Courtney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Courtney family brought their name to England in the wave of migration after the Norman Conquest of 1066. They lived in Devon. The name, however, is a reference one of two areas bearing the name Courtenay in Normandy. The names of both of these areas derive from the Gallo-Roman landlord, Curtenus. [1]

Early Origins of the Courtney family

The surname Courtney was first found in the Gâtinais province of France, where they held the castle of Courtenay since the 10th century. They claim descent from the Counts of Sens and from Pharamond, reputed founder of the French monarchy in 420. However, historians have only been able to prove the line back to about the year 1020, in the Isles of France where they were descended from the great Emperor Charlemagne. The name was established by this trace only to the year 790.

Regardless of the earliest origin, in the mid-12th century, a branch of the family settled in England, where they obtained the barony of Okehampton and inherited the title of Earls of Devon in 1293. "This illustrious house is descended from Reginald de Courtney, who came over to England with Henry II AD 1151." [2]

Another source notes that Whitchurch in Devon was home to the family. "Walreddon House, here, the property of William Courtenay, Esq., a descendant of the Courtenays, earls of Devon, is an ancient mansion of the time of Edward VI., whose arms in the hall are still in good preservation." [3]

Wooton-Courtney in Somerset was another ancient family seat. "This parish takes the adjunct to its name from the Courtney family, who formerly held the manor." [3]

"The manor of Braddock [Cornwall] was at a very early period in the Courtenay family, in which it continued until the attainder of the Marquis of Exeter. In ancient times, St. Bennet's, when in a state of comparative magnificence, was long the seat of the Courtenay family, by a female branch of whom it was sold in 1710 to Bernard Pennington." [4]

Early History of the Courtney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Courtney research. Another 91 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1125, 1194, 1303, 1377, 1346, 1405, 1377, 1399, 1367, 1378, 1355, 1406, 1556, 1527, 1556, 1415, 1377, 1413, 1413, 1411, 1415, 1415 and are included under the topic Early Courtney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Courtney Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Courtenay, Courtney, Courtnay, Courteney, Courtny and many more.

Early Notables of the Courtney family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Renaud de Courtenay (1125-1194), English nobleman from Sutton, Berkshire, progenitor of the Devon line; Sir Hugh de Courtenay (1303-1377), the 2nd Earl of Devon; and Sir Peter Courtenay (1346-1405), soldier, knight of the shire, Chamberlain to King Richard II (1377-1399), famous jouster, received the honour of knighthood from the Black Prince after the Battle of Najera in 1367, at the same time as his brother Sir Philip, 1378 on a naval expedition with his brother Sir Philip, the fleet was attacked by Spaniards off the coast of Brittany and Sir Peter and his...
Another 240 words (17 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Courtney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Courtney family to Ireland

Some of the Courtney family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Courtney migration to the United States +

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Courtney or a variant listed above:

Courtney Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • James, Sybill and Jo Courtney, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Jo Courtney, aged 32, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [5]
  • Sybil Courtney, aged 33, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [5]
  • James Courtney, who landed in Maryland in 1638 [5]
  • George Courtney, who arrived in Maryland in 1664 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Courtney Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Paul Courtney, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775 [5]
  • Lawrence Courtney, who landed in New York in 1795 [5]
Courtney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Margaret Courtney, aged 24, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804 [5]
  • Richard Courtney, aged 25, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804 [5]
  • Thomas Courtney, who arrived in America in 1808 [5]
  • Henry Courtney, who landed in America in 1809 [5]
  • Peter Courtney, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Courtney migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Courtney Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Peter Courtney, who arrived in Halifax or New York in 1811
  • Mr. Denis Courtney, aged 40 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Agnes" departing from the port of Cork, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in June 1847 [6]
  • Mrs. Nanny Courtney, aged 30 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Wakefield" departing from the port of Cork, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in July 1847 [6]
  • Mr. John Courtney, aged 22 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Wakefield" departing 28th May 1847 from Cork, Ireland; the ship arrived on 12th July 1847 but he died on board [7]
  • Mr. John Courtney, aged 45 who was emigrating through Grosse Isle Quarantine Station, Quebec aboard the ship "Free Trader" departing 22nd June 1847 from Liverpool, England; the ship arrived on 14th August 1847 but he died on board [7]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Courtney migration to Australia +

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

Courtney Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Edward Courtney, (b. 1818), aged 22, Cornish settler convicted in Canadian Court Martial, sentenced for 14 years, transported aboard the ship "Maitland" on 22nd March 1840 to New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Mr. Willaim Courtney, British Convict who was convicted in Kingston upon Hull, Yorkshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 25th April 1840, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • Abbey Courtney, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Isabella Watson" in 1846 [10]
  • John Courtney, aged 18, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Constance" [11]
  • Patrick Courtney, aged 20, a labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Trafalgar" [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Courtney 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:

Courtney Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Courtney, aged 22, a painter, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ocean Mail" in 1875
  • John Courtney, aged 23, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Waimea" in 1876
  • Eugene Courtney, aged 21, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Waimea" in 1876
  • Thomas Courtney, aged 24, a farm labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878
  • Julia Courtney, aged 19, a servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Rakaia" in 1878
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Courtney (post 1700) +

  • Henry Alexius Courtney Jr. (1916-1945), American officer of the United States Marine Corps Reserve during World War II, posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor, eponym of the USS Courtney (DE-1021)
  • Charles Courtney (b. 1940), American professional PGA golfer
  • William Harrison Courtney (b. 1944), American diplomat
  • Jacqueline Courtney (b. 1946), American actor
  • Deborah L. Courtney, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Florida, 2008 [13]
  • David H. Courtney, American politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Monongalia County, 1911-12 [13]
  • David Courtney, American politician, Candidate for Texas State Senate 17th District, 2012 [13]
  • Chester Courtney, American Republican politician, Chair of Chicot County Republican Party, 2003 [13]
  • Charles Tyrone Courtney (b. 1952), American politician, Member of South Carolina State Senate, 1991-2000 [13]
  • Charles Courtney, American politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Stratford, 1908 [13]
  • ... (Another 33 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Courtney 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: Quod verum tutum
Motto Translation: What is true is safe.


  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. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 22)
  7. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 71)
  8. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1840
  10. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) ISABELLA WATSON 1846. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1846IsabellaWatson.htm
  11. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CONSTANCE 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Constance.htm
  12. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) TRAFALGAR 1850. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1850Trafalgar-March.htm
  13. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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