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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, French, German, Italian


The name Fort has a history dating as far back as the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. It was a name for a strong, brave, or hardy person as the name was originally derived from the Old French fort, which meant strong. Another derivation suggests that the name is a local surname and it indicates that its bearer lived near a fortress or stronghold. The former is more common, but time has confused the two derivations and etymologists now disagree on which is appropriate in a given instance.

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The surname Fort was first found in Lancashire where they were granted lands by William the Conqueror for their assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. They were Lords of the manor of this estate. They are believed to be descended from the Norman noble, William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle, who married Isobel, Countess of Devon. This line eventually became Earls of Lancaster, and conjecturally the junior lines assumed the name Forte.

Before the last few hundred years the English language had no fixed system of spelling rules. For that reason, spelling variations occurred commonly in Anglo Norman surnames. Over the years, many variations of the name Fort were recorded, including Fort, Forte, Forts, Fortes, Foort, Foorte and many more.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fort research. Another 172 words (12 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fort History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Fort Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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The unstable environment in England at this time caused numerous families to board ships and leave in search of opportunity and freedom from persecution abroad in places like Ireland, Australia, and particularly the New World. The voyage was extremely difficult, however, and only taken at great expense. The cramped conditions and unsanitary nature of the vessels caused many to arrive diseased and starving, not to mention destitute from the enormous cost. Still opportunity in the emerging nations of Canada and the United States was far greater than at home and many went on to make important contributions to the cultures of their adopted countries. An examination of many early immigration records reveals that people bearing the name Fort arrived in North America very early:

Fort Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Marmaduke Fort, who landed in Maryland in 1653
  • John Fort, who arrived in Maryland in 1678
  • John Fort settled in Maryland in 1685
  • John Fort who settled in Maryland in 1685

Fort Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Jean Fort, aged 30, landed in Louisiana in 1720
  • Francis Fort settled in Virginia in 1736
  • Claude Fort settled in Louisiana in 1756
  • Andrew Fort, who arrived in New York in 1760
  • Andreas Fort, who came to New York in 1771

Fort Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Lewis Emanuel Fort settled in Philadelphia in 1804
  • Lewis Emanuel Fort settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1804
  • C Fort, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1851
  • J. A. Fort settled in San Francisco in 1852
  • J. A. Fort settled in San Francisco, California in 1852


Fort Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Francis Fort, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1749

Fort Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • James Fort arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John" in 1840
  • Harriet Mary Fort arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John" in 1840
  • John Fort, aged 37, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "Constance"

Fort Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • David Fort arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Black Eagle" in 1861
  • Elizabeth Fort arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Black Eagle" in 1861
  • Mary Anne Fort arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Black Eagle" in 1861
  • Jessie Fort arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Black Eagle" in 1861

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  • Brigadier-General Guy Osborne Fort (1879-1942), American Commanding General Lanao Force (1942)
  • Charles Hoy Fort (1874-1932), American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena
  • Jean Fort, former headmistress of Rodean
  • Ricardo Fort (1968-2013), Argentine entrepreneur and television director
  • Jean Pierre Fort, French engineer, General Controller of the army, and Director of firms in Paris
  • Alain Roger Louis Fort, French lawyer and deputy in Paris


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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: Fortis et audax
Motto Translation: Strong and brave

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  1. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  2. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  3. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Innes, Thomas and Learney. The Tartans of the Clans and Families of Scotland 1st Edition. Edinburgh: W & A. K. Johnston Limited, 1938. Print.
  7. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  8. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  9. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  10. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  11. ...

The Fort Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Fort Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 10 April 2016 at 12:11.

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