Heron History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancient name Heron 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 person who was long legged or of tall stature. The name Heron is derived from the Old English word heiroun, which meant heron.

Alternatively, the name originated in Heron, near Rouen in Normandy and some of the family arrived with William the Conqueror. "Tihel de Herioun was of Essex, 1086. [1] Odenel Heron, temp. William Rufus (third son of William the Conqueror), witnessed a charter in Durham. " [2]

Early Origins of the Heron family

The surname Heron was first found in Northumberland at Thornton, a township, in the parish of Norham, union of Berwick-upon-Tweed. "This place was the manor and residence of a family named Heron." [3]

"Sir John Hairun entered England with the Conqueror, and was possessed of Ford Castle, and a very good estate. There is a commune in the arrondissement of Rouen called Le Heron, but it does not appear whether this was the cradle of the race." [4]

"From this adventurer sprang the warlike race of Heron, so celebrated in Border feud and Border minstrelsy. In 1100, they possessed by grant from Henry I., the Barony of Heron in Northumberland, and in 1166, exactly a century after their Norman ancestor set foot in England, Jordan Hairun is named in the Liber niger Scuccarii, amongst the knights then enjoying great estates in the north. In the reign of henry III., the marriage of William Heriun, Governor of Bamborough Castle, with the daughter and heir of Odonel de Ford, transplanted the family to the lands of her inheritance and there - at Ford Castle - they continued in high repute for several generations, William Heron of Ford being summoned to parliament as a Baron in 1371. " [5]

Exploring the parish of Ford, Northumberland more we found this entry: "On the western side of the village is Ford Castle, erected in 1287 by Sir William Heron, and rebuilt by the late Lord Delaval; two towers, the remains of the former castle, are retained in the present structure. The castle was demolished by the Scots in 1385." [3]

Further to the north in Scotland, "the old family of Heron in the Stewertry claim descent from the Herons of Chipchase who appear in Northumberland in the eleventh century. " [6]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 include: Ricardus Herun; Emma Herun; and Agnes Herun. [7]

We did find this interesting anecdote: "Sir William Heron, Sheriff of Northumberland 17 Hen. VIII., was the father of the beautiful Elizabeth, who detained James IV. at Ford, so as to give the Earl of Surrey time and opportunity for advancing towards the Borders with a large army: From its strong position, commanding the bridge over the river Till, the castle had been a constant bone of contention between the English and Scots; and was entirely demolished by the latter in 1385: but its most memorable capture was by King James in 1513, for it thus became for ever associated with 'the tale of Flodden, that is written in blood on every Scottish heart.'" [2]

Early History of the Heron family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Heron research. Another 261 words (19 lines of text) covering the years 1150, 1178, 1292, 1321, 1330, 1329, 1526, 1505, 1607, 1680, 1734, 1688, 1565, 1585, 1565, 1795, 1865 and are included under the topic Early Heron History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Heron Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Herron, Heron and others.

Early Notables of the Heron family (pre 1700)

Another 45 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Heron Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Heron Ranking

In the United States, the name Heron is the 7,833rd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [8] However, in France, the name Heron is ranked the 1,953rd most popular surname with an estimated 3,179 people with that name. [9]

Ireland Migration of the Heron family to Ireland

Some of the Heron family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Heron migration to the United States +

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Heron or a variant listed above:

Heron Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Heron, aged 18, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [10]
Heron Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Ben j Heron, who arrived in North Carolina in 1770 [10]
Heron Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Heron, aged 22, who landed in Rhode Island in 1812 [10]
  • Alexander Heron, aged 33, who landed in Maryland in 1813 [10]
  • Matthew Heron, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1842 [10]
  • George Heron, who arrived in Arkansas in 1860 [10]
  • Patrick Heron, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1867 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Heron Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Andrew Heron, aged 32, who settled in America from Donegal, in 1906
  • Albert Heron, aged 30, who landed in America from London, England, in 1907
  • Andrew Heron, aged 39, who landed in America, in 1907
  • Catherine Heron, aged 19, who immigrated to the United States from Upperlands, Ireland, in 1911
  • Annie Heron, aged 21, who landed in America from Cloonelly, Ireland, in 1911
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Heron migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Heron Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Andrew Heron U.E. who settled in Fredericksburgh [Greater Napanee], Ontario c. 1786 [11]
Heron Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Francis Heron, who landed in Canada in 1812
  • James Heron, who arrived in Canada in 1812
  • James Heron, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1837
  • Miss. Mary Heron, aged 18 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Aberdeen" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle In June 1847 [12]
  • Mr. Patrick Heron, aged 14 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "George" departing from the port of Liverpool, England but died on Grosse Isle In June 1847 [12]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Heron Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Alexander Jones Heron, aged 28, who immigrated to Hamilton, Canada, in 1912

Australia Heron migration to Australia +

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

Heron Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Heron, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Agamemnon" on April 22, 1820, settling in New South Wales, Australia [13]
  • James Heron, a shoemaker, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • James Heron, a dyer, who arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania) sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • Mr. William Heron, (b. 1803), aged 30, English seaman who was convicted in Sussex, England for life for returning from transportation, transported aboard the "Aurora" on 3rd November 1833, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [14]
  • Frederick Heron, aged 19, a joiner, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Dirigo" [15]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Heron 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:

Heron Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Alexander Heron, British labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Grasmere" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 4th May 1855 [16]
  • Mr. John Heron, British labourer travelling from London aboard the ship "Grasmere" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 4th May 1855 [16]
  • Miss Mary Heron, (b. 1834), aged 22, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 2nd July 1856 [17]
  • Mr. Robert Heron, (b. 1837), aged 19, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Sir Edward Paget" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 2nd July 1856 [17]
  • Mr. George Heron, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Egmont" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 14th June 1858 [16]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Heron 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. [18]
Heron Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • John Heron, who settled in Barbados in 1635
  • Mr. John Heron, (b. 1615), aged 20, British settler travelling aboard the ship "Expedition" arriving in Barbados in 1636 [19]

Contemporary Notables of the name Heron (post 1700) +

  • Blake Heron (1982-2017), American screen actor, best known for his starring role as Marty Preston in the 1996 film Shiloh
  • John M. Heron, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Redding, 1828 [20]
  • James R. Heron (b. 1899), American Democratic Party politician, Speaker of the Arizona State House of Representatives, 1941-42 [20]
  • Gil-Scott Heron (b. 1949), American poet and civil rights activist
  • Patrick Heron (1920-1999), Cornish abstract painter
  • John Heron (b. 1928), English social scientist
  • Francis Heron (1853-1914), English footballer
  • Hubert Heron (1852-1914), English footballer
  • Patrick Heron (1952-2014), Irish author
  • Mike Heron (b. 1942), Scottish musician and composer


The Heron 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: Nil desperandum
Motto Translation: Never despairing.


  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  6. ^ 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)
  7. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  8. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  9. ^ http://www.journaldesfemmes.com/nom-de-famille/nom/
  10. ^ 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)
  11. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  12. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 33)
  13. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Agamemnon voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1820 with 179 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agamemnon/1820
  14. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 20th August 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/aurora
  15. ^ South Australian Register Thursday 23rd November 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Dirigo 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/dirigo1854.shtml.
  16. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  17. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  18. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  19. ^ Pilgrim Ship Lists Early 1600's retrieved 29th September 2021. (Retrieved from https://www.packrat-pro.com/ships/shiplist.htm)
  20. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, May 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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