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

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

Ponsonby is a name that was brought to England by the ancestors of the Ponsonby family when they migrated to the region after the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Ponsonby family lived in Cumberland, at Ponsonby, from whence the family derived their name.

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Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence in the eras before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate regularly changed the spellings of their names as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Ponsonby have been found, including Ponsonby, Pounceby, Pownceby and others.

First found in Cumberland at Ponsonby, a parish, in the union of Whitehaven, Allerdale ward above Derwent. [1] "Before the adoption of the surname, they are said to have been of Hale, in the same county. Still earlier, according to a family tradition, they were of the noble rank in Picardy, the founder of the house in England having come over with the Conqueror, who appointed him his Barber! The three combs in the arms of Ponsonby are alleged in support of this story, and if further evidence can possibly be desired, the chevron that separates them may adumbrate the open razor, wherewithal the dread face of the mighty Conqueror was denuded of its manly appendage!" [2]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ponsonby research. Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1340, 1604, 1679, 1758, 1739, 1713 and 1789 are included under the topic Early Ponsonby History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 67 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ponsonby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Ponsonby family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 51 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For many English families, the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. For such families, the shores of Ireland, Australia, and the New World beckoned. They left their homeland at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. Many arrived after the long voyage sick, starving, and without a penny. But even those were greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. Numerous English settlers who arrived in the United States and Canada at this time went on to make important contributions to the developing cultures of those countries. 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 Ponsonby were among those contributors:

Ponsonby Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • John Ponsonby, who arrived in Virginia in 1772

Ponsonby Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Thomas Ponsonby arrived in Philadelphia in 1850

Ponsonby Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • James Ponsonby, aged 28, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Shamrock" in 1855
  • Dorah Ponsonby, aged 29, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Shamrock" in 1855
  • Pat Ponsonby, aged 5, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Shamrock" in 1855
  • Ellen Ponsonby, aged under 1, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Shamrock" in 1855

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  • Cecil Brabazon Ponsonby (1889-1945), English cricketer
  • Sir Henry Frederick Ponsonby (1825-1895), English Army officer, Private Secretary to Queen Victoria
  • Sir Frederick Cavendish Ponsonby (1783-1837), English Army Major General, Governor of Malta (1827-1836)
  • John Ponsonby (1772-1855), British diplomat and politician, made 1st Viscount Ponsonby in 1839
  • George Ponsonby (1755-1817), Lord Chancellor of Ireland
  • William Brabazon Ponsonby (1744-1806), Irish politician, made 1st Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly, County Cork in 1806
  • Richard Ponsonby (1722-1815), Irish priest in the Church of Ireland, who was a Bishop of Derry and Raphoe


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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: Pro rege, lege grege
Motto Translation: For the King, law and people.

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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  2. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  3. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  4. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  6. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  7. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  8. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  9. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  10. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  11. ...

The Ponsonby Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Ponsonby 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 16 December 2015 at 04:16.

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