Show ContentsFortesque History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient name Fortesque is a Norman name that would have been developed in England after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. This name was a name given to a valiant or strong warrior. This name is composed of the Old French elements, fort, which means strong, and escu, which means shield. Sir Richard le Forte was one of the leaders of the Norman army at Hastings. He was a great fighter and protected Duke William by holding a large shield or escue in front of him, hence Fortescue.

The motto of the family, "Forte Scutum salus ducum," meaning 'a strong shield is the safety of commanders,' attests to the family's founder. [1]

Early Origins of the Fortesque family

The surname Fortesque was first found in Devon at Wymodeston (later called Winston) in the parish of Modbury in the year 1209. [2] [3]

This was "the most ancient seat of the Fortescues, in whose possession it continued from the days of King John to the Reign or Queen Elizabeth." [2]

A current search for Winston in Devon returns nothing other than a reference to Winston Manor. However, the parish of Modbury is today in the South Hams region.

"In Filleigh [Devon] is Castle Hill, the seat of Earl Fortescue, the representative of this most ancient and distinguished family, whose surname, as in their motto, Forte scutum, salus ducum, is said to signify a 'strong shield.' The common ancestor was settled at Wimpston or Wymondeston in Modbury, which, according to the family tradition, was given to Richard le Forte, shield-bearer to the Conqueror, for his good services at Hastings. John Fortescue was settled at Wimpston in 1209 ; and the elder branch continued to live there until early in the seventeenth century. The family branched out from Wimpston to Preston, Spriddleston, Shipham, Wood, Fallapit, Wear Giffard, Filleigh, and Buckland Filleigh in Devon, and settled also in Cornwall, Hertford, Essex, Buckingham, and Ireland." [4]

"Salcombe Castle was the last place in Devon which adhered to the cause of Charles I. The Castle dates from the reign of Henry VIII., and was one of the numerous little strengths built by him on the Western coasts to defend the principal ports from sudden forays. Sir Edmund Fortescue of Fallapit, the Royalist High Sheriff of Devon in 1642, and for many months a prisoner at Winchester House and Windsor Castle, on his release undertook to re fortify and man the ancient walls. Prince Maurice gave him a commission for this purpose in December, 1643, while he was engaged in the siege of Plymouth; and Fortescue evidently carried out his work thoroughly. " [4]

Early History of the Fortesque family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Fortesque research. Another 196 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1442, 1607, 1394, 1476, 1442, 1461, 1476, 1539, 1535, 1531, 1607, 1578, 1659, 1580, 1659, 1621, 1581, 1666, 1665, 1719, 1689, 1695, 1695, 1698 and 1797 are included under the topic Early Fortesque History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Fortesque Spelling Variations

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 Fortesque were recorded, including Fortescue, Fortesque and others.

Early Notables of the Fortesque family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir John Fortescue (c.1394-1476), the English jurist. A supporter of the Lancastrian king Henry VI, he was chief justice of the Court of King's Bench from 1442 until 1461. Sir Adrian Fortescue (1476?-1539), was a Knight of St. John and the second son of Sir John Fortescue of Punsborne, Hertfordshire, and grandson of Sir Richard, younger brother of Sir John, the famous chief justice. [5] His third and youngest son, Sir Anthony Fortescue (b. 1535?), was a conspirator who was educated at Winchester. Unlike his elder brother Sir John, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir...
Another 119 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Fortesque Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Fortesque family to Ireland

Some of the Fortesque family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

New Zealand Fortesque 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:

Fortesque Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Percival Fortesque, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Surat" in 1864

The Fortesque 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: Forte scutum salus ducum
Motto Translation: A strong shield is the safety of generals

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  3. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital
  5. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print on Facebook