Nisbet History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Nisbet family lived in any of several places in the Border region of Scotland called Nesbitt or Nisbit. There were hamlets of East Nisbet and West Nisbet in Berwickshire, a village of Nisbet in Roxburghshire, a Nesbit in Northumberland, and a township of Nesbit in County Durham. [1] These place names derive from the Middle English words nese, meaning "nose," and bit, meaning a "piece of ground;" as such, these place names are thought to have referred to geographic features resembling a nose. The surname may well have arisen independently from these different place names.

Early Origins of the Nisbet family

The surname Nisbet was first found in Berwickshire an ancient county of Scotland, presently part of the Scottish Borders Council Area, located in the eastern part of the Borders Region of Scotland where they held a family seat from early times and King David I confirmed a charter (now in the archives of Durham Cathedral) granting the lands of Nisbet to Aldan de Nisbet, the founder of the line of Nisbet in 1139. According to family lore, they descend from Gospatric, Earl of Northumbria (d. 1073).

The family is "from the old barony of Nesbit in the parish of Edrom, Berwickshire. William de Nesebite witnessed a confirmation of the town lands of Nesbite to the Priory of Coldingham by Patrick, first Earl of Dunbar (Raine, 116), Dominus Robert de Nesbit, miles, witnessed a charter by William de Horuirden to the Abbey of Kelso, c. 1160-1200." [2]

Early History of the Nisbet family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nisbet research. Another 308 words (22 lines of text) covering the years 1255, 1296, 1340, 1433, 1446, 1456, 1493, 1594, 1632, 1580, 1660, 1630, 1641, 1559, 1605, 1625, 1627, 1685, 1657, 1725, 1609, 1687, 1664, 1677 and are included under the topic Early Nisbet History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nisbet Spelling Variations

Over the years, Nisbet has been written It appears under these variations because medieval scribes spelled names according to sound rather than by any over-arching set of rules. Nisbet, Nysbit, Nispett, Nispet, Nisbit, Nisbett, Nessbitt, Nessbit, Nesbyth, Nesbitt, Naibet, Nesbeth, Nesbet, Naisbitt, Naisbit, Nesbett, Naisbett, Naibett and many more.

Early Notables of the Nisbet family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family name during their early history was Murdoch Nisbet (d. 1559) of Ayrshire, a notary public in the diocese of Glasgow, best known for his Scots translations of the Bible. Philip Nesbit, of that Ilk was knighted in March 1605 by the Earl of Dunfermline, Lord Chancellor of Scotland; he represented Berwickshire...
Another 53 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nisbet Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nisbet Ranking

In the United States, the name Nisbet is the 12,762nd most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [3]

Ireland Migration of the Nisbet family to Ireland

Some of the Nisbet family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 92 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 Nisbet migration to the United States +

When these Boernician-Scottish settlers arrived in North America they brought little with them and often had restart their lives from scratch. Through time, much of their heritage was lost, and it is only this century through Clan societies and highland games that many have recovered their national heritage. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Nisbet family to immigrate North America:

Nisbet Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mungo Nisbet, who arrived in Boston in 1695
Nisbet Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Nisbet, who arrived in Virginia in 1716 [4]
  • Robert Nisbet, who settled in Charles Town in 1772
  • Charles Nisbet, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1785 [4]
Nisbet Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • David Nisbet, who landed in America in 1803 [4]
  • James Nisbet, who landed in South Carolina in 1811 [4]
  • John Nisbet, aged 33, who arrived in South Carolina in 1812 [4]
  • Robert Nisbet, who landed in New York in 1838 [4]
  • Alexander Nisbet, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1838 [4]

Australia Nisbet migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Nisbet Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. George Nisbet, Scottish convict who was convicted in Edinburgh, Scotland for life, transported aboard the "Countess of Harcourt" on 8th April 1821, arriving in Tasmania ( Van Diemen's Land) [5]

New Zealand Nisbet migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Nisbet Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Thomas Nisbet, aged 31, a sawyer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bengal Merchant" in 1840
  • John Nisbet, aged 40, a farmer, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Bengal Merchant" in 1840
  • John Nisbet, aged 34, a farm labourer, who arrived in Otago aboard the ship "Mariner" in 1849
  • Miss Agnes Nisbet, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Three Bells" arriving in Dunedin, Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 13th July 1858 [6]
  • Mr. James Nisbet, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Storm Cloud" arriving in Bluff, Southland, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1862 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Nisbet migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [7]
Nisbet Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Robert Nisbet, who arrived in Barbados in 1635

Contemporary Notables of the name Nisbet (post 1700) +

  • Robert Nisbet (1913-1996), American sociologist
  • Judge Alexander Nisbet (1777-1857), Scottish-born, American judge in the City of Baltimore
  • Stuart Nisbet (b. 1934), American actor
  • Eugenius Aristides Nisbet (1803-1871), American politician, jurist, and lawyer, member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia
  • James W. Nisbet, American politician, Member of South Dakota State House of Representatives 10th District, 1943-44 [8]
  • James A. Nisbet, American politician, Mayor of Macon, Georgia, 1844-45 [8]
  • Eugenius Aristides Nisbet (1803-1871), American politician, Member of Georgia State House of Representatives, 1827-30; Member of Georgia State Senate, 1830-37; U.S. Representative from Georgia at-large, 1839-41 [8]
  • Eugene G. Nisbet, American Democratic Party politician, Mayor of Upland, California, 1952-55; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1956, 1960, 1964; Candidate for Presidential Elector for California, 1956 [8]
  • Charles S. Nisbet, American Democratic Party politician, Mayor of Amsterdam, New York, 1893; Montgomery County Judge, 1901; Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New York, 1904 [8]
  • Alexander Nisbet, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Wyoming, 1916 [8]
  • ... (Another 15 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  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. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/countess-of-harcourt
  6. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  7. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  8. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 19) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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