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


The Poynter name was coined by the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. Poynter was originally a name given to someone who worked as a maker of points, which are cords for fastening together doublet and hose; a maker of garter belts. Further research revealed that the name is derived from the Old English word poynte, which meant "a tagged lace or cord made of twisted yarn, silk, or leather." [1] It is also possible that the name is derived from the construction term pointing, which is the practice of fastening and sealing roofing tiles with mortar. This practice gained currency in the 13th century and was called pointing.

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The surname Poynter was first found in Berkshire, where Benedict le Puinter was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire in 1206. "Some of the Poynters, however are of French origin, being descendants of Ambrose Pointier, of Arras, who settled [in England] at the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The armorials of this family are pointedly allusive; the shield contains pointed piles. " [1]

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, early Anglo-Saxon surnames like Poynter are characterized by many spelling variations. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages, even literate people changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Poynter include: Pointer, Poynter, Pointier and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Poynter research. Another 221 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1206, 1273, 1314, 1850, 1633, 1593, 1590, 1665, 1626 and 1629 are included under the topic Early Poynter History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 81 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Poynter Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families tired of political and religious strife left Britain for the new colonies in North America. Although the trip itself offered no relief - conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and many travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute - these immigrants believed the opportunities that awaited them were worth the risks. Once in the colonies, many of the families did indeed prosper and, in turn, made significant contributions to the culture and economies of the growing colonies. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Poynter or a variant listed above:

Poynter Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Elizabeth Poynter, who arrived in Maryland in 1653-1661
  • William Poynter, who arrived in Virginia in 1655
  • Thomas Poynter, who landed in Virginia in 1657
  • Edward Poynter, who came to Virginia in 1666
  • Thomas Poynter, who arrived in Maryland in 1674 with his wife and children

Poynter Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • William Poynter arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "John Woodall" in 1849

Poynter Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Poynter, aged 40, arrived in Nelson aboard the ship "Fifeshire" in 1842
  • Thomas Poynter, aged 22, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Woodlark" in 1874
  • Henry Poynter, aged 29, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Eliza Poynter, aged 29, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875
  • Harry Poynter, aged 3, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alumbagh" in 1875


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  • James Irsley Poynter (1916-1950), United States Marine posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 4, 1950
  • Nelson Poynter (1903-1979), American publisher, founder of the Times Publishing Company
  • William Amos Poynter (1848-1909), American politician, Member of Nebraska State House of Representatives, 1885; Member of Nebraska State Senate, 1891; Governor of Nebraska, 1899-1901
  • Kenneth A. Poynter, American politician, Mayor of Harper Woods, Michigan, 2001-05
  • John J. Poynter, American politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Pleasants County, 1885-86
  • D. Orr Poynter, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Idaho, 1912
  • Columbus Corbin Poynter (1880-1950), American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Kentucky, 1936
  • Bill Poynter, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Arkansas, 1964, 2008
  • William Poynter (1762-1827), English Catholic priest, Vicar Apostolic of the London District (1812-1827)
  • Ambrose Poynter (1796-1886), English architect, one of the founding members of the Institute of British Architects in 1834, father of Edward Poynter

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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: Pense a pointer
Motto Translation: Think a point

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. 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.
  2. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  3. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  4. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  7. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  8. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  9. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  10. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  11. ...

The Poynter Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Poynter 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 29 February 2016 at 08:06.

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