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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: Dutch, English, German, Scottish


Ness was first used as a surname by descendants of the Pictish people of ancient Scotland. The ancestors of the Ness family lived in any of a number of places called Ness, in Scotland and England. In this case, the surname Ness comes from the Old English word, ness, which means headland. Thus, the surname Ness means someone "from the headland." However, some references claim the name came from the Gaelic personal name Ness.

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The surname Ness was first found in Fife, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the early census rolls taken by the early Kings of Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Repeated and inaccurate translation of Scottish names from Gaelic to English and back resulted in a wide variety of spelling variations with single names. Ness has appeared Ness, Nesse, Nessan, Neeson and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ness research. Another 170 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1093, 1153, 1160, 1180, and 1260 are included under the topic Early Ness History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Ness Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Ness family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 123 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many Scottish families suffered enormous hardships and were compelled to leave their country of birth. They traveled to Ireland and Australia, but mostly to the colonies of North America, where many found the freedom and opportunity they sought. It was not without a fight, though, as many were forced to stand up and defend their freedom in the American War of Independence. The ancestors of these Scots abroad have rediscovered their heritage in the last century through the Clan societies and other organizations that have sprung up across North America. Immigration and passenger ship lists show some important early immigrants bearing the name Ness:

Ness Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • An Cath. Ness, who settled in New York in 1710
  • Georg Wilhelm Ness, who came to New York, NY sometime between 1710 and 1714
  • Ann Cath. Ness went to New York, NY in the fall of 1710 and was given aid by the British Government to survive her first winter there, a debt which she, among hundreds of others, did not repay
  • An Cath Ness, who arrived in New York, NY in 1710
  • Mathias Ness and his wife Maria Barbara settled in Philadelphia with their six sons in 1731


Ness Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • Mrs. Ann Ness U.E. who settled in Carleton, [Saint John West] New Brunswick c. 1784
  • Lieut. John Ness U.E. born in Yorkshire, England who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 he served in the Prince of Wales American Regiment, he died in 1799

Ness Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • James Ness, aged 16, a moulder, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "James Jardine"
  • Paul Ness, aged 15, a moulder, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "James Jardine"
  • Angus Ness, aged 4, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "James Jardine"
  • Hugh Ness, aged 9, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "James Jardine"
  • Mrs. Janet Ness, aged 39, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1859 aboard the ship "James Jardine"


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  • Mike Ness (b. 1962), American guitarist and vocalist
  • Don Ness, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Minnesota, 2000; Elected Mayor of Duluth, Minnesota 2011
  • Frank C. Ness, American Democrat politician, Postmaster at Lake Grove, New York, 1947
  • Julius B. Ness, American politician, Member of South Carolina State Senate from Bamberg County, 1957-58; Circuit Judge in South Carolina 2nd Circuit; Elected 1958
  • Laurie Ness, American politician, Mayor of Pipestone, Minnesota; Elected 2012
  • Susan Ness, American Democrat politician, Member, Federal Communications Commission, 1994-2001
  • Thomas Ness, American politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Michigan 12th District, 2000
  • James Peter Van Ness (1808-1872), American politician, Mayor of San Francisco, California, 1855-56; Member of California State Senate, 1871
  • Jacob Van Ness, American politician, Postmaster at Poughkeepsie, New York, 1819-21
  • Hugh Van Ness, American Democrat politician, Candidate for supervisor of Bedford Township, Monroe County, Michigan, 1940

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  1. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  2. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  3. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  4. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  5. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  7. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Scots Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Mordern Application of the Art and Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
  8. Skene, William Forbes Edition. Chronicles of the Picts, Chronicles of the Scots and Other Early Memorials of Scottish History. Edinburgh: H.M. General Register House, 1867. Print.
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The Ness Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ness Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 2 March 2016 at 14:31.

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