Show ContentsHeather History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient roots of the Heather family name are in the Anglo-Saxon culture. The name Heather comes from when the family lived on a heath, which is an area of level, uncultivated land with poor, coarse, undrained soil and rich deposits of peat or peaty humus. The surname Heather belongs to the class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.

Early Origins of the Heather family

The surname Heather was first found in Durham where it was first listed as Atte-Hethe, Apud Hethe and Del la Hethe in the Rotuli Hundredorum of 1279. [1] The name was denoted for someone who lived on or by a heath, typically filled with heather. [2] Kirby's Quest for Somerset listed Adam atte Hethe and John atte Hethe during the reign of Edward III. [3]

Later in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, Robert del Heth was listed. Thomas Atte-Hethe was rector of Ringstead Parva, Norfolk in 1376 and Ralph atte Heythe was rector of Rockland Tofts, Norfolk in 1398. [4]

Robert Heete or Robert of Woodstock (d. 1428), was an early "canonist and civilian, presumably a native of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, became scholar of Winchester College in 1401, and in due course scholar of New College, Oxford, where he graduated M.A. and LL.B. " [5]

Early History of the Heather family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Heather research. Another 105 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1577, 1585, 1575, 1649, 1575, 1629, 1664, 1629, 1583, 1567, 1615, 1600, 1599, 1643, 1599, 1501, 1578, 1501, 1629, 1664, 1661, 1704, 1766, 1704, 1672 and 1728 are included under the topic Early Heather History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Heather Spelling Variations

One relatively recent invention that did much to standardize English spelling was the printing press. However, before its invention even the most literate people recorded their names according to sound rather than spelling. The spelling variations under which the name Heather has appeared include Heath, Hethe and others.

Early Notables of the Heather family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Robert Heath (1575-1649), Attorney General of England, and founder of North Carolina and South Carolina. He was the son of Robert Heath of Brasted, Kent, a member of the Inner Temple and was born at Brasted on 20 May 1575. [5] James Heath (1629-1664), was a historian, son of Robert Heath, the king's cutler, who lived in the Strand, was born in London in 1629, and educated in Westminster School. [5] Thomas Heath (fl. 1583), was an English mathematician, born in London and was admitted probationer fellow of All Souls, Oxford, in 1567. [5] John...
Another 129 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Heather Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Heather Ranking

In New Zealand, the name Heather is the 617th most popular surname with an estimated 1,155 people with that name. [6]

Ireland Migration of the Heather family to Ireland

Some of the Heather family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Heather migration to the United States +

At this time, the shores of the New World beckoned many English families that felt that the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. Thousands left England at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. A great portion of these settlers never survived the journey and even a greater number arrived sick, starving, and without a penny. The survivors, however, were often greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. These English settlers made significant contributions to those colonies that would eventually become the United States and Canada. An examination of early immigration records and passenger ship lists revealed that people bearing the name Heather arrived in North America very early:

Heather Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Richard Heather, who arrived in Virginia in 1640 [7]
Heather Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Heather, aged 20, who landed in New York in 1812 [7]
  • John Heather, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County Pennsylvania in 1872 [7]
  • Mr. John Heather, (b. 1872), aged 21, Cornish miner from Camborne, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Nevada" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 26th April 1893 en route to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA [8]
Heather Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Mr. William Henry Heather, (b. 1864), aged 36, Cornish miner from Camborne, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Campania" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 21st January 1900 en route to Bisbay Camp, Arizona, USA [8]
  • Mr. James Heather, (b. 1882), aged 21, Cornish miner travelling aboard the ship "New York" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 2nd August 1903 en route to Ishpeming, Michigan, USA [8]
  • Mr. Joseph Heather, (b. 1886), aged 18, Cornish carpenter travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 1st October 1904 en route to La Salle, Illinois, USA [8]
  • Mr. Silvanus Heather, (b. 1884), aged 20, Cornish carpenter travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York on 11th June 1904 en route to Globe, Arizona, USA [8]
  • Mr. Thomas D Heather, (b. 1886), aged 19, Cornish miner from Camborne, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Philadelphia" arriving at Ellis Island, New York in 1905 en route to Calumet, Michigan, USA [8]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Heather migration to Australia +

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

Heather Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Heather, British Convict who was convicted in Kent, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Caledonia" on 5th July 1820, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • Mr. James Heather, (b. 1818), aged 24, English farm labourer who was convicted in Newington, London, England for 10 years for house breaking, transported aboard the "Earl Grey" on 4th October 1842, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land), he died in 1895 [10]
  • Alfred Heather, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Constant" in 1849 [11]

New Zealand Heather 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:

Heather Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • D H Heather, who landed in Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mr Heather, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840 aboard the ship Nimrod
  • Mr. Arthur Heather, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Harwood" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 4th November 1858 [12]
  • Arthur Heather, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1861

West Indies Heather 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. [13]
Heather Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Edward Heather, aged 25, who arrived in Barbados in 1683 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Heather (post 1700) +

  • Scott Heather (b. 1975), American college baseball head coach of the Bucknell Bison
  • Sean Heather (b. 1982), English cricketer
  • Roy Heather (1935-2014), English television actor, known for his roles in Time Gentlemen Please (2000), Only Fools and Horses.... (1981) and Experience Preferred... But Not Essential (1982)
  • Adam Tom Heather (b. 1972), English professional cricketer from Manchester, Lancashire
  • Bede Vincent Heather (1928-2021), Australian Roman Catholic titular bishop of Obbi and auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, from 1979 to 1986
  • Mr. David James Heather M.B.E., British Headteacher for Pulford Church of England VA Lower School in Bedfordshire, was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire on 8th June 2018, for services to Education [14]
  • William Kati "Smiley" Heather (b. 1958), Cook Islands politician, Deputy Leader of the Democratic party in 2012
  • Teariki William Heather (b. 1959), Deputy Prime Minister of the Cook Islands
  • Peter Heather (b. 1960), British historian of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, Professor of Medieval History at King's College London
  • Larry R. Heather, Canadian political candidate for the Christian Heritage Party of Canada in Calgary, Alberta

HMS Cornwall
  • Ronald Charles William Heather (d. 1942), British Able Seaman aboard the HMS Cornwall when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]
HMS Royal Oak
  • Charles Walter Heather (1907-1939), British Able Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [16]

The Heather 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: Espere mieux
Motto Translation: Hope for better.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges, A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8)
  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. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. "Most Common Last Names in New Zealand." Forebears,
  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. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 25th November 2020). Retrieved from
  10. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 16th August 2021). Retrieved from
  11. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The CONSTANT 1849. Retrieved from
  12. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  14. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 4 July 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018,
  15. Force Z Survivors Crew List HMS Cornwall (Retrieved 2018, February 13th) - Retrieved from
  16. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from on Facebook