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About the study

Arthur Armitt 1891 - 1983 with his great grandson 15th Nov 1981

The branch of the Armitt family I grew up in was based in Manchester, England and its surrounding area but my great grandfather John Armitt 1861- 1936 grew up in a little village in Heaton, Staffordshire, England.
My uncle delved into the family history and told my father that he had discovered we were descendants of Flemish weavers. My husband found this surprising when a recent autosomal DNA test found me 83% GB to his 69% however looking at the DNA area map GB includes the Low Countries of The Netherlands and Belgium.

The records for births, marriages, and deaths tend to be in the records of St Lawrence Church in Rushton Spencer, nick named 'the church on the hill'. Visiting the church seemed very easy in the 1990's but nowadays the narrow lanes and steep inclines are rather off putting because of this I am glad I wrote down monumental inscriptions during a visit in 1992.
The coat of arms does not reflect my personal experience of the Armitt family as my great grandfather became a servant in Gawsworth, Cheshire as did his siblings before, I assume, his move to Lancashire was in pursuit of greater job opportunities and higher income offered in the bustling and developing 'cottonopolis' of Manchester.
I started my interest in family history in 1991 in the days of paper indexes and microfiche many years before the wealth of online records we find today. In some ways it was easier because we were not swamped with possible matches but with advancing age I do enjoy the accessibility of the website search. It is always important to apply the Genealogical Proof Standard to all work.

Recently I visited the India Office Records, held at the British Library in London, to find an answer to a brick wall from 1992 and it was exciting to handle microfiche again especially with some modern machines available to reverse the image from a film negative to positive making reading much easier.

The advent of DNA testing is exciting as it has enabled me to have an extra source to confirm links I have already found through building my online family tree.

Please make contact if you have questions, corrections or additions no matter how small all are welcome.

Variant names

 Armett, Arnitt, Amett, Armit, Armet


(Anglo-French-Lat-Greek) Hermit. [Middle English A. -French) hermite, heremite, Low Latin) heremita, a hermit; Greek έρημίτης (erēmitēs); from έρημία (erēmía), solitude]


Name origin

Last name: Armitt

This interesting and curious surname is an unusual variant of Hermite, which is of Old French origin, and is a nickname given at least as often to someone who lived in an isolated spot or who was not on good terms with their neighbours, as to actual hermits. Other surnames from this source include Armett, Armit, and Hermitte. Nicknames were given in the first instance with reference to a variety of occupations or to personal characteristics, such as physical attributes or peculiarities, mental and moral characteristics, supposed resemblance to an animal's or bird's appearance or disposition, or to habits of dress. The surname is first recorded in the late 12th Century (see below), while other examples include: William le Heremit, in the Curia Rolls of Yorkshire (1208); Andrew Ermite, in the Court Rolls of the Manor of Ramsey (1255); and Thomas Harmyt, in the Rochester Court Wills (1526). William Armitt married Mary Atkings on October 18th 1665, at St. James', Duke's Place, London. A Coat of Arms granted to the family depicts three silver helmets close, with a gold bordure on a silver shield, with the Motto "Fortis in arduis", (Brave under difficulties). The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William L'ermite, which was dated 1196, in the "Pipe Rolls of Yorkshire", during the reign of King Richard 1, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.

© Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980 - 2017

Historical occurrences of the name

Armitt Museum Ambleside Cumbria England

Museum Quote

Who are we, if not a combination of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopaedia; a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly reshuffled and reordered in every conceivable way.

 (Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium)

The Armitt is a unique combination of museum, library and gallery devoted to preserving and sharing the cultural heritage of the Lake District.

Mary Louisa Armitt founded the Library to foster an exchange of ideas in the local community. The Library opened in 1912. More than a century later, we continue to support the spirit of enquiry in all that we do.

Beatrix Potter was one of the Armitt’s early supporters, and our collection holds a number of her family’s books as well as her personal first editions of the ‘little’ books. Her major gift however came in the form of a large number of exquisite botanical watercolours. At the centre of our exhibition ‘Beatrix Potter, Image and Reality’, these works reveal fascinating and lesser-known aspects of her life story.

Today, the Armitt is proud to house one of the country’s most important collections of artwork by Kurt Schwitters, who influenced the development of twentieth-century art and lived in Ambleside during his final years. In early 2016, generous support from the V&A Purchase Fund, the National Art Collections Fund, the Friends of the Armitt, and local donors allowed us to acquire a further five wonderful Schwitters paintings from his Ambleside years. All works are now on permanent display.

The Armitt Library and Museum Centre is a registered charity, number 1054762

Open throughout the year.

Summer Opening Hours (April-October)
Tuesday-Saturday 10.00am-5.00pm (last admission 4pm).

Mary Louisa Armitt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mary Louisa Armitt
Mary Louis Armitt by Frederic Yates from her 1912 Grasmere book.jpg
portrait by Frederic Yates
Born 31 July 1851
Salford, Lancashire, England
Died 24 September 1911 (aged 60)
Rydal, Cumbria, England
Nationality British
Education Manchester Mechanics' Institute

Mary Louisa Armitt (31 July 1851 – 24 September 1911) was an English polymath. She was a teacher, writer, ornithologist and philanthropist. She was the funder and founder of the Armitt Library, Ambleside.


Armitt was born in Salford, Lancashire in 1851. She was one of three gifted daughters who were born to William and Mary Ann Armitt (née Whalley). All three girls wrote, and they all attended Islington House Academy, but each specialised in a different subject. This academy was in Salford and it trained people to teach along Pestalozzian principles. Sophia, who was born in 1847, took botany and art while her younger sister Annie Maria, who was born in 1850, studied English literature. Mary—who was known as Louie—was the youngest and excelled at music and natural history. She was educated at the Mechanics' Institute in Manchester as soon as she was of age.

The three sisters were all teenagers when their father died. They were well educated so they established a school at Eccles in Lancashire. The eldest child at the school was fourteen, which was only a year younger than Armitt. The three girls spent their spare time attending recitals, art exhibitions, and lectures. They wrote, sketched, and discussed natural history at meetings. Armitt and Sophie both discussed their ambitions with John Ruskin, who encouraged Sophie to study art but told Armitt not to write but to devote herself to women's activities. Luckily Armitt eventually ignored Ruskin's advice and began regular contributions to the Manchester City News in 1877. She was assisted in her studies by a scholarship from Trinity College, Cambridge[dubious ] and by becoming a reader at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

In 1886 Armitt and Sophie retired to Hawkshead, near where Annie was already living, and continued their cultural interests, talking to artists, writers and educationalists like Charlotte Mason and Frances Arnold. Mason, who ran a school for governesses, was publishing the Parents Review, and Mary contributed articles for it. By 1894 Annie was a widow and had moved in with her sisters and Armitt was so ill with heart trouble that she was prevented from travelling far. She mitigated this by joining the London Library. In 1897 she published Studies of Lakeland Birds, a book that gathered together articles from the Westmorland Gazette.

Death and legacy

Armitt died in Rydal in 1911 and was buried in Ambleside. By then, her library included two earlier collections dating from 1828 and 1882. The latter was John Ruskin's Ambleside library, and the former was an early collection from the Ambleside Book Club, to which William Wordsworth had been a subscriber. The Armitt Library was officially opened in 1912. On 8 November 1912 a friend of the Armitts', Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, who was to co-found the National Trust, read his poem in celebration. The poem starts:

As in some inland solitude a shell
Still gently whispers of its home, the deep,
So from the world of being beyond all sleep
Where those two happy sister spirits dwell...

The "two happy sister spirits" were Armitt, who had died the year before, and Sophie, who had died in 1908.

In 1912, Armitt's history of Grasmere Church was published posthumously.

In 1916, Willingham Franklin Rawnsley finished editing Armitt's notes on local history, which she had partially researched at Rydal Hall.


Name frequency

2014 data

Country Incidence Frequency Rank in Nation
England 683 1: 79,063 9,495
Australia 141 1: 167,136 18,301
Scotland 72 1: 73,611 6,953
United States 47 1: 6,814,259 326,585
Canada 46 1: 770,164 63,701
New Zealand 40 1: 113,669 14,386
Norway 2 1: 2,562,192 34,681
Vietnam 2 1: 44,854,450 4,164
Wales 1 1: 3,100,000 18,969
United Arab Emirates 1 1: 9,446,000 83,428

2014 data

1881-1901 data

Place Incidence Frequency Rank in Area
Staffordshire 83 1: 11,917 1,710
Lancashire 82 1: 42,295 3,939
Cheshire 41 1: 15,755 2,098
Warwickshire 25 1: 27,842 3,411
Kildare 11 1: 5,574 805
Oxfordshire 8 1: 22,599 2,730
Northumberland 6 1: 72,466 5,919
Derbyshire 6 1: 73,070 5,875
Surrey 6 1: 237,317 19,994
Yorkshire 6 1: 482,525 21,121
Northamptonshire 6 1: 45,590 4,349
Fife 5 1: 34,589 2,112
Lanarkshire 5 1: 188,985 9,026
Hertfordshire 4 1: 50,430 5,104
Dunbartonshire 4 1: 19,670 2,117
Middlesex 2 1: 1,460,874 65,861
Angus 2 1: 135,332 4,963
East Lothian 1 1: 38,695 1,775
Cornwall 1 1: 330,834 7,242
Dublin 1 1: 439,915 12,449
Kent 1 1: 997,540 28,817








Distribution of the name

Armitt frequency 1881-1901

Surname Atlas

Surname Atles

Surname Atlas



Gedmatch kit for Susan Armitt is saved from Ancestry test autosomal DNA

Wikitree link below to Susan Armitt family tree which includes Ancestry autosomal DNA test


Heaton, Rushton Spencer, St. Lawrence Church

Origin of surname

Mary Louisa Armitt wikipedia

Wikitree Susan Armitt