Show ContentsSydney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Sydney was brought to England in the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Sydney family lived in St Denis, Normandy. 1 One noted author agrees with this generally accepted premise, but he points out that "proof is lacking. The only evidence noted is: Roger de Sancto Dionisio 1212 Fees for Norfolk." He feels that the name more likely originated at Sidney Farm, in Alfold, Surrey and meant "dweller by the wide well-watered land." 2

Early Origins of the Sydney family

The surname Sydney was first found in Kent where they settled in Lewes Priory in 1188, coming from Anjou in Normandy. The founder of this family in England was Sir William Sydney, Chamberlain of King Henry II., who came from Anjou with that monarch, and was buried at Lewes Priory, East Sussex in 1188. 3 In Surrey, we also found John ate Sydenye in the Subsidy Rolls for 1332 and in Sussex, William Sydny was recorded in 1428. 2

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 included: Richard de Sanct' Deonise, Norfolk; and Robert de Sanct' Deonisio, Devon. 4

Early History of the Sydney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Sydney research. Another 117 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1515, 1529, 1534, 1554, 1563, 1580, 1586, 1595, 1598, 1619, 1623, 1626, 1641, 1649, 1659, 1676, 1677, 1680, 1681, 1682, 1683, 1698, 1702, 1704, 1705, 1729, 1737 and 1743 are included under the topic Early Sydney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Sydney Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence in the eras before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate regularly changed the spellings of their names as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Sydney have been found, including Sidney, Sydney and others.

Early Notables of the Sydney family

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was

  • Algernon Sidney (Sydney) (1623-1683), an English politician, opponent of King Charles II of England, charged with plotting against the King and was executed for treason
  • Henry Sydney (or Sidney), 1st Earl of Romney (1641-1704)

United States Sydney migration to the United States +

For many English families, the social climate in England was oppressive and lacked opportunity for change. For such families, the shores of Ireland, Australia, and the New World beckoned. They left their homeland at great expense in ships that were overcrowded and full of disease. Many arrived after the long voyage sick, starving, and without a penny. But even those were greeted with greater opportunity than they could have experienced back home. Numerous English settlers who arrived in the United States and Canada at this time went on to make important contributions to the developing cultures of those countries. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Sydney were among those contributors:

Sydney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Geo Sydney, who arrived in Arkansas in 1888 5

Australia Sydney migration to Australia +

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

Sydney Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Lee Sydney, aged 26, a farm labourer, who arrived in South Australia in 1850 aboard the ship "Stag" 6
  • Mr. George Sydney, British Convict who was convicted in Stafford, Staffordshire, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Corona" on 13th October 1866, arriving in Western Australia, Australia 7

New Zealand Sydney 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:

Sydney Settlers in New Zealand in the 20th Century
  • Phyllis Sydney, aged 18, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "S. S. Waimana" in 1926
  • Louie Sydney, aged 15, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "S. S. Waimana" in 1926
  • John Sydney, aged 13, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "S. S. Waimana" in 1926

Contemporary Notables of the name Sydney (post 1700) +

  • Sylvia Sydney, Actress and film star
  • John Sydney Millar CBE (1934-2023), Northern Irish rugby union prop who played for Ballymena RFC and international rugby for Ireland and the British Lions
  • Major-General John Sydney Lethbridge CB, CBE, MC (b. 1897), British soldier in the Second World War with British Expeditionary Force in France in 1939, Commander Royal Engineers for the 59th (Staffordshire) Infantry Division
  • Edwin Sydney Stuart (1853-1937), American politician, Governor of Pennsylvania from 1907-1911
  • Alan Sydney Minter (1951-2020), British professional boxer who held the undisputed middleweight title in 1980
  • Mr. Robert Sydney Barnes B.E.M., British Trainer and Parent Consultant for Adoption UK, was appointed the British Empire Medal on 8th June 2018, for services to Adoption 8
  • Alfred Sydney Wigan (1814-1878), English actor-manager who took part in the first Royal Command Performance before Queen Victoria on 28 December 1848 9
  • Mr Sydney Tavender, British chairman of the Cotswold branch of the Far East Prisoners of War during World War II
  • John Sydney Buller MBE (1909-1970), English first-class cricketer
  • Sir Arthur Sydney Hutchinson KBE CB CVO (1896-1981), British soldier and civil servant

The Sydney 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: Quo fata vocant
Motto Translation: Wherever fate may summon me.

  1. Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York: Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. 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)
  6. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) STAG 1850. Retrieved
  7. Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 24th March 2021). Retrieved from
  8. "Birthday and New Year Honours Lists (1940 to 2019)." Issue 62310, 31 October 2019 | London Gazette, The Gazette, June 2018,
  9. Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 31 Jan. 2019 on Facebook