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Our 2,766 members have registered
2,405 study surnames with us
and a further 6,120 variant names.

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About the study

The goal of the Ismay One Name Study (ONS) is to trace all occurrences of the name Ismay and variants, develop family trees and histories, publish the results and deposit the findings in international and national libraries for the benefit of other family historians both in the present and future.

An added secondary benefit is providing a forum for family historians to discover more about their own personal ancestors, their characters, hopes, dreams and have a lot of fun doing it.

The Ismay One-Name study was registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies in 1994.

Variant names

The registered variants of the name are Ismay, Ismey, Isma, Ismah, Ismaie

Name origin

The Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames by Bardsley allocates the name to the group of surnames showing relationships in that it is derived from a baptismal names meaning the 'son of Ismay'. What is really unusual is that Ismay is a somewhat rare girl's name found in the thirteenth century. He concludes by noting the name managed to survive and become a surname, and still lives.

Historical occurrences of the name

Reaney states that the equation of the earliest example of Isemay is in 1227 Assize Rolls for Buckinghamshire.

Some notable Ismay's include the Reverend Joseph Ismay of Mirfield Yorkshire who left a legacy of detailed diaries concerning life in 18th century England. Lord Hastings Ismay, who was Churchhill's main liaison between the himself and Chief of Staffs and first Secretary General of NATO and off course Thomas Henry and Joseph Bruce Ismay who owned and operated the White Star Line which owned the Titanic

Distribution of the name

The name appears to be centered in Cumberland and has slowly spread out into Northumberland, Durham, Yorkshire, Kent and London. Then during the Victorian age many emigrated to Australia, Canada, Argentina and the USA


The study holds extensive collects of Birth, Marriage and Deaths, census records, probate records, parish records, military records and civil and ecclesiastical courts of England as well as extensive collections of birth, marriage, death and census records of Australia, Canada and USA. The study also has extensive pedigee and family trees