Fife History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

An ancient Pictish-Scottish family was the first to use the name Fife. It is a name for someone who lived in the county of Fife. The surname Fife belongs to the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. As a general rule, the greater the distance between individuals and their homelands, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, people who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.

Early Origins of the Fife family

The surname Fife was first found in Fife, 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 Fife family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fife research. Another 181 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1436, 1447, 1453, 1454, 1462, and 1464 are included under the topic Early Fife History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fife Spelling Variations

During the Middle Ages, there was no basic set of rules and scribes wrote according to sound. The correct spelling of Scottish names were further compromised after many haphazard translations from Gaelic to English and back. Spelling variations of the name Fife include Fyfe, Fife, Fyffe, Phyfe, Phyffe and others.

Early Notables of the Fife family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Fife family to Ireland

Some of the Fife 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.


United States Fife migration to the United States +

Scots left their country by the thousands to travel to Australia and North America. Desperate for freedom and an opportunity to fend for themselves, many paid huge fees and suffered under terrible conditions on long voyages. Still, for those who made the trip, freedom and opportunity awaited. In North America, many fought their old English oppressors in the American War of Independence. In recent years, Scottish heritage has been an increasingly important topic, as Clan societies and other organizations have renewed people's interest in their history. An examination of passenger and immigration lists shows many early settlers bearing the name of Fife:

Fife Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Francis Fife, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [1]
  • John Fife, who landed in New England in 1738 [1]
  • John Fife who settled in Maryland in 1739
  • Alexander Fife, who settled in Jamaica in 1774
  • James Fife, who settled in Charles Town [Charleston], South Carolina in 1774
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Fife Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert B Fife, who landed in America in 1810 [1]
  • James Fife, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811 [1]
  • Thomas Fife, aged 27, who landed in New York in 1812 [1]
  • Mary Fife, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816 [1]
  • William Fife, who arrived in New York in 1819 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Fife migration to Australia +

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

Fife Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Henry Fife, British convict who was convicted in Kent, England for life, transported aboard the "Bussorah Merchant" on 1st October 1829, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [2]
  • Hugh Fife, aged 38, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "William Stevenson" [3]
  • Thomas Fife, aged 26, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Punjab"
  • Thomas Fife, aged 24, who arrived in South Australia in 1856 aboard the ship "Nabob"

New Zealand Fife 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:

Fife Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Margaret Fife, aged 21, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • John G. Fife, aged 19, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Agnes Fife, aged 16, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Anna Fife, aged 16, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "London" in 1842
  • Mr. G. Fife, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Northfleet" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, Via Wellington and Lyttleton in February 1854 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Fife (post 1700) +

  • Fred J. Fife III, American politician and engineer, Member of the Utah Senate (2004-2008)
  • Colonel William Paul "Bill" Fife USAF (1917-2008), United States Air Force officer, considered the "Father of Airborne Intercept"
  • William Nicol Fife (1831-1915), American architect, bets known for his design of the original Ogden Pioneer Tabernacle
  • Stephen J. Fife (b. 1986), American Major League Baseball pitcher who played on July 17, 2012 for the Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Randy Fife, American stunt man, known for his work on RoboCop (1987), Wayne's World (1992) and Arlington Road (1999)
  • John Fife, American human rights activist and retired Presbyterian minister, Moderator of the 204th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (1992-1993)
  • Danny Wayne Fife (b. 1949), American former Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Minnesota Twins in 1973 and 1974, father of Dane Fife
  • Austin E. and Alta S. Fife, American pioneering Utah folklorists, eponym of the Fife Folklore Archives, the Fife Folklore Conference, and the Fife Honor Lecture at the Utah State University
  • Jason Fife (b. 1981), American former football quarterback who played from 2004 to 2008
  • Maxine Fife (1925-2008), American actress
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Fife family +

USS Arizona
  • Mr. Ralph Elmer Fife, American Seaman First Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [5]


The Fife 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 et opera
Motto Translation: By virtue and energy.


Suggested Readings for the name Fife +

  • 4993 Descendants of John and William Fife, Fifeshire, Scotland, Upper St. Calir, Penna., 1721-1890 John V. Murphy, Fife Family: Isaac Wade and Nancy's Children and Allied Families by Clara Adrienne Sisk Wilson.

  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 10th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/bussorah-merchant
  3. ^ South Australian Register Friday 2nd February 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) William Stevenson 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/williamstevenson1855.shtml
  4. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  5. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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