Is your Surname registered?

Our 2,744 members have registered
2,397 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

2,825 total views, 1 views today




About the study

The aim of the ARMISTEAD One-Name study is to collect family history data on the names ARMISTEAD, ARMITSTEAD, ARMSTEAD and to share this with others researching these names.
The study was started in 2008 in support of my own Armistead Family History research using information gathered since 2005 originally only in UK.
The objectives are to:

  • Collect and cross-reference available data about holders of the name ARMISTEAD, ARMITSTEAD and ARMSTEAD
  • Identify and document family trees.
  • Make this data available to genealogical researchers and family historians researching their Armistead ancestors.
  • Exchange data with other researchers of the name willing to share data
  • Analyse the data to establish regional links and origins.

Variant names

Are ARMISTEAD, ARMITSTEAD, ARMSTEAD with the first being the most common. Spelling has varied over the centuries -€“ older documents often have ARMESTE(A)D. More than one spelling can appear on the same record and some individuals changed the spelling that they used during their lifetime.  Clerks in areas outside Yorkshire, unfamiliar with the surname, often used ARMSTEAD spelling which could become perma
nent .

Name origin

The surname appears to have originated in the Giggleswick (Settle) area of the Yorkshire dales - €“ it is extremely frequent in early parish registers in that area (especially Giggleswick).
Early examples of the surname occur in 1379 poll tax for Giggleswick - Laurence de Armitstead and John de Armitstead . There is a hamlet nearby called Armistead and an Armitstead Hall in Lawkland, parish of Clapham, Yorkshire) .
It is possible that there was a separate unrelated origin of ARMSTEAD in Eastern England - Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire.

Historical occurrences of the name

The church seems to have been a popular profession and clergymen appear in different parts of the country outside Yorkshire but usually no male descendants seem to have remained. The exception is a Cheshire branch descended from John, son of Lawrence of Horton in Ribblesdale (1735 -€“ 1783), where nearly all the later men became upper or middle class clergy.
The descendants of Reverend John of Easingwold (1734 -€“ 1812) were involved in the flax trade and eventually settled in Riga, Latvia (then part of Russia). George Armitstead (1847 -€“ 1912) became Mayor of Riga and a statue of him and his wife can be seen in the park (see above). His brother James founded a hospital there which still bears his name.
The only Armitstead peer -€“ Baron George of Castlehill (1824 -€“ 1915) - was also born in Riga but settled in Dundee running the shipping business. He became an MP and friend of Gladstone but was involved in scandal when his wife left him over an affair with the daughter of a Scottish laird.
Another line of Armisteads were prosperous Quaker business men in Leeds including Wilson Armistead (1819 -€“ 1868) who was heavily involved in the anti slavery movement.
In 1635 William Armistead of Kirk Deighton emigrated to Virginia and established his family in the top ranks of plantation owners. His many descendants appear to have gradually spread over the southern states and several distinguished themselves in the Civil War (almost all for the confederates).
The mistress and eventual wife of Charles James Fox (18th Century) called herself Mrs Armistead ( real name apparently Bridget Cane but nothing is known of her origins) .

Name frequency

The name is uncommon but not rare.

Approximate totals of all variants in England and Wales censuses  : -

1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
730 900 935 1040 1159 1314 1385

In the 1850 American census there were about 740 white Armisteads, virtually all of whom appear to be descendants of the original emigrant in 1635. In the 1860 census there were already 900 Armisteads and by 1870 more than twice as many of European descent (2534) as in England and Wales and 1600 non European, presumably freed slaves taking the former owners name.

Distribution of the name

In the England and Wales 1881 census the major clusters of the name are in Yorkshire and Lancashire. There are also a significant number in Westmorland with a smaller group in eastern counties (principally Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire) .
There have been Armisteads in London since at least seventeenth century including several citizens of different guilds but most appear to have Yorkshire roots .
In the USA Armisteads remained concentrated in Virginia during most of the 19th century


All of the Armistead (and variant) entries from the General Register Offices for England & Wales (1837 - 1911) and censuses 1841-1901 have been recorded . This data can be found on the Guild web site (requires registration unless you are a member of the Guild).
The one-name study also includes numerous entries from English Parish Registers as well as reconstructed trees including a few American ones(based on information available on the web).