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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2015

Where did the Scottish Sterling family come from? What is the Scottish Sterling family crest and coat of arms? When did the Sterling family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Sterling family history?

The ancestors of the Sterling family were part of an ancient Scottish tribe called the Picts. They lived in the town of Stirling in the county of the same name. Stirling was a royal residence from 1226.


Prior to the invention of the printing press in the last hundred years, documents were basically unique. Names were written according to sound, and often appeared differently each time they were recorded. Spelling variations of the name Sterling include Stirling, Sterling, Sturling, Strivelynd and others.

First found in Stirlingshire, where they held a family seat at Stirling from very early times, some say, well before the Norman Conquest. The name was anciently spelt Stryvelin, and one of the first references was of Gilbertus de Striuelin who witnessed the donation of Perdeyc by King David to the church of Glasgow in 1136 and Walter de Stryvelin witnessing a deed by Prince Henry, son of King David 1st of Scotland in the same year. Peter de Striuelin was witness to the donation of the church of Karreden to the abbey of Hollyrood around 1158. Thomas de Stervlen was witness to a charter made by King Alexander II in 1224 and was Archdeacon of Glasgow in 1228. Sir Gilbert de Striuelyng witnessed legal proceedings in Aberdeen around 1250. Sir John Stirling of Moray swore fealty in 1291, and Andreu de Strivelyn and Henry de Strivelyn both swore an oath of allegiance to King Edward I of England during the latter's short conquest of Scotland in 1296. The Stirlings of Keir, where the Clan seat resides, claim to have an unbroken line of chiefs that stretches from 1160 to 1677. Sir Alexander de Strivelyn, the fifth Laird of Cadder died in 1304.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sterling research. Another 160 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1524, 1621, 1640, 1666, 1669, 1678, 1692, 1770, 1790, and 1878 are included under the topic Early Sterling History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 41 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Sterling Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Sterling family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 154 words (11 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


The freedom of the North American colonies was enticing, and many Scots left to make the great crossing. It was a long and hard journey, but its reward was a place where there was more land than people and tolerance was far easier to come by. Many of these people came together to fight for a new nation in the American War of Independence, while others remained loyal to the old order as United Empire Loyalists. The ancestors of Scots in North America have recovered much of this heritage in the 20th century through clan societies and other such organizations. A search of immigration and passenger lists revealed many important and early immigrants to North America bearing the name of Sterling:

Sterling Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • David and John Sterling who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1651
  • David Sterling, who landed in America in 1652
  • John Sterling, who arrived in America in 1652
  • Thomas Sterling settled in Virginia in 1655
  • William Sterling settled in Virginia in 1656

Sterling Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Philippe Sterling, who landed in Louisiana in 1719
  • Will Sterling settled in Georgia in 1734
  • Letitia Sterling settled in New Jersey in 1773
  • Robert Sterling settled in Dominica in 1774

Sterling Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Guillermo Sterling, aged 23, landed in Puerto Rico in 1803
  • Joseph Sterling, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1807
  • Hugh Sterling, who landed in America in 1807
  • Robert Sterling, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
  • Alexander Sterling, who arrived in Louisiana in 1813

Sterling Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Henry Sterling, who arrived in Canada in 1833
  • Catherine Sterling, aged 27, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Eweretta" in 1833

Sterling Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • James Sterling arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Navarino" in 1837
  • Robert Sterling arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Bolton" in 1849
  • Cornelius Sterling, aged 25, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1858 aboard the ship "General Hewett"

Sterling Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • William Sterling landed in The Bluff, New Zealand in 1839


  • Barry Evan Sterling (1943-2014), American businessman and politician, Member of the Tennessee House of Representatives
  • Ross S. Sterling (1875-1949), American politician
  • Thomas Sterling (1851-1930), American politician
  • John Sterling (b. 1948), American radio broadcaster
  • John William Sterling (1844-1918), American philanthropist, corporate attorney, and benefactor to Yale University
  • Jan Sterling (1921-2004), award-winning American actress
  • Antoinette Sterling (1850-1904), Anglo-American vocalist
  • Wallace Sterling (1906-1985), Canadian-born American university president
  • Annette Sterling (b. 1942), American soul singer
  • Andrew B Sterling (1874-1955), American songwriter



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: Gang forward
Motto Translation: Go forward.


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  1. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  2. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  3. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. Acts of Malcom IV 1153-65 Volume I Regesta Regum Scottorum 1153-1424. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1960. Print.
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  6. Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland. Glasgow & London: Collins, 1968. Print. (ISBN 000411117-6).
  7. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  8. Bell, Robert. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Belfast: Blackstaff, 1988. Print. (ISBN 10-0856404160).
  9. Moncrieffe, Sir Ian of That Ilk and Don Pottinger. Clan Map Scotland of Old. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1983. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry Including American Families with British Ancestry 2 Volumes. London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  11. ...

The Sterling Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Sterling Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 2 March 2015 at 20:53.

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