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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the English Pillsbury family come from? What is the English Pillsbury family crest and coat of arms? When did the Pillsbury family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Pillsbury family history?

The Pillsbury name is a habitational name derived from Spelsbury, from the Old English byname Speol which means "watchful" and the Old English word burh which means "town" or "fortress."

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Spelling variations of this family name include: Spilsbury, Spelsbury, Pilsbury, Pelsbury and others.

First found in Oxfordshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, having prevailed over King Harold, granted most of Britain to his many victorious Barons. It was not uncommon to find a Baron, or a Bishop, with 60 or more Lordships scattered throughout the country. These he gave to his sons, nephews and other junior lines of his family and they became known as under-tenants. They adopted the Norman system of surnames which identified the under-tenant with his holdings so as to distinguish him from the senior stem of the family. After many rebellious wars between his Barons, Duke William, commissioned a census of all England to determine in 1086, settling once and for all, who held which land. He called the census the Domesday Book, [1] indicating that those holders registered would hold the land until the end of time. Hence, conjecturally, the surname is descended from the tenant of the lands of Spelsbury, held by Urso from the Bishop of Winchester, who was recorded in the Domesday Book census of 1086.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pillsbury research. Another 182 words(13 lines of text) covering the years 1180, 1327, 1593, 1599, 1638, and 1668 are included under the topic Early Pillsbury History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 27 words(2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pillsbury Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Pillsbury Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • William Pillsbury, who arrived in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1641

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  • Parker Pillsbury (1809-1898), American minister and advocate for abolition and women's rights
  • Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1872-1906), American chess-master who by the age of 22 had won the strongest tournaments of the time
  • Brigadier-General Henry Church Pillsbury (1881-1955), American Commanding Officer Thayer General Hospital, Nasville (1943-1945)
  • Walter Bowers Pillsbury (1872-1960), American psychologist, 19th President of the American Psychological Association (1910-1911)
  • John Sargent Pillsbury (1827-1901), American politician, 8th Governor of Minnesota from 1876 to 1882, co-founder of the Pillsbury Company with his nephew Charles Alfred Pillsbury in 1872
  • Charles Alfred Pillsbury (1842-1899), American co-founder of C.A. Pillsbury and Company with his uncle John Sargent Pillsbury in 1872
  • Arthur Clarence Pillsbury (1870-1946), American photographer, best known for landscapes of Yosemite National Park and his photos of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake


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  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)

Other References

  1. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  2. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  4. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  5. Cook, Chris. English Historical Facts 1603-1688. London: MacMillan, 1980. Print.
  6. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  7. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  8. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  9. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  10. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  11. ...

The Pillsbury Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Pillsbury 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 9 November 2014 at 15:53.

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