Relph History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

One of the most common classes of Scottish surnames is the patronymic surname, which arose out of the vernacular and religious naming traditions. The vernacular or regional naming tradition is the oldest and most pervasive type of patronymic surname. According to this custom, names were originally composed of vocabulary elements from the local language. Patronymic surnames of this type were usually derived from the personal name of the original bearer's father. The surname Relph is derived from the Old Norse given name Randolph, which itself comes from the Old German words, rat, meaning counsel, and wolf, meaning wolf.

Early Origins of the Relph family

The surname Relph was first found in the town of Nairn in Nairnshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Narann) in northern Scotland, today part of the Council Area of Highland, where they are thought to have arrived well before the invasion of Britain of Duke William of Normandy in 1066 A.D.

One of the first records of the family was Ralph (died 1144), Bishop of Orkney, whose name usually appears as Ralph Nowell, a native of York, where he became a priest. "York writers assert that, apparently about 1110, Ralph was elected (by men of the Orkneys) to the bishopric of the islands in the church of St. Peter at York." [1]

Early History of the Relph family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Relph research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1205 and 1452 are included under the topic Early Relph History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Relph Spelling Variations

Scottish surnames are distinguished by a multitude of spelling variations because, over the centuries, the names were frequently translated into and from Gaelic. Furthermore, the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent because medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules. The different versions of a surname, such as the inclusion of the patronymic prefix "Mac", frequently indicated a religious or Clan affiliation or even a division of the family. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into Scotland, accelerating accentuating the alterations to various surnames. The name Relph has also been spelled Ralph, Rolph, Rolfe and others.

Early Notables of the Relph family (pre 1700)

Another 38 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Relph Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Relph migration to the United States +

Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America carried the name Relph, or a variant listed above:

Relph Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mary Relph, who landed in Virginia in 1664 [2]
Relph Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • George Relph, aged 24, who arrived in Georgia in 1812 [2]

Australia Relph migration to Australia +

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

Relph Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

Contemporary Notables of the name Relph (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Relph (1712-1743), English poet from Churchtown, a small estate belonging to his father in the parish of Sebergham, Cumberland


The Relph 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: Cresco crescendeo
Motto Translation: I increase by increasing.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 26) America voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1830 with 135 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/america/1830


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