Show ContentsDigby History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient roots of the Digby family name are in the Anglo-Saxon culture. The name Digby comes from when the family lived at a local where someone lived by a dike or ditch.

The family are "from Digby, a town in the county of Lincoln, England, so named from the Danish Dige, a dike, ditch, or trench, and by, a town—the town by the dike." 1

Of particular note today is Coleshill, Warwickshire, the home to Sir Robert Digby (1574-1618.) In 2021, his estate named Coleshill Manor is an archaeological site undertaken by Wessex Archaeology for LM which has revealed "one of the best preserved late 16th century gardens ever discovered in this country." (

Early Origins of the Digby family

The surname Digby was first found in Lincolnshire where the family can be "traced nearly to the Conquest, and supposed to be of Saxon origin." 2 The name is actually derived from "Digby, in Lincolnshire where Aelmar, the first recorded ancestor of the Digbys, held lands in 1086." 2

This area continued for two centuries as a stronghold of the family as seen in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 which listed Alice de Digpeby as holding lands there at that time. 3

"The noble family are of great antiquity in co. Warwick." 4 So as to underscore this point, we found Simon Digby listed in the Feet of Fines for Warwickshire in 1497. 5

Early History of the Digby family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Digby research. Another 88 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1461, 1578, 1580, 1590, 1592, 1603, 1605, 1606, 1612, 1618, 1640, 1642, 1653, 1657, 1658, 1664, 1665, 1677, 1679, 1685, 1686, 1691 and 1720 are included under the topic Early Digby History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Digby Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Digby has appeared include Digby, Digbie and others.

Early Notables of the Digby family

Notables of the family at this time include

  • Sir Everard Digby (1578-1606), conspirator involved in the abortive 1605 Gunpowder Plot to assassinate King James I of England and VI of Scotland and Members of the Parliament of England. He was found...
  • Other notables include: John Digby, 1st Earl of Bristol (1580-1653), an English diplomat and a moderate Royalist during the English Civil War; Lettice FitzGerald (c.1580-1658) 1st Baroness Offaly, an...

Digby Ranking

In the United States, the name Digby is the 13,809th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. 6

Ireland Migration of the Digby family to Ireland

Some of the Digby family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 39 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 Digby migration to the United States +

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Digby arrived in North America very early:

Digby Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Edward Digby was one of the original settlers in Maine in 1607
  • John Digby, who arrived in Virginia in 1636 7
  • Edward Digby, who arrived in Virginia in 1650 7
  • Robert Digby, who arrived in Virginia in 1657 7
  • Charles Digby who settled in Montserrat in 1663
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Digby Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Digby, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838 7

New Zealand Digby 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:

Digby Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. J.R.B. Digby, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Zealandia" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand in 1869 8
  • William Digby, aged 33, a labourer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cartvale" in 1874
  • Sarah Digby, aged 40, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Cartvale" in 1874

West Indies Digby migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. 9
Digby Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Digby, who settled in Jamaica in 1661

Contemporary Notables of the name Digby (post 1700) +

  • Jane Elizabeth Digby (1807-1881), Lady Ellenborough, an English aristocrat known for her remarkable love life and lifestyle which included four husbands and many lovers, including King Ludwig I of Bavaria and his son King Otto of Greece
  • Marie Christina Digby (b. 1983), American singer, songwriter, guitarist, pianist and actress
  • James Digby, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1972 10
  • Dora Digby, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Michigan, 1972 10
  • Chuck Digby, American politician, Candidate for Mayor of Leawood, Kansas, 1997 10
  • Henry Digby (b. 1793), 1st Earl Digby, 7th Baron Digby, an English peer
  • Edward Kenelm Digby (1894-1964), 11th Baron Digby, an English peer
  • Edward Henry Trafalgar Digby (1846-1920), 10th Baron Digby, an English peer
  • Edward St Vincent Digby (1809-1889), 9th Baron Digby, an English peer
  • Edward Digby (1730-1757), 6th Baron Digby, an English peer
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Digby 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: Deo non fortuna
Motto Translation: Through God not by chance.

  1. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  2. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  7. 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)
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  10. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook