Show ContentsService History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Service is one of the names that was brought to England in the wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Service family lived in Stirlingshire, Scotland. The famous Robert William Service (1874-1958) the English-born, Canadian poet and writer was born in Lancashire, England but his family hailed from Lanarkshire, Scotland. His poems "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" and "The Cremation of Sam McGee" were inspired by his life in the Yukon where he was often called "the Bard of the Yukon."

Early Origins of the Service family

The surname Service was first found in Stirlingshire where the "family of this name which may be descended from William Servatur (or le Servetur), burgess of Stirling, who rendered homage, 1296. His seal bears Virgin and Child, S' Wll'i Servatoris. Alisaundre Servays of Roxburghshire also rendered homage, 1296. " [1]

We need to take a moment to explain "rendered homage" and the significance of the year 1296. At that time King Edward I of England invaded Scotland and those who were "encouraged" to pay homage to him were recorded thusly. In many cases, there was little choice in the matter, render homage or lose your lands and life.

While the name is generally thought to be Scottish, if we look back further there are significant entries for early spellings in England. In fact, if we look to Normandy, we found the Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae listed William, Richard, Walter Cervus, Normandy 1180-95. [2] In France, Servais; was a personal name. [3] However, another source claims the name could have been derived from the Old French cervoise 'ale', for a seller of ale, a taverner. [4]

In England, Oxfordshire was one of the first places where early spellings of the family were found. Walter Cerveise was listed there in the Pipe Rolls of 1177 and then later in the Curia Regis Rolls of 1206. A few years later, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1279 also listed Cereveyse, Sereveyse in Oxfordshire. In Berkshire, the Pipe Rolls of 1230 listed William Ceruaise. [4]

Early History of the Service family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Service research. Another 94 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1296, 1673, 1833, 1862, 1866, 1870, 1871, 1877, 1878 and 1884 are included under the topic Early Service History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Service Spelling Variations

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Service family name include Service, Surface, Serfaes, Servas, Servaes, Serveas, Servais, Services, Serfice and many more.

Early Notables of the Service family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • John Service (1833-1884), Scottish divine, son of John Service, engraver in the calico works of Robert Dalglish...
  • On 30 April 1877 Glasgow University conferred on Service the degree of...

Service Ranking

In the United States, the name Service is the 16,005th most popular surname with an estimated 2,487 people with that name. [5]

United States Service migration to the United States +

To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Service family to immigrate North America:

Service Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Joseph, Robert and Samuel Service, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1766
Service Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • John, Margaret, Thomas, and William Service, who settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania between 1803 and 1853
  • Thomas Service, aged 18, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1803 [6]
  • James Service, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [6]
  • Robert Service, who landed in New York, NY in 1811 [6]
  • Alexander Service, who arrived in New York, NY in 1816 [6]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Service migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Service Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Philip Service U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [7]
  • Mr. John Service U.E. who settled in Eastern District, Matilda [South Dundas], Ontario c. 1786 he served in the Royal Regiment of New York [7]

Australia Service migration to Australia +

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

Service Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Service, Scottish convict who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Elphinstone" on 27th May 1837, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [8]

New Zealand Service 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:

Service Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • D. J. Service, aged 36, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875 [9]
  • B. Service, aged 38, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875 [9]
  • Edwin C. Service, aged 1, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875 [9]
  • Josiah F. Service, aged 15, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875 [9]
  • Jabez P. Service, aged 13, who arrived in Bluff, New Zealand aboard the ship "Adamant" in 1875 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Service (post 1700) +

  • Robert W Service (1874-1958), English-born, Canadian Poet who is best known for "The Shooting of Dan McGrew" (1907/1915)
  • James Edward "Jim" Service (1931-2017), American Vice Admiral of the United States Navy during the Cold War
  • Elman Rogers Service (1915-1996), American cultural anthropologist
  • John Stewart Service (1909-1999), Chinese-born, American diplomat, son of Robert Roy Service, an American missionary for the Y.M.C.A.; he was accused by McCarthy of Communist sympathies, but later invited on President Nixon's visit to China in 1971
  • James Glen Service AO (1933-2021), Australian company director, born in Sydney, national president of the Property Council of Australia, the Building Owners and Managers Association and chairman of the Australian Building Codes Board
  • John Service (1833-1884), Scottish divine, born at Campsie, son of John Service, engraver
  • Professor Robert John Service (b. 1947), British historian, academic, and author, known for his works on the history of the Soviet Union
  • James Service (1823-1899), Scottish-born, Australian politician, 12th Premier of Victoria in 1880

  1. Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  3. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  4. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  5. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  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. Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  8. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 18th March 2022). Retrieved from
  9. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from on Facebook