Show ContentsSpice History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The vast movement of people that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066 brought the Spice family name to the British Isles. Spice is a name for a grocer which was in turn derived from the Old French word espice, of the same meaning. [1] [2]

"What we now call a grocer, because, inter alia, he deals in figs (grossi), the French call an epicier, or spicer, because he sells spices." [3]

Early Origins of the Spice family

The surname Spice was first found in Devon where conjecturally the Spicers were under tenants of the Count of Mortain at the time of the Norman Conquest. Benedict le Spicer was listed in the Rotuli de Oblatis et Finibus, at the time of King John. [4]

Some of the first entries in early rolls for the family include: William le Espicer in the Pipe Rolls for Kent in 1184; Bertram le Specier in the Pipe Rolls for Hampshire and in the Assize Rolls for Somerset in 1201; and Hugo le Especer in the Curia Regis Rolls for Cambridge in 1214. [5]

Later, the singular form of the name appeared: William Spice in the Feet of Fines for Suffolk in 1326; and Clement Spice in the Feet of Fines for Cambridgeshire in 1399. [5]

A search of the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 revealed: Simon le Spicere, Cambridgeshire; William le Spicere, Oxfordshire; and William Speciar, Lincolnshire. Up in the north of England, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 show the name as both a trade name and a surname: Adam Spisar, spicer; and Giliaum Spyser, 1379. [6]

Continuing our quest north into Scotland, the name had the same meaning "spicer, dealer in spices," and two early entries, both as a result of the invasion of King Edward I of England: "Rauf le Spicer rendered homage, 1296, and Eustace Lespicer and Martin Lespicer rendered homage at Berwick, 1291." [7]

Early History of the Spice family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Spice research. Another 95 words (7 lines of text) covering the years 1273, 1296, 1743, 1765, 1773, 1774, 1777, 1783, 1792 and 1804 are included under the topic Early Spice History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Spice Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Spicer, Spicers, Spice and others.

Early Notables of the Spice family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Henry Spicer (1743?-1804), English miniature-painter, born at Reepham, Norfolk, about 1743, and became a pupil of Gervase Spencer. He worked both on ivory and in enamel, and was one of the ablest mini...
  • in 1773 he was secretary to the society. He exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy in 1774, and about 1777 went to Dublin, where he resided for some years, and was largely employed. From 17...

Ireland Migration of the Spice family to Ireland

Some of the Spice 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 Spice migration to the United States +

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Spice or a variant listed above:

Spice Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Christian Spice, who arrived in New England in 1637 [8]
  • Georg Spice, who arrived in Virginia in 1638 [8]
Spice Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Spice, who arrived in New York, NY in 1833 [8]
  • William Felix Spice, who landed in New York in 1833 [8]
  • John S Spice, who landed in Ohio in 1884 [8]

Australia Spice migration to Australia +

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

Spice Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Thomas Spice, British Convict who was convicted in Sussex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Coromandel" on 27th October 1819, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [9]
  • John Spice, aged 40, a coachman, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Stag" [10]

Contemporary Notables of the name Spice (post 1700) +

  • Gordon Spice (1940-2021), British racing driver who competed in both sports cars and Touring Car racing in the 1960s and 1970s, before starting Spice Engineering with fellow racing driver Ray Bellm in the 1980s

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. Arthur, William , An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. London: 1857. Print
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  5. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  6. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. 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)
  8. 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)
  9. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th March 2021). Retrieved from
  10. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STAG 1850. Retrieved on Facebook