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

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

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." 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.


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.

First found in Berkshire, where Benedict le Puinter was listed in the Pipe Rolls of Berkshire in 1206.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Poynter research. Another 161 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1206, 1273, 1314, 1633, 1593, 1590, 1665, 1626 and 1629 are included under the topic Early Poynter History in all our PDF Extended History products.


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


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


  • 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 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
  • Dougie Lee Poynter (b. 1987), English musician and the bassist, songwriter and vocalist for the pop rock band McFly
  • Andrew David Poynter (b. 1987), English-born Irish cricketer
  • William Amos Poynter (1848-1909), American politician, 14th Governor of Nebraska from 1899 to 1901
  • Sir Edward John Poynter (1836-1919), 1st Baronet, British painter, designer, draughtsman and art administrator, President of the Royal Academy
  • John Poynter, Australian historian and educator
  • Frederick Noel Lawrence Poynter, British medical historian and institute director


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  1. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  2. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  3. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  4. Matthews, John. Matthews' American Armoury and Blue Book. London: John Matthews, 1911. Print.
  5. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  6. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  7. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  8. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  9. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  10. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. 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 4 January 2015 at 10:30.

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