Bolitho History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The roots of the distinguished name Bolitho lie in the southwestern county of Cornwall. It is a local name, meaning "of Bolitho," a place in Cornwall. The first part of the name is derived from the Old Cornish "bod" or "bos," meaning "dwelling place"; the second part is thought to be derived from an unknown personal name. [1]

Early Origins of the Bolitho family

The surname Bolitho was first found in Cornwall at Bolitho, a small village almost at the tip of the peninsula. "The well-known Cornish family of Bolitho of Penzance has long been represented in West Cornwall." [2] Early records of the name are scarce as the name was first mentioned in documents from Penryn in 1524.

The Bolitho novels are a series of nautical war novels written by Douglas Reeman under the pseudonym Alexander Kent. The main character Richard Bolitho is a Royal Navy officer, second son of a prestigious naval family. Reeman borrowed the name Richard Bolitho from a real person who he had met in the Channel Islands, "a distinguished old chap." His nephew Adam Bolitho was also a Royal Navy officer. After Richard's death, he becomes the principal character in the series.

In 1795, the Bolitho family who were originally tin smelters and merchants founded Botlitho and Co., a bank to help with their customers financial deposits. By 1834 and a move to Penzance and St Ives, the bank was then known as Mounts Bay Bank. After and merger in 1889, the bank eventually became part of the Barclays bank empire.

Early History of the Bolitho family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Bolitho research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1545, 1640, 1693, 1673, 1756, 1815, 1835, 1861, 1835 and 1915 are included under the topic Early Bolitho History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Bolitho Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Bolitho, Bolithoe, Bolithow and others.

Early Notables of the Bolitho family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Richard Bolitho (1756-1815), a naval officer whose career has been documented in the Richard Bolitho books, a historical fiction...
Another 26 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Bolitho Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia Bolitho migration to Australia +

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

Bolitho Settlers in Australia in the 18th Century
  • Mr. William Bolitho, (b. 1765), aged 21, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 6th August 1787, sentenced for 7 years for highway robbery and stealing, transported aboard the ship "Neptune" on 19th January 1790 to New South Wales, Australia [3]
Bolitho Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Bolitho, aged 45, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Agincourt" in 1850 [4]
  • Ann Bolitho, aged 38, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Agincourt" in 1850 [4]
  • Samuel Bolitho, aged 12, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Agincourt" in 1850 [4]
  • Mary Bolitho, aged 10, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Agincourt" in 1850 [4]
  • James Bolitho, aged 4, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Agincourt" in 1850 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Bolitho 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:

Bolitho Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Mary Bolitho, (b. 1853), aged 17, Cornish general servant departing on 29th July 1870 aboard the ship "Merope" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 27th October 1870" [5]
  • Miss Mary Bolitho, (b. 1853), aged 17, British general servant travelling from London aboard the ship 'Merope' arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 27th October 1870 [6]
  • Miss Sarah Bolitho, (b. 1849), aged 24, Cornish servant departing on 16th July 1873 aboard the ship "Adamant" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 17th October 1873" [5]
  • Mrs. Philippa Bolitho, (b. 1838), aged 39, Cornish settler departing on 24th August 1877 aboard the ship "Waitara" going to Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 4th December 1877 [7]
  • Mr. Thomas Bolitho, (b. 1854), aged 23, Cornish farmer departing on 24th August 1877 aboard the ship "Waitara" going to Napier, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand arriving in port on 4th December 1877 [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Bolitho (post 1700) +

  • Major Simon Bolitho, Cornish banker and board member of the Bolitho, Williams, Foster, Coode, Grylls & Co (the Consolidated Bank of Cornwall) in the 1980s, the last family member of the original bank Bolitho Sons & Co, later known as Mounts Bay Bank founded in 1795
  • Colonel Edward Thomas Bolitho OBE (b. 1955), English Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall (2011-), born in Penzance, Cornwall, elder son of Major Simon Bolitho MC; he holds the Trengwainton Estate
  • Thomas Simon Bolitho, Cornish landowner who bought the Trengwainton Estate in 1867, known for the now world-famous gardens; his grandson Lieutenant Colonel Sir Edward Bolitho gave them to the National Trust in 1961
  • Thomas Bedford Bolitho (1835-1915), Cornish banker and industrialist from Penzance, Liberal Unionist Member of Parliament for St Ives in Cornwall (1887-1900)
  • John Bolitho (1930-2005), Cornish Royal Navy officer, actor and businessman, Grand Bard of the Gorseth Kernow (2000-2003)
  • Sir Edward Hoblyn Warren Bolitho KBE CB DSO (1882-1969), Cornish landowner and politician, Chairman of Cornwall County Council (1941-1952) and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall (1936-1962)
  • Sir Edward Hoblyn Bolitho KBE CBD SO (1882-1969), Cornish landowner and politician, Chairman of Cornwall County Council from 1941 to 1952 and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall from 1936 to 1962
  • Oliver Bolitho, British former Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management Asia, investor in the startup Glint Pay (2017)
  • Louise Bolitho, Australian manager of the School of Computer Science & Software Engineering at the University of Western Australia
  • Lieutenant Richard Bolitho (1920-1943), British air gunner, one of the famous "Dambusters" of World War II; he was killed in action aboard his Lancaster bomber with the rest of his crew
  • ... (Another 4 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Bolitho 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: Re Deu
Motto Translation: By God.


  1. ^ Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  2. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  3. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The AGINCOURT 1850. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850Agincourt.htm
  5. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to other ports, 1872 - 84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf


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