Show ContentsEarnshaw History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The present generation of the Earnshaw family is only the most recent to bear a name that dates back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. Their name comes from having lived in or near a woods where golden eagles lived. Earnshaw is a compound of the Old English words earn and sceaga. Earn was the Old English name for the golden eagles, and sceaga was a word that meant forest or wilderness. The original bearer of this name must have lived in or near a woods noted for its eagle population. Interestingly, the modern word erne is the name of the sea eagle, a related but separate species of bird to the golden eagle. Golden eagles are very rare in the British Isles today, but in the Middle Ages they were a common bird of prey. Their range was in the northern part of the island, and they were particularly fond of mountainous terrain. Most golden eagles were found in the Pennines and in the Scottish Highlands.

Early Origins of the Earnshaw family

The surname Earnshaw was first found in Yorkshire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Earnshaw family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Earnshaw research. Another 92 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 131 and 1316 are included under the topic Early Earnshaw History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Earnshaw Spelling Variations

Until the dictionary, an invention of only the last few hundred years, the English language lacked any comprehensive system of spelling rules. Consequently, spelling variations in names are frequently found in early Anglo-Saxon and later Anglo-Norman documents. One person's name was often spelled several different ways over a lifetime. The recorded variations of Earnshaw include Earnshaw, Earnshawe, Ernshaw, Earnshay and others.

Early Notables of the Earnshaw family (pre 1700)

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

Earnshaw Ranking

In the United States, the name Earnshaw is the 17,792nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [1]

United States Earnshaw migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families boarded ships sailing to the New World in the hope of escaping the unrest found in England at this time. Although the search for opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad took the lives of many because of the cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels, the opportunity perceived in the growing colonies of North America beckoned. Many of the settlers who survived the journey went on to make important contributions to the transplanted cultures of their adopted countries. The Earnshaw were among these contributors, for they have been located in early North American records:

Earnshaw Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Eli Earnshaw, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1848
  • Francis, George, and Lewis Earnshaw, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1860
  • John Earnshaw, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1876

Australia Earnshaw migration to Australia +

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

Earnshaw Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Jonathan Earnshaw, British convict who was convicted in York, Yorkshire, England for 14 years, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 1st October 1829, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [2]
  • Mr. Thomas Earnshaw, British Convict who was convicted in West Riding, Yorkshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 20th July 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [3]
  • Mr. John Earnshaw, English convict who was convicted in York, Yorkshire, England for 10 years, transported aboard the "Equestrian" on 27th August 1852, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island) [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Earnshaw (post 1700) +

  • Charlotte Earnshaw, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Jersey, 1952 [5]
  • Thomas Earnshaw (1749-1829), English watchmaker born at Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, on 4 Feb. 1749; he first simplified the process of chronometer production [6]
  • Laurence Earnshaw (d. 1767), English mechanician, the son of a weaver or clothworker, born early in the eighteenth century at Wednescough, in the parish of Mottram-in-Longdendale, Cheshire [6]
  • Anthony Earnshaw (1924-2001), English anarchist and surrealist author and illustrator
  • Brigadier Philip Earnshaw (1892-1978), District Officer Commanding 1st Military District (1944-1945) [7]
  • Brian Earnshaw (b. 1929), British science fiction author, primarily known for his Dragonfall 5 series
  • Adrian John Earnshaw (b. 1950), Minister of Tourism and Leisure in the Isle of Man Government

  1. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  2. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th November 2020). Retrieved from
  3. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th February 2020). Retrieved from
  4. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th May 2022).
  5. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from
  6. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020
  7. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, September 15) Philip Earnshaw. Retrieved from on Facebook