Help History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Help reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Help family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name Help is based on the Old English personal name Helps, which is thought to be a shortened form of a longer name such as Helpric, or some other name with the first element help, meaning aid or assist. It is also possible that the name is of metronymic descent and derives from the Old Norse female personal name Hialp. [1]

Evidence for both of these theories exists, but time has confused the two derivations and etymologists now disagree on which is appropriate in any given instance.

Early Origins of the Help family

The surname Help was first found in Lincolnshire where Helpe Arbalistarius was the first recording in the Pipe Rolls of 1181. Walter Help was later listed in Northumberland in 1230. Over one hundred years later, Gilbert Helpe was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Suffol in 1327. [1]

Interestingly, the same author notes that Simon Helpusgod who was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296, presumably derived his name from 'may God help us." [1]

Turning back the clock for a moment, one author presumes that name was actually Norman as he notes that the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae lists Hugo de Helpe, Normandy, 1180-95. [2]

Early History of the Help family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Help research. Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Help History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Help Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Help are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Help include Helps, Help and others.

Early Notables of the Help family (pre 1700)

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

Migration of the Help family

Faced with the chaos present in England at that time, many English families looked towards the open frontiers of the New World with its opportunities to escape oppression and starvation. People migrated to North America, as well as Australia and Ireland in droves, paying exorbitant rates for passages in cramped, unsafe ships. Many of the settlers did not make the long passage alive, but those who did see the shores of North America were welcomed with great opportunity. Many of the families that came from England went on to make essential contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Help, or a variant listed above: Jacob Helps settled in Philadelphia in 1753; Alexander Helps settled in Passamaquodey in Maine in 1823.



The Help 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: Auxilia auxilliis
Motto Translation: Assistance to help


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ 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)


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