Show ContentsBethea History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Bethea was first used as a surname in the Scottish/English Borderlands in the medieval era. It came from the personal name Edmond. Bethea is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Many patronyms were formed by a son using his father's personal name as a surname. Others were taken from the names of important religious and secular figures. Members of the Bethea family settled in Scotland, just following the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066.

Early Origins of the Bethea family

The surname Bethea was first found in Edinburghshire, a former county, now part of the Midlothian council area where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Queen Margaret of Scotland. They take their name from the place name Edmondstone, the tun of Eadmund, near Edinburgh. The name may have been derived from Aedmund filius Forn, one of the witnesses to a charter by Thor filius Swani (c. 1150)[1]

Early History of the Bethea family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bethea research. Another 163 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1070, 1560, 1607, 1659, 1622, 1627, 1712, 1640, 1627, 1712 and 1654 are included under the topic Early Bethea History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bethea Spelling Variations

Boernician names that evolved in the largely preliterate Middle Ages are often marked by considerable spelling variations. Bethea has been spelled Edmondson, Edmonson, Edminson, Edminston, Edmiston, Edmeston, Edmondon and many more.

Early Notables of the Bethea family (pre 1700)

Notable among the family at this time was Henry Edmondson (1607-1659), an English schoolmaster, entered Queen's College, Oxford in 1622 aged 15. William Edmundson (1627-1712), was an English Quaker whose father was a wealthy yeoman, was born...
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bethea Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bethea Ranking

In the United States, the name Bethea is the 2,809th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [2]

Ireland Migration of the Bethea family to Ireland

Some of the Bethea family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 91 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Bethea migration to the United States +

Some of the Boernician-Scottish Clan families who came to North America were Loyalists who went north to Canada after the American War of Independence. Families on both sides of the border went on to found two of the world's great nations. This century, families with Scottish roots have rediscovered their heritage through highland games and clan societies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Bethea or a variant listed above:

Bethea Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Flora or Mrs. J.K. Bethea, aged 35, who immigrated to the United States, in 1913
  • James K. Bethea, aged 45, who landed in America, in 1914
  • Robert C. Bethea, aged 28, who landed in America, in 1918
  • John G. Bethea, who immigrated to America, in 1919
  • John Goodman Bethea, aged 29, who arrived at New York, in 1920
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bethea (post 1700) +

  • Major-General James Albertus Bethea (1887-1984), American Chief Surgeon, Far East Command (1948-1949) [3]
  • Solomon Hicks Bethea (1852-1909), United States federal judge
  • Larry Bethea (1956-1987), American NFL football defensive lineman
  • James Bethea (b. 1965), American producer and occasional actor
  • Erin Bethea (b. 1982), American actress
  • Elvin Bethea (b. 1946), former American football defensive end, inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame
  • Ellen Bethea (b. 1967), American actress, best known for her role as Rachel Gannon on One Life to Live
  • Antoine Bethea (b. 1984), American NFL football safety

SS Caribou
  • Mr. Edward Talmage Bethea (b. 1920), American passenger who was US Navy seaman from Ellisville, Mississippi 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

The Bethea 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: Virtus auget honorem
Motto Translation: Virtue increases honour.

  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. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 6) James Bethea. Retrieved from on Facebook