Elliott Surname Genealogy

the surname is seen by some to derive from the Anglo-Saxon personal
name Aelfward or Elewald, meaing “elf ruler.”
This may apply to the
Border Elliotts in Scotland and England. An Elewald was recorded
as living in Cumberland in 1279 and the Elliott name occasionally
occurred in the form of Elwald or Elwold until the 15th century.
Alternatively, some see
Elliott deriving from the Scandinavian name Alyot or as a diminutive of Ellis
or Elis, medieval
vernacular forms of the Biblical Eliyah
meaning “Jehovah is God.” This explanation may more readily
fit with the Elliotts in
southern England.  It has also been argued that the Elliott name is of Breton origin.
The name comes
with many variants
, Elliot, Eliot and
Ellot among them. The Elliotts are the most numerous today.
But the other names have had their importance in the past.

Resources on

Elliott Ancestry

The Elliots were one of the great riding clans of the western Scottish
borders. There were different banches of the clan
over time. But leadership resided initially with the Redheugh
(Robert Ellot who fell at Flodden in 1513 had been their 12th
chief). This clan built
strong towers around their base in Liddesdale and held Hermitage
castle south of Hawick at times as well. They were a rough and
hardy sort,
as this story might suggest:

“A visitor to Liddesdale found no
churches there and remarked on it, asking: ‘Are there no Christians
here?’ He received the reply: ‘Na, we’s a’ Elliots and

The Ellots of Redheugh were
involved in much of the Border fighting during the 16th century.

After the pacification of the Borders in the early 1600’s, many
Elliots were hanged, outlawed and banished, with a number heading to
Ulster in the 1609 plantation. The Redheughs became Stobs and
then Minto. The Mintos took the right side during the Glorious
Revolution of 1688 and were rewarded with knighthood and titles and
became part of the political establishment. A clan history The Elliots: The Story of a Border Clan
was written by Lady Eliott of Stobs and Sir Arthur Eliott.

The Borders themselves depopulated, with many Elliots drifting to
Edinburgh and Glasgow. Elliot and Elliott became the main spellings,
with the older forms dying out.

Ireland. The Elliots,
dispossessed in the Borders, settled as tenant
farmers in Ulster, manly in Fermanagh. Here they formed a cohesive
group, strong enough to ride
out the 1641 rising. They perpetuated their Border traditions,
large closely-knit family groups with intense clan loyalties and
ongoing feuds. Today the Elliotts, together with the Armstrongs
and the Johnstons from the Borders, comprise three of the five most
common names in Fermanagh.

Other Elliotts were to be found in county Donegal, to the north of
Fermanagh. The first records of them there date back to the
1630’s. The main concentration was around Castlefin in Donaghmore
parish. Some Elliotts are still farming the same lands there
today. The Elliotts of Donegal Town used to have a rather fierce
anti-Catholic reputation.

Many of these Scots Irish Elliotts emigrated in the 18th and 19th
centuries, America and Canada being the principal destinations.

England. The Elliott
name, generally as Elliot, was also present south of the border, in
Northumberland and in Durham as the coal industry started to attract
miners there.

NE England Sir
George Elliot from Gateshead worked his way up in the business in
the 19th century and became a rich and influential mine owner.

The Elliotts of Birtley grew up in a Durham mining town.
The first of their numbers was a foundling. Jack Elliott, a
coal miner himself, launched the family into folk singing and the
Birtley Folksong and Ballad Club was begun by him in 1962 (it still
runs today). According to a descendant Laura Elliott:

“My great grandfather was indeed a
foundling. He was left on the doorstep of a family named Taylor
in Gateshead with a tag around his neck which read: ‘My name is Frank
Elliott. Please look after me.'”

The film Billy
was based in a Durham coal town. Its fictional
hero sought a way out of mining through ballet dancing.

SW England
Elliott has also been a name of the southwest of England. The
early spelling here was Elyot. A William Elyot appeared in the
Assize rolls for Somerset in 1327 and an Edmund Elyot was recorded
there in 1417.

The Elyots were prominent in the town of Bristol around 1500, Hugh as
merchant, John as bailiff, and Robert as abbot of St. Augustine.
Hugh sponsored overseas exploration and claimed to have discovered
Newfoundland before Cabot (although this is unlikely). Another
Elyot family bought St. Germans in Cornwall
later in the 1500’s. From this family came Sir John Eliot, an
defender of Parliament against the King.

“Sir John was one of the most prominent
members of Parliament ‘who early and resolutely opposed the
encroachments of the King and defended the Protestant religion against
the Papacy.’ He died a martyr to the liberties of England.”

John was imprisoned in the Tower of London and died there in
1632. Through his wayward second son Richard, a line of these
Elliotts served abroad with the British army
. However,
the main line stayed in Cornwall and later became very
distinguished. Edward Eliot was raised to the peerage in 1784 and
his son became the Earl of St. Germans.

Gradually the Elliott spelling displaced Eliot in this region.
Elliotts of that spelling were farmers and millers in Morbury in north
Devon in the late 1600’s. By the time of the 1891 census the Eliot
spelling had practically disappeared.

SE England
Elliotts were also present in SE England. The
starting point here appears to have been Ely in Cambridgeshire where
the name was to be found around the year 1200.

Elyot was parson of Worlingham church in Suffolk from 1382 to 1390; and
Sir Thomas
Elyot, a scholar and diplomat in the court of Henry VIII, probably came
that county. Edward Elliott held Newland Hall and a number of
in Essex during Elizabethan times (from his line came early
immigrants to America, including the Rev. John Elliott, known as “the
apostle to the

The name had reached Sussex by the 14th century. John Elliot was
born in the
parish of Rotherfield around 1558. One family history began with
a George Elliott, born in Hartfield in 1765.

Early Elliotts
in America
were to be found in Newfoundland and Virginia, as
well as the larger traffic into New England.

New England The
Andrew Eliot who left East Coker near Yeovil in Somerset for
America sometime in the 1660’s was the forebear
of a
formidable Boston Brahmin family
who became pillars of the
American educational establishment:

  • Charles W. Eliot transformed Harvard from a college into a
  • and William G. Eliot founded one of America’s major
    universities, Washington University in St. Louis.

The Eliot ranks
included several
college presidents, a Nobel prize winner, and presidents of various
American professional associations. The poet T.S. Eliot moved to
England and his ashes were interred in East Coker. He wanted to
be laid to rest in the original birthplace of his first American

Henry Eliot Scott has
chronicled the St. Louis side of this family’s genealogy in his 1988
book The Family of William Greenleaf
Eliot and Abby
Adams Eliot

Quaker Elliotts
Quakers arrived in the 1690’s, Thomas
Elliott among those who came to the Quaker sanctuary in North
Carolina at that time. He settled in Perquimans county. His
descendants, still Quakers, moved onto Wayne county, Indiana in 1815
and then to Kansas. After the Civil War William Elliott and his
wife raised fifteen children at their farm in Rice county.

Scots-Irish Elliotts
Many Scots-Irish Elliotts embarked for America in the 18th century,
to Pennsylvania. They included:

  • James Elliott who came in the 1760’s and settled in Orange
    county, North Carolina
  • George Elliott and his wife Charity who came to York county,
    Pennsylvania in the 1770’s
  • John Elliott who arrived sometime in the 1780’s, married in
    Pennsylvania, and he and his wife Mary later moved to Remington,
  • and Charles and Jane Elliott who came to Washington county,
    Pennsylvania around 1792

Many of these Elliotts distinguished themselves in the Revolutionary War.

Fannie Blaine Elliott was one intrepid lady who made the trip in
1816. Her husband John had died seven years prior, leaving her
with the responsibility of a large family. At the age of fifty
two she left her home in Donegal and embarked with eight of her
thirteen children for Baltimore. They ended up settling in
Coshocton county, Ohio where her remaining sons and their families
joined her three years later. Earl Elliott’s 2003 book Fannie Blaine Elliott – Elliott Family
recounts this family story.

Jimmy Elliott was an Irish-American bare-knuckle boxer who
briefly, from 1865 to 1868, staked the claim of being heavyweight
champion of the world. The rest of his life was downhill.
Two years later he was arrested and imprisoned for highway
robbery. He was released in 1879 but was shot and killed by a
in a Chicago saloon in 1883.

There were Elliott Loyalists from America
who crossed the border into Canada, most prominently Matthew
Elliott. He was an Irish-born trader who had worked for the
British as an Indian agent in the War of 1812 and subsequently settled
towards the end of his life in Ontario.

Later Elliott immigration to Canada also had a Scots-Irish
flavor. The arrivals included:

  • Jeremiah and Ann Elliott from Donegal to Drummond county, Quebec
    in 1835
  • John Elliott and his family from Donegal to Perth county, Ontario
    in the late 1830’s
  • and Robert and Mary Elliott from Fermanagh to Goderich, Ontario
    in the early 1840’s.

Australia. Richard
Elliott from Westmeath in Ireland was an early convict in Australia,
having been transported there in 1793. He was initially viewed
with suspicion and described as a “notorious character.” His
circumstances later improved and he settled with his family in Kissing
Point, NSW. However, he met an untimely end there.

Among the later Elliott settlers were:

  • Sizar Elliott from New Brunswick in Canada (where his parents had
    emigrated twenty years prior). He arrived in 1835 to join his
    uncle in Tasmania. He moved onto Melbourne during the gold rush
    days and prospered as a merchant there.
  • Matthew Elliott on the Eden
    from Cumberland in 1838. He was one of the early settlers of
    South Australia.
  • Robert Elliott on the Upon
    with his family from Newcastle in 1838. They
    arrived in Sydney and later moved to Gundagai, NSW.
  • Thomas and Mary Elliott from Fermanagh in the 1850’s. They
    settled with their children in Merino, Victoria.
  • and Joseph Elliott from Devon who came to Melbourne in 1857.

John Roderick
, originally
Scotland, left Australia in the late 1800’s for Fiji where he worked
as a coppersmith on the sugar mill at Ba. He married and settled
down there and Elliotts are still living there.

Elliott Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Elliott Names

Sir John Eliot was an early
defender of the powers of Parliament against the King in the years
before the Civil War.
Sir George Elliot was a
successful Victorian miner owner from Durham who became adviser to
Prime Minister Disraeli.
was the pen-name of the Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans.
T.S. Eliot came to England from
America and made his reputation as a modern poet with The Waste Land in 1922.
Herb Elliott was the Australian
athlete who won the Olympic 1,500 meter gold medal in 1960.

Select Elliotts

  • 54,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 55,000 in America (most numerous
    in California)
  • 47,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).




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