Show ContentsOlcott History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Olcott family

The surname Olcott was first found in Northamptonshire at Holcot, a parish in the union of Brixworth, hundred of Hamfordshoe. 1 The parish dates back to the Domesday Book of 1086, where it was first listed as Holecote. 2

Conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the village and lands of Holcote, held by William Peveral from the Bishop of Bayeux.

The place name literally meant "cottages in the hollows," from the Old English "hol"+ "cot." 3

It was here in Northamptonshire that the first record of the family was found. Peter de Holecot was listed in the Assize Rolls of 1202. Later, Robert de Holecote was found in the Feet of Fines for Essex in 1273-1274, but back in Northamptonshire, Henry de Holecote was recorded in the Assize Rolls of 1314-1316. 4

Further to the north in Scotland, one source notes that the family were from "some place in England. There were lands named Holcote in Northamptonshire held by David I. Wautier de Holcote of Roxburghshire rendered homage, 1296. William Alket, burgess of Aberdeen, 1275 (Fraser, p. 11) may represent the same name." 5

Early History of the Olcott family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Olcott research. Another 115 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1024, 1291, 1328, 1349, 1586, 1834 and 1878 are included under the topic Early Olcott History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Olcott Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Holcote, Hollcote, Holcott, Holcott, Hulcott, Hulcote, Holecote, Hulecote, Holecott, Wholcott, Wholecote, Wholcote, Olcott, Olcote, Ollcott, Ollcote, Alkett, Alket, Owlcott and many more.

Early Notables of the Olcott family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Robert of Holcott (d. 1349), English divine, "said to have been a native of Northampton, but the statement seems a mere inference from his surname, Holcot being a village in Northamptonshire. It has b...

United States Olcott migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Olcott or a variant listed above were:

Olcott Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Olcott, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1692 6

Contemporary Notables of the name Olcott (post 1700) +

  • Colonel Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907), American military officer, journalist, lawyer from Orange, New Jersey, co-founder and first president of the Theosophical Society
  • William Morrow Knox Olcott (1862-1933), American lawyer and politician from New York City, New York County District Attorney (1896-1897)
  • Simeon Olcott (1735-1815), American politician, born in Bolton, Connecticut Colony, United States Senator from New Hampshire (1808-1805)
  • Martha Brill Olcott (b. 1949), American expert on Central Asian and the Caspian
  • J Van Vechten Olcott (1856-1940), American politician, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New York (1905-1911)
  • Frederic Pepoon Olcott (1841-1909), American banker and politician, New York State Comptroller (1877-1879)
  • John Chancellor "Chauncey" Olcott (1858-1932), American stage actor and songwriter from Buffalo, New York
  • William Tyler Olcott (1873-1936), American lawyer and amateur astronomer, eponym of the Olcott lunar crater
  • Sidney Olcott (1873-1949), Canadian film producer, director, actor and screenwriter from Toronto, Ontario who directed 191 productions from 1907 to 1927
  • Ben W. Olcott (1872-1952), American politician from Keithsburg, Illinois, 16th Governor of Oregon (1919-1923), 9th Secretary of State of Oregon (1911-1920)

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. 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)
  6. 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) on Facebook