Litle History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Although the most natural origin to attribute this name to is of the original bearer's diminutive size, and many genealogists make this error, the name is actually derived from the manor of Liddel, in Cumberland England.

Early Origins of the Litle family

The surname Litle was first found in Northumberland, where Eadric Litle was listed as on Old English Byname in 972. From this early Saxon entry, we move to Suffolk to find Lefstan Litle listed at Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk c. 1095. Later in Sussex, Thomas le Lytle was found in the Subsidy Rolls on 1296. [1]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 had the following entries with older spellings: William le Letle, Oxfordshire; Wiscard Litil, Huntingdonshire; John le Litle, Berkshire; and Julian Litel, Cambridgeshire. All held land in their respective shires at that time. [2]

But Scotland is where the lion's share of the family claim descent. And there, the first record was of John Litill who served on an inquest at Lanark, 1313. An agreement was made between the abbot of Scone and Robertus dictus Lytil in 1332 and in 1351, Martin Litill, who witnessed a charter by William, dominus vallis de Ledell, of the lands of Abirdowyr in Fife is probably Martin Lytill who in 1358 possessed the land of Cardvyn. Nichol Litil was one of the 'borowis for the earl of Douglas's bounds of the West March in 1368 and Adam Lityll was a tenant of the Douglas in the barony of Kilbucho in 1376.

"The Littles occupied the lower part of Upper Eskdale and a portion of Ewesdale, and were recorded in 1587 as one of the unruly clans in the West March." [3]

The Little Clan territory followed the banks of the River Esk and part of Ewarsdale, and their immediate neighbors were the Armstrongs, Elliots and Beatties. Adam Lityll was a tenant of the Douglas Clan in the barony of Kilbucho in 1376. A branch also moved further northward to Aberdeen, but the main branch of the Clan remained around Roxburghshire.

By 1350, they had become an established Clan closely affiliated to the Douglases and their territories were located in the Scottish West Marches, approximately twenty miles due north of Carlisle.

Early History of the Litle family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Litle research. Another 225 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1376, 1426, 1448, 1580 and are included under the topic Early Litle History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Litle Spelling Variations

Before the printing press standardized spelling in the last few hundred years, no general rules existed in the English language. Spelling variations in Scottish names from the Middle Ages are common even within a single document. Litle has been spelled Little, Littel, Littell and others.

Early Notables of the Litle family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Litle family to Ireland

Some of the Litle family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 75 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Litle migration to the United States +

For Scottish immigrants, the great expense of travel to North America did not seem such a problem in those unstable times. Acres of land awaited them and many got the chance to fight for their freedom in the American War of Independence. These Scots and their ancestors went on to play important roles in the forging of the great nations of the United States and Canada. Among them:

Litle Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Arthur Litle, who landed in Maryland in 1679 [4]

Contemporary Notables of the name Litle (post 1700) +

  • John D. Litle, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Michigan, 1980, 1996 [5]


The Litle 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: Magnum in parvo
Motto Translation: Great things in a little


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 4) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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