|About Our Family
The Ancient History of the Distinguished Surname "HEATH"
After studying the ancient manuscripts, historians discovered the Heath
surname to be of Anglo-Saxon origin.
Documents such as the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086 for William I of
England (William the Conqueror), have reveal the first recorded instance of
the Heath surname in Durham where they were seated from very ancient times,
some say well before the Norman Conquest and the arrival of Duke William at
Hastings in 1066 A.D.
The Heath Family descended from a culture which shaped England more than
any other. Coming to England in the 5th century, the Angles and Saxons
dominated the countryside by force and pushed the native Britons into Wales.
Anglo Saxon Britian was divided into a bewildering number of kingdoms until
unification under Egbert in the 9th century. Even with the merging of Angle
and Saxon kingdoms true cohesion was not achieved until after the Norman
After the successful Norman invasion of 1066 Anglo-Saxon rule came to an
end. England was slowly developing into a nation.
The Heath family was also facing a period of development, and was found in
the county of Durham where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity
seated at Little Eden with manor and estates in that shire. They later
branched to Twickenham and Mile End in Middlesex, to Oxfordshire, Kent, and
Fordhall in Warwickshire. By the 14th century they had acquired large estates
in Tanridge in Surrey which was headed by Sir Robert Heath, Lord Cheif Justice
of the Common Pleas. Nicholas Heath was Bishop of Rochester, Bishop of
Worcester, and finally Archbishop of York. Notable members of the family
include Archbishop of York.
The Heath family survived the Middle Ages, despite famine, plagues, and the
trials of daily life. However, in the 17th century political and religious
upheaval forced many families to leave England. During this period the middle
class was gaining in power and importance, and for the first time was ready to
assert itself in Parliament. The power-struggle which resulted divided the
county into two very powerful factions. This century also saw renewed tensions
between the Protestants and the Catholics. Together these conflicts were
enough to drive families from their homeland.
They immigrated to Canada, the United States, Australia, and some moved to
continental Europe. Members of the Heath family risked the hazardous voyage to
start a new life in new lands. The decision to emigrate was never made
casually, for while there were hardships at home, the journey across the sea
was so perilous that up to forty percent of a ship's passengers would not
reach their destination.
Migrants to the New World bearing the Heath surname include William Heath
settled in New England in 1620, later moved to Boston in 1632; Amory, Henry,
Isaac, Jane, John, Margaret, Mary, Nicholas, Thomas and William Heath, all
settled in Virginia between 1640 and 1680; Many also settled in Boston,
Maryland, and Philadelphia.
Canada was at first a French colony, but, it was inevitable that the French
empire be challenged. At the end of the Seven Years War, in 1763, Canada was
ceded to the British. Soon after this the first large group of English
speaking migrants arrived in Canada. United Empire Loyalists arrived in the
decades during and following the American Revolution. Most of the Loyalists
settled in Nova Scotia and the St. Lawrence-Great Lakes region. It was not
until a century after this that Canada began to develop into the great nation
which it is today. After Confederation Canada acquired Rupert's Land, this,
along with other contributing factors, marked the begining of westward
The Heath family has always contributed to the society to which it has
belonged. More recent notables of the surname Heath, include Edward Heath, Ex
Prime Minister of England; Air Marshall Sir Maurice Heath; John Heath,
Professor of Economics; John Heath, Diplomat.
Research into the history of the Heath surname included a search of the
ancient armories. The most ancient grant of a Coat of Arms found was:
Gold with two black stars and a gold heathcock.
The Crest was:
A gold roster head.
The ancient family Motto for this distinguished name was;
"Espere mieux" (Hope for better).