Alder History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

An ancient Scottish tribe called the Boernicians were the ancestors of the first people to use the surname Alder. It is a name for a person who was the elder of two people, [1] bearing the same name or the name could have been derived from the Old English "ealdra," meaning "elder." Alternatively, the name could have a nickname for someone who was a "dweller at, or near, an elder tree." [2]

Early Origins of the Alder family

The surname Alder was first found in Edinburghshire, a former county, now part of the Midlothian council area. One of the first records of the family was John Eldar or Eldare de Corstorfin who was burgess of Edinburgh in 1423 and "the surname is also recorded in Aberdeen in 1447. John Elder, a renegade Scot, urged Henry VIII ('Bagcheeks') to invade Scotland, assuring him of the support of the Highland Clans. Andro Elder, was a reidare at Menmure in 1574." [3]

Further to the south, "this surname is derived from a nickname 'the elder.' The usual form in the Yorkshire Poll Tax is Senior, and this has become one of the strongly established surnames of that county." However, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 does list Ricardus ye Elder. [4]

Early History of the Alder family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Alder research. Another 74 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1555, 1542, 1680, 1700 and are included under the topic Early Alder History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Alder Spelling Variations

Spelling rules only evolved in the last few centuries with the invention of the printing press and the first dictionaries. Spelling variations are extremely common in names from before that period. Alder has been spelled Elder, Elders, Eldar, MacNoravaich and others.

Early Notables of the Alder family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John Elder ( fl. 1555), Scottish writer, a native of Caithness who passed twelve years of his life at the universities of St. Andrews, Aberdeen, and Glasgow, and appears to have entered the ministry. "He came to England soon after the death of James V of Scotland in 1542, when he presented to Henry VIII a 'plot' or map of the realm of Scotland, being a...
Another 73 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Alder Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Alder family to Ireland

Some of the Alder family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 68 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Alder migration to the United States +

After making their great crossing, many Boernician-Scottish families settled along the east coast of North America. When the War of Independence broke out, United Empire Loyalists moved north to Canada while the rest stayed to fight. The ancestors of many of these Scots still populate the continent. This century, through Clan societies and other Scottish organizations, they began to rediscover their collective national heritage. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Alder or a variant listed above:

Alder Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Alder, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1624 [5]
  • Henry Alder, who landed in Maryland in 1653 [5]
  • James Alder, who arrived in Maryland in 1657 [5]
  • William Alder, who landed in Maryland in 1663 [5]
  • Mary Alder, who arrived in Maryland in 1671 [5]
Alder Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Johannes Alder, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1749 [5]
  • Fred Alder, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1765 [5]
Alder Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • P Alder, aged 45, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1847 [5]
  • A Alder, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]

Australia Alder migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Alder Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Alder, (Bowerman), (b. 1770), aged 46, English convict who was convicted in Buckinghamshire, England for life for horse theft, transported aboard the "Atlas" on 16th January 1816, arriving in New South Wales, Australia, he died in 1820 [6]
  • Thomas Alder, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Isabella Watson" in 1846 [7]

New Zealand Alder migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Alder Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Alder, who landed in Nelson, New Zealand in 1840
  • Samuel Alder, aged 23, a carpenter, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir Charles Forbes" in 1842
  • Cecilia Alder, aged 23, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sir Charles Forbes" in 1842
  • George Alder, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adelaide" in 1858
  • Miss Caroline Alder, (b. 1833), aged 25, British dressmaker and domestic servant travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Maori" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 14th April 1858 [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Alder (post 1700) +

  • Ray Alder (b. 1967), American singer with band Fates Warning
  • Lewis K. Alder, American politician, Delegate to Nebraska State Constitutional Convention, 1919-20 [9]
  • George D. Alder, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Utah, 1924 [9]
  • Francis J. Alder (b. 1912), American Republican politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Oneida County 1st District, 1951-56 [9]
  • Clay Alder, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Ohio, 1912 [9]
  • Albert Franklin Alder (1896-1977), American Republican politician, Loup County Judge, 1929-34; Loup County Attorney; Chair of Loup County Republican Party, 1940 [9]
  • Joshua Alder (1792-1867), British zoologist and malacologist, born on Easter Eve, 1792, at Newcastle-on-Tyne
  • John C. Alder (b. 1944), English musician known as Twink
  • Christian Alder (b. 1978), German footballer
  • Alan Alder (b. 1937), Australian ballet dancer
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Frank Alder, British Marine, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died in the sinking [10]


The Alder 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: Virtute duce
Motto Translation: With virtue for guide.


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 14th July 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/atlas
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ISABELLA WATSON 1846. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846IsabellaWatson.htm
  8. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  9. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 26) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  10. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html


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