Barbour History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The chronicles of Scottish history reveal that the first people to use the name Barbour were the Strathclyde- Britons. The Barbour surname is derived from the Anglo-Norman French word "barbier," in turn from the Late Latin "barbarius," or "barba, " meaning "beard." As such, the medieval barber who not only cut hair and gave shaves, but also practiced surgery and pulled teeth. [1]

Early Origins of the Barbour family

The surname Barbour was first found in Northumberland, and Cumberland. Some of the first records of the family were Gilbert le Barber or Barbour and Michael le Barber who were Scots prisoners taken at Dunbar Castle in 1296. [1]

The year 1296 is important to note as this was the year that King Edward I of England invaded Scotland. Those on the borders were deeply affected and those who refused to pay homage to the king were often thrown in jail.

However not all of the family failed to pay homage, as Aleyn le Barbur of the county of Arne did render homage to the invading king. Later in 1305, John Barbitonsor rendered the accounts for the farm of Mountros and a few years later, William Barbitonsor had confirmation of a charter of lands in 1317.

The famed Robert Bruce granted to Ade Barbitonsor a toft in Moffat with two bovates of land adjoining (presumably the same year) and in 1328 there is entry of a payment to Andrew Barber. [1]

John Barbour (1316?-1395), was the earliest Scottish poet on record and one of the best of the ancient Scottish poets, a contemporary of Chaucer. He was also Archdeacon of Aberdeen. "The date of his birth is conjectural, but his death, on 13 March 1395, is proved by an entry in the obit book of the cathedral, the cessation in that year of a pension conferred on him by Robert II, and other documentary evidence. In 1357 he appears as Archdeacon of Aberdeen in a safe-conduct by Edward III to him and three scholars going to study at Oxford." [2]

Early History of the Barbour family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Barbour research. Another 180 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1410, 1603, 1329, 1336, 1383, 1391, 1410, 1451, 1463, 1934, 1316, 1395, 1690, 1757, 1690, 1714, 1738, 1811, 1757, 1761, 1763 and are included under the topic Early Barbour History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Barbour Spelling Variations

In the era before dictionaries, there were no rules governing the spelling or translation of names or any other words. Consequently, there are an enormous number of spelling variations in Medieval Scottish names. Barbour has appeared as Barbour, Barber, Barberton and others.

Early Notables of the Barbour family (pre 1700)

Another 50 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Barbour Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Barbour family to Ireland

Some of the Barbour family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 197 words (14 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Barbour migration to the United States +

The freedom, opportunity, and land of the North American colonies beckoned. There, Scots found a place where they were generally free from persecution and where they could go on to become important players in the birth of new nations. Some fought in the American War of Independence, while others went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of all of these Scottish settlers have been able to recover their lost national heritage in the last century through highland games and Clan societies in North America. Among them:

Barbour Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • George Barbour, who landed in Massachusetts in 1635 [3]
  • Thomas Barbour, who arrived in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1635 [3]
  • Jacob Barbour, who landed in Maryland in 1672 [3]
Barbour Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Barbour, who arrived in Virginia in 1700 [3]
  • John, Barbour Sr., who landed in New England in 1718 [3]
  • Robert Barbour, who landed in New England in 1718 [3]
  • John Barbour, who landed in New York in 1789 [3]
Barbour Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Barbour, who settled in New York State in 1816
  • Matthew Barbour, who landed in New York, NY in 1816 [3]
  • Francis Barbour, who arrived in Washington, DC in 1819 [3]
  • Capt. Barbour, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [3]
  • William A Barbour, who arrived in Mississippi in 1853 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Barbour migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Barbour Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Robert Barbour, his wife and three children, who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1827

New Zealand Barbour 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:

Barbour Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. H. P. Barbour, American settler travelling from Honolulu aboard the ship "Dakota" arriving in Port Chalmers, South Island, New Zealand on 10th March 1873 [4]
  • Mr. James Barbour, (b. 1848), aged 26, Scottish farm servant, from Ayr travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874 [4]
  • Mrs. Barbour, (b. 1847), aged 27, Scottish settler, from Ayr travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874 [4]
  • Mr. David Barbour, (b. 1873), aged 1, Scottish settler, from Ayr travelling from Greenock aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 31st December 1874 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Barbour (post 1700) +

  • Francis Edward "Frank" Barbour (1870-1948), American football player, coach, and businessman
  • Dave Barbour (1912-1965), American musician
  • Thomas Barbour (1884-1946), American herpetologist
  • Erwin Hinckly Barbour (1856-1947), American geologist and paleontologist
  • Walworth Barbour (1908-1982), American diplomat, U.S. Ambassador to Israel (1961-1973)
  • Anna Maynard Barbour (d. 1941), American author of best-selling fiction
  • Floyd E. Barbour, American Republican politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Greenwich; Elected 1930
  • George H. Barbour, American Democrat politician, Member of New Jersey State House of Assembly 7th District, 1976; Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1980
  • Haley Reeves Barbour (b. 1947), American Republican politician, Candidate for U.S. Senator from Mississippi, 1982; Chairman of Republican National Committee, 1993-97; Governor of Mississippi, 2004-
  • Henry Barbour, American Republican politician, Member of Republican National Committee from Mississippi, 2008-12; Delegate to Republican National Convention from Mississippi, 2008, 2012
  • ... (Another 49 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Miss Evelyn Beatrice Barbour (1911-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Silverton, British Columbia, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [5]
  • Miss Florence Jessie Barbour (1905-1914), Canadian Second Class Passenger from Silverton, British Columbia, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland [5]
  • Mrs. Sebena Barbour (1875-1914), née Hicks Canadian Second Class Passenger from Silverton, British Columbia, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [5]
RMS Lusitania
  • Miss Bessie Barbour, Scottish 2nd Class passenger residing in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [6]


The Barbour 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: Nihilo nisi cruce
Motto Translation: Nothing, but the cross.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  5. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  6. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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