Show ContentsBlythe History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The history of the name Blythe begins in the Scottish/English Borderlands with a family of Strathclyde-Briton ancestry. It is a name for a happy or cheerful person having been derived from the Old English word blithe. [1] [2]

Alternatively, the name could have originated at Blyth in Northumberland or in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Both parishes derive their name from the Old English "blithe," meaning "the gentle or pleasant one." [3] The Yorkshire parish anciently in Nottinghamshire is the oldest dating back to the Domesday Book of 1086 where it was recorded as Blide. [4]

Another source notes "This place, anciently called Blia and Blida, was chiefly noted in former times for its religious and charitable establishments. In 1088, a priory was founded in honour of the Blessed Virgin, by Roger de Builly and his wife Muriel, for monks of the Benedictine order; which, though considered as an alien priory, being in some respects subordinate to the abbey of the Holy Trinity, near Rouen, in Normandy, was yet spared at the suppression of alien priories, and subsisted till the general dissolution, when its revenue was estimated at £126. 8. 2. An hospital for lepers, dedicated to St. John the Evangelist, was founded by Hugh de Cressy, lord of Hodsock, in the reign of John." [5]

Early Origins of the Blythe family

The surname Blythe was first found in Berwickshire an ancient county of Scotland, presently part of the Scottish Borders Council Area, located in the eastern part of the Borders Region of Scotland. Blyth was an old barony in the lordship of Lauderdale some time ago.

The first on record was of William de Blyth of Chirnesyde in Berwickshire who represented the family and rendered homage to King Edward I of England on his brief conquest of Scotland in 1296.

A few years later, the seal of Adam de Blyth was appended to an account of goods purchased at Perth in 1302. James Blyth was burgess of Dundy (Dundee) in 1485. [6]

Further south in England, Blythe, Lancashire has an interesting history. It was originally held by Geoffrey Travers, whose son Henry, was called "de Blythe." Henry de Blythe's descendants "John and Robert de Blythe occur among the names of subscribers to the stipend of a chaplain at Ormskirk in 1366 and the latter also in the Poll Tax Roll of 1381. John de Blythe attested Scarisbrick charters in 1399 and 1401, and was the father of Roger, who in 1397 was charged with breaking into the parsonage house at Crossens. From him descended Roger Blythe, whose daughter and heir Margaret by her marriage with John Blakelache (or Blackledge) conveyed the estate to this family. " [7]

Another source notes, William de Blithe was listed in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 in Oxfordshire and Willelmus de Blythe was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379. [2]

Early History of the Blythe family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Blythe research. Another 98 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1603, 1567, 1567, 1563, 1646, 1691, 1485, 1493, 1493, 1499, 1530, 1503, 1530, 1542, 1605, 1654 and 1883 are included under the topic Early Blythe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Blythe Spelling Variations

The variation in the spelling of Medieval names is a result of the lack of spelling rules in the English language prior to the last few hundred years. Before that time, scribes spelled according to sound, often varying the spelling of name within a single document. Blythe has appeared as Blythe, Bllyt, Blytht, Blyithe, Blith, Blyth, Blitht and many more.

Early Notables of the Blythe family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Richard Blyth, who represented Dundee in Parliament in 1567; Cuthbert Blyth, who was burgess of Edinburgh in 1563; Robert Blyth, who was retoured heir in land of Brounslope, Berwickshire, in 1646; Archibald Blyth, who appears as a baxter in Dysart in 1691; John Blyth (or John Blythe), Archdeacon of Richmond...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Blythe Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Blythe Ranking

In the United States, the name Blythe is the 4,341st most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [8]

Ireland Migration of the Blythe family to Ireland

Some of the Blythe family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 37 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 Blythe migration to the United States +

As the persecution of Clan families continued, they sailed for North America in increasing numbers. In most cases, they found the freedom and opportunity they sought. Land was often available and the American War of Independence allowed Scots an opportunity to solidify their independence from the English crown. These settlers and their ancestors went on to play essential roles in the forging of the nations of the United States and Canada. Among them:

Blythe Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Keziah Blythe, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [9]
  • Margaret Blythe, who arrived in New York, NY in 1817 [9]
  • Anne, George, John, Margaret, Samuel Blythe all, who settled in Charleston Massachusetts in 1820
  • James Blythe, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1829 [9]
  • Champain Blythe, who arrived in Texas in 1835 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Blythe migration to Australia +

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

Blythe Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Blythe, Jr., British convict who was convicted in Coventry, England for life for stealing, transported aboard the "England" on 6th June 1835, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Louisa Blythe, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Eliza" in 1849 [11]
  • Louisa Blythe, aged 16, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Eliza" [11]
  • John Blythe, aged 28, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Oregon" [12]

New Zealand Blythe 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:

Blythe Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Blythe, who landed in Wanganui, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Martha Ridgway
  • William Blythe a farmer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Romulus" in 1862
  • D. Blythe, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gertrude" in 1868 [13]
  • W. R. Blythe, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Countess of Kintore" in 1870
  • Mr. Blythe, American settler travelling from Honolulu aboard the ship "Dakota" arriving in Port Chalmers, South Island, New Zealand on 10th March 1873 [14]

Contemporary Notables of the name Blythe (post 1700) +

  • Stephanie Blythe (b. 1970), American mezzo-soprano
  • Arthur Blythe (b. 1940), American jazz alto saxophonist and composer
  • Lionel Blythe (1878-1954), birth name of Lionel Barrymore, the Academy Award-winning American actor of stage, screen and radio, perhaps best known for his role as the ruthless Henry F. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • Ethel Mae Blythe (1879-1959), birth name of Ethel Barrymore, the American Academy Award winning actress
  • William Jefferson Blythe Jr. (1918-1946), father of Bill Clinton, former President of the United States
  • Vernon Blythe (1887-1918), birth name of Vernon Castle, husband of the husband-and-wife team of ballroom dancers
  • E. Bruce Blythe Jr., American Republican politician, Member of Kentucky State House of Representatives, 1962-81 [15]
  • Cornelius Blythe, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Delaware County, 1936 [15]
  • Calvin Blythe, American politician, Secretary of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 1827-29; Pennsylvania State Attorney General, 1828; U.S. Collector of Customs, 1843-45 [15]
  • Andrew K. Blythe, American politician, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi, 1848-50; U.S. Consul in Havana, 1856-57; U.S. Consul General in Havana, 1857-58 [15]
  • ... (Another 18 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Miss Jennie P. Blythe, Canadian First Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who survived the sinking on the Empress of Ireland (1914) [16]

  1. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  4. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. 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)
  7. 'Townships: Scarisbrick', in A History of the County of Lancaster: Volume 3, ed. William Farrer and J Brownbill (London, 1907), pp. 265-276. British History Online [accessed 21 January 2017].
  8. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  9. 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)
  10. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th April 2022).
  11. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ELIZA 1849. Retrieved from
  12. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The barque OREGON, 521 tons - 1851 voyage to South Australia. Retrieved
  13. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 12th December 2018). Retrieved from
  14. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  15. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 8) . Retrieved from
  16. Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 16) . Retrieved from on Facebook