Champness History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Champness is one of the thousands of new names that the Norman Conquest brought to England in 1066. The Champness family lived in Yorkshire. They were originally from Champigne or Champagne, Normandy, and it is from the family's residence there that the name derives. [1]

"There is every reason to believe that the Norman De Champignys were represented by some of the numerous English families of Champneys. They belonged to a very ancient stock. Geoffrey de Champigne held a knight’s fee in the Bailifry of Pont-Audemer in 1165; and two De Champignys appear on the roll of the Norman nobles assembled in 1789." [2]

Early Origins of the Champness family

The surname Champness was first found in Somersetshire they claim descent from the Sieur de Champney in Normandy. From him the Chamneys of Orchardleuigh in Oxfordshire descend. [3]

"In Somerset, the family was seated for a long succession of generations, and inter-married with some of the greatest West country families. Two of the name-Henry and Thomas-are among the Somersetshire gentlemen certified (as qualified) to be Knights of the Bath in the time of Henry VII. This Henry Champneys, who succeeded his father in 1505, and married a Seymour heiress, is the first of the family styled of Orchardleigh, where his descendants were to be found for nearly three centuries and a half. Three of them served as Sheriffs of Somerset, in 1695, 1728, and 1775; and the last of these was created a Baronet in 1767." [2]

Other early entries for the family include: William le Champeneys who was listed in the Curia Regis Rolls of 1219 and John Champenay in Freeman Rolls of Yorkshire in 1333. [4]

"In Shropshire the name, as Le Champeneys, is several times recorded by Eyton in the thirteenth century. Robert Champneys of Dorrington was the successor of Reginald de Dodinton, who held of Robert Fitz Hugh, Forester of Bolas, in the commencement of that century; and William Champneis of Wildesley is mentioned in 1253. " [2]

But by the 14th century, many of the family were found in Yorkshire as the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Johannes Chaumpenay, 1379; Johanna Chaumpenay, 1379; and Henricus Chaumpnay as all holding lands there at that time. [5]

Early History of the Champness family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Champness research. Another 73 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1300, 1534, 1569, 1643, 1669 and 1548 are included under the topic Early Champness History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Champness Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Champney, Chamnes, Chamness, Chamney, Champneys and many more.

Early Notables of the Champness family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Anthony Champney (1569?-1643?), English Catholic divine, descended from a family of good account in Yorkshire, was born in that county in...
Another 29 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Champness Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Champness family to Ireland

Some of the Champness family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Champness migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Champness or a variant listed above:

Champness Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Champness, who landed in New Jersey in 1675 [6]
  • Nathaniel Champness, who arrived in New Jersey in 1675 [6]
Champness Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Champness, who settled in Baltimore in 1774
Champness Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Hy. R. Champness, aged 28, who landed in America, in 1896
Champness Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Nellie Champness, aged 24, who immigrated to the United States from Letchworth, England, in 1912
  • William Arthur Champness, aged 0, who landed in America from Letchworth, England, in 1912
  • Charles Henry Champness, aged 43, who immigrated to America from Weybridge, England, in 1915

Contemporary Notables of the name Champness (post 1700) +

  • G.R. Champness, New Zealand field assistant on the New Zealand Geological Survey Antarctic Expedition to northern Victoria Land (1967-1968), eponym of the Champness Glacier, Antarctica


The Champness 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: Pro patria non timidus perire
Motto Translation: Not afraid to die for my country.


  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  3. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. ^ 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)


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