Elmsley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Elmsley is a name whose history is connected to the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from when the Elmsley family once lived in Yorkshire, where they derived the family name from Helmsley. It was in the West Riding of Yorkshire, but has been lost to modern maps. The place-name was probably derived from the Old English personal name Helm, and ley or leah, which were Old English words for "a clearing in the woods." The translation of the place-name was "clearing belonging to Helm." [1]

Early Origins of the Elmsley family

The surname Elmsley was first found in Yorkshire at Helmsley, a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the wapentake of Ryedale. The town dates back to the time of Richard I. [2] The Domesday Book of 1086 lists the town as Elmeslac. [3] Helmsley Castle (also known anciently as Hamlake) is a medieval castle originally constructed in wood around 1120 by Walter l'Espec (died 1153.)

Early History of the Elmsley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Elmsley research. Another 138 words (10 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Elmsley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Elmsley Spelling Variations

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Elmsley family name include Elmslie, Elmsley, Emsley, Elmesley, Helmsley, Emesley, Emesly, Ernele and many more.

Early Notables of the Elmsley family (pre 1700)

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


New Zealand Elmsley 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:

Elmsley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Elmsley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • Jane Elmsley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • John Elmsley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • Colin Elmsley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • Alice Elmsley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ellen Lewis" in 1860
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Elmsley (post 1700) +

  • Peter Elmsley (1773-1825), English classical scholar who was educated at Hampstead, at Westminster, and at Christ Church College, Oxford [4]
  • Peter Elmsley (1736-1802), Scottish classical scholar, born in Aberdeenshire in 1736, and succeeded Paul Vaillant (1716-1802), whose family had carried on a foreign bookselling business in the Strand, since 1686 [4]
  • Sir Thomas Elmsley Croft (1798-1835), 7th Baronet of Croft Castle, English peer


The Elmsley 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: Prenez garde
Motto Translation: Take care.


  1. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  4. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020


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