Wemyss History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Wemyss family

The surname Wemyss was first found in Fife, where they held a family seat from very ancient times as Lords of the Castle of Wemyss, so named from the Gaelic word Uamch (a cave) derived from the lands and cliffs in which caves abound on the seashore.

Early History of the Wemyss family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Wemyss research. Another 188 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1251, 1286, 1484, 1605, 1608, 1609, 1617, 1596, 1617, 1669, 1625, 1672, 1579, 1636, 1608, 1649, 1610, 1679, 1659, 1705, 1678, 1720, 1657 and 1682 are included under the topic Early Wemyss History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Wemyss Spelling Variations

Spelling variations of this family name include: Wemyss, Weems, Wemys, Wemes and others.

Early Notables of the Wemyss family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the Clan at this time was John Weemes (Weemse, Wemyss) (c.1579-1636), a minister at Church of Scotland, Hebrew scholar and exegete, educated at the University of St Andrews, appointed minister of Hutton, Berwickshire in 1608; John Wemyss (died 1649), the 1st Earl of Wemyss and Lord High Commissioner to the...
Another 51 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Wemyss Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Wemyss family to Ireland

Some of the Wemyss family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 32 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Wemyss migration to the United States +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Wemyss Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • James Wemyss, who landed in America in 1784 [1]

Australia Wemyss migration to Australia +

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

Wemyss Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Wemyss, (b. 1801), aged 30, English bell hanger who was convicted in Glasgow, Scotland for 7 years for manslaughter, transported aboard the "Camden" on 21st March 1831, arriving in New South Wales, Australia [2]
  • Miss Ann Wemyss, (Gunn) who was convicted in Perth, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Cadet" on 4th September 1847, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Land) [3]
  • Mr. Henry Wemyss, Scottish convict who was convicted in Aberdeen, Scotland for 7 years, transported aboard the "Fairlie" on 9th Mary 1852, arriving in Tasmania (Van Diemen's Island) [4]

New Zealand Wemyss 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:

Wemyss Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Fredrick John Wemyss, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1840
  • John Wemyss, aged 41, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Chile" in 1874
  • Catherine Wemyss, aged 47, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Chile" in 1874
  • David Wemyss, aged 9, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Chile" in 1874
  • Catherine Wemyss, aged 7, who arrived in Nelson, New Zealand aboard the ship "Chile" in 1874
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Wemyss (post 1700) +

  • James Wemyss (1748-1833), British Army major during American Revolutionary War at Battle of Fishdam Ford
  • Yuan Wemyss (b. 1976), retired Scottish badminton player who won the Scottish National Championships 13 times
  • James Hay Erskine Wemyss (1829-1864), Scottish Member of Parliament, representing Fife from 1859 until his death
  • James Wemyss (1726-1786), Scottish naval officer and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1763 to 1784
  • James Erskine Wemyss (1789-1854), Scottish Member of Parliament and Rear-Admiral, Member of Parliament for Fife (1832–1847)
  • Admiral of the Fleet Rosslyn Erskine Wemyss GCB, CMG, MVO (b. 1933), 1st Baron Wester Wemyss, known as Sir Rosslyn Wemyss between 1916 and 1919, British Royal Navy officer, Commander of the 12th Cruiser Squadron, Governor of Moudros, Commander of the East Indies & Egyptian Squadron in January 1916 and then First Sea Lord in December 1917
  • Kathy Wemyss, Australian rock multi-instrumentalist, member of Chad's Tree (1989) and The Jackson Code
  • James Balfour Wemyss (1828-1909), New Zealand Member of Parliament in Nelson in 1861
  • General William Wemyss of Wemyss (1760-1822), Scottish soldier in the British Army and Member of Parliament, Member of Parliament for Fife (1807-1820)
  • David Wemyss (1721-1787), 6th Earl of Wemyss
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


The Wemyss 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: Je pense
Motto Translation: I Think.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 2nd December 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/camden
  3. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 17th November 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/cadet/
  4. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 26th September 2022). https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/fairlie


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