Nelms History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Anglo-Saxon name Nelms comes from the family having resided as dwellers by the elms. The name means at the elms from the residence beside a clump of elm-trees.

Early Origins of the Nelms family

The surname Nelms was first found in Lancashire where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Early History of the Nelms family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nelms research. Another 178 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1316, 1317, 1339, 1356, 1646, and 1705 are included under the topic Early Nelms History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nelms Spelling Variations

Nelms has been spelled many different ways. Before English spelling became standardized over the last few hundred years, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. As the English language changed in the Middle Ages, absorbing pieces of Latin and French, as well as other languages, the spelling of people's names also changed considerably, even over a single lifetime. Spelling variants included: Elms, Elmes and others.

Early Notables of the Nelms family (pre 1700)

Another 30 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nelms Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nelms Ranking

In the United States, the name Nelms is the 4,242nd most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [1]


United States Nelms migration to the United States +

In an attempt to escape the chaos experienced in England, many English families boarded overcrowded and diseased ships sailing for the shores of North America and other British colonies. Those families hardy enough, and lucky enough, to make the passage intact were rewarded with land and a social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families became important contributors to the young colonies in which they settled. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Nelmss to arrive on North American shores:

Nelms Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Robert E. Nelms, aged 18, who arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Pesaro" from Genoa, Italy [2]
  • Agnese Carter Nelms, aged 29, arrived in New York in 1919 aboard the ship "Mauretania" from Southampton, England [3]
  • Haywood Nelms, aged 29, arrived in New York in 1920 aboard the ship "Imperator" from Liverpool, England [4]
  • Robert Nelms, aged 20, who arrived in New York in 1920 aboard the ship "Huron" from Dominican Ports via Turks Island [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Nelms (post 1700) +

  • Michael Craig Nelms (b. 1955), former American football defensive back who played in the CFL and NFL
  • Jason Nelms (b. 1980), American two-time gold medalist Paralympic wheelchair basketball player
  • David W. Nelms (b. 1961), American businessman, CEO of Discover Financial
  • Cory Nelms (b. 1988), former American football cornerback who played from 2011 to 2013
  • Charlie Nelms, American educator and administrator, 10th Chancellor of North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina
  • George H. Nelms (1905-1999), English-born, Canadian politician, Mayor of Ottawa, Ontario (1957-1960)


  1. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  2. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J67J-Y6F : 6 December 2014), Robert E. Nelms, 14 May 1919; citing departure port Genoa, arrival port New York, ship name Pesaro, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  3. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J64P-6NB : 6 December 2014), Agnese Carter Nelms, 25 Dec 1919; citing departure port Southampton, arrival port New York, ship name Mauretania, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  4. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J6CR-X6F : 6 December 2014), Haywood Nelms, 02 Mar 1920; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Imperator, 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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J66H-M2W : 6 December 2014), Robert Nelms, 29 Oct 1920; citing departure port Dominican Ports via Turks Island, arrival port New York, ship name Huron, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).


Houseofnames.com on Facebook