Shorten History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Norman name Shorten was originally used for a person who was a stocky or short-necked person which was in turn derived from the Anglo-Saxon word scorkhals meaning a person with a short neck. [1]

Early Origins of the Shorten family

The surname Shorten was first found in Northumberland where they held a family seat from very early times being granted lands at Shotthaugh by William after the Conquest in 1066 A.D. Shorten is a variant of the well-known Shortall. (Woulfe)

Early History of the Shorten family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Shorten research. Another 146 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1290, 1326, 1641, 1535, 1503, 1505, 1507, 1509, 1642 and 1639 are included under the topic Early Shorten History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Shorten 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 Shorthalls, Shortals, Shortall, Shottall, Shottalls, Shortells, Shortell, Shorthill, Shotthaugh, Shotter and many more.

Early Notables of the Shorten family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Robert Shorton (died 1535), English divine, Archdeacon of Bath, one of the earliest scholars of Jesus College, Cambridge. He graduated M.A. in 1503, and was elected fellow of...
Another 35 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Shorten Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Shorten family to Ireland

Some of the Shorten family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 128 words (9 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Shorten 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 Shorten name or one of its variants:

Shorten Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Mary Shorten, who arrived in Virginia in 1636 [2]
Shorten Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Helena Shorten, aged 20, who landed in America from Kielnacraugh, in 1897
Shorten Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Annie Shorten, aged 29, who landed in America from Leicester, England, in 1907
  • Bridget or Maggie Shorten, aged 26, who immigrated to America from Kinsale, Ireland, in 1912
  • Edith A. Shorten, aged 31, who landed in America from Sacriston, England, in 1912
  • Edna Shorten, aged 3, who immigrated to the United States from Sacriston, England, in 1912
  • Elsie Shorten, aged 7, who landed in America from Sacriston, England, in 1912
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Shorten (post 1700) +

  • Charles Henry "Chick" Shorten (1892-1965), American baseball outfielder for 18 years from 1911 to 1928, including eight seasons in Major League Baseball with the Boston Red Sox (1915–1917), Detroit Tigers (1919–1921), St. Louis Browns (1922), and Cincinnati Reds (1924)
  • Harry Shorten (1914-1991), American writer, editor, and book publisher best known for the syndicated gag cartoon There Oughta Be a Law!
  • Clive Shorten (b. 1973), English former competitive figure skater, 1992 Piruetten bronze medalist, 1994 Czech Skate silver medalist, and 1999 British national champion
  • John "Jack" Shorten (1887-1958), Australian rules footballer
  • John "Jack" Shorten (1886-1972), Irish Gaelic footballer who played as a full-back for club side Lees and at senior level for the Cork county team from 1908 until 1915
  • Rebecca Shorten (b. 1993), Northern Irish and British rower who won a silver medal in the eight at the 2019 European Rowing Championships
  • Clothilde Edwina Louise Shorten (b. 1971), née Bryce, an Australian corporate affairs specialist and the spouse of former Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten
  • Anthony Shorten (b. 1969), Australian Liberal National politician, Member of the Queensland Parliament for Algester (2012-2015)
  • George "Tich" Shorten (b. 1901), Australian rules footballer
  • William Richard "Bill" Shorten (b. 1967), Australian politician, Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation


The Shorten 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: Certavi et vici
Motto Translation: I have fought and conquered.


  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. ^ 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)


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