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

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.


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 where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ponsonby research. Another 210 words (15 lines of text) covering the years 1340, 1604, 1679, 1713, 1739, 1758, and 1789 are included under the topic Early Ponsonby History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 41 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Ponsonby Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Ponsonby family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 135 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


  • 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


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. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  2. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  3. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  4. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  5. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  6. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  7. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  9. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  10. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  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 10 November 2011 at 13:54.

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