Earl History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient history of the Earl name begins with the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the family resided in the parish of Earley, in the diocese of Oxford.

Early Origins of the Earl family

The surname Earl was first found in the County of Somerset. The surname originates from a Saxon word "eorl" or "jarl" which described the elder or wise man of the village. In time the name came to mean the leader or ruler and finally, during mediaeval times it was used to signify a nobleman of the highest rank.

Later, a branch of the family was found at Axmouth in Devon. "The manor [of Axmouth] formerly belonged to the abbey of Sion, in Middlesex, and was given at the Dissolution by Henry VIII. to his queen Catharine Parr, as part of her dower; it reverted at her death to the crown, and was granted by Edward VI., in 1552, to Walter Erle." [1]

"For some two centuries it has been the property of the Hallets. Stedcombe House, a seat of the Erles, was garrisoned by Sir Walter for the Parliament, but taken and burned in March, 1644, by a party of Prince Maurice's troops. The Erles then resided at Bindon, now a farmhouse, but retaining many traces of its ancient state, particularly its domestic chapel. Sir Walter Erie had been imprisoned for refusing to lend money to the King, and in revenge seized Lyme for the Parliament in 1642." [2]

"The manor of Penheale, [in the parish or Egloskerry, Cornwall] extends over the whole parish, can be satisfactorily traced up to the time of Doomsday Survey. At that time it was held under Robert Earl of Moreton by Ricardus, whose son William Fitz Richard, left a daughter and sole heiress, who was married to Reginald Earl of Cornwall, natural son of Henry I." [3]

"It appears from Dugdale's Monasticon, that the church of Egloshayle [in Cornwall] was given by William Earl of Gloucester to the priory of St. James in Bristol, which gift was confirmed by Edward II." [3]

Early History of the Earl family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Earl research. Another 325 words (23 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1120, 1160, 1616, 1653, 1662, 1859, 1812, 1812, 1590, 1667, 1586, 1665, 1614, 1648, 1615, 1615, 1678, 1758, 1601, 1665, 1650 and 1720 are included under the topic Early Earl History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Earl Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Earl include Earl, Earle, Earll, Earlls, Erle, Irle, Urles, Urle, Erl, Earls, Earles, Earlie, Earlee, Erlegh, Erligh, Erleigh, Earleigh and many more.

Early Notables of the Earl family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Nicholas Earl of Allerton Tower; Erasmus Earle (1590-1667), an English lawyer and politician, Sergeant-at-law to Oliver Cromwell; Sir Walter Erle or Earle (1586-1665), an English landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons between 1614 and 1648, an strong opponent of King Charles I in the Parliamentary cause both before and during the English Civil War; Giles Earle ( fl. 1615), an English collector of songs, and assumed poet...
Another 76 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Earl Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Earl Ranking

In the United States, the name Earl is the 1,950th most popular surname with an estimated 14,922 people with that name. [4] However, in New Zealand, the name Earl is ranked the 985th most popular surname with an estimated 762 people with that name. [5]

Ireland Migration of the Earl family to Ireland

Some of the Earl family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 44 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 Earl migration to the United States +

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Earl or a variant listed above:

Earl Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Ralph Earl, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1634 [6]
  • Robert Earl came in the "Hercules" in 1643 to Massachusetts
Earl Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Roderick Earl, who arrived in North Carolina in 1740 [6]
  • Robert Earl, who settled in New York in 1775
  • Daniel Earl, who landed in New York in 1798 [6]
  • Daniel, Earl Jr., who arrived in New York in 1798 [6]
  • Jonas Earl, who arrived in New York in 1798 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Earl Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Enoch Earl, who landed in New Orleans, La in 1813 [6]
  • Robert Earl, who landed in Alexandria, Va in 1820 [6]
  • John Earl, who arrived in New York in 1824 [6]
  • Lorentz Earl, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838 [6]
  • Lawrence Earl, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Earl migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Earl Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Daniel, Earl Jr., who landed in Nova Scotia in 1775
  • Jonas Earl, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1775
  • Lt. Justus Earl U.E., "Justice", "Earle" born in New Jersey, USA who settled in Waterborough, Grand Lake, New Brunswick c. 1784 he served in the New Jersey Volunteers 3rd Battalion, he died in 1825 [7]
  • Mr. Philip Earl U.E., "Earle" born in New Jersey, USA who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [7]
Earl Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Earl, aged 30, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1838 aboard the brig "Susan Maria Brooke" from Donegal, Ireland
  • Eleanor Earl, aged 25, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1838 aboard the brig "Susan Maria Brooke" from Donegal, Ireland
  • Margaret Earl, aged 20, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1838 aboard the brig "Susan Maria Brooke" from Donegal, Ireland
  • Mr. Edward Earl, aged 30 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Wm S. Hamilton" departing from the port of New Ross, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle on 15th Septemer 1847 [8]
  • Mr. Eliza Earl, aged 22 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Wm S. Hamilton" departing from the port of New Ross, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle on 27th August 1847 [8]

Australia Earl migration to Australia +

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

Earl Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Earl, English convict from London, who was transported aboard the "Almorah" on April 1817, settling in New South Wales, Australia [9]
  • John Earl, Scottish convict from Glasgow, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on September 3rd, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [10]
  • Mr. John Earl, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for life, transported aboard the "Earl St Vincent" on 6th April 1820, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [11]
  • George Earl, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "Asia" on April 1st, 1822, settling in New South Wales, Australia [12]
  • Mr. John Earl, (Hales), English convict who was convicted in Kent, England for life, transported aboard the "Earl Grey" on 27th July 1838, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Earl 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:

Earl Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Percy Earl, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nelson" in 1842
  • Mr. Percy Earl, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Nelson" arriving in Wellington, North Island, New Zealand on 24th September 1842 [14]
  • Thomas Earl, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Nimroud" in 1860
  • Miss Frances Earl, (b. 1846), aged 24, English cook, from Kent travelling from London aboard the ship "Ramsey" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th June 1870 [15]
  • William Earl, aged 24, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Earl Granville" in 1880
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Earl 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. [16]
Earl Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Earl who settled in Barbados in 1680

Contemporary Notables of the name Earl (post 1700) +

  • Michael Earl (1959-2015), American four-time Emmy Award winning puppeteer, actor, writer, singer and songwriter, perhaps best known for his work as Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street (1978-81)
  • Anthony "Tony" Scully Earl (b. 1936), American politician
  • Robert Earl (b. 1951), American founder and CEO of Planet Hollywood International, Inc
  • Jimmy Earl, American jazz musician and composer
  • Harley J. Earl (1893-1969), American businessman, the first Vice President of Design at General Motors
  • Acie Boyd Earl (b. 1970), retired American professional NBA basketball player
  • Ronnie Earl (b. 1953), American blues guitarist
  • Ralph Earl (1751-1801), American historical and portrait painter
  • Norton Earl, American film and television actor
  • Charles A. Earl, American Republican politician, Mayor of Oneida, New York, 1948-49 [17]
  • ... (Another 31 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Joseph W Earl (b. 1916), English Stoker 2nd Class serving for the Royal Navy from Middleton, Yorkshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [18]


The Earl 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: Ne Tentes Aut Perfice
Motto Translation: Attempt not or accomplish.


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  3. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  4. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  5. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  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)
  7. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. ^ 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. 27)
  9. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Almorah voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1817 with 180 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/almorah/1817
  10. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1820 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1820
  11. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th September 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-st-vincent
  12. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Asia 1 voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 190 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1822
  13. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th August 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/earl-grey
  14. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  15. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  16. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  17. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 29) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  18. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm


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