Spencer History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Spencer family migrated to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The surname Spencer is for a butler or steward. The surname Spencer was originally derived from the Old French word despensier, of the same meaning.

Early Origins of the Spencer family

The surname Spencer was first found in Leicestershire where "in the eighteenth year of William the Conqueror lived Robertus Dispensator, otherwise called Le Despencer, because he was steward to the king. In the reign of Henry I. there were a William le Despencer and a Thurston Dispencer, but these last were only successors in office, or actual descendants of Robert is not known, and the like uncertainty prevails as to subsequent bearers of the name. " [1]

At this time, some of the family held a family seat at Loughborough. "The noble family of Despenser, anciently possessors of the manor, obtained the grant of a market and fairs for the town." [2]

Later, a branch of the family was found at Yarnton, or Yarington in Oxfordshire. "The church is ancient, with a tower built in 1612, by Sir Thomas Spencer. He also erected the aisle in which he is interred, as a sepulchral chapel for his family, who resided in the old manor-house near the church, the remains of which are now occupied as a farmhouse. In a recess in the aisle is an altar-tomb, with recumbent effigies of Sir William Spencer and his lady; and the churchyard contains a cross embellished with figures in full length, now much mutilated." [2]

Early History of the Spencer family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Spencer research. Another 144 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1259, 1265, 1262, 1326, 1326, 1342, 1402, 1593, 1661, 1621, 1629, 1661, 1570, 1627, 1591, 1636, 1594, 1656, 1621, 1648, 1620, 1643, 1617, 1684, 1601, 1671, 1630 and 1693 are included under the topic Early Spencer History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Spencer 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 Spencer family name include Spencer, Spenser, Spensor and others.

Early Notables of the Spencer family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Hugh le Despenser (d. 1265), Justiciary of England; Hugh le Despenser the Elder, Earl of Winchester (1262-1326), the son of Hugh le Despenser; Hugh le Despenser the Younger, (d. 1326), Baron, son of Hugh le Despenser the Elder; Philip Le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despenser (1342-1402), son and heir of Sir Philip le Despenser of Goxhill, son of Sir Philip Le Despencer; Richard Spencer (1593-1661), an English politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1621 to 1629 and in 1661, he supported the Royalist cause in the English Civil War; Robert...
Another 110 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Spencer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Spencer 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 Spencer family to immigrate North America:

Spencer Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Spencer, who settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Kathren Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1623 [3]
  • William Spencer, who settled in Cambridge Massachusetts in 1630
  • Thomas Spencer, who settled in Maine in 1630
  • Gerard Spencer, who landed in New England in 1632 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Spencer Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Mary Hilles Spencer, who arrived in Virginia in 1701 [3]
  • William Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1701 [3]
  • Mottrom Spencer, who arrived in Virginia in 1703 [3]
  • Eliza Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1711 [3]
  • Peter Spencer, who landed in Virginia in 1714 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Spencer Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Spencer, who arrived in America in 1807 [3]
  • John Spencer, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1808 [3]
  • Henry Spencer, aged 26, who arrived in New York in 1812 [3]
  • Houghton Spencer, aged 34, who landed in Connecticut in 1812 [3]
  • Benjamin Spencer, aged 39, who landed in West Indies in 1812 [3]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Spencer Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • Richard Oliver Spencer, who arrived in Michigan in 1904 [3]

Canada Spencer migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Spencer Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mathew Spencer, who settled in Bay de Verde, Newfoundland, in 1709 [4]
  • William Spencer, who settled in Newfoundland in 1730 [4]
  • Edward Spencer, who arrived in Quebec in 1784
  • Mr. Andrew Spencer U.E. who settled in Sophiasburgh & Ameliasburgh [Prince Edward County], Ontario c. 1784 [5]
  • Mr. Jeremiah Spencer U.E. who settled in Canada c. 1784 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Spencer Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • William Spencer, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1824
  • Caleb Spencer, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • Chester Spencer, who arrived in Canada in 1832
  • William Spencer, who arrived in Canada in 1832
  • John Spencer, who arrived in Nova Scotia in 1834
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Spencer migration to Australia +

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

Spencer Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Spencer, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Albion" on May 29, 1828, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Jane Spencer, who arrived in Holdfast Bay, Australia aboard the ship "Katherine Stewart Forbes" in 1837 [7]
  • Mr. George Spencer, British Convict who was convicted in London, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Asia" on 20th July 1837, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [8]
  • Sarah Spencer, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1839 [9]
  • Harriet Spencer, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1839 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Spencer 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:

Spencer Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • J Spencer, who landed in Bluff Harbour, New Zealand in 1824
  • J Spencer, who landed in Old Bluff, New Zealand in 1834
  • J Spencer, who landed in Taranaki, New Zealand in 1840
  • S Spencer, who landed in Taranaki, New Zealand in 1840
  • Abel Spencer, aged 27, who arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Oriental" in 1840
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Spencer (post 1700) +

  • Diana Spencer (1961-1997), Princess of Wales, the first wife of Charles, the Prince of Wales, her eldest son is the heir apparent of Elizabeth II
  • Vaino Hassan Spencer (1920-2016), American jurist, the first African-American woman appointed to a judgeship in California
  • Daryl Dean Spencer (1928-2017), American Major League Baseball player who played from 1952 to 1963
  • John Spencer (1946-2005), American Emmy Award winning actor, best known for his role as White House Chief of Staff Leo McGarry on the NBC political drama series The West Wing
  • Octavia Lenora Spencer (b. 1972), American Academy Award, BAFTA and Golden Globe Award winning actress
  • Percy LeBaron Spencer (1894-1970), American engineer and inventor of the microwave oven
  • Joel Spencer (b. 1946), American mathematician
  • Emerson Lane "Bud" Spencer (1906-1985), American athlete, winner of gold medal in 4x400 m relay at the 1928 Summer Olympics
  • Dale F. Spencer, American fighter pilot and flying ace in the U.S. Army Air Forces, during World War II, credited with 9 ½ aerial victories
  • Aubrey George Spencer (1795-1872), English prelate, 1st Bishop of Newfoundland, son of William Robert Spencer
  • ... (Another 22 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Empress of Ireland
  • Mr. Charles Herbert Spencer, British Bell Boy from United Kingdom who worked aboard the Empress of Ireland and survived the sinking [10]
HMS Cornwall
  • Stanley Henry Spencer (d. 1942), British Telegraphist aboard the HMS Cornwall when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he died in the sinking [11]
HMS Hood
  • Mr. Arthur Spencer (b. 1909), English Mechanician 2nd Class serving for the Royal Navy from Hunslet, Leeds, Yorkshire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [12]
HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. Standford Spencer, British Petty Officer, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [13]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Frederick George Spencer, British Ordinary Seaman, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking, also sailed aboard the HMS Exeter [14]
HMS Royal Oak
  • William Harry Spencer (1921-1939), British Boy 1st Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]
  • Harry Spencer (1922-1939), British Boy 1st Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]
  • Cecil James Spencer (1922-1939), British Boy 1st Class with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]
  • Arthur Kenneth Spencer (1921-1939), British Seaman with the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. William Augustus Spencer (d. 1912), aged 57, American First Class passenger from New York City, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [16]
  • Mrs. Marie Eugenie Spencer, aged 45, American First Class passenger from New York City, New York who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping in life boat 6 [16]


The Spencer 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: Dieu defend le droit
Motto Translation: God defends the right.


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  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
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Albion voyage to New South Wales, Australia in 1828 with 192 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/albion/1828
  7. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) KATHERINE STEWART FORBES 1837 arrived Holdfast Bay, near Adelaide, on October 17, 1837. . Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1837KatherineStewartForbes.htm
  8. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 7th February 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1837
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCE REGENT 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839PrinceRegent.htm
  10. ^ Commemoration Empress of Ireland 2014. (Retrieved 2014, June 17) . Retrieved from http://www.empress2014.ca/seclangen/listepsc1.html
  11. ^ Force Z Survivors Crew List HMS Cornwall (Retrieved 2018, February 13th) - Retrieved from https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listcornwallcrew.html#A
  12. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  13. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html
  14. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  15. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html
  16. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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