Elder History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In ancient Scotland, Elder was first used as a surname by the descendants of the Boernician tribe. It was a name for a person who was the elder of two people, [1] bearing the same name or the name could have been derived from the Old English "ealdra," meaning "elder." Alternatively, the name could have a nickname for someone who was a "dweller at, or near, an elder tree." [2]

Early Origins of the Elder family

The surname Elder was first found in Edinburghshire, a former county, now part of the Midlothian council area. One of the first records of the family was John Eldar or Eldare de Corstorfin who was burgess of Edinburgh in 1423 and "the surname is also recorded in Aberdeen in 1447. John Elder, a renegade Scot, urged Henry VIII ('Bagcheeks') to invade Scotland, assuring him of the support of the Highland Clans. Andro Elder, was a reidare at Menmure in 1574." [3]

Further to the south, "this surname is derived from a nickname 'the elder.' The usual form in the Yorkshire Poll Tax is Senior, and this has become one of the strongly established surnames of that county." However, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 does list Ricardus ye Elder. [4]

Early History of the Elder family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Elder research. Another 74 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1555, 1542, 1680, 1700 and are included under the topic Early Elder History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Elder Spelling Variations

Scribes in the Middle Ages, and simply spelled according to sound. The result is an enormous number of spelling variations among names that evolved in that era. Elder has been spelled Elder, Elders, Eldar, MacNoravaich and others.

Early Notables of the Elder family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John Elder ( fl. 1555), Scottish writer, a native of Caithness who passed twelve years of his life at the universities of St. Andrews, Aberdeen, and Glasgow, and appears to have entered the ministry. "He came to England soon after the death of James V of Scotland in 1542, when he presented to Henry VIII a 'plot' or map of the realm of Scotland, being a...
Another 73 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Elder Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Elder family to Ireland

Some of the Elder family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 68 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Elder migration to the United States +

Most of the Boernician-Scottish families who came to North America settled on the eastern seaboard of what would become the United States and Canada. Families who wanted a new order stayed south in the War of Independence, while those who were still loyal to the crown went north to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. In the 20th century, the ancestors of these families have gone on to rediscover their heritage through Clan societies and other patriotic Scottish organizations. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Elder or a variant listed above:

Elder Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Elder, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [5]
Elder Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Elder who settled in New Hampshire in 1718 along with Thomas, David, Isaac, John, Robert, Samuel, and Thomas
  • Reverend John Elder who formed and was Captain of the Paxtang Rangers, known as the Paxtang Boys in 1753 who committed considerable mayhem amongst the Indians of Conestoga
  • William Elder, who landed in America in 1760-1763 [5]
Elder Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Stewart Elder, who arrived in New York in 1810 [5]
  • Matthew Elder, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812 [5]
  • Charles Elder, who landed in New York, NY in 1812 [5]
  • David Elder, aged 30, who arrived in Maine in 1812 [5]
  • Robert Elder, who arrived in New York in 1822 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Elder migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Elder Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Alexander Elder, aged 27, a shipmaster, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1833 aboard the ship "John" from Liverpool, England
  • Henry Elder, aged 18, who landed in Quebec in 1834

Australia Elder migration to Australia +

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

Elder Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Anne Elder, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nichol" in 1842 [6]
  • Anne Elder, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Symmetry" in 1845 [7]
  • G. Elder, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Duncan" in 1849 [8]
  • J. Elder, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry" in 1849 [9]
  • William Elder, aged 54, a ploughman, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Hyderabad" [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Elder 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:

Elder Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. J.R. Elder, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Regina" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 8th November 1858 [11]
  • Mr. John Elder, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Storm Cloud" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 30th July 1861 [11]
  • Mrs. Elder, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Storm Cloud" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 30th July 1861 [11]
  • Miss Elder, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Storm Cloud" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 30th July 1861 [11]
  • William Elder, aged 32, a railway labourer, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Elder (post 1700) +

  • Robert Lee Elder (b. 1934), American professional golfer
  • Judyann Elder (b. 1948), born Judith Ann Johnson, an American actress, director, and writer
  • Henry Knox "Heinie" Elder (1890-1958), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played in 1913 for the Detroit Tigers
  • Donald Elder (b. 1962), former professional American NFL football player who played from 1985 to 1991
  • David Matthew Elder (b. 1975), American former Major League Baseball player who played for the Cleveland Indians from 2002 to 2003
  • Ann Elder (b. 1942), born Anna Velders, an American two-time Primetime Emmy Award winning screenwriter
  • Christian Stuart Elder (1968-2007), American sports car and former NASCAR stock car driver
  • Lonne Elder (b. 1931), American actor and playwright
  • William Elder (1921-2008), American illustrator and comic book artist who helped launch Harvey Kurtzman's "Mad" comic book in 1952
  • Judyann Elder (b. 1948), American actress
  • ... (Another 60 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMAS Sydney II


The Elder 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: Virtute duce
Motto Translation: With virtue for guide.


Suggested Readings for the name Elder +

  • 1086 Maryland Elder Family and Kin: William Elder, 1707-1775 by Mary Louise Donnelly, William Elder: Ancestors and Descendants by Mary Louise Donnelly.

  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  3. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  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. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) WILLIAM NICHOL 1842. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1842WilliamNichol.gif
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) SYMMETRY 1845. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1845Symmetry.gif
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The DUNCAN 1849 . Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Duncan.htm
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SIR EDWARD PARRY 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849SirEdwardParry.htm
  10. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 15th March 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Hyderabad 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/hyderabad1854.shtml.
  11. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  12. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp


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