Scrimshaw History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Some surnames are derived from the occupation of the person who first held the name. Scrimshaw is most likely such a name, referring to one who was a fencing-master, coming from the old French "eskermisseour", meaning "fencer" and which came in turn from the old high German word "skirmen", which meant "to defend". Such fencing-masters always found plentiful employment in medieval Europe, though they were officially banned from some large cities, such as London, because they could be a dangerous influence on others. Notice the similarities between the name Scrimshaw and the modern English word "skirmisher".

Scrimshaw is the name given to scrollwork, engravings, and carvings done in bone or ivory. No one known why this name was attributed to whalers who spent their leisure time carving such works.

Early Origins of the Scrimshaw family

The surname Scrimshaw was first found in Fife, where some records speak of a Clan Scrymgeour, who held the position of hereditary standard-bearers of Scotland.

One of them, known originally as Alexander, son of Colyn, son of Carun, obtained in 1293 a lease of the land or Torr from Thomas de Kylmaron for his services in this position of standard-bearer.

By 1298, Alexander had adopted the name 'Skirmeschur' and had a charter for some lands near Dundee from Sir William Wallace, Guardian of the Kingdom. Along with the lands came the title of Constable of the Castle of Dundee and this became a hereditary office of the Chief of the Scrimgeours.

Eight years later, he was taken as a prisoner of war and was hung at Newcastle-on-Tyne on the express orders of Edward I.

Early History of the Scrimshaw family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Scrimshaw research. Another 280 words (20 lines of text) covering the years 1505, 1572, 1538, 1668, 1550, 1612, 1106, 1124, 1310, 1298, 1411, 1503, 1544, 1575 and 1576 are included under the topic Early Scrimshaw History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Scrimshaw Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Scrimgeor, Scrimshaw, Scrimshawe, Scrimshire, Scrimsger, Scrymgeour, Scrymgeor, Scrimger and many more.

Early Notables of the Scrimshaw family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Henry Scrimgeour or Scrymgeour (c. 1505-1572), Scottish born diplomat and book collector John Scrimgeour of Myres Castle, Fife was Master of Work for royal buildings for James V and Mary, Queen of Scots, and Precentor of the Scottish Chapel Royal fl 1538. John Scrymgeour, 3rd Viscount Dudhope and 1st Earl of Dundee (d. 1668), was a Scottish peer who fought in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Sir James Scrymgeour (1550?-1612), of Dudhope, "Constable of Dundee, was descended from Sir Alexander Carron, called 'Skirmisheour,' who was standard-bearer to Alexander I (1106-1124), an office still held...
Another 116 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Scrimshaw Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Scrimshaw migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Scrimshaw Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Peter Scrimshaw, who arrived in Mississippi in 1829 [1]

New Zealand Scrimshaw 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:

Scrimshaw Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • George Scrimshaw, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • Mr. Henry Scrimshaw, (b. 1838), aged 25, British carpenter travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [2]
  • Mrs. Eliza Scrimshaw, (b. 1841), aged 22, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [2]
  • Mr. Cornelius Scrimshaw, (b. 1860), aged 3, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [2]
  • Mr. William H. Scrimshaw, (b. 1862), aged 1, British settler travelling from London, UK aboard the ship "Brothers Pride" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 8th December 1863 [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Scrimshaw (post 1700) +

  • Nevin Stewart Scrimshaw (1918-2013), American food scientist and Institute Professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Joseph Scrimshaw, American comedian
  • Frank Scrimshaw, British RAF officer at Farnborough
  • Stan Scrimshaw (1915-1988), English footballer who played for Hartlepool United and Bradford City
  • Sandelle D. Scrimshaw, Canadian diplomat
  • Charlie Scrimshaw (1909-1973), English footballer from Derby who played for Middlesbrough (1938-1939) and Stoke City (1929-1938)


The Scrimshaw 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: Dissipate
Motto Translation: Dispursed.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html


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