Challis History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Challis is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Challis family lived in Hertfordshire. The family was originally from Eschailles, in Pas de Calais, Normandy, and it is from this location that their surname is derived.

Early Origins of the Challis family

The surname Challis was first found in Hertfordshire where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Challis family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Challis research. Another 106 words (8 lines of text) covering the year 1449 is included under the topic Early Challis History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Challis Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled Challis, Challes, Challers, Challice, Challies, Challiss, Chalis, Chales, Chalers, Chalice, Chalies and many more.

Early Notables of the Challis family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Challis Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Challis migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name Challis or a variant listed above:

Challis Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Phillip Challis, who settled in Newbury Massachusetts in 1637
  • Edward Challis, who settled in Virginia in 1639
  • Edward Challis, who arrived in Virginia in 1639 [1]
  • Philip Challis, who landed in Salisbury, Massachusetts in 1662 [1]
Challis Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Challis, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1872 [1]
  • Daniel Challis, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1879 [1]

Australia Challis migration to Australia +

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

Challis Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Richard Challis (Charles), British Convict who was convicted in Hertfordshire, England for life, transported aboard the "Asia" on 5th November 1835, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land)1836 [2]
  • Michael Challis, English convict from Essex, who was transported aboard the "Agincourt" on July 6, 1844, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [3]
  • William Challis, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Canton" in 1846 [4]
  • Walter Challis, aged 19, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Omega" [5]

New Zealand Challis 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:

Challis Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Edward Challis, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Maori" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand via Nelson and Wellington on 1st March 1852 [6]
  • Alfred Challis, aged 20, a gardener, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Chile" in 1874
  • Percy Challis, aged 19, a gardener, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Chile" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Challis (post 1700) +

  • James Challis (1803-1882), British clergyman and astronomer who observed the planet Neptune on at least twice occasions before its discovery, but failed to identify it as a planet [7]
  • John Challis (1907-1974), American builder of harpsichords and clavichords
  • George Challis (1892-1944), pseudonym of Frederick Schiller Faust, an American western author
  • J. M. Challis, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Kansas, 1932 [8]
  • F. H. Challis, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Hampshire, 1920 [8]
  • Thomas Challis (1794-1874), English businessman and Liberal Party politician who held office as a Member of Parliament and as Lord Mayor of London
  • John Henry Challis (1806-1880), English-born, Australian merchant, landowner and philanthropist; his donations to the University of Sydney helped found the Challis Professorships
  • John Challis (b. 1942), English actor, best known for his role as Aubrey "Boycie" Boyce in the BBC television comedy series Only Fools and Horses
  • Gordon Challis (b. 1932), English-born, New Zealand poet
  • Cecil Gordon Challis (1932-2018), English-born, New Zealand poet from Birmingham, England
  • ... (Another 5 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Montague Edward Challis, British Assistant Steward from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [9]


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 28th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1835
  3. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Agincourt voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1844 with 226 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agincourt/1844
  4. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CANTON 1846. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846Canton.htm
  5. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) OMEGA 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/omega1852.shtml
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 25 Nov. 2019
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 9) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  9. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html


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