Fitzwilliams History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms 

Fitzwilliams is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Fitzwilliams comes from the Norman form of the Old French personal name Wilhelm, which is composed of the elements will, which means will, and helm, which means helmet or protection. The prefix Fitz indicated that the bearer is the son of someone named William or Wilhelm.

Early Origins of the Fitzwilliams family

The surname Fitzwilliams was first found in Buckinghamshire where they were granted lands by William Rufus, King of England. The first on record was Alard Fitzwilliam who married Cecilia, daughter of Emma Langetot, who was descended from the Cheyneys and the Crispins. The Fitzwilliams inherited Gethampton which had belonged to the Crispins in the Domesday Survey in 1086, and this became the Fitzwilliam principal seat.

Conjecturally he may have been the natural son of King William Rufus. Gatehampton, as it was later known, continued as the family seat. Some of the family held estates in the parish of Sprotborough in the West Riding of Yorkshire. "This place anciently belonged to the Fitzwilliam family, one of whom founded an hospital here, dedicated to St. Edmund, which flourished till the Dissolution." [1]

And another branch of the family was found at Tankersley, again in the West Riding of Yorkshire. "The parish is bounded on the west by the river Don, and comprises about 8500 acres, of which 2500 are in the township of Tankersley, and chiefly the property of Earl Fitzwilliam, who is lord of the manor. On an eminence in the grounds, which are still preserved as an appendage to Wentworth, the principal seat of Earl Fitzwilliam, is a building in the Grecian style, commanding extensive prospects." [1]

Withern in Lincolnshire was also an early family seat. "It was formerly a seat of the Fitzwilliams, and a large moated area is still pointed out as the spot on which their mansion stood." [1]

Important Dates for the Fitzwilliams family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fitzwilliams research. Another 65 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1327, 1537, 1609, 1658, 1640, 1653, 1699, 1581, 1650, 1667, 1554, 1610, 1670, 1640 and 1704 are included under the topic Early Fitzwilliams History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fitzwilliams Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Fitzwilliams, Fitzwilliam and others.

Early Notables of the Fitzwilliams family (pre 1700)

Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fitzwilliams Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Fitzwilliams family to Ireland

Some of the Fitzwilliams family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 91 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fitzwilliams migration to the United States

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Fitzwilliams or a variant listed above:

Fitzwilliams Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John FitzWilliams, who arrived in Maryland in 1663 [2]
Fitzwilliams Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Richards Fitzwilliams, who landed in Barbados in 1704 [2]

Fitzwilliams 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:

Fitzwilliams Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Alfred Fitzwilliams, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Sydenham" in 1870

Contemporary Notables of the name Fitzwilliams (post 1700)

  • C. M. FitzWilliams, American Democrat politician, Kansas Democratic State Chair, 1936-40; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kansas, 1940 [3]

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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from
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