Forbes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the first family to use the name Forbes lived among the ancient Scottish people called the Picts. The Forbes family lived in the lands of Forbes on Aberdeenshire where the family's history dates back before 1000 AD

Early Origins of the Forbes family

The surname Forbes was first found in Aberdeenshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Obar Dheathain), a historic county, and present day Council Area of Aberdeen, located in the Grampian region of northeastern Scotland, at Pitscottie from 1168, which was later named "the Braes of Forbes."

Legend has it that the founder of the Clan, Oconochar, slew a bear in order to take up residence there. One of the first records of the name from this region was Duncan de Forbeys who received a grant of lands c. 1272 from King Alexander III. Later, John de Fernboys was listed as rendering allegiance to King Edward I of England in 1296 and later still, William of Forbace was canon of Aberdeen in 1464. [1]

Early History of the Forbes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Forbes research. Another 159 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1626, 1581, 1626, 1380, 1448, 1165, 1214, 1611, 1680, 1644, 1704, 1685, 1747, 1629, 1712, 1590, 1632, 1623, 1696, 1671 and are included under the topic Early Forbes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Forbes Spelling Variations

In the Middle ages, spelling and translation were not yet regulated by any general rules. spelling variations in names were common even among members of one family unit. Forbes has appeared Forbes, Forbose, Forbess, Forbeis (Gaelic) and others.

Early Notables of the Forbes family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was Alexander de Forbes, (c. 1380-1448) 1st Lord Forbes, progenitor of the lordship. He was "the eldest son of Sir John de Forbes of that ilk. The lands of Forbes in Aberdeenshire gave name to the family, who trace back their ancestors in it to the time of King William the Lion (1165-1214). Sir John...
Another 62 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Forbes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Forbes family to Ireland

Some of the Forbes family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 134 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Forbes migration to the United States +

Faced by this persecution and the generally unstable political climate of those days, many Scots chose to leave their homeland for Ireland, Australia, and North America in search of greater opportunity and freedom. The colonies across the Atlantic were the most popular choice, but a passage there was neither cheap nor easily suffered. Passengers arrived sick and poor, but those who made it intact often found land and more tolerant societies in which to live. These brave settlers formed the backbone of the burgeoning nations of Canada and the United States. It is only this century that the ancestors of these families have begun to recover their collective identity through the patriotic highland games and Clan societies that have sprung up throughout North America. Research into early immigration and passenger lists revealed many immigrants bearing the name Forbes:

Forbes Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Johannes Forbes, aged 50, who landed in New York in 1651 [2]
  • Alexander Forbes, who settled in Maryland in 1666
Forbes Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Forbes, who landed in Virginia in 1702 [2]
  • Colin Forbes, who settled in Charles Town in 1766
  • Janet Forbes, aged 18, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775 [2]
  • Donald Forbes, aged 39, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1775 [2]
  • Patrick Forbes, who landed in Mississippi in 1798 [2]
Forbes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Daniel Forbes, who arrived in New York in 1801 [2]
  • Ann Forbes, who landed in America in 1805 [2]
  • Jos Forbes, who arrived in America in 1805 [2]
  • John Forbes, who arrived in America in 1805 [2]
  • Alexander Forbes, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1807 [2]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Forbes migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Forbes Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Alexander Forbes, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749
  • John Forbes, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1750
  • Jane Forbes, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1773
  • Jane Forbes, who landed in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773
  • Mary Forbes, who arrived in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Forbes Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • John Forbes, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • Charles Forbes, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • James Forbes, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1801
  • John Forbes, aged 30, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • John Forbes, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Forbes migration to Australia +

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

Forbes Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Forbes, English convict from Middlesex, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia [3]
  • Mr. James Forbes, British convict who was convicted in Lancaster, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Henry Tanner" on 27th June 1834, settling in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Mr. William Forbes, Welsh convict who was convicted in Glamorgan, Wales for 7 years, transported aboard the "Henry Tanner" on 27th June 1834, settling in New South Wales, Australia [4]
  • Jean Forbes, Scottish convict from Edinburgh, who was transported aboard the "Arab" on December 14, 1835, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [5]
  • Charles Forbes, who arrived in Kangaroo Bay aboard the ship "Tam O'Shanter" in 1836 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Forbes 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:

Forbes Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Ann Forbes, aged 22, a servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bengal Merchant" in 1840
  • Robert Forbes, aged 35, a farm labourer, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • Margaret Forbes, aged 30, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • Eliza Forbes, aged 9, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • John Forbes, aged 7, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Slains Castle" in 1841
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Forbes (post 1700) +

  • James Randy Forbes (b. 1952), American politician in U.S. House of Representatives
  • Michelle Forbes (b. 1965), born Michelle Renee Forbes Guajardo, American Daytime Emmy Award nominated actress
  • Esther Forbes (1891-1967), American novelist and children's writer, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the Newbery Medal
  • Edwin Austin Forbes (1839-1895), American landscape painter, etcher, and war artist during the American Civil War
  • China Forbes (b. 1970), American singer and songwriter, and the lead singer of Pink Martini
  • Malcolm Stevenson "Steve" Forbes Jr. (b. 1947), American publisher of Forbes magazine
  • William Cameron Forbes (1870-1959), American administrator and diplomat, governor of the Philippines (1909-1913), and ambassador to Japan (1930-1932)
  • Bertie Charles Forbes (1880-1954), Scottish-born, American editor and journalist, founder and eponym of "Forbes" magazine in 1917
  • Ross Forbes (b. 1989), Scottish footballer
  • Fred Forbes (b. 1894), Scottish footballer
  • ... (Another 22 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMAS Sydney II
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Ian Dudley Stewart Forbes, British Lieutenant, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and survived the sinking, also sailed aboard the HMS Stronghold [8]


Suggested Readings for the name Forbes +

  • 957 Forbes: An Ancestry Notebook by William Albert Forbes, The Forbes Family: The Descendants of Deacon Daniel Forbes of St. Lawrence County, New York (1789/90-1877) by Allene Beaumont Duty.

  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  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. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1828 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1828
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/henry-tanner
  5. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1835 with 132 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/arab/1835
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) TAM O'SHANTER - 1836. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1836TamOShanter.htm
  7. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  8. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html


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