Ives Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Ives Meaning

The Ives surname derived from the Old French name Ive, meaning
“yew” or “bow,” and has its modern equivalence in the French
Yves. The name was introduced by the Normans into England at the
time of the Conquest – although the place-name St.
Ives in Cornwall was apparently named after a 5th century Irish female

Ives Resources on

Ives Ancestry

The Ives surname has mainly cropped up on the east coast of England
– from Yorkshire in the north down to Essex and London.

An Ives family were prominent merchants in the woollen industry in
Norwich in the 18th century. Four Jeremiah Ives were mayors
during that time, Jeremiah Ives, the mayor in 1733; Jeremiah Ives the
elder; Jeremiah Ives of St. Clements; and Jeremiah Ives of St. George’s
. The last of these Ives built Catton Hall and
died there
in 1820, aged sixty six.

Jeremiah Robert Ives bought Bentworth Hall in Hampshire in 1848.
After his death, his widow Emma raised their illegitimate grandson
George at the house. George, a friend and supporter of Oscar
Wilde, became a writer, penal reformer and early gay rights campaigner.

Another Ives family were Norfolk landowners and merchants at Great
Yarmouth. John
, born there in 1751, was an antiquarian and
an officer of arms at the College of Arms in London, although he did
not leave a good impression on everyone.

“Mr. Ives possessed a quick and lively
fancy, but seems to have been deficient in sound antiquarian
learning. He died in 1776 at the early age of 25 years.”

The 1851 census for Norfolk showed 358 Ives individuals living at
130 different addresses. One family account traces an Ives family
from Burnham in rural Norfolk who migrated to Lancashire in search of
jobs at the cotton mills.

An Ives family owned the New Inn in Ealing in the 17th century where
that ran a coaching service to London. Another Ives family were
curriers in Cratfield near Halesworth in Suffolk. In 1864
two brothers of this family, Walter and Charles, started the
manufacture of boots. Six generations later, John Ives runs the
family shoe business in Woodbridge, Suffolk.

America. William Ives
left London in 1635 aboard the Truelove
bound for New England. In the years that followed, he married
Hannah Dickerman and was one of the co-founders of New Haven,
Connecticut. William and Hannah had nine children and are
considered to be the progenitors of the largest Ives family in

The family produced an unusual number of noteworthy descendants.
As Arthur Coon Ives put it in his 1932 Genealogy of the Ives

“A member of our family was the first
explorer of the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, one is president of a
large insurance company, one ranks among America’s best known
publishers, one became a member of the Canadian Parliament, one is
known for his ability as a railroad builder, one rose from humble
circumstances to the office of lieutenant governor, and one – the black
sheep – became a famous horse thief and bandit.”

Prominent bearers of the Ives name in Connecticut in the 19th century –
not necessarily all are related – include:

  • Chauncey Ives (from New Haven), the neo-classical sculptor.
  • Edward Ives
    (from Bridgeport), the toymaker. He and his son
    Harry were the subjects of Louis Hertz’s 1950 biography Messrs. Ives of Bridgeport.
  • Frederick Ives (from Litchfield), a pioneer of color and
    stereoscopic photography. His son Herbert headed the development
    of facsimile and television systems at AT&T.
  • Henry Ives
    (from Litchfield), the so-called “Napoleon of Finance,” a stock
    manipulator responsible for a brief but spectacular Wall Street scandal
    in the 1880’s.
  • and Charles Ives (from Danbury), the modernist composer. He
    was the son of George Ives, a bandleader during the Civil War.

A more recent genealogy has been Dorothy Gilmore’s 1988 book The Migrating Ives and their Descendants.


Ives Miscellany

Ives in England.  The following was the
distribution of the Ives name in the 1891 census.

County 000’s Percent
Yorkshire   0.5   13%
Norfolk   0.3    9%
Suffolk   0.1    3%
Essex   0.3    8%
London   1.0   26%
Elsewhere   1.5   41%
Total   3.7  100%

The Ives at Belton Church in Suffolk.  There are
several inscriptions to the family of Ives in Belton church, including:

  • John
    Ives, of Great Yarmouth, merchant, who died in 1758, aged 74
  • John
    Ives Esq., who
    died in 1793, aged 74
  • and
    Mary, his second wife, who died in 1790, aged 72.

is also a memorial to John Ives, Esq.,
Fellow of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies, and Suffolk Herald
Extraordinary.  He was son of John Ives,
Esq., who died in 1793, and was extensively known as the author of a
work on
the Roman Antiquities in the adjoining village of Burgh, entitled Remarks upon the Garianonum of the Romans –
the Site and Remains Fixed and Described
.  He
also published three numbers of Select Papers relating to
English Antiquities.

Jeremiah Ives of St. George’s Tombland.  At the
beginning of his first mayoralty of Norwich in 1786, there were two
of the name of Jeremiah Ives then living.
In documents they and he were distinguished thus:

  • Jeremiah
    Ives the elder (mayor in 1756),
  • Jeremiah
    Ives of St. Clement’s (mayor in 1769),
  • and
    Jeremiah Ives of St. George’s
    Tombland (mayor in 1786 and again in 1801).

January 1802 he and Mrs. Ives gave an elegant ball to three hundred
ladies and gentlemen in honor of the short-lived peace.
It was thus described in the Jerningham Letters:

mayor’s ball was very splendid as
to numbers, the dancing very much crowded in the Tea Room and a cold
with hot soups in the Great Room, three tables from top to bottom and
above 50
people not sitting.  Mrs. Ives’ dame
sat by her at supper, on the other side sat Miss Drake
and by her
that handsome fair Quaker Gurney from Earlham.”

Jeremiah Ives built Catton Hall as his home
and he died there in 1820, aged sixty-six. There is a memorial to him
in St.
Margaret’s Church, Old Catton.

William Ives of New Haven.  There is
no birth record for William Ives, but the best estimate has him born in
in 1607.  That would make him 28 when
embarked for Boston on the Truelove
in 1635, arriving there two years before Davenport and the main party of  New Haven settlers came on the Hector.

In 1639 he was listed in the original New Haven Civil Compact as
one of
63 signers of the Fundamental Agreement of Quinnipiac (now New Haven).  William and “Goodwife Ives” had nine children
there.  He died in 1648.
The inventory at his death included:

wearing clothes; one bed furniture to
it; one trundle bed with bed & bolster; two cheats; one box; 3 pars
sheets; 2 pars pillow covers; 6 napkins; one board cloth; table; stools
chairs; old brass pot; iron pot; iron kettle; 2 skillets; 1 bake pan; a
and pestle; 1 skimmer; 2 ladles, warming pan; pewter; 2 candlesticks;
ware; one hower glass; 1 gridiron; 1 pair of bellows; 1 pot; hooks,
pair of
hangers; frying pan, fire shovel & tongs; cooking ware; musket and
bondoleers and sheaf; working tools etc; 2 wheels; 1 sheep and yews;
the house
home lot and all upland and meadow; 3 cows, 2 oxen, 2 horses, 3 swine.”

Ives Toys.  An obscure
New Englander named Riley Ives launched into the metal stamping
business in
Plymouth with a small shop in the 1850’s.
By the time of the Civil War Ives was making buttons for the
uniforms of
federal troops.  At one point the shop in
Plymouth began making what were eventually called hot air toys.  Basically the toys became animated with the
steam provided by the family’s hot stove.
They also worked with any other source of hot air.

However, the first really innovative product
at the Ives operation was the clockwork operated toy locomotive
developed by
his son Edward.  Early in the 1870’s Ives
production was moved to a larger facility in Bridgeport, Connecticut.  By 1874 the Ives firm had even perfected a
moving clockwork locomotive train that whistled.

Ives later built some of the finest clockwork toys on the market.  In 1901, Ives made mechanical trains that ran
on tracks.  The trains became very
popular and by 1907 Ives opened a factory on Holland Street in the
city’s West
End.  The slogan of the company became
“Ives Toys Make Happy Boys.”  This became
the popular slogan found in all of their catalogues.

However, the toys became less popular later
on and Ives Toys filed for bankruptcy in 1929.

Henry Ives, from Hero to Zero.  According to the New York
in 1894:

Ives’s career
as a financier was rapid, brief and bewildering in its reckless daring.

Rising suddenly from obscurity to the ranks
of the millionaires, he for a short time posed as one of Wall Street’s
noted men.  His audacity and nerve, aided
by the temporary success of some of his railroad schemes, invested him
for a
while with a degree of importance that completely overshadowed the
conservative capitalist of that day.

Experienced bank and railroad presidents were commonplace
individuals as
compared with this youngest of all ‘the Napoleons of Finance.’”

During his time at the top, Ives was a
liberal spender of money and enjoyed all the luxuries of a
including a large mansion in Brooklyn and an $80,000 yacht.

However, he overreached himself in his
railroad stock acquisition schemes.  In
early 1889 he was arrested and indicted on the criminal charge of the
of stock.  Ives was subsequently
convicted and he served out his term in Sing Sing prison.
When he was released in the summer of 1893 he
was but a shadow of his former self.



Ives Names

  • James Ives co-founded
    with Nathaniel Currier the American printmaking firm of Currier & Ives in 1857.
  • Charles Ives was an American modernist composer, widely regarded as one of the first
    American composers of international renown.
  • Burl Ives was a well-known American folk-singer, writer, and actor.

Select Ives Numbers Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 3,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 4,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Ives and Like Surnames.

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.





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