Show ContentsAbernathy History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The saga of the Abernathy family begins among the people of the ancient tribe of the Picts. They lived at the place named Abernethy in southeastern Perthshire. The place name is of Pictish origin, meaning "mouth of the river Nethy." [1]

Early Origins of the Abernathy family

The surname Abernathy was first found in Perthshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Pheairt) former county in the present day Council Area of Perth and Kinross, located in central Scotland at Abernethy, a parish that " derives its name from Aber, signifying in Gaelic, in conjunction with Nethy, the 'termination of Nethy' which is descriptive of the situation of the church, near the entrance of that river into the Spey." [1]

The Abernethy family appear in ancient records as lay abbots of the Culdee Monastery of Abernethy in Strathearn in the 12th century. "This would seem to show that they were descended from original native stock and not of Saxon or Norman origin. The first of the Abernethys on record is Hugh, who appears to have died about the middle of the twelfth century. His son Orm probably succeeded his father as lay abbot. He appears as witness to a charter by Emulphus or Arnold, bishop of St. Andrews, granted before 1162. He also witnessed a charter of William the Lion. He is the first of the family found bearing the territorial appellation de Abernethy.' It is conjectured that he may have given name to the lands of Ormiston (c. 1160, Ormystone), an estate contiguous to that of Salton, East Lothian, with which his descendants became identified in after days, though Orm was not an uncommon name in those early days. Between 1189 and 1196 King William the Lion granted the church of Abernethy to the Abbey of Arbroath, while about the same time Lawrence, son of Orm de Abirnythy. conveys to the church and monks of Arbroath his whole right "in the advowson of the church of Abernethy". He retained the land and position of dominus' or Lord of Abernethy." [2]

Early History of the Abernathy family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Abernathy research. Another 414 words (30 lines of text) covering the years 1264, 1296, 1320, 1380, 1399, 1465, 1358, 1644, 1641, 1204, 1596, 1609, 1407, 1228, 1295, 1351, 1338, 1424, 1426, 1833, 1560, 1764, 1831, 1764, 1765, 1680, 1740 and 1680 are included under the topic Early Abernathy History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Abernathy Spelling Variations

Although Medieval Scotland lacked a basic set of spelling rules, which meant that scribes recorded names according to their sounds it was not uncommon for the names of a father and son to be recorded differently. As a result, there are many spelling variations of Scottish single names. Abernathy has been written Abernethy, Anernethie, Abernathy, Abernathie, Albirnyth, Abirnethie, Abernettie and many more.

Early Notables of the Abernathy family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was John Abernethy (1764-1831), an eminent surgeon, "born in London 3 April 1764, the son of John Abernethy, a London merchant belonging to an Irish family of Scotch extraction, whose father and grandfather, both of the same name, were Irish nonconformist divines, the second in descent especially...
Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Abernathy Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Abernathy Ranking

In the United States, the name Abernathy is the 1,685th most popular surname with an estimated 17,409 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the Abernathy family to Ireland

Some of the Abernathy family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Abernathy migration to the United States +

Thousands of Scots left their home country to travel to Ireland or Australia, or to cross the Atlantic for the North American colonies. The difficult crossing was an enormous hurdle, but those who survived found freedom and opportunity in ample measure. Some Scots even fought for their freedom in the American War of Independence. This century, their ancestors have become aware of the illustrious history of the Scots in North America and at home through Clan societies and other organizations. Passenger and immigration lists show many early and influential immigrants bearing the name Abernathy:

Abernathy Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Abernathy, who arrived in Connecticut in 1718 [4]
  • John Abernathy who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1767
Abernathy Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William and Anne Abernathy, who settled in San Francisco, California in 1850
  • Florence Abernathy, aged 1, who landed in America, in 1894
  • Lizzie Abernathy, aged 28, who landed in America, in 1896
Abernathy Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mary Abernathy, aged 28, who settled in America from Co Derry, in 1900
  • Thomas Abernathy, who immigrated to America from Co Derry, in 1900
  • Charlotte Abernathy, aged 35, who immigrated to America from Belfast, in 1904
  • Alfred Abernathy, aged 20, who landed in America from Belfast, in 1905
  • Miss E. Abernathy, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1906
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Abernathy (post 1700) +

  • Ralph David Abernathy III (1959-2016), American politician and businessman, Member of the Georgia House of Representatives (1988-1992) and State Senate (1992-1998)
  • Michael Brent Abernathy (b. 1977), American Olympic gold medalist Major League Baseball infielder who played from 2001 to 2005
  • William J. Abernathy (1933-1983), American professor at the Harvard University Business School
  • Talmadge Lafayette "Tal" Abernathy (1921-2001), American Major League Baseball player who played from 1942 to 1944
  • Constance Abernathy (1931-1994), American architect from Detroit, Michigan
  • Charles F. Abernathy (b. 1946), American professor at Georgetown University Law Center
  • Anne Abernathy (b. 1953), American luger at the 2006 Winter Olympics
  • Virgil Woodrow "Woody" Abernathy (1915-1994), American Major League Baseball player who played from 1946 to 1947
  • Donzaleigh Abernathy (b. 1957), American actress who won the Tanne Foundation 2012 Artist Award
  • Brent Abernathy (b. 1977), American Major League Baseball player
  • ... (Another 6 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

SS Caribou
  • Major James Greenwood White Abernathy (b. 1909), American passenger who was US Army Major from Lauderdale, Florida was travelling aboard the railway ferry "SS Caribou" when it was struck by a German submarine torpedo on 14th October 1942, the most significant sinking in Canadian waters at that time, he died in the sinking, he was awarded the Purple Heart in 1942

The Abernathy Motto +

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: In Christo salus
Motto Translation: Salvation is in Christ.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of Scotland. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  4. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook