Show ContentsSelfe History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the name Selfe are with the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from the Old English given name Saulf. Selfe is a patronymic surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Many patronymic surnames were formed by adopting the given name of an ancestor of the bearer, while others came from popular religious names, and from the names of secular heroes. In this case, the surname arose out of the vernacular tradition, and was likely the name of an ancestor of the bearer. The given name Saulf was composed of the elements and wulf, which mean sea and wolf. [1]

Early Origins of the Selfe family

The surname Selfe was first found in the Domesday Book of 1086 where Saiulfus, Sahulfus, Saulf, Saolf, Saul, Seulf are all listed. Robert filius Seulfi was listed as a Knights Templar in Berkshire in 1185 and later William Sewolf was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1296. John and William Self were found in the Subsidy Rolls for Suffolk in 1327. [2]

"The name Sewlf (sea-wolf) occurs in a charter of Canute, and it is probably the same as the Saulf in the Domesday of Derbyshire, where it is in the Scandinavian form. Hence may be our Salve, Self, Selves." [3] [4]

In Yorkshire, the Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Cristiana del Schelf, 1379; and Johannes de Schelf. [5]

Early History of the Selfe family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Selfe research. Another 101 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 108 and 1086 are included under the topic Early Selfe History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Selfe Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Selfe has been spelled many different ways, including Self, Selfe and others.

Early Notables of the Selfe family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Selfe family to Ireland

Some of the Selfe family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Selfe migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Selfes to arrive in North America:

Selfe Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Susan Selfe, who arrived in America in 1654-1679 [6]
  • Isaac Selfe, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1682 [6]

Australia Selfe migration to Australia +

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

Selfe Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

New Zealand Selfe 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:

Selfe Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mrs. Martha Selfe, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Glentanner" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 3rd October 1857 [8]
  • Mr. Alexander Selfe, (b. 1823), aged 34, British carpenter travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Glentanner" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 3rd October 1857 [8]
  • Mr. J. Selfe, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Gananoque" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 9th May 1860 [8]
  • George W. Selfe, aged 28, a joiner, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Berar" in 1875

West Indies Selfe 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. [9]
Selfe Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • William and Susan Selfe, who arrived in Barbados in 1654 but transferred to Virginia in the same year

Contemporary Notables of the name Selfe (post 1700) +

  • Mrs. Daphne Frances Selfe B.E.M. (b. 1928), British Model, was appointed Medallist of the British Empire Medal 29th December 2018 for services to Women and Fashion [10]

  1. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  4. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  6. 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)
  7. State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2016, October 27) Arab voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1822 with 155 passengers. Retrieved from
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  10. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62507, 28 December 2018 | London Gazette, The Gazette, Dec. 2018, on Facebook