Eliot family (America)

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For the British noble family of St Germans, Cornwall, see Earl of St Germans

The Eliot family is the American branch of one of several British families to hold this surname. This branch is based in Boston but originated in East Coker, Yeovil, Somerset. It is one of the Boston Brahmins, a bourgeois family,[1] whose ancestors had become wealthy and held sway over the American education system. All are the descendants of two men named Andrew Eliot, father and son, who emigrated from East Coker to Beverly, Massachusetts between 1668 and 1670. The elder Andrew (1627-March 1, 1703/04) served the town and colony in a number of positions and in 1692 was chosen as a juror in the Salem witch trials. His son Andrew (1651-September 12, 1688) married Mercy Shattuck in 1680 in Beverly and died by drowning after falling off a ship.

The ranks include several college presidents, one Nobel prize winner, and presidents of American professional associations. Charles W. Eliot transformed Harvard from a college to a research institution, a model which many American universities have followed. William Greenleaf Eliot co-founded Washington University in St. Louis in 1853 and Thomas H. Eliot was chancellor of that institution from 1962-71; William Greenleaf Eliot's son Thomas Lamb Eliot went further west and was a seminal figure in the founding of Reed College in Portland, Oregon in 1911. The poet T. S. Eliot moved to England and his ashes were interred in East Coker, England. He wanted to be laid to rest in the original birthplace of his first American ancestor and other Eliot ancestors.

Another branch of the American Eliot family descend from Rev. John Eliot of Roxbury, Massachusetts, known as the “Apostle to the Indians.” His son, John Eliot, Jr., was the first pastor of the First Church of Christ in Newton. In turn, John Eliot Jr.'s son, Joseph Eliot, became a pastor in Guilford, Connecticut, and later fathered Jared Eliot, another pastor as well as agricultural writer.

Andrew Eliot's Descendants[edit]

Well-known descendants of Andrew Eliot include:


  • The Family of William Greenleaf Eliot and Abby Adams Eliot of St. Louis, Missouri: 1811-1931 by Henry Ware Eliot, Jr. (c. 1931)
  • The Family of William Greenleaf Eliot and Abby Adams Eliot, as Chronicled by their Descendants, to 1988 by Henry Eliot Scott (1988)
  • Asticou Foreside, genealogy written by Charles W. Eliot II, 1981
  • The Genealogy of the Somerset branch of the American Eliot Family
  • Cynthia Grant Tucker, No Silent Witness: The Eliot Parsonage Women and their Unitarian World, Oxford University Press, 2010, 344 pp.
  • A Sketch of the Eliot Family by Walter Graeme Eliot, Press of Livingston Middleditch, New York, 1887 Online at the Library of Congress


  1. ^ T.S. Eliot: the modernist in history, (New York, 1991) By Ronald Bush, page 72
  2. ^ I14: Edward Cranch ELIOT (3 JUL 1858 - 2 APR 1928)