from West Virginia, 1920
  • Bernard L. York, American politician, Mayor of Marquette, Michigan, 1951, 1953
  • Charles I. York, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Ohio 9th District, 1902

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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: Nec cupias, nec metuas
Motto Translation: Neither desire nor fear.

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

Other References

  1. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  2. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  3. Marcharn, Frederick George. A Constitutional History of Modern England 1485 to the Present. London: Harper and Brothers, 1960. Print.
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. 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.
  7. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  8. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  9. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  10. 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.
  11. ...

The York Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The York 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 11 April 2016 at 12:10.

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