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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016


The name Wait is from the ancient Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name was given to a person who was a watchman. Wait is an occupational surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Occupational surnames were derived from the primary activity of the bearer. In the Middle Ages, people did not generally live off of the fruits of their labor in a particular job. Rather, they performed a specialized task, as well as farming, for subsistence. Other occupational names were derived from an object associated with a particular activity. This surname comes from the Anglo-Norman-French word waite, which means watch. Waits or Waites were British town pipers. Up until 1835, every British town and city of note had a band of Waites and more often than not, they played and instrument called the Wait-pipe.

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The surname Wait was first found in Cornwall where they were Lords of the manor of Arwennick, and held a family seat from very ancient times some say well before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Sound was what guided spelling in the essentially pre-literate Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Also, before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Therefore, spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Wait family name include Waite, Wait, Wayte, Waits, Waight and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wait research. Another 121 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1611, 1699 and 1688 are included under the topic Early Wait History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 71 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wait Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Wait family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 37 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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For political, religious, and economic reasons, thousands of English families boarded ships for Ireland, the Canadas, the America colonies, and many of smaller tropical colonies in the hope of finding better lives abroad. Although the passage on the cramped, dank ships caused many to arrive in the New World diseased and starving, those families that survived the trip often went on to make valuable contributions to those new societies to which they arrived. Investigation of the origins of family names on the North American continent has revealed that early immigrants bearing the name Wait or a variant listed above:

Wait Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Wait, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1634
  • Thomas Wait, who arrived in Rhode Island in 1638
  • John Wait, who landed in Charlestown, Massachusetts in 1662

Wait Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Raynes Wait settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1767
  • Hugh Wait, aged 27, arrived in New York or Georgia in 1775

Wait Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • William Wait, who landed in New York in 1822
  • Edward Wait, who arrived in New York in 1822
  • Benjamin Wait, who landed in New York in 1845
  • Hester Wait, who arrived in New York in 1847

Wait Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • Garner Wait, who landed in Canada in 1830
  • Joseph M Wait, who landed in Canada in 1836
  • Samuel Wait, who landed in Canada in 1840
  • George Wait, who arrived in Canada in 1841
  • Griffin Wait, who landed in Canada in 1841


Wait Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • John Wait arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Constance" in 1848
  • Francis Wait arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Princess Royal" in 1848
  • William Wait, aged 34, a butcher, arrived in South Australia in 1853 aboard the ship "Neptune"

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  • J. Paul Wait, American politician, Candidate in primary for Circuit Judge in Michigan 15th Circuit, 1953
  • I. G. Wait, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1868
  • Henry L. Wait, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Albany County 3rd District, 1863
  • H. C. Wait, American politician, Member of Minnesota State House of Representatives 3rd District, 1863; Member of Minnesota State Senate 3rd District, 1870-71
  • George W. Wait, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Illinois, 1856
  • George E. Wait, American politician, Delegate to Illinois State Constitutional Convention 46th District, 1869-70
  • Frank W. Wait, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Michigan, 1896; Member of Michigan Republican State Central Committee, 1899
  • David Wait, American politician, Supervisor of Delhi Township, Michigan, 1847-49, 1852-53, 1864-65
  • Albert S. Wait, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from New Hampshire, 1864
  • Addison Wait, American Republican politician, Secretary of State of Nebraska, 1911-15

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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: Pro aris et focis
Motto Translation: For our altars and our home.

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  1. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  2. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  3. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  4. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  5. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  6. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  7. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  8. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
  9. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  10. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
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The Wait Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Wait 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 11 November 2015 at 10:37.

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