St. James History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name St. James arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name St. James comes from the personal name Jacob, the Latin Jacobus via the Late Latin Jacomus. The Latin Jacobus is derived from the Hebrew name Yaakov which is traditionally interpreted as coming from the Hebrew akev, which means heel. [1]

"The first appearance of this Christian name in our annals is in Domesday [Book]." [2]

James the Cistercian ( fl. 1270), also called James the Englishman, "was the first professor of philosophy and theology in the college which Stephen Lexington, Abbot of Clairvaux, founded in the house of the counts of Champagne at Paris for the instruction of young Cistercians. " [3]

Early Origins of the St. James family

The surname St. James was first found in Surrey. At an early time the name migrated from Normandy under the name FitzJames, as one of the noble house of Normandy. In nearby Utrecht the name became Van Haestrecht, whence it became FitzJames again, having migrated from Utrecht into England, into the manor of Ightham, at the time of King John, about the year 1210 A.D. They acquired the manors and estates of Hamon de Cravignuier, from De Inge, Zouch of Harringworth, Read, and Willoughby, and thence to the noble house of James.

"In early documents the name is usually Jacobus, but James is occasionally found in the 12th and 13th centuries, sometimes alternating with Jack or its diminutives Jackamin, Jackett and Jacklin." [4]

"The principal home of this name is in South Wales and Monmouthshire. Lower tells us of a very ancient Pembroke family possessing an estate successively held by thirteen persons bearing the name of William James. The name is also frequent in Shropshire and Herefordshire on the Welsh border, and in the neighbouring counties of Gloucester and Stafford. It is also numerous in the south - west of England, especially in Somerset, Dorset, and Cornwall. In the eastern counties it nearly disappears, but it reappears in the north, though in no great numbers. " [5]

Early History of the St. James family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our St. James research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1592, 1638, 1592, 1573, 1629, 1573, 1593, 1635, 1619, 1593, 1542, 1617, 1542, 1610, 1681, 1653, 1661, 1661, 1620, 1700, 1661, 1679, 1689, 1690, 1619, 1670, 1654, 1656, 1624, 1705, 1659, 1626, 1685, 1659, 1673, 1702, 1644 and 1719 are included under the topic Early St. James History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

St. James Spelling Variations

Endless spelling variations are a prevailing characteristic of Norman surnames. Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules, and the introduction of Norman French added an unfamiliar ingredient to the English linguistic stew. French and Latin, the languages of the court, also influenced spellings. Finally, Medieval scribes generally spelled words according to how they sounded, so one person was often referred to by different spellings in different documents. The name has been spelled James, Fitzjames, St. James, Jaimes, Geames and many more.

Early Notables of the St. James family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Richard James (1592-1638), English scholar, born at Newport in the Isle of Wight in 1592, the third son of Andrew James of that town, by his wife Dorothy, daughter of Philip Poore of Durrington, Wiltshire. [3] Thomas James (1573?-1629), was Bodley's librarian, uncle of Richard James [q. v.], was born about 1573 at Newport, Isle of Wight. [3] Thomas James (1593?-1635?), was a navigator, a kinsman, it is believed, of Thomas James (d. 1619), alderman and twice mayor of Bristol, was born about 1593. [3] William James (1542-1617), was Bishop of Durham, the second son of...
Another 257 words (18 lines of text) are included under the topic Early St. James Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the St. James family to Ireland

Some of the St. James family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the St. James family

To escape the political and religious persecution within England at the time, many English families left for the various British colonies abroad. The voyage was extremely difficult, though, and the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving. But for those who made it, the trip was most often worth it. Many of the families who arrived went on to make valuable contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families reveals a number of immigrants bearing the name St. James or a variant listed above: Edmund James, who settled in Salem Massachusetts in 1630; Blanch James, a servant sent to Barbados in 1658; David James, who came to Nevis in 1661; Abel James, who arrived in Maryland in 1670.


Contemporary Notables of the name St. James (post 1700) +

  • Lyn St. James (b. 1947), born Evelyn Gene Cornwall, American retired professional IndyCar driver


The St. James 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: J'aime à jamais
Motto Translation: I love forever.


  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.


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