Show ContentsRalston History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Ralston family were part of an ancient Scottish tribe called the Picts. They lived in the lands or barony of Ralston, which are near Paisley in the county of Renfrew (now part of the Strathclyde region).

Early Origins of the Ralston family

The surname Ralston was first found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Friù), a historic county of Scotland, today encompassing the Council Areas of Renfrew, East Renfrewshire, and Iverclyde, in the Strathclyde region of southwestern Scotland, at Ralston, (Gaelic: Baile Raghnaill) a small suburban settlement bordering onto the eastern edge of the town of Paisley. It is generally believed the place name Ralston takes its name from the ancient feudal estates of Ralphistoun (Ralph's town), named after the younger son of the Earl of Fife, and dates back to the early 12th century.

Later and further to the south, Rowlston was a hamlet in the parish of Mappleton, union of Skirlaugh, N. division of the wapentake of Holderness in the East Riding of Yorkshire. "This place, in Domesday Book called Roolfestone, belonged in the 15th century to a family of the local name, and, after passing through several other families." [1] This hamlet is now been formally amalgamated into the village and civil parish of Mappleton. Rowlstone is a parish and village in Herefordshire.

Early History of the Ralston family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Ralston research. Another 107 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1447, 1448, 1452, 1705 and 1890 are included under the topic Early Ralston History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ralston Spelling Variations

Prior to the invention of the printing press in the last hundred years, documents were basically unique. Names were written according to sound, and often appeared differently each time they were recorded. Spelling variations of the name Ralston include Ralston, Ralstoun, Rowlston, Rowlstone and others.

Early Notables of the Ralston family

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was

  • John de Ralston (died 1452), a 15th century Scottish bishop and administrator, Bishop of Dunkeld (1447-1452), the King's personal secretary, Rector of Douglas, Dean of Dunkeld

Ralston Ranking

In the United States, the name Ralston is the 2,616th most popular surname with an estimated 12,435 people with that name. [2]

Ireland Migration of the Ralston family to Ireland

Some of the Ralston family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 59 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Ralston migration to the United States +

The freedom of the North American colonies was enticing, and many Scots left to make the great crossing. It was a long and hard journey, but its reward was a place where there was more land than people and tolerance was far easier to come by. Many of these people came together to fight for a new nation in the American War of Independence, while others remained loyal to the old order as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of Scots in North America have recovered much of this heritage in the 20th century through Clan societies and other such organizations. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important and early immigrants to North America bearing the name of Ralston:

Ralston Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Gavin Ralston, who landed in Virginia in 1744 [3]
  • Marrion Ralston, aged 18, who landed in New York, NY in 1774 [3]
Ralston Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Andrew Ralston, aged 9, who arrived in New Castle, Del in 1802 [3]
  • Anne Ralston, aged 34, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [3]
  • Davd Ralston, aged 15, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [3]
  • Anne, David, Daniel, James, Jane, John, Josh, Mary, Robert, Sarah, and William Ralston all, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803
  • Jane Ralston, aged 8, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Ralston migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Ralston Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • McGavin Ralston, who arrived in Victoria, British Columbia in 1862

New Zealand Ralston migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Ralston Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Walter Ralston, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Alma" in 1857
  • Gavin Ralston, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1861

Contemporary Notables of the name Ralston (post 1700) +

  • David Ralston (1954-2022), American attorney and politician, Member of the Georgia House of Representatives (2003-2022), 73rd Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives (2010-2022)
  • Richard Dennis Ralston (1942-2020), American professional tennis player, ranked World Number 3 in 1963, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987
  • Kenneth Ralston (b. 1954), American five-time Academy Award winning visual effects specialist including a Special Achievement Oscar for the visual effects in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • Howard Ralston (1904-1992), American actor who appeared in nine films between 1920 and 1924, younger brother of Esther Ralston
  • Robert Ralston (b. 1938), American pianist and organist, best known for his work on The Lawrence Welk Show from 1963 to 1982
  • Gilbert Alexander Ralston (1912-1999), American screenwriter, creator of the television series The Wild Wild West; he wrote scripts for Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Ben Casey, I Spy, Hawaii Five-O, and The Naked City
  • Aron Ralston (b. 1975), American outdoorsman, engineer and motivational speaker
  • Alexander Ralston (1771-1827), American architect who co-designed the city of Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Esther Ralston (1902-1994), born Esther Worth, an American silent film movie actress
  • Brian Ralston (b. 1974), American composer and musician
  • ... (Another 8 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Ralston Motto +

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: Fide et marte
Motto Translation: By fidelity and military service.

Suggested Readings for the name Ralston +

  • Trails Trod by Holloway and Ralstons by Orella Chadwick.

  1. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  3. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8) on Facebook