Whitherspoon History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestors of the Whitherspoon name date back to the kingdom of Dalriada in ancient Scotland. Whitherspoon was a name for someone who lived in various places throughout Scotland. It may have been a habitation name from a now lost place name, thought to come from the Old English terms wether, which means "sheep," and "spong," or from spang, which means "a narrow strip of land." [1] Habitation names form a broad category of surnames that were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Whitherspoon family

The surname Whitherspoon was first found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Friù), a historic county of Scotland, today encompassing the Council Areas of Renfrew, East Renfrewshire, and Iverclyde, in the Strathclyde region of southwestern Scotland.

The first record of the family was found c. 1290 when Roger Wythirspon, clerk, attested a grant by James the High Steward of lands in Renfrew. [1]

The family acquired business interests in Glasgow, and also were tenants of the Cupar Angus Abbey.

In 1496, a payment was thus noted: "Widderspune the foulare that tald talis and brocht foulis to the king." Later, John Wyddirspwn was tenant of Dalbeth in 1518 and a tenant of Cupar-Angus Abbey, c. 1500, was named Wychthirspone. [1]

Further to the south in England, the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed Adam Wytherpyn and Adam Wyerpin in Norfolk. Later in 1379, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls listed Johannes Withspone and Willelmus Wythspone. The reference The History of Norfolk notes John Wetherpyn was vicar of Thrickby, Norfolk in 1419. [2] Interestingly, the last author comments: "I can make nothing out of this surname, and leave it to the consideration of more enlightened students. I can furnish them with materials, but that is all. My Yorkshire references clearly represent some of its ancestors." [2] We can only presume that this learned gentleman had not considered Yorkshire's close proximity to Scotland and a presumable migration from there.

Early History of the Whitherspoon family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Whitherspoon research. Another 130 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1548, 1521, 1546, 1547, 1643, 1646, 1722, 1794, 1768, 1850, 1921 and 1894 are included under the topic Early Whitherspoon History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Whitherspoon Spelling Variations

Spelling in the medieval era was a highly imprecise process. Translation, particularly from Gaelic to English, was little better. For these reasons, early Scottish names are rife with spelling variations. In various documents Whitherspoon has been spelled Wotherspoon, Witherspoon, Weatherspoon, Wetherspoon and many more.

Early Notables of the Whitherspoon family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Whitherspoon Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Whitherspoon family

Ancestors of many of the Dalriadan families who crossed the Atlantic still live along the east coast of the United States and Canada. Some Scottish settlers arrived in Canada during the American War of Independence as United Empire Loyalists, while others stayed south to fight for a new nation. The descendants of Scottish settlers in both countries began to rediscover their heritage in the 19th and 20th centuries through Clan societies and highland games. An inquiry into the early roots of North American families has revealed a number of immigrants bearing the name Whitherspoon or a variant listed above: Grizell Wotherspoon settled in East New Jersey in 1686; she also spelt her name Witherspoon; Elizabeth, Henry, James, John, Margaret Witherspoon, all arrived in New England in 1804.



The Whitherspoon 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: Deo juvante
Motto Translation: By God’s assistance.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)


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