Show ContentsInnis History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Innis emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Flemish surnames of this type frequently are prefixed by de la or de le, which mean of the or from the. The Innis family originally lived in either of the places called Ince in Cheshire and Lancashire, in the settlement of Innes in Cornwall, or in the barony of Innes in Urquhart. The surname Innis belongs to the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Innis family

The surname Innis was first found in the parish of Saltash, Cornwall. "Ince, or Innes, was at an early period in moieties between John de Innes, and Thomas de Stonehouse." [1]

Early History of the Innis family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Innis research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 129 and 1296 are included under the topic Early Innis History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Innis Spelling Variations

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Innes, Innis (Gaelic), Innice, Inniss and others.

Early Notables of the Innis family (pre 1700)

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

Innis Ranking

In the United States, the name Innis is the 10,892nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

United States Innis migration to the United States +

Discovered in the immigration and passenger lists were a number of people bearing the name Innis:

Innis Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Innis, who landed in Maryland in 1679 [3]
Innis Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Simon Innis, who was on record in Virginia in 1754
Innis Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Innis, who arrived in New York, NY in 1817 [3]

Canada Innis migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Innis Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Robert Innis, who landed in Pictou, Nova Scotia in 1773

Australia Innis migration to Australia +

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

Innis Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Innis, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Dauntless" in 1840 [4]

New Zealand Innis 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:

Innis Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • James Innis, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Tyne
  • Mr. James Innis, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Tyne" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 9th August 1841 [5]
  • Mr. Thomas Innis, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th November 1856 [6]
  • Mrs. Innis, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th November 1856 [6]
  • Miss Innis, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Joseph Fletcher" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 8th November 1856 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Innis (post 1700) +

  • Jeffrey David "Jeff" Innis (1962-2022), American Major League Baseball pitcher, nicknamed "I-Man", he played for the New York Mets from 1987 to 1993
  • William Thompson Innis (1826-1901), American farmer and politician who served in the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1877
  • Roy Innis (b. 1934), American National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, father of Niger Roy Innis
  • Niger Innis (b. 1968), American National Spokesperson for the Congress of Racial Equality
  • Harold Adams Innis (1894-1952), Canadian political economy professor at the University of Toronto, one of Canada's outstanding economic historians
  • Hubert Van Innis (1866-1961), Belgian six time gold and three time silver Olympic medalist for archery during 1900 and 1920 games
  • Innis O'Rourke, American politician, Mayor of Kings Point, New York, 1947 [7]

The Innis 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: Prudentia et vi
Motto Translation: Be faithful.

  1. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. 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)
  4. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) DAUNTLESS 1840. Retrieved from
  5. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from
  6. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  7. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, February 9) . Retrieved from on Facebook