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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the Scottish Elder family come from? What is the Scottish Elder family crest and coat of arms? When did the Elder family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Elder family history?

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, bearing the same name. Elder is a nickname surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Nicknames form a broad and miscellaneous class of surnames, and can refer directly or indirectly to one's personality, physical attributes, mannerisms, or even their habits of dress. Members of the Elder family were originally found in Edinburghshire, where they had been settled prior to the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066.


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.

First found in Edinburghshire, a former county, now part of the Midlothian council area 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.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Elder research. Another 147 words(10 lines of text) covering the years 189 and are included under the topic Early Elder History in all our PDF Extended History products.


More information is included under the topic Early Elder Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Elder family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 123 words(9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


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

  • Wm Elder, who landed in Virginia in 1664

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

Elder Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Stewart Elder, who arrived in New York in 1810
  • Matthew Elder, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812
  • Charles Elder, who landed in New York, NY in 1812
  • David Elder, aged 30, arrived in Maine in 1812
  • Robert Elder, who arrived in New York in 1822

Elder Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Alexander Elder, aged 27, a shipmaster, arrived in Saint John, NB in 1833 aboard the ship "John" from Liverpool
  • Henry Elder, aged 18, landed in Quebec in 1834

Elder Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Anne Elder arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "William Nichol" in 1842
  • Anne Elder arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Symmetry" in 1845
  • G. Elder arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Duncan" in 1849
  • J. Elder arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Sir Edward Parry" in 1849
  • William Elder, aged 54, a ploughman, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Hyderabad"

Elder Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • William Elder, aged 32, a railway labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • Isabella Elder, aged 32, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • William Elder, aged 11, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • James Elder, aged 8, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864
  • Isabella Elder, aged 5, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Reiherstieg" in 1864


  • William Elder (1921-2008), American illustrator and comic book artist who helped launch Harvey Kurtzman's "Mad" comic book in 1952
  • Lonne Elder (b. 1931), American actor and playwright
  • Christian Stuart Elder (1968-2007), American sports car and former NASCAR stock car driver
  • Robert K. Elder (b. 1976), American journalist, author and newspaper columnist
  • Judyann Elder (b. 1948), American actress
  • Ann Elder (b. 1942), born Anna Velders, an American two-time Primetime Emmy Award winning screenwriter
  • David Matthew Elder (b. 1975), American former Major League Baseball player who played for the Cleveland Indians from 2002 to 2003
  • Donald Elder (b. 1962), former professional American NFL football player who played from 1985 to 1991
  • Henry Knox "Heinie" Elder (1890-1958), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played in 1913 for the Detroit Tigers
  • Judyann Elder (b. 1948), born Judith Ann Johnson, an American actress, director, and writer



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

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.


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  1. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  2. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  3. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
  4. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  5. Dorward, David. Scottish Surnames. Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1995. Print.
  6. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
  7. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  8. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  10. Fairbairn,. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The Elder Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Elder Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 2 February 2015 at 23:54.

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