Noyes Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Noyes Surname Meaning

The English surname Noyes derived from the Biblical name of Noah. Early spellings were Noy and Noye. Noyes represented the patronymic form.

The name may have been introduced by returning Crusaders from the Holy Land who would christen their children with Biblical or Hebrew names. Or perhaps the name derived from an actor in a medieval pageant who played the part of Noah and his ark.

Noyes Surname Resources on The Internet

Noyes Surname Ancestry

  • from England (southwest and Berkshire)
  • to America and Australia

England. Early origins of the name have been suggested in Cornwall and in Suffolk in East Anglia:

  • while the Noys of Cornwall came from St. Bunyan in the far west of the county where they had been minor gentry since the mid-1400’s. William Noy of this family rose to be Attorney General of England under Charles I in 1631. Noye has remained a surname in Cornwall.
  • while the Noyse name was to be found in parishes in the northern part of Suffolk at an earlier time. The Earl of Suffolk was the landowner there and at Ramridge in Hampshire where the Noyes name was first recorded in 1432.

Noyes continued at Ramridge for more than two hundred years.  

From this family came Nicholas Noyes who had moved to Cholderton in Wiltshire by 1545. By that time there were two related Noyes lines in Wiltshire, one at Cholderton and the other at Urchfont.  The Rev. William Noyes, an Anglican clergyman of Puritan leanings, was appointed the rector of Cholderton in 1602. Two of his sons – James and Nicholas – succeeded him to the Puritan ministry in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Later Noyes in Wiltshire were to be found at Burbage and Pewsey.

“Septimus Noyes was born in Burbage in 1781. He served in the 1st King’s Own Dragoon Guards between 1807 and 1817 and fought at the Battle of Waterloo. He then returned to Burbage to be a butcher and died there in 1855.”  

Also from Ramridge in Hampshire came Peter Noyes, the MP for Andover in 1614, who moved to Berkshire where his family became established, first at Trunkwell and then at Southcote, among the Berkshire gentry. More than one of them buttressed their finances by marrying heiresses.

These three counties – Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Berkshire – remained the main places for Noyes in England.

America. Noyes has been very much a New England name, coming from the Noyes of Wiltshire who arrived there in 1634.

New England.  Three Puritan preachers – the brothers James and Nicholas Noyes, together with their cousin Thomas Parker – departed London on the Mary and John for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. They established a new town and church at Newbury in 1635. The James Noyes House, built there around 1646 on Parker Street, still stands.

The Noyes lineage in America was covered in Henry Noyes’ 1904 book Genealogical Record of Some of the Noyes descendants of James, Nicholas and Peter Noyes. 

Early Noyes were clergymen. James, the son of James Noyes, was a minister at Stonington in Connecticut. He was in 1701 a founder of Yale University where Noyes have attended almost up to the present time.

Noyes were to remain at Stonington in Connecticut for the next two hundred years. A branch of the family crossed the border into Rhode Island where James Noyes, a doctor, had acquired land at Westerly in the early 1700’s. Colonel Joseph Noyes was a member of the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1776. His son Thomas, who fought in the Revolutionary War, married his cousin Mary Noyes.

Meanwhile Nicholas, the son of Nicholas Noyes, was a minister in Salem at the time of the Salem witch trials.  “On September 22, 1692, Noyes had officiated as clergyman at the final hangings of those accused of witchcraft. It is reported that he turned toward the suspended bodies of the victims and said: ‘What a sad thing it is to see eight firebrands of hell hanging there.'”  

From Nicholas the father came Noyes lines in New Hampshire and Maine. Joseph Noyes moved to Rockingham county in New Hampshire in the early 1700’s:

  • his descendant John Noyes moved to Brattleboro, Vermont in 1800 where he began one of the earliest chain stores in America. He later served as a US Congressman
  • while John’s son John Humphrey Noyes turned out to be a radical religious leader and utopian socialist. On the basis of his principles he founded the Oneida community in upstate New York in 1848. It broke up in 1879 and John Humphrey fled to Canada.

Another Joseph Noyes, the son of Captain Cutting Noyes, departed around 1730 for Portland, Maine where he was an officiating magistrate for many years. A later Joseph Noyes, born there in 1798, was a ship chandler who served as a US Congressman in the 1830’s.

Later Noyes.  In many cases it was the case of heading West during the 19th century.

But in the case of Crosby Noyes, born in Maine in 1825, it was the case of heading south to the nation’s capital Washington DC. Starting with nothing, he became a reporter for the Washington Evening Star and in 1867 was able to buy the newspaper. Ownership passed from Crosby through the generations to Frank, to Newbolt Sr, and to Newbolt Jr who eventually sold the newspaper in 1975.

Edward F. Noyes was orphaned at a young age in Massachusetts and lost a leg during the Civil War. He was elected Governor of Ohio in 1871. Colonel D.K. Noyes was also crippled during the Civil War. He was a pioneer settler in Sauk county, Wisconsin.

The notable Noyes academics were not just at Yale:

  • William A. Noyes, born in Iowa, chaired the Chemistry department at the University of Illinois from 1907 to 1926. During that time he was the dominant figure in American chemistry circles. His cousin Arthur and sons Albert and Richard were also professors of chemistry.  
  • while George Rapall Noyes, born in Massachusetts, came to Berkeley University in California in 1901 to start up a program of Slavic studies. In 1919 he became its Professor of Slavic Languages, in which capacity he served until his retirement as Professor Emeritus in 1943.

Australia.  Silas Noyes from Berkshire, a blacksmith by trade, was convicted of selling stolen brass and was transported to NSW on the Georgiana in 1831. His wife Letitia and seven children joined him there three years later. The family settled in East Maitland. After Silas died in 1848 Letitia remarried.

Noyes Miscellany

Noy and Noyes of Cornwall and Wiltshire.  Mark Antony Lower wrote in his 1860 Patronymica Britannicaas follows:

“There is a tradition that three brothers of the name came over from Normandy about the time of the Conquest, and settled in the counties of Wiltshire, Hampshire and Cornwall.

The name is supposed to be derived from Noye or Noyon in Normandy, anciently called Noyon-sur-Andelle, but now Charleval, in the canton of Grainville. But there are several localities in that province called Noyers, which may have an equal claim.

The family of Noyes of Wiltshire and Sussex have, from time out of mind, borne the same arms as that of Noy of Cornwall, to which the celebrated Attorney General of Charles I belonged.”

The Noyes of Ramridge in Hampshire.  It is thought that the Noyes name may have originated in East Anglia.  Noyse appeared at an early time in the adjoining parishes of Laxfield, Fressingfield, Wingfield, and Ubbeston in the northern part of Suffolk.  Here the chief landowner was the Earl of Suffolk.

The manor of Ramridge in Hampshire was also part of the Earl of Suffolk’s estates.  It is possible that the Earl sent one of his Suffolk men to oversee the distant Hampshire manor, thereby founding the Noyes family in that county. Ramridge near Andover was important as one of the greatest fairs in England was held partly on its lands.

The court rolls for the manor of Ramridge record that Robert Noys was farming the manor (i.e. rendering its accounts) in 1432.  The Noyes family continued as farmers there for at least two more centuries.

From this family descended Nicholas, son of Robert and Joan Noyes, who was on a 1545 list of taxpayers for the benevolence of Cholderton in the county of Wiltshire.  Later came Peter Noyes, MP for Andover in 1614, who moved to Berkshire where his family became established at Trunkwell and Southcote among the Berkshire gentry.

The Noyes Family and Yale University.  The Rev. James Noyes of Stonington, Connecticut was among the ten Congregationalist ministers who were the first trustees of Yale University in 1701.  They are now known as “The Founders” and their engraved names line the facade of Woodbridge Hall at the University.

The Rev. James was the first Senior Fellow (Chairman) of the Trustees; while his younger brother the Rev. Moses also served as a member.

Later Noyes would attend the University.

The Rev. Daniel Parker Noyes graduated from Yale in 1840, as did his two sons Frederic in 1862 and Edward in 1880. Theodore Noyes received a Yale medical degree in 1867.

Haskell Noyes, a well-known basketball player of his time, graduated from Yale in 1908.  Newbold Noyes who graduated in 1941 became a newspaper editor in Washington DC.

Professor Edward Noyes was chairman of the Board of Admissions for eighteen years, was director of the Master of Arts in Teaching program, and received the Yale Medal of Honor in 1968.  His son Edward Noyes II, who was also presented with the Yale Medal of Honor for his lifetime service to Yale in 1996, served as president of the Yale Club of New Haven.

Crosby Noyes’ Early Years.  Crosby Noyes was born on a farm in Minot, Maine in 1825.  Until he was fourteen years old, he lived with his grandfather Nicholas Noyes, a prominent farmer and local civic leader.  He then left the farm and spent the remainder of his youth in Lewiston working in a cotton mill and making and repairing harnesses in order to earn money to pay for school.

According to one family source, he left home because his birth had been the result of a liaison between his mother Miranda Noyes and a local preacher Samuel Hilborn and that, being illegitimate, he was not fully accepted in the Noyes household.

In 1847 he went to Washington DC to seek his fortune.  Being short of funds, he left the train in Philadelphia and walked most of the rest of the way. He arrived in Washington with $1.62 in his pocket.  He worked in a bookstore and as a theatre usher.  He also wrote for the weekly Washington News as well as for the Saturday Evening Post.

Colonel D.K Noyes in Wisconsin.  His grandfather Aaron had grown up in New Hampshire, his father Enoch in Vermont.  In 1844 Enoch departed Vermont with his family for Wisconsin territory.  They eventually settled on a farm in Sauk county where he died in 1855.

His eldest son DK trained as a lawyer and in 1847 went out to Baraboo in Sauk county when it was still wilderness and little land had been cleared.  Although four saw mills were running, settlers were few.

He was the first attorney at Baraboo and erected the first office in the town. There was not much law practice to attend to and he spent the greater part of his time locating land.  He did that more of that probably than any other person in the area. He also established a newspaper The Republic which he ran for seven years.  He then purchased a farm of 320 acres and erected a commodious residence, large barn, and made other improvements.

In 1861, at the outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in the 6th Wisconsin Infantry.  At Antietam his right foot was taken off by a shell while he was acting as captain.  After the battle he remained at a private house for eight weeks before he could be removed to Georgetown hospital. All but his heel bone was taken from the foot and he was rendered a cripple for life. After about three months he went home and with the aid of crutches was able to walk a little.

He restarted his newspaper in Baraboo and in 1867 was appointed its postmaster, a post which he held for some sixteen years.  He retired a well-to-do and respected member of his community.

Noyes Names

  • William Noy was a leading lawyer in Stuart England. He was appointed the Attorney General in 1631. 
  • The Rev. James Noyes was a founder of Yale University in 1701. 
  • Crosby Noyes acquired the Washington Evening Star in 1867 and his family held the newspaper until 1975. 
  • Alfred Noyes was an English poet of the early 1900’s, best known for his ballads.

Noyes Numbers Today

  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in London)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)

Noyes and Like Surnames

Many surnames have come from East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk) and surrounding areas in eastern England.  These are some of the noteworthy surnames that you can check out.




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Written by Colin Shelley

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