Harpur History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

In the Scotland of ancient times, Harpur was a name for a person who occupies the role of "harper". In ancient times the harper was considered an important figurehead whereby Brehon laws stated that the elegance and music of the harp "deserved" a noble status. "In some districts lands were attached to the office as shown by the place names Croit a' Chlarsair, 'the Harper's Croft,' in the parish of Kiltarlity, near Dundonald, Ayrshire, and elsewhere, and the lands of Harperfield in the parish of Lesmahagow are probably of the same origin. " [1]

Early Origins of the Harpur family

The surname Harpur was first found in Lennox, Scotland. Several individuals named Harper appear in the Ragman Roll as having rendered homage in 1296 to King Edward I of England: "William le Harpur of La Lawe, of the county of Edinburgh; Uctins le Harpur of the county of Lanerk, a tenant of William of Moravia; Robert le Harper of the county of Are; Johan le Harpur of the county of Berewyk, and Rogier le Harpur of Hom', also of the county of Berewyk, ere the others named in the record." [1]

Farther south in England, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Henry le Harpur, Cambridgeshire; Ralph le Harpur, Oxfordshire; and Nicholas le Harpur, Cambridgeshire. [2]

In Somerset, Adam le Harper and Thomas le Harpour were both recorded there 1 Edward III (during the first year of the reign of King Edward III.) [3]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Willelmus Harper; and Rogerus Harper. [2]

Early History of the Harpur family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Harpur research. Another 197 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1603, 1100, 1579, 1639, 1700, 1680, 1741, 1496, 1496, 1574, 1566, 1585, 1638, 1616, 1669, 1645, 1681, 1679, 1741 and are included under the topic Early Harpur History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Harpur Spelling Variations

Medieval spelling was at best an intuitive process, and translation between Gaelic and English was no more effective. These factors caused an enormous number of spelling variations in Dalriadan names. In fact, it was not uncommon to see a father and son who spelled their name differently. Over the years, Harpur has been spelled Harper, Harpur, Harpar, Harepur and others.

Early Notables of the Harpur family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan from early times was Henry Harper, High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1496; Sir William Harpur (c.1496-1574), English merchant from Bedford who moved to London, became Lord Mayor of London and in 1566 he and his wife Dame Alice created...
Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Harpur Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Harpur family to Ireland

Some of the Harpur family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 72 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Australia Harpur migration to Australia +

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

Harpur Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. James Harpur, English convict who was convicted in Northampton, Northamptonshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Canton" on 20th September 1839, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [4]
  • Elijah Harpur, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "David Malcolm" in 1849 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Harpur (post 1700) +

  • Robert Harpur (1731-1825), American teacher, politician, pioneer, and landowner
  • Robert Harpur, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from New York County, 1777-84 [6]
  • Charles William Harpur, American politician, Representative from California 33rd District, 2000 [6]
  • Thomas William "Tom" Harpur (1929-2017), Canadian author, broadcaster, columnist and theologian
  • Sir Henry Harpur (1708-1748), 5th Baronet
  • Sir Henry Harpur (1739-1789), 6th Baronet, an English Tory politician
  • Charles Harpur (1813-1868), Australian poet from Windsor, New South Wales
  • Sir Henry Harpur (1763-1819), 7th Baronet who died in a coaching accident when he was thrown from his carriage and landed on his head
  • Henry Harpur Spry (1804-1842), English writer on India, born at Truro, son of Jeffery or Geoffry Spry (d. 1829) of the excise
  • Henry Harpur Crewe (1828-1883), English clergyman and naturalist


The Harpur 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: Et suavis et fortis
Motto Translation: Pleasant and brave.


  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. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/canton
  5. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) DAVID MALCOLM 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849DavidMalcolm.htm
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 7) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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