Raven History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Raven is one of the names that was brought to England in the wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Raven family name comes from the Old English given name Raven. This name is a variation of the Old English word Hroefn, which indicated the large black bird we now call the raven, and was sometimes used as a nickname for someone with very dark hair.

"Among the spoil taken by the Saxons was the famous banner of the Raven, said to have been woven in one day by the sisters of Inguar and Ubba, and to have possessed the property of appearing before every battle flying like a living bird if the Danes were to be victorious; while in the contrary event it hung down motionless." [1]

Early Origins of the Raven family

The surname Raven was first found in Leicestershire where the Domesday Book of 1086 "presents us with a tenant in chief called Raven-a true Scandinavian, doubtless. Rafn still exists in Denmark as a personal name, and is borne as a surname." [2]

Continuing from the aforementioned Domesday Book reference, researchers found the History and Antiquities of the County Palatine of Durham referencing the name as a forename: Raven de Slinghawe, 1155. In the source, Hodgson's Northumberland, researchers found Gospatric filius Raven, 1177, William Raven, 1190 and Raven de Riding, 1233.

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed Henry Raven, Cambridgeshire. [3]

Early History of the Raven family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Raven research. Another 85 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 108 and 1086 are included under the topic Early Raven History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Raven Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries. For that reason, spelling variations are common among many Anglo-Norman names. The shape of the English language was frequently changed with the introduction of elements of Norman French, Latin, and other European languages; even the spelling of literate people's names were subsequently modified. Raven has been recorded under many different variations, including Raven, Ravens and others.

Early Notables of the Raven family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Raven Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Raven Ranking

In the United States, the name Raven is the 10,578th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [4]


United States Raven migration to the United States +

To escape the uncertainty of the political and religious uncertainty found in England, many English families boarded ships at great expense to sail for the colonies held by Britain. The passages were expensive, though, and the boats were unsafe, overcrowded, and ridden with disease. Those who were hardy and lucky enough to make the passage intact were rewarded with land, opportunity, and social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families went on to be important contributors to the young nations of Canada and the United States where they settled. Ravens were some of the first of the immigrants to arrive in North America:

Raven Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Peter Raven, who settled in Virginia in 1648
  • Peter Raven, who arrived in Virginia in 1648 [5]
  • Luke Raven, who arrived in Virginia in 1664 [5]
  • John and Jane Raven, and their four daughters, who settled in Maryland in 1672
  • Elizabeth Raven, who landed in Maryland in 1672 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Raven Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Matthew Raven, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [5]
  • Henry Raven, who settled in Maryland in 1720
Raven Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Richard Raven, aged 43, who landed in New York in 1812 [5]
  • Thomas Raven, aged 30, who landed in New York in 1812 [5]
  • Cornelius B. Raven, who was naturalized in New York in 1838
  • Albert Raven, aged 23, who arrived in Missouri in 1845 [5]
  • Charles Henri Raven, who settled in America in 1857
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Raven migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Raven Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Raven, British Convict who was convicted in Warwick, Warwickshire, England for life , transported aboard the "Commodore Hayes" in April 1823, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [6]
  • Matthew Raven, who arrived in Port Misery aboard the ship "Duchess of Northumberland" in 1839 [7]
  • James Raven, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Harpley" in 1849 [8]
  • Maria Raven, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Simlah" in 1849 [9]
  • Charles Raven, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Simlah" in 1849 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Raven 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:

Raven Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Willaim Raven, aged 38, a saddler, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Susan Raven, aged 11, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • George Raven, aged 10, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oliver Lang" in 1856
  • Mr. Joseph Raven, (b. 1844), aged 26, English farm labourer, from Yorkshire travelling from London aboard the ship "Ramsey" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th June 1870 [10]
  • Mrs. Hannah Raven, (b. 1845), aged 25, English settler, from Yorkshire travelling from London aboard the ship "Ramsey" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 17th June 1870 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

West Indies Raven migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [11]
Raven Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mary Raven, who settled in Barbados in 1664

Contemporary Notables of the name Raven (post 1700) +

  • Elsa Raven (1929-2020), born Elsa Rabinowitz, an American character actress, best known for her two years (1988–1990) on the sitcom Amen
  • Alfred H. Raven, American politician, Member of Pennsylvania State House of Representatives from Philadelphia County, 1893-96 [12]
  • Arlene Raven (b. 1944), American art historian and author
  • John Samuel Raven (1829-1877), English landscape-painter, born at Preston, Lancashire, son of Thomas Raven, minister of Holy Trinity Church in that town [13]
  • Simon Arthur Noël Raven, English novelist, journalist and dramatist
  • David Haydn Raven (b. 1985), English football player
  • Dame Kathleen Annie Raven (1910-1999), British nurse, matron, and government health official
  • Charlotte Raven (b. 1969), British author and journalist
  • Andrew Owen Earle Raven, Scottish conservationist
  • Raven Ioor McDavid Jr. (1911-1984), American linguist who specialized in dialectology

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Lorenzo Ross Raven (1856-1914), Canadian Third Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada who was traveling aboard the Empress of Ireland and died in the sinking [14]


  1. ^ Harrison, Henry, Surnames of the United Kingdom: A Concise Etymological Dictionary Baltimore: Geneological Publishing Company, 2013. Print
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Convict Records of Australia (Retrieved 4th March 2021, retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/commodore-hayes)
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) THE DUCHESS OF NORTHUMBERLAND - 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839DuchessOfNorthumberland.htm
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HARPLEY 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Harpley.htm
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The SIMLAH 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Simlah.htm
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  12. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 28) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  13. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 31 Oct. 2019
  14. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html


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