Josselyn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The notable Josselyn family arose among the Cornish People, a race with a rich Celtic heritage and an indomitable fighting spirit who inhabited the southwest of England. While surnames were well-known during the English medieval period, Cornish People originally used only a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames came into common use is interesting. As the population of medieval Europe multiplied, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Patronymic surnames were derived from given names and were the predominant type of surname among the Celtic peoples of Britain. However, the people of Cornwall provide a surprising exception to this rule, and patronymic surnames are less common among them than other people of Celtic stock, such as their Welsh neighbors. This is due to the greater influence of English bureaucracy and naming practices in Cornwall at the time that surnames first arose. This type of surname blended perfectly with the prevailing Feudal System. One feature that is occasionally found in Cornish surnames of this type is the suffix -oe or -ow; this is derived from the Cornish plural suffix -ow. is a patronymic surname that came from the Germanic personal name Jocelyn, meaning Goth.

Gocelin or Gotselin ( fl. 1099), was an early English "biographer, is said to have been born at or near Terouanne. He was originally a monk in the monastery of St. Bertin, and was brought over to England by Hermann, Bishop of Salisbury (1045-1077), possibly in 1058. He himself states that he accompanied Hermann to Rome shortly before the great council of Rheims (3 Oct. 1049), and as Hermann returned to England soon after Godwin's death." [1]

Jocelin (d. 1199), was Bishop of Glasgow, a monk of Melrose. "After filling the office of prior he was, on 22 April 1170, chosen abbot. On 23 May 1174 he was elected bishop of Glasgow at Perth, and was consecrated at Clairvaux on 1 June 1175 by Eskilus, Archbishop of Lunden in Holstein. " [1]

Jocelin de Brakelond (fl. 1200), was Chronicler of St. Edmunds Abbey, a native of Bury St. Edmunds, where two ancient streets were called Brakelond. [1]

Another Jocelin or Joscelin (fl. 1200), the hagiographer, was a Cistercian monk of the Abbey of Furness in Lancashire, and was one of the monks brought from Furness, towards the close of the twelfth century, by John de Curci to the new monastery founded by him at Down in the north of Ireland. [1]

Early Origins of the Josselyn family

The surname Josselyn was first found in Lanarkshire but one of the first records of the name was Josceline de Bohon (or Joscelyn fitz Richard de Bohon or Joscelin de Bohun) (c. 1111-1184) who was Bishop of Salisbury. His son, Reginald fitz Jocelin (sometimes Reginald Italus, Richard the Lombard, or Reginald Lombardus) was Bishop of Bath and an Archbishop of Canterbury-elect. Jocelin (or Jocelyn) (died 1199) was a twelfth-century Cistercian monk and cleric who became the 4th Abbot of Melrose and later Bishop of Glasgow, Scotland. Another branch was seated at Sempringham in Lincolnshire by grant of William the Conqueror. [2]

Early History of the Josselyn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Josselyn research. Another 119 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1174, 1188, 1296, 1490, 1553, 1596, 1623, 1596, 1616, 1683, 1641, 1683, 1616, 1683, 1641, 1683, 1638, 1675, 1688, 1756, 1739, 1743 and 1797 are included under the topic Early Josselyn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Josselyn Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and 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 of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Jocelyn, Gocelyn, Josselyn, Josselyne and others.

Early Notables of the Josselyn family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was John Josselyn or Jastleyn (c.1490-1553), an English politician. Elizabeth Jocelin (1596-1623), was author of 'The Mother's Legacie to her Unborne Childe,' born in 1596, and was the daughter of Sir Richard Brooke of Norton, Cheshire, and his wife Joan. [1] Ralph Josselin (1616-1683) was an English vicar of Earls Colne in Essex...
Another 57 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Josselyn Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Josselyn family to Ireland

Some of the Josselyn family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 94 words (7 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Josselyn migration to the United States +

Investigation of immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Josselyn:

Josselyn Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Henry Josselyn (died c. 1683), who arrived in New England in 1631 and became deputy governor of the Province of Maine [3]
  • Thomas Josselyn, who arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts in 1637 [3]
  • John Josselyn, who landed in Boston, Massachusetts in 1663 [3]

Contemporary Notables of the name Josselyn (post 1700) +

  • Randy Josselyn (b. 1974), American character actor
  • Paul Reitler Josselyn (b. 1885), American politician, U.S. Consul in Chungking, 1918-21; Shanghai, 1930-34; U.S. Consul General in Hankow, 1934-38; Vancouver, 1940-43 [4]
  • Edward S. Josselyn, American politician, Member of California State Assembly 6th District, 1880-81 [4]
  • John Rodney Josselyn (1926-1964), Scottish Nationalist


The Josselyn 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: Faire mon devoir
Motto Translation: To do my duty.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  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. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 20) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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