Show ContentsMiser History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The distinguished surname Miser originated in Cornwall, a region of southwest England that is celebrated in the Arthurian romances of the Middle Ages. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. As the population of Europe burgeoned, 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. Despite the fact that occupational surnames are rare among the Cornish People, they nevertheless sometimes adopted surnames derived from the type of work they did. The surname Miser was an occupational name for a harvester having derived from the Old French word messier, meaning harvester or reaper.

Early Origins of the Miser family

The surname Miser was first found in Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, where they held a family seat some say, before the Norman Conquest of England in 1066 A.D. by Duke William of Normandy at the Battle of Hastings.

As with many families from the Channel Islands, the name is a unique mixture of French and English words. And many migrated to Newfoundland where today the largest number of the family reside. Most hail from Sandy Point (St. George's Bay), Newfoundland. One of the first found was Captain Masservey of Harbour Grace in 1760. [1]

Early History of the Miser family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Miser research. Another 151 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1685, 1760, 1861, 1928 and 1760 are included under the topic Early Miser History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Miser 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 Messervy, Messerwy, Messervey, Misservy, Misservey, Meserwy, Messerwey, Messewey, Messewy, Messarmy, Messarmey, Masservy, Masserwy, Messerly and many more.

Early Notables of the Miser family (pre 1700)

Another 27 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Miser Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Miser Ranking

In the United States, the name Miser is the 17,231st most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [2]

United States Miser migration to the United States +

Misers were some of the first of the immigrants to arrive in North America:

Miser Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Miser, who landed in Virginia in 1655 [3]
Miser Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Peter Miser, who arrived in Somerset County, Pennsylvania in 1834 [3]
  • Matheus Miser, aged 32, who arrived in New York City, New York in 1892 aboard the ship "Taormina (1884)" from Hamburg, Germany [4]
  • Lina Miser, aged 19, who arrived in New York in 1895 aboard the ship "Kensington" from Antwerp, Belgium [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Miser (post 1700) +

  • Pete Miser (b. 1971), born Peter Aaron Ho, an Asian-American Hip Hop rapper and producer living in New York City

The Miser 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: Au valeureux coeur rien impossible
Motto Translation: To the valiant heart, nothing is impossible.

  1. Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland Montreal: McGill's-Queen's University Press 1998. Print. (ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  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. "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014), Matheus Miser, 03 Feb 1892; citing departure port Hamburg, arrival port New York City, New York, New York, ship name Taormina (1884), NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  5. "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014), Lina Miser, 07 Nov 1895; citing departure port Antwerp, arrival port New York, ship name Kensington, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.). on Facebook