Witney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Witney is one of the thousands of new names that the Norman Conquest brought to England in 1066. The Witney family lived in Herefordshire, at the village of Whitney.

Early Origins of the Witney family

The surname Witney was first found in Herefordshire where Harold de Whitney held the Lordship of Whitney from St. Guthlac's Church.

Early History of the Witney family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Witney research. Another 45 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1377, 1413, 1436, 1548, 1601 and 1388 are included under the topic Early Witney History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Witney Spelling Variations

Multitudes of spelling variations are a hallmark of Anglo Norman names. Most of these names evolved in the 11th and 12th century, in the time after the Normans introduced their own Norman French language into a country where Old and Middle English had no spelling rules and the languages of the court were French and Latin. To make matters worse, medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, so names frequently appeared differently in the various documents in which they were recorded. The name was spelled Whitney, Witney and others.

Early Notables of the Witney family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Robert Whitney of Whitney-on-Wye and Pencombe, High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1377; and Robert Whitney of Whitney-on-Wye, High Sheriff of Herefordshire in 1413 and 1436. Geoffrey Whitney (1548?-1601?), was an English poet, the son of a father of the...
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Witney Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Witney family to Ireland

Some of the Witney family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 49 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Witney migration to the United States +

Because of this political and religious unrest within English society, many people decided to immigrate to the colonies. Families left for Ireland, North America, and Australia in enormous numbers, traveling at high cost in extremely inhospitable conditions. The New World in particular was a desirable destination, but the long voyage caused many to arrive sick and starving. Those who made it, though, were welcomed by opportunities far greater than they had known at home in England. Many of these families went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of Canada and the United States. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Witney or a variant listed above:

Witney Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Thomas Witney, who settled in Virginia in 1635
  • Thomas Witney, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [1]

Australia Witney migration to Australia +

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

Witney Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Witney, English convict who was convicted in Chelmsford, Essex, England for 7 years, transported aboard the "Bangalore" on 1st January 1850, arriving in Moreton Bay, Queensland, Australia [2]

Contemporary Notables of the name Witney (post 1700) +

  • William Nuelsen Witney (1915-2002), American film and television director
  • Michael Witney (1931-1983), born Whitney Michael Armstrong, an American film and television actor
  • Charles H. "Buck" Witney (b. 1919), Canadian politician, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1959 to 1969


The Witney 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: Volens et valens
Motto Translation: Willing and able.


  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 11th September 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/australasia


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