Select Elliott Miscellany

Here are some Elliott stories and accounts over the years:

Elliott and Variations Thereof

The Elliott name has come in many variants.  An old rhyme commemorates these differences:

"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 Eliot of St. Germains be.
But double T and double L
Who they are nobody can tell."

Lady Elliot in her book The Elliots: The Story of a Border Clan made the following additional point:

"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 and South Wales and whose name was derived from the Scandinavian alyot and to whom we are not related.  Does this mean that all Eliots are not related to Elliots, Eliotts, and Elliotts?  Not necessarily.   Yet there are some Eliots who are not clan, but descended from the Norman Alyots."

Reader Feedback - Breton Origin of the Elliott Surname

Digitalization of French archives has now led to the discovery that the names Eliot and Elliot are of Breton origin, both parochial variations being found in significant clusters in Morbihan.  It is almost certain that all Elliots, of whatever variant names, including the Breton original name Ellegouet from which the Scots variant Elligott is derived, is to be found in clusters in Finistere. 

The whole of William the Conqueror's left flank was made up of Bretons at Hastings.  Early despatch of Elliots, under Count Brien of Penthievre (Morbihan) was to the West Country, mainly in Devon, from where the Eliots later moved to St Germans.  Other Eliots were later despatched 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.  William II (Rufus) set up a military colony in Cumberland consisting of Normans and Bretons. 

Normans, Bretons and Flemings from the vast estates of David I, King of Scotland were settled by him, firstly in southern Scotland.  Under his grandsons, Malcolm IV and William I, feudalism was extended north of the Forth into Fife, Angus and Morayshire, again by grants of lands to Normans, Bretons and Flemings, the latter becoming founders of some of Scotland's most powerful families and clans.  It is now certain that what must have been Eliot cadets were among Bretons at some stage in the history now recounted.  The Bretons, like the Flemings, were highly mobile and active mercenaries.  And many of the variants of the Eliot/Elliot names are to be found in Brittany.

It should be noted, however, that large surviving clusters of Eliots in Normandy (Seine Maritime) today reflect a pre or post-conquest grant of lands; while the Alliots - found also in Southern Brittany and the Loire Atlantique - had lands in the modern French departement of Aisne.  One variant name in Scotland was Dalliot (or, more likely, d'Alliot).  Historians have mentioned that the Bretons in England and Scotland were slower than most to adopt surnames.

Possibly with the attainment of literacy by a Scots Elliot clan chieftain or laird, the erroneous entry of the name Elwald in early charters - usually by monks or clerics - led to a dropping of that name.  It was maintained by Sir Arthur and the Dowager Lady Eliott that the Elliots were always known as Ellots, and later Elliots.  Elot is also a Breton name variant.

Keith Elliot Hunter ( 


My own research of the Elliott name took in twenty variant spellings.  My surprise was that, of these top twenty variants, nine were most concentrated in France, names such as Eliot, Alliot, Dalliot and Heliot.   I was at a total loss to explain this until I discovered the work of K.E. Hunter.  

Bob Elliott (

Reader Feedback - Elliotts in SE England

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

The name reached London quite soon after. In the Museum of London is "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.’"

There was a claim about a Geoffrey Eliot, Abbot of Hyde, having signed the 1215 Magna Carta, but his name did not appear in the EWAC list. The 1297 version confirmed by Edward I mentioned the Abbot of Hyde as a witness, but did not name him. My own search of the Internet has failed to turn this "Geoffrey Eliot" up. Hyde Abbey itself is near Winchester in Hampshire, not Hyde on the Sussex coast.

So the surname seemed to go into Sussex in the 14th century as Godefro Elyot at Thakham and William Elyot in Grinstead were listed in the Subsidy Rolls of 1327 and 1332. William Elyot was Constable of Horsham in 1401 and his grandson, Thomas Elyot (1420-67), was a filacer (issuer of the Royal writs) who was buried at Wonersh church in Surrey, not far north of Horsham. 

William Elyot of Cheshunt north of London received land at Kingston-upon-Thames around this time. 

The Surrey Elyots changed to Eliott in about 1500 and then changed to Elliott during the 1700’s.  Elliott versus Davenport in 1705 was a famous legal case about wills brought by the main family and settled on it by the end of the 18th century. It was not made easier by a member of the Eliot clan Stobs family, George Augustus Eliott, (1717–1790), the defender of Gibraltar, being made 1st Baron Heathfield, which is in Sussex, although he died childless. 

Lady Elliot in The Elliots: The Story of a Border Clan said: 

"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, who was regularly imprisoned by Charles I until his death in 1632. 

David Hollins (

Elliot Border Clans - Redheugh, Arkleton, Stobs, and Minto

The Elliots, along with the Armstrongs, were the most troublesome of the Scottish border families. the Redheugh branch being regarded as the most influential among them.  Robert Elwold (or Elliot) of Redheugh fell at the Battle of Flodden between the Scots and the English in 1513.  From his third son came the Elliots of Arkleton. 

The Stobs branch dated from 1584 and to it descended the Redheugh lands.  Gilbert Elliot of Stobs, known as "Gibbie with the Golden Garters," was convicted of high treason in 1685 for plotting against the Catholic Duke of York, but was pardoned and, after the accession of William of Orange in 1689, was knighted and created Lord Minto.

His son, Lord Justice Clerk of Scotland, was the father of the talented Jane Elliot of Minto, author of that famous song The Flowers of the Forest that commemorated the Battle of Flodden.  This line also produced Gilbert, 1st Earl of Minto and Governor General of India in 1806, and Gilbert, 4th Earl, Viceroy of India in 1905.  The leadership of this family resides with the descendants of the 1st Baronet of Stobs, grandson of "Gibbie" by his fourth son.

Elliott and Variants in Scotland

Elliot rather than Elliott has been the primary spelling of the name in Scotland.  But there have been many variants.  It is thought that the various Border branches gave themselves different spellings just to distinguish themselves.  The table below the numbers under the different spellings over time. 

Elliot Eliot Eliott
Births at old parish records (pre-1854)
  455   205
Births at new parish records (post-1854)
   20        14  

1841 census
1901 census

The next table shows hos the percentages have changed over time.

Births at old parish records (pre-1854)
Births at new parish records (post-1854)

1841 xensus
1901 census

Elliot has been the main spelling, although Elliott has been catching up.  The older spelling forms have now died out.

From Sir John Eliot to Major General Granville Elliott

The Eliot family have had a major presence in Cornwall since the mid-1500's.  However, one line of this family took a very different path.  Sir John Eliot, who died in the Tower of London in 1632, had a wayward second son Richard.  He didn't visit Sir John while Sir John was in the Tower and appears to have been the black sheep of the family.  He took off for Europe and later had a son George through Catherine Killigrew.  This illegitimate son was sent to Tangier to be the chirurgeon to the British garrison there.

George's son Roger Elliott, born there in 1665, rose to be a Major General in the British Army and one of the earliest governors of Gibraltar.  His son Granville, also a Major General, died of his wounds at the Battle of Minden in 1759.  Granville had spent much time and effort trying to prove that Richard Eliot had married Catherine Killigrew, but without reward. 

Curiously George Augustus Elliot, of the Scottish Minto Elliots, made his mark by the defense of Gibraltar against Spanish forces in 1779.

Elliott and Eliot in SW England

By the late 19th century, the Elliott spelling had almost entirely displaced Eliot in SW England.  The table below shows the numbers from the 1891 census.


Reader Feedback - Early Eliliotts in America

Elliotts were among the earliest in North America.  Bristol merchant Hugh Elyot and his partner Robert Thorne accompanied John Cabot on the voyage in 1497 when Newfoundland was discovered.  Thorne's son maintained that his father and Hugh Elyot had actually discovered Newfoundland.  Supposedly, for years prior to Cabot's voyage, Bristol ships would set sail to parts unknown and return with holds full of cod from no one knew where.  

But then, no one likes to reveal their favorite fishing holes.   In any case, Hugh Elyot is documented to have received the very first shipment of salt cod from Newfoundland in 1502.  For the next 100 years or so, thousands of young English, French, Dutch, Basque and others sailed each spring to fish for cod off Newfoundland for the summer and returned each fall with hold full of salted cod for the European market. 

Few realize that at the same time the Jamestown colony was established in 1607, the Virginia Company also sent settlers to the Popham colony at Sagadahoc, Maine.  Among the 120 settlers who arrived in the two ships Mary & John and the Gift of God were at least two Elliotts, a Robert Elliott and John Elliot of Newland, Essex born in 1584.  John was master of the Gift of God on its return voyage to England.  Coincidentally, about 75 years later a Portsmouth, New Hampshire merchant named Robert Elliott also owned a ship named The Gift of God.  

Two Elliotts, Lieut. Richard and Capt. James rode with Royalist Prince Rupert's Regiment of Horse against Cromwell's Parliamentarians.  After Charles I was beheaded, these Elliotts remained with Rupert and his brother Maurice as they took to sea to pirate against Cromwell and Spanish shipping.  These Elliotts survived a shipwreck off the Virgin Islands in 1652 and after the restoration were both awarded pensions of 6,000 pound sterling by Charles II for their service to his father. 

Lastly, Thomas Elliott was a Groom of the Bedchamber for Charles II both in exile and after the Restoration.  He also acted as a messenger, spy and confidant.  He was known to be a member of the Prince Rupert faction.  He was made sinecure Governor of Nova Scotia in 1660 and petitioned the king to establish copper mines in Nova Scotia and a bank in Barbados.  He also raced his horse Flatfoot against the king and Gilbert of Stobs at Newmarket.  

I'm descended from a Daniel Elliot who testified in defense of the accused (a risky business!) at the Salem witch trials of 1692.   Daniel was born circa 1665 and married Hannah Cloyse whose step-mother Sarah Cloyse along with her two sisters, Mary Easty and Rebecca Nurse, were among those accused.  Rebecca and Mary were hung but Sarah escaped that fate with the help of her husband and step-son-in-law Daniel. 

Soon the Elliot, Cloyse, Bridges and Towne families quit Salem for good - moving in the dead of winter inland to Salem's End on the Danforth plantation near Framingham, Massachusetts.   The father of “Daniel of the Salem trials” was also named Daniel and he is thought to have been killed by natives at Casco Bay, Maine in 1690.  We have yet to discover where, when or why our ancestors caught the boat to the New World, but they were here by sometime in the mid 1600's

Bob Elliott ( 

Reader Feedback - Elliotts in Barbados and South Carolina

I descend from the Elliotts of Charleston in South Carolina - from William Elliott, born about 1660 in Cornwall, and Katherine Schenckingh, born about 1676 in Barbados.  Supposedly this William who settled in South Carolina had came to Barbados from Cornwall sometime in the late 1600's with his brothers John and Thomas and maybe a brother Joseph or it could have been his father.  Further details are unknown.  

Deborah Elliott (


The Eliot Family from Boston

There are two main Eliot lines.   One line begins in Boston with Samuel Atkins Eliot.  The other begins in Boston with William Greenleaf Eliot and then moves to St. Louis with his son.

Samuel Atkins Eliot (1798-1862), the family patriarch
- Charles Eliot Norton (1827-1908),  author, social critic, and professor of art
   (son of sister Catherine Eliot and her husband Andrew Norton)
- Charles William Eliot (1834-1926), President of Harvard University
  - Charles Eliot (1859-1897), leading landscape artist
  - Samuel Atkins Eliot (1862-1952), Unitarian minister
    - Samuel Atkins Eliot Jr (1893-1984), theater writer
    - Charles W. Eliot (1899-1993), writer
    - Thomas H. Eliot (1907-1991), Chancellor of Washington University, St. Louis    

William Greenleaf Eliot (1781-1853), from Boston
- William Greenleaf Eliot (1811-1887), founder of Washington University, St. Louis
  - Thomas L. Eliot (1841-1936), Unitarian minister and Oregon pioneer
    - Grace Cranch Eliot (!875-1973), teacher and educator
  - Henry W. Eliot (1843-1919), St. Louis businessman
    - Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965), the famous poet
  - Christopher R. Eliot (1856-1945), Unitarian minister
    - Martha Mary Eliot (1891-1978), pedriatrician and specialist in public health

Long lives were a characteristic of this family.  Of the sixteen Eliots listed above, six lived beyond their ninetieth birthday.

Reader Feedback - Elliotts in the Revolutionary War

I wish there was a place to add additions. There are some famous Elliotts listed but there are many more, such as Captain James Elliott and his brother Robert who were both at the Battle of Kings Mountain where the Scots Irish routed the British.  It is considered a turning point of the Revolutionary War in the state. 

Also on the rolls on the Maryland 400 (really there were only about 300) were three Elliotts. The Maryland 400 was a volunteer group that stayed behind to slow the British advance while George Washington and his army retreated. This was a volunteer group because their chances of living were low. 

Darren Elliott (

Reports on the Death of Richard Elliott of Kissing Point, NSW

The following accounts appeared in the Sydney Gazette on the death of Richard Elliott.

June 5, 1823

"An inquest was held within the last few days on the body of Richard Elliott, an old settler of Kissing Point, who was found dead near to Captain Kent's farm.  Some of the apparel was discovered at a distance from the body, scattered in various directions.  A quantity of blood was clearly seen on the ground close to the spot on which the body lay, the position of which seemed to indicate the attitude of defence.  No other verdict was returned, however, than death by the visitation of God."

June 12, 1823

"Reports that Old Elliott, whose mysterious death was mentioned in the last Gazette as having happened in the vicinity of Kissing Point, was a terrible drunkard; that when in this state he was in the habit - so his wife said before the inquisition - of sleeping in the woods however inclement the weather for the whole night and thus contracting excruciating pains in his body.  When in these seasons of inebriety it was no way unusual for him to engage a stump or a tree and then, overcome with the unequal contest, lie down alongside his hardy protagonist and become lost in sleep. 

It could not be ascertained that a dispute had taken place between anyone and the deceased.  He indeed had nothing to attract a robber, having expended all his little substance, as fast as it came in, on miserable rum.  No mark of violence presented itself. 

In short, there was not the least doubt in the minds of the jury, but that he 'was drunk when he died.'"

June 19, 1823

"In the last report we thought that the truth, as near as could be obtained, was published.

During the last week, however, we have been respectfully informed that there were certainly mysterious circumstances attending the old man's demise.  On examination of his head, it was discovered that he was not inebriated when he died.  It is thought that he must have received a blow which may have been slight and quite unintentional that caused his death.

We have been informed also that a man has been in custody upon the charge of killing him."

Reader Feedback - Elliotts in Fiji

There has been confusion about the Elliott families in Fiji.  Initially it appeared that Thomas Richard Elliott had came from Scotland via Australia to work the CSR mill in Rarawai Ba.  

We found that out when we wanted to trace our roots and unearthed the Fiji death certificate of John RG Elliott.  It cited him as a John and not as a Thomas Richard as we had been told.  UK search has revealed that John had siblings whose descendants are around today, that his father was also named John Elliott.  He had come over from Ireland to Glasgow where he had married his Scots- born wife Margaret McKechnie.  

Our ancestor John left Glasgow for the Pacific, landing in Australia.  He later came to Fiji where he was employed by the CSR sugar mills as a coppersmith.  He had seven children, including Thomas Richard Elliott from whom I am descended.  Others of his children were Celia Elliott (Mrs Thomas Green), John Robert, James Joseph, Caroline Elliot (Mrs Robinson), Isabella, Alice Elliott (Mrs Maharaj), and Ellen Naomi Elliott (Mrs Powell).  

Susie Elliott (

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