Show ContentsServiss History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Serviss reached English shores for the first time with the ancestors of the Serviss family as they migrated following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Serviss 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 Serviss family

The surname Serviss 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 Serviss family

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

Serviss Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names tend to be marked by an enormous number of spelling variations. This is largely due to the fact that Old and Middle English lacked any spelling rules when Norman French was introduced in the 11th century. The languages of the English courts at that time were French and Latin. These various languages mixed quite freely in the evolving social milieu. The final element of this mix is that medieval scribes spelled words according to their sounds rather than any definite rules, so a name was often spelled in as many different ways as the number of documents it appeared in. The name was spelled Service, Surface, Serfaes, Servas, Servaes, Serveas, Servais, Services, Serfice and many more.

Early Notables of the Serviss family (pre 1700)

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, M.P., at Lennoxtown, was born at Campsie on 26 Feb. 1833. "He was ordained in the church of Scotland in 1862, and for ten months performed ministerial work at Hamilton, near Glasgow. Shortly afterwards he spent eighteen months in Australia owing to failure of health. At the end of the period he was inducted to St. John's Presbyterian church (May...
Another 85 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Serviss Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Serviss migration to the United States +

Because of the political and religious discontent in England, families began to migrate abroad in enormous numbers. Faced with persecution and starvation at home, the open frontiers and generally less oppressive social environment of the New World seemed tantalizing indeed to many English people. The trip was difficult, and not all made it unscathed, but many of those who did get to Canada and the United States made important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Some of the first North American settlers with Serviss name or one of its variants:

Serviss Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Robert Serviss, who settled in Philadelphia in 1832
  • Garritt P. Serviss, aged 45, who landed in America, in 1896
Serviss Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • T. W. Serviss, aged 29, who immigrated to the United States, in 1906
  • Garett Serviss, aged 46, who immigrated to the United States, in 1910
  • Mrs. Garrett Serviss, aged 46, who landed in America, in 1911
  • William J Serviss, aged 24, who landed in America, in 1922
  • Katherine Serviss, aged 25, who immigrated to America, in 1922

Canada Serviss migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Serviss Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. John Serviss U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [5]
  • Mr. John Philip Serviss U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [5]
  • Mr. Philip Serviss U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Serviss (post 1700) +

  • Garrett Serviss (1881-1907), American silver medalist high jumper at the 1904 Summer Olympics
  • Garrett Putnam Serviss (1851-1929), early American astronomer and science fiction writer
  • Tom Serviss (b. 1948), Canadian retired professional WHA ice hockey player

  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. 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 on Facebook