Ellis - Surname Meaning
Find Ellis Family Records
In the whole range of family nomenclature there is perhaps no name which admits of more variety of origin, or a greater number of differing forms. “Elies or Ellis in British,” says Hals, in D. Gilbert’s Cornwall, iii. 429, “is ason-inlaw by the wife, and Els or Ells, a son-inlaw by the husband. Ella or AElla is a well-known regal name of Anglo-Saxon times, and its genitive form would in later days become Ellis. From these two sources some of our very numerous families may have sprung, but there is little doubt that the surname Ellis has for the most part been formed from the scripture name Elias, which does not occur as an Anglo-Saxon name, but which was in use in France as early as the days of Charlemagne, as a baptismal designation, and afterwards gave name to several families of Elie. Elias, though uncommon now as a Christian name, was not so in the early Norman reigns, and indeed it had become hereditary at the time of the Norm. Conq., in the form of Alis. William Alis, mentioned in Domesd. and by Orderious Vitalis, was progenitor of the Ellises of Kiddal, co. York, and Stoneacre, co. Kent, from whom sprang Sir Archibald Ellys, a crusader temp. Richard I., who is said to have originated the cross and crescents so common to the Ellis coat-armour. Ellis in later times, both in Wales and England, became a common personal name, and consequently there are in both countries many families of distinct origin. See ' Notices of the Ellises,’ Lond. 1857. and Peds. of Ellis and Fitz-Ellis in ‘ Topographer and Genealogist, ’ vol. iii. The principal forms of this name in the H.R. are Eleys, Elice, Elies, Elis, Elys; and other proven variations are Alis, Halis, Elias, Helias, Ellys, Elles, Hellis, Hellys, Hilles, Helles, Hollys, Holys, Holies, lies, Ilys, Eyles, and Eales. Of course several of these forms are etymologically traceable to other and very different sources. Ellison, Alison, and Fitz-Ellis are also well-known surnames. Inf. W. S. Ellis, Esq.— Patronymica Britannica, written: 1838-1860 by Mark Antony Lower
This surname is derived from the name of an ancestor. 'the son of Ellis'; O.E. Elis or Elys (Elias). Ellison may originate from the English form—thus Elis, Elis-son; or from the O.F. form, thus Elie, Elie-son. Instances of both are given below, but the Hundred Rolls abound with the name in all counties. This name was wonderfully popularized throughout Western Europe by the Crusaders.'
Elis Kneyt, Buckinghamshire, 1273. Hundred Rolls.
Henry fil. Elis, Cumberland, ibid.
Agnes uxor Elys, Cambridgeshire, ibid.
Simon fil. Elys, Bedfordshire, ibid.
Nicholas fil. Elye, Cambridgeshire, ibid.
Roger fil. Elye, Salop, ibid.
Robert Elleson, 1379: Poll Tax of Yorkshire.
Adam Elisson, 1379: ibid.
Stephanus Elisson, smyth, 1379: ibid.
Alicia Elys, wyf, 1379: ibid.
Elys Burton, 1379: ibid.
In some cases, no doubt, Ellison is Elen-son.
Johannes Elynson, 1379: Poll Tax of Yorkshire.
Johannes Elynson, 1379: ibid.
Alicia serviens Elene, 1379: ibid.
Elena Mott, 1379: ibid.
Elene was wonderfully popular at the period. Elynson, of necessity, would become Ellison. The diminutives of the two names underwent the same confusion (v. Elliot and Eliot). I may add that Ellis was still a familiar font-name in the 16th century:
Ellis Pigot, Didsbury, Manchester, 1597: Wills at Chester.
Ellis Pollard, Great Harwood, 1587: ibid.
1548. Ellis Pollard and Johanna Chapman: Marriage Lic. (London).— A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, written: 1872-1896 by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley
From Elias, q.v., a favorite personal name in the Middle Ages, through OE. Elis or Elys. The “name was wonderfully popularized throughout western Europe by the Crusaders” (Bardsley). John Heles was burgess of Dundee in 1482 (RAA., II, 213). David Elleis was “keypar of the parroche kirk” of Aberdeen in 1565 (CRA., p. 360), and John Elleiss appears there in 1522 (ibid., p. 104). Richard Eleis rendered to Exchequer the accounts of the bailies of the burgh of Jedburgh in 1563 (ER., XIX, p. 223), and David Elies was appointed “to teche and leir ony barnis abon sax yeris” in Stirling in 1557 (SBR., p. 71). Andrew Elleis, notary in Kirkwall, 1634 (OSR., I, p. 279), and Alexander Elleis had a charter of lands in Newington in 1639 (BOEC., X, p. 212). Alexander Ealis is recorded in Melrose, 1641, and George Elleis in Darnick, 1662 (RRM., I, p. 87; 11, II. 3). Patrick AEles was cordiner in Edinburgh, 1648 (Edinb. Marr,), Magister John Eleis of Eleistoune was heir in lands in the lordship of Kilpount, 1686 (Retours, Lanark, 261), Andrew Elliss appears in Regorton, 1719 (Dunkeld), and Bessie Ellies in Caimwheep, 1738 (Moray). The wife of James Anderson, author of the Diplomatum Seotiae Thesaurus, was an Ellies of Elieston or Ellistoune, West Lothian, a family said to be of English origin (Stodart). Aleis, Ales, and Aless are given in index to ROA. as forms of Ellis. Eilleis 1677, Eleiss 1685, Eles 1606, Elies 1670.— The Surnames of Scotland (1946) by George Fraser Black (1866-1948)
Ellis. —Fairly well distributed over England and Wales, excepting in the four northern counties, where its place may be taken by Elliott. It is represented in Wilts and Lancashire by Ellison. It is at present most numerous in Devon, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Kent, and the West Riding.— Homes of Family Names in Great Britain (1890) by Henry Brougham Guppy
Contracted from Elias.— An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names (1857) by William Arthur
Ellis - Surname Distribution
Ellis Distribution in the United Kingdom in 1881
Hover over a county for more details.
No. of People
* Statistics based on the 1881 census of the United Kingdom, Channel Islands & Isle of Man
Highest Incidence of Ellises in UK Counties and Dependencies
Highest Incidence of Ellises in UK Settlements
Ellis Distribution in Ireland in 1901
Hover over a county for more details.
No. of People
* Statistics based on the 1901 census or Ireland
Highest Incidence of Ellises in Irish Counties
|Rank||County||No. of People||% of Region|
Highest Incidence of Ellises in Irish Settlements
Ellis Reference & Research
Click here to submit links to web-pages detailing the Ellis family.