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Language(s)English, Breton
Word/nameScotland (~1300 AD); England (1180 AD); Brittany, France (before 1066 AD)
Meaning'With Strength and Right' or 'Bravely and Truly' or 'Boldly and Rightly'
Other names
Alternative spellingElliott, Eliott, Elliotte, Eliot, Elliot, Elyot

Elliot (also spelled Eliot, Elliotte, Elliott,[1] Eliott[2] and Elyot[3]) is a personal name which can serve as either a surname or a given name. Although the given name was historically given to males, females named Elliot have increased from 414 in 2009 to 770 in 2013, in United States.[4][5]

Surname origin[edit]

Differences in spelling can be distinguished in this rhyme:

The double L and single T / Descent from Minto and Wolflee, / The double T and single L / Mark the old race in Stobs that dwell. / The single L and single T / The Eliots of St Germans be, / But double T and double L, / Who they are nobody can tell.

There are also records in the Domesday Book of the name spelled "Ailiet",[6] thought to originate from an old English name "Æþelgeat" (meaning "noble gate") and leading to the English and Scottish given name spelled "Elyat".


The origin of the Scottish surname is obscure, due to much of the genealogy of the Eliott clan being burnt in the destruction of the castle at Stobs in 1712 AD.[7] The clan society usually accepts that the name originated from the town and river Elliot in Angus, Scotland.[8] Other sources claim that the Scottish surnames (Eliott, Elliot) originate from the Ellot Scottish border-clan, from a transformation of the name Elwold.[9] Whatever their true origin, the Scottish Elliots became notorious Border Reivers – cattle thieves – in the Scottish-English border area and a thorn in the side of both governments.

The whole subject of the Scottish name origin is discussed by Keith Elliot Hunter on the Elliot Clan website[10] where he argues for a Breton origin to the name and the first chief being William d'Alyth. Under that name, the d'Alyths played a key role in the Scottish Wars of Independence[11] However, Mark Elliot presents a well-argued case that there is no connection between the Elliot river and town with the clan and believes the origins are in the first name of Elwald, which appears in Northumberland in the 8th century king, Elwald 1. The name has Anglo-Saxon origins and appears alongside Armstrong in Northumbrian records dating from 1165.[12] The first chief is claimed to be Robert Elwold (1305–67), who came from York, but migrated to the area around Hermitage Castle[13] Robert Elwold of Redheuch is granted lands around Redheuch and Larriston in the 1484 Sasine deed[14] Robert, 13th clan chief, who was killed at the Battle of Flodden is recorded with the surname 'Elwold'.

The original Anglo-Saxon surnames from Northumbria like Aelwold, Ellwald, Elaund, Elwaird, Elwods, Alwods, Elyards, Halwads seem to have mixed together eventually as Ellot. Sir Arthur and the Dowager Lady Eliott maintained that the family were originally known as Ellots. Lady Elliot in:'The Elliots: The Story of a Border Clan' says: "Around 1650 someone added an "i" to our name to make it Elliot, which was without a doubt unfortunate as it confuses the clan with a well-known English Norman family called Eliot who settled in West England". That would exclude the idea that the Cornish Eliots set the clan up a few centuries earlier, but it is said that this was some means of expressing solidarity with John Eliot (statesman), who was regularly imprisoned by Charles I until his death in 1632.

A Thomas Elyot is recorded in West Lothian, dying in 1505.[15]

Southeast England[edit]

The origin of the east English name is in Cambridgeshire. The first recorded sign of the name relates to Henry Elyot at the Priory of St Mary and St. Radegund in Cambridge in about 1180.[16] An Elyat (or Elyot) is in Bury St. Edmunds in 1188. By 1220, Elyot is well-established in Cambridge in Great St Andrew's Parish where a William Elyot appears. A William Eliot appears in about 1270 in the same parish.[17]

The surname reaches London early in the 14th century. Johanne Eliot appears in the 1319 Portsoken (near Aldgate) Subsidy Roll of 1319 with a reference to him being found in 1311 under John Elyot.[18] In the Museum of London is (to quote the caption[19]) "a bronze jug with three feet and three bands of lettering around the neck and body. The neck is straight with a pointed spout. The body is fat and bulbous. This fine bronze jug is inscribed: "+THOMAS:E[L]YOT/ +HI RECOMAND ME TO EU/ +WYLLEAM:ELYOT" ". William Elyot of Cheshunt (north of London) received land at Kingston upon Thames (south-west London) in 1343: Grant by John, son of John Donnyng of Kyngeston, to William Elyot, of Chestehunte, of a grange and land in Kyngeston. Thursday, the feast of St. Edmund the King. 17 Edward III.[20]

The surname first appears in Sussex in the 14th century as Godefro Elyot at Thakham[21] and William Elyot in Grinstead[22] are listed in the Subsidy Rolls of 1327 & 1332. A Stephen Elyot is recorded in September 1364 as a "vintner of Rye" in east Sussex and later became its MP in 1377.[23]

William Elyot was Constable of Horsham in 1401[24] and his grandson, Thomas Elyot (1420–67) a Filacer (issuer of the Royal Writs) is buried at Wonersh church in Surrey, not far north of Horsham.[25] It is from him that the Elliots of Godalming descend with their arms being Azure with a fess or (blue with a gold strip across the centre).[26] The Surrey Elyots changed to Eliott in about 1500 and then changed to Elliott during the 1700s (see Elliott v Davenport 1705, a famous legal case about Wills brought by the main family) and settled on it by the end of the 18th century.

It is not made easier by a member of the clan Eliott Stobs family, George Augustus Eliott, (1717–1790), the defender of Gibraltar, being made 1st Baron Heathfield, which is in Sussex, although he died childless.

Southwest England[edit]

The name in the West Country derives from the Eliot family (South England) of Cornwall at Port Eliot/St. Germans, who claim descent from a Norman knight, Sir William de Aliot. It is unknown exactly when the Eliots settled in Devon, but it is estimated they prospered there for 8 to 10 generations before moving to St. Germans. The earliest record is of a William Elyot[27] appears in the Somerset Assizes rolls in 1257 and there is a record of the surname in an indenture signed in 1400 by RYC Elyot.


The name Eliot appears in Normandy in 1195 and a son of Anschar Elyot in 1198.[28]

It has been argued by Keith Elliott Hunter[29] that the origins of the St. Germans Eliot family were among the Bretons accompanying William the Conqueror, who were originally rewarded with lands in Devon. The Breton origin of Eliot and Elliot is indicated by these names being in significant clusters in Morbihan, southern Brittany. Soon after victory at the Battle of Hastings Elliots, under Count Brien of Penthievre (Morbihan), were despatched to the West Country. Other Eliots were sent later to Monmouthshire in South Wales and to the marcher counties, where significant clusters of the name can be found today. Bretons also settled in the north, as vassals of the Breton Earl of Richmond, Alan of Penthievre.

Large surviving clusters of Eliots in Normandy (Seine Maritime) today could be due to later grants of land. The Alliots, found also in Southern Brittany and the Loire Atlantique, had lands in the modern French departement of Aisne. One variant in Scotland was Dalliot (or, more likely, d'Alliot) and a variation from the Breton original name Ellegouet, from which the Scots variant Elligott is derived, is to be found in clusters in Finistere. Elot is also a Breton name variant.

Northern Ireland[edit]

Robert Bell in The Book of Scots-Irish Family Names adds: "For double L and double T, / the Scots should look across the sea!" He pointed out that 71 of 76 births of children by that name in Ireland in 1890 spelt it "Elliott". Elliot(t)s emigrated or were sent to north Ireland in the early 17th century after the Border area was pacified, following the union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1603. Many settled in county Fermanagh.


The Elliot Clan Society has an extensive list of DNA results[30] which point to native Celtic origins for the clan. However, the three contributions from Sussex do suggest both a native origin in the area and the unusual J haplotype from southern Europe. There are also suggestions of French DNA from the Surrey Elliotts.

Surname myths[edit]

Some sources claim it may be derived from a French form of Elias, which is itself derived from the biblical name "Elijah".[31]

Legend also has it that the extra "t" in Eliott arose when a branch of the Eliotts adopted Christianity.

It is claimed that the surname originated in the early 13th century as "Eliot", as there is supposed to be a reference to "Geoffrey Eliot", Abbot of Hyde, in documents linked to the creation of the Magna Carta. However, the Abbot of Hyde Abbey (near Winchester in Hampshire), who signed the 1224 version was Abbot Aston[32] and the 1297 version confirmed by Edward I mentions the Abbot of Hyde as a witness, but does not name him.[33]

Famous members, fictional characters, and extent of the name[edit]

Among the many famous people with this name are the authors T. S. Eliot and George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans). Jane Austen's last completed novel Persuasion includes characters belonging to the Elliot family of Kellynch Hall; Sir Walter Elliot, Bart., and his daughters Anne and Elizabeth.

In England, the surname Elliott is well represented in Northumberland, County Durham, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire, and in the south, in Surrey, Sussex, London, Cambridgeshire and Cornwall; in Scotland, the surname is well represented in Lanarkshire, Angus, Roxburghshire, Dumfriesshire, and other border counties, and in the United States the surname is well represented in Ohio, North Carolina, Michigan, Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama, New Hampshire and Delaware.







  • Thomas Elyot (1420-1467), Filacer (Issuer of writs) for Surrey and Sussex
  • Sir Thomas Elyot (1490–1546), British diplomat and scholar

Given name[edit]

Fictional characters[edit]


  1. ^ "History". elliotclan.com. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  2. ^ "The Elliot Name – Elliot Clan Society". elliotclan.com. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Sir Thomas Elyot". carlton-cambridgeshire.org.uk. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  4. ^ "Elliot – Boy Name or Girl Name?". nancy.cc. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  5. ^ http://www.ssa.gov/oact/babynames/limits.html Note, this sums the six spellings of the name given in the "nancy" reference.
  6. ^ "Surname Database: Ilett Last Name Origin". The Internet Surname Database. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  7. ^ Dee Elliott-Wakefield. "Clan Elliot Society, USA – (A Brief History of the Elliot Clan)". elliotclanusa.com. Archived from the original on 11 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  8. ^ http://www.elliotclan.com/name.html
  9. ^ Elliot Clan Society – Elliot History
  10. ^ "The-Strange-Disappearance-of-the-Town-of-Eliot" (PDF).
  11. ^ http://www.electricscotland.com/webclans/dtog/WalterdElliot3.pdf
  12. ^ http://www.elwald.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Ellot-Water-Angus-8-23-2010.pdf
  13. ^ http://gorrenberry.com/robert-elwald-migration-1305-1367/
  14. ^ File:Sasine deed 1484 for Robert Elwald (Elliot), Redheugh, Larriston, Hartsgarth.jpg
  15. ^ https://search.ancestry.co.uk/cgi-bin/sse.dll?_phsrc=Maj1&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true&qh=X1eDmY1WLJi7iAs1jh7n7Q%3D%3D&gss=angs-c&new=1&rank=1&msT=1&gsln=elyot&gsln_x=0&cpxt=1&cp=11&MSAV=1&uidh=000&gl=CLP_WILLS&gst=&ghc=20&fh=20&fsk=BEFq368IgAAGSgAEcXw-61- Ancestry UK Wills & Probate ,
  16. ^ "Records of the Priory of St Mary and St Radegund".
  17. ^ "Cambridge, Great St Andrew's parish deeds".
  18. ^ https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/early-london-subsidy-rolls/pp252-254#fnn12
  19. ^ "museumoflondonprints.com".
  20. ^ 'Deeds: B.1601 - B.1700', A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds: Volume 1 (1890), pp. 369-377. "British History Online: A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds: Volume 1 (1890)".
  21. ^ https://www.british-history.ac.uk/suss-record-soc/vol10/pp152-168
  22. ^ https://www.british-history.ac.uk/suss-record-soc/vol10/pp152-168#h3-0007
  23. ^ "The History of Parliament". Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  24. ^ CPR, 1399-1401, p. 458
  25. ^ "Wonersh Church".
  26. ^ "British History Online: Parishes: Godalming".
  27. ^ "The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland".
  28. ^ "The Norman people and their existing descendants in the British dominions and the United States of America (1874)".
  29. ^ "select.surnames2.website".
  30. ^ "Elliot Clan Society: Elliot DNA lineages".
  31. ^ Mike Campbell. "Behind the Name: Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Elliot". Behind the Name. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  32. ^ http://www.hyde900.org.uk/hydeabbey/history-of-new-minster-and-hyde-abbey/
  33. ^ "EAWC Anthology: The Magna Carta". evansville.edu. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 31 March 2015.
  34. ^ http://elliot-weave.co.uk/
  35. ^ "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial". IMDB. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  36. ^ "Pete's Dragon". IMDB. Retrieved 12 April 2016.