Fortes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Fortes family's name is derived from the ancient Norman culture that was established in Britain following the Norman Conquest of island in 1066. Their name originated with an early member who was 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.

Early Origins of the Fortes family

The surname Fortes 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.

Early History of the Fortes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fortes research. Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fortes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fortes Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Fortes include Fort, Forte, Forts, Fortes, Foort, Foorte and many more.

Early Notables of the Fortes family (pre 1700)

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


United States Fortes migration to the United States +

In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Fortess to arrive on North American shores:

Fortes Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Salvador Fortes, who arrived in Florida in 1838 [1]
  • Philip Fortes, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1857 [1]

Contemporary Notables of the name Fortes (post 1700) +

  • Corsino António Fortes (1933-2015), Cape Verdean writer, poet and diplomat, the 1st Ambassador of Cape Verde to Portugal from 1975 until 1981
  • William Wyse Fortes, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Meyer Fortes, British Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge
  • Emmanuel Fortes Nascimento (b. 1970), Brazilian gold and silver medalist freestyle swimmer at the 1991 Pan American Games


The Fortes 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: Fortis et audax
Motto Translation: Strong and brave


  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)


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