Harcourt History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Harcourt is one of the many new names that came to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Harcourt family lived in Oxfordshire. Their name, however, refers not to this location, but to the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066: one of two towns, Harcourt, in Calvados, Normandy, or Harcourt in Eure, Normandy. [1]

Another source provides more detail: "A town and ancient chateau, now in ruins, near Brionne in Normandy, which gave title to the French Ducs de Harcourt. The ancient earls of Harcourt played a distinguished part in the history of Normandy. They were descended from Bernard, of the blood-royal of Saxony, who having been born in Denmark was surnamed the Dane. He was chief counsellor and second in command to Rollo at the invasion of Neustria in A.D. 876, and acquired Harcourt and other fiefs for his eminent services." [2]

"Robert de Harcourt attended William I. to the Conquest of England, and his descendants possessed Stanton-Harcourt, co. Oxon, from 1166 to 1830, when the elder line became extinct." [3]

Early Origins of the Harcourt family

The surname Harcourt was first found in Oxfordshire. Errand de Harcourt who claimed descent from Bernard the Dane, who was granted the Lordship of Harcourt from Rollo of Normandy in 876 commanded the Archers of Vel de Ruel in the Conqueror's army. Rather than staying with his fellow countrymen in the newly conquered country, he returned to Normandy shortly after William's coronation. His younger Robert who had also accompanied him on the Conquest remained. Robert's son, William de Harcourt, a strong supporter of Henry I., commanded the troops that defeated the Earl of Mellentin in 1123. In return for his noble efforts, he received many more lands in England. [4]

This was the beginning of one of the most noble families in England that would quickly rise to the status of the House of Harcourt from which Simon, Lord Harcourt would become Lord Chancellor temp. Queen Anne. Over in the parish of Wyrardisbury in Buckinghamshire, a more recent member of the family holds a piece of history. "Within its limits is Magna Charta island, a small islet in the Thames, on which King John, at the instance of the barons, is said by some to have signed the celebrated charter of English liberty; it is the property of G. Simon Harcourt, Esq., of Ankerwycke House, in the parish." [5]

William de Harewcurt was listed as an Old English Byname in 1055 and later, Philip de Harecourt was a Knights Templar in Sussex in 1139. [6]

Early History of the Harcourt family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Harcourt research. Another 98 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1714, 1727, 1574, 1631, 1574, 1590, 1609, 1603, 1642, 1661, 1727, 1612, 1673, 1618, 1679 and 1618 are included under the topic Early Harcourt History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Harcourt Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Harcourt, Harcutt, Harker, Harkett and others.

Early Notables of the Harcourt family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Field Marshall Harcourt; and Sir Simon Harcourt, who was Lord Chancellor of England during the reign of George the I (1714-1727). Robert Harcourt (1574?-1631), was an English traveller, born about 1574 at Ellenhall, Staffordshire, was the eldest son of Sir Walter Harcourt of that place and Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire. "He matriculated at Oxford as a gentleman-commoner of St. Alban Hall on 10 April 1590, and continued there about three years. On 23 March 1609, accompanied by his brother Michael and a company of adventurers, he sailed for Guiana. On 11 May he arrived in...
Another 156 words (11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Harcourt Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Harcourt migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Harcourt or a variant listed above were:

Harcourt Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Phill Harcourt, who arrived in Virginia in 1664 [7]
Harcourt Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mich Harcourt, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1751 [7]
  • Mary Harcourt, who settled in New England in 1773
Harcourt Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Anne Harcourt, who arrived in New York, NY in 1815 [7]
  • Richard Harcourt, who landed in New York, NY in 1815 [7]
  • Edward Harcourt, who arrived in Texas in 1836

Australia Harcourt migration to Australia +

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

Harcourt Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Miss Sarah Harcourt, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Experiment" on 4th December 1803, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Mr. Henry Harcourt, English convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Candahar" on 26th March 1842, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [9]

New Zealand Harcourt 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:

Harcourt Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Harcourt, British settler as part of the 8th Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Oriental Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 18th September 1849 [10]
  • Mrs. Ann Harcourt, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Oriental Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 18th September 1849 [10]

West Indies Harcourt migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [11]
Harcourt Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Harcourt, who arrived in Jamaica in 1684

Contemporary Notables of the name Harcourt (post 1700) +

  • William J. Harcourt, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for Circuit Judge in Michigan 3rd Circuit, 1935 [12]
  • Palmer J. Harcourt, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New York, 1972 [12]
  • John W. Harcourt, American politician, Member of New York State Senate 11th District, 1856-57 [12]
  • J. Palmer Harcourt (b. 1907), American Republican politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Albany County 1st District, 1937; Presidential Elector for New York, 1972; Presidential Elector for New York, 1972 [12]
  • Bertram E. Harcourt, American politician, Justice of New York Supreme Court 8th District, 1940 [12]
  • Charles Harcourt (1838-1880), English actor, whose real name was Charles Parker Hillier, born in June 1838
  • Edward Vernon Harcourt (1757-1847), English clergyman who was Bishop of Carlisle from 1791 to 1807, and then Archbishop of York [13]
  • Michael Harcourt, Canadian politician, Premier of British Columbia (1991-1996)
  • Geoffrey Harcourt (b. 1931), Australian Economist
  • Lewis Vernon Harcourt (1863-1922), 1st Viscount Harcourt, British politician
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Harcourt 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: Le bon temps viendra
Motto Translation: The prosperous time will come.


  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  4. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  5. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  7. ^ 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)
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 22nd March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/coromandel-and-experiment
  9. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 9th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/candahar
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 29) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020


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