Show ContentsOlmstead History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Olmstead name has descended through the generations from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. Their name comes from having lived near or at a hermit's cell. The surname Olmstead is derived from the Old French word ermite, which means hermit, and the Old English word stede, which means place. [1] [2]

The name may also be an Anglicized form of the German surname Darmstädter, which is derived from the settlement of Darmstadt in Hesse, a former landgraviate of Germany.

Early Origins of the Olmstead family

The surname Olmstead was first found in Yorkshire where the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 include some of the first listings of the family: Laurencius del Armetsted; Johannes de Armetstede who both held lands there at that time. [3] [2]

"This has been a Yorkshire surname for five centuries at least." [3]

Later in Norfolk we found William Armistead, was vicar of Berwick Parva, Norfolk in 1587. [4]

Early History of the Olmstead family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Olmstead research. Another 137 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1527, 1618, 1645, 1726, 1676, 1680, 1693, 1696, 1699, 1783, 1845, 1780, 1818, 1812, 1817, 1863 and 1863 are included under the topic Early Olmstead History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Olmstead Spelling Variations

Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Olmstead has undergone many spelling variations, including Armistead, Armitstead, Armystead, Armstead, Olmstead, Ormstead, Ampstead and many more.

Early Notables of the Olmstead family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Captain Anthony Armistead (1645-1726), British Justice of the Peace in the British Colony and Dominion of Virginia. He was born in Elizabeth City County, Virginia, the son of William Armistead. He assisted Sir William Berkeley's courts-martial in 1676 to try the Bacon insurgents and was a justice of the peace and Captain of Horse in 1680. He was a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1693, 1696, 1699. He married Hannah Ellyson and had five children; the...
Another 87 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Olmstead Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Olmstead Ranking

In the United States, the name Olmstead is the 3,175th most popular surname with an estimated 9,948 people with that name. [5]

United States Olmstead migration to the United States +

To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Olmstead were among those contributors:

Olmstead Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • James Olmstead, who settled in Boston, Massachusetts in 1632
  • Richard Olmstead, who landed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1632 [6]
  • Nicholas Olmstead, who arrived in New England in 1637 [6]
Olmstead Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Aaron Olmstead, who arrived in America in 1806 [6]
  • Sarah Olmstead who settled in New York state in 1825
  • T D Olmstead, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1850 [6]
  • E Olmstead, who landed in San Francisco, California in 1850 [6]
  • G Olmstead, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1860 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Olmstead migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Olmstead Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Aaron Olmstead U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 he became a Freeman in 1785, was a Blacksmith [7]
  • Mr. Thomas Olmstead U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [7]

Contemporary Notables of the name Olmstead (post 1700) +

  • Stephen Goodwin Olmstead (1929-2022), American highly decorated with the United States Marine Corps with a rank of Lieutenant General; his last assignments were Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Drug Policy and Enforcement and the Director of the Department of Defense Task Force on Drug Enforcement
  • Major-General Dawson Olmstead (1884-1965), American Chief Signal Officer, Army Service Forces (1943-1944) [8]
  • Timothy Olmstead (1759-1848), American Connecticut psalmodist and one of the first American composers
  • Roy Olmstead (1886-1966), one of the most successful and best-known American bootleggers in the Pacific Northwest
  • Frederic William Olmstead (1881-1936), American pitcher in Major League Baseball
  • Marla Olmstead, American painter of abstract art
  • Robert Olmstead (b. 1954), American novelist and educator
  • Gertrude Olmstead (1897-1975), American actress of the silent era
  • Matt Olmstead, American writer and producer for television shows
  • C. Michelle Olmstead, American astronomer
  • ... (Another 23 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Olmstead 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: Ever ready
Motto Translation: Always prepared

Suggested Readings for the name Olmstead +

  • Justice & Umstead Families of Frederick County, Maryland, 1685-1974 by Palmer H. Cushman.
  • Anniversary Booklet: Olmsteads in America, 350th Anniversary.

  1. Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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)
  7. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2014, March 26) Dawson Olmstead. Retrieved from on Facebook