Guide to North East Surnames: E

North East Surnames: Eden to Eure

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Eden surname

Prominent family, historic association with County Durham

Though evenly distributed across England the family of Eden, whose numbers included the County Durham-born Prime Minister Sir Anthony Eden, have had a long association with Durham with notable connections to Windlestone, West Auckland, Beamish and Preston Hall near Eaglescliffe. The name is thought to derive from Eden (or Yoden) near the Castle Eden Burn in east Durham. Later, the family came to be closely connected with West Auckland and a John Eden and a Robert Eden of West Auckland are listed in the Visitation (a survey) of Durham in 1575.

Eden Arms, Rushyford
Eden Arms, Rushyford. near Windlestone County Durham © David Simpson

There were 3,050 people called Eden in the Great Britain census in 1881. Lancashire was home to 521; Yorkshire 346 and Durham 200. Of course Lancashire and Yorkshire were much more populous counties than Durham so proportionally the Durham numbers are significant. Only 24 resided in Northumberland and only 43 in Scotland. The remaining Edens were scattered across the midlands and south with 355 residing in London.

A Robert Eden was the mayor of Newcastle in 1699 and Henry Eden was mayor of that town in 1753. Hartlepool mayors included Sir John Eden in 1712, 1714 and 1722 and a Sir John Eden in 1775 and 1786. A Sir Robert Eden was mayor of Durham in 1752.

Sir Robert Eden was elected as an MP for Durham in 1679, 1690, 1698 and 1702. A Sir John Eden was elected MP for the County in 1713 and in 1774.

Eggleston surname

Durham surname from Teesdale

Henry Guppy identified Eggleston as a surname peculiar to Durham. It seems to have early roots in Durham as a Roger de Egleston is mentioned in Durham in the Pipe Rolls of 1196. The surname derives from the village of Eggleston in Teesdale on the north bank of the Tees (in the historic county of Durham) to the north west of Barnard Castle rather than Egglestone Abbey on the south bank of the Tees (formerly in Yorkshire). A Sir John Eggleston of Eggleston is listed as one of the knights of Durham in Bishop Hatfield’s survey of 1377-1380 and a Thomas Egelston is also listed in the survey in connection with ‘Braudwood’ near Wolsingham.

There were 1,307 Eggleston individuals in the 1881 census, though a small number used the spelling variation ‘Egglestone’ and even ‘Eaglestone’. The two most significant counties for the Eggleston surname and its variants were County Durham with 302 and Yorkshire with 189. In the other northern counties there were 48 in Lancashire and 43 in Cumberland. Westmorland was home to 80 Egglestons which was a significant proportion for a county with a relatively small population. Others were scattered throughout England mostly in the south east with notable numbers (93) in Kent.

Eggleston village
Eggleston village © David Simpson

Elliott surname

Border Reiver family surname

Elliott is a North East and Borders surname where it occurs in large numbers. In 1881 Elliott was the 26th most numerous surname in Northumberland and the 43rd most numerous surname in County Durham. It did not feature in the top fifty surnames for Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire or Lancashire. The surname has a presence in Northern Ireland in the Fermanagh area where it is rooted in plantations from the Scottish Borders from 1603.

Elliott and especially Elliot is a notable Borders surname and is common in the Hawick and Roxburghshire area across the border in Scotland. Elliot, Elliott and its variants were once said to derive from an Anglo-Saxon forename Elewald which means ‘elf ruler’, although the Elliot name is now known to have roots in Brittany.

Early records of the surname include a William Elyot mentioned in the Assize Rolls for Somerset in 1257 and a William Eliot mentioned in the Subsidy Rolls for Sussex in 1327 and there is still a branch of the family that is specifically associated with south west England.

Elliot : Border Reiver surname
Elliot : Border Reiver surname © David Simpson

Genealogists and clan historians have pinpointed a link between the Scottish surname and Brittany and particularly southern Brittany where Alliot (or Elliot) are common Breton surnames. An Elias d’ Alliot was given lands near Glen Shee in the highlands of north east Perthshire by William the Lion, king of the Scots (who ruled 1165-1214). In Gaelic, Alliot’s surname became Alicht or Elicht.

In 1320 lands in Liddesdale were confiscated from a William de Soulis who had been found guilty of treason by King Robert the Bruce. Under Walter Alicht, a supporter of Bruce, the Elliot clan was uprooted from the highlands and planted in Liddesdale where the placing of a loyal clan was of the utmost importance to Bruce in this border frontier country.

Walter’s surname came to be known as Elwald in Liddesdale which was not a Gaelic-speaking area, but Elot or Elliot forms of the surname remained a personal preference for the family itself and were eventually reinforced in written form by the clan leaders over time as their literacy improved. Robert, the thirteenth clan leader of the Elliots was one of the clan chiefs who lost their lives at the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513.

Until the fifteenth century the Elliott surname of the Anglo-Scottish border still occasionally occurred in the form Elwald or Elwold. Spellings were inconsistent and other forms including Elwuad, Elwat, Elwood, Eluat, Eluott, Elioat and Elwand are recorded.

Nevertheless, today there are at least seventy derivatives of the surname including four different spellings of the basic name which are Eliot, Eliott, Eliot and Elliott. The last spelling is said to be frowned upon by the Scottish Border Eliotts as it seems they could be from almost anywhere, according to an old rhyme:

‘The double L and single T

descend from Minto and Wolfelee,

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.

Henry Guppy’s observation of the Elliott name (in its various forms) was that it was found principally in Durham and Northumberland and Roxburghshire and neighbouring Scottish counties. He noted other important centres in Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire, and Sussex and noted the remarkably scanty or absent nature of the name along the east coast from Kent to the borders of Durham.

Spelling variations of Elliott/Elliot/Eliot in the census of 1881 may have been partly at the mercy of literacy but we will compare the distribution of the three main spellings:

In 1881 Elliott with the double ‘l’ and double ‘t’ was the most numerous of the variations in the 1881 Great Britain census with 25,524 individuals called Elliott. They were most notable in the northern counties of England (there were only 584 in Scotland). In Yorkshire there were 2,525 Elliotts; in Durham there were 2,326; in Northumberland 1,916 and in Lancashire 1,550. Cumberland was home to 443 and Westmorland 29. London was home to 2,556 Elliotts with significant remainders across the south east, south, south west and midlands.

Elliot with the double ‘l’ but only a single ‘t’ seems to have been the preferred spelling in Scotland in particular. There were 7,684 Elliots in the Great Britain census of 1881 with 2,864 residing in Scotland. These were mostly in the lowland and Borders area and particularly Roxburghshire.  Outside of Scotland they were most numerous in the northern counties of England:  Durham 602; Cumberland 503; Northumberland 469; Yorkshire 465; Westmorland 26. Most of the remainder were centred in and around London and in the midlands. Minto and Wolfelee mentioned in connection with this version of the surname in the poem above are places in the Scottish Borders.

The very rare surname Eliot with single ‘l’ and single ‘t’ only seems to occur 496 times in the Great Britain census of 1881 with 98 of these in south west England. The St Germans mentioned in the poem above in connection with this variation of the surname is a place in Cornwall where Eliot is the family name of the Earls of St Germans. The majority of the remainder of Eliots could be found in the midlands and south east.

There were other minor variations of the general surname occurring in various spellings such as Elliat; Elliett, Elleiott, Ellott, Ellyatt and even Elloitt but all occurred in very insignificant numbers in 1881. Another probable variation is Ellwood (see below).

Ellison surname

Northern surname

This has a strong Northern presence but mostly Lancashire in its distribution though it has some notable connections with the North East. A Cuthbert Ellison was a mayor of Newcastle in 1549 and in 1554 and a Robert Ellison mayor of that town in 1559 and in 1570. A William Ellison was mayor of Newcastle in 1710, 1722 and 1734. Another Cuthbert Ellison was mayor of Hartlepool in 1809 and a Clifford Ellison, a mayor of Durham in 1975.

Robert Ellison was an MP for Newcastle in 1648 and 1660 and Cuthbert Ellison was MP for Newcastle in 1812.

Ellison Terrace, Ellison Place
Ellison Terrace, Ellison Place Newcastle © David Simpson

See also Carr Ellison.

Ellwood surname

Lake counties surname

Ellwood may be a variation of the Elliott group of surnames (see above) and was predominant in the ‘Lake Counties’ in the 1881 census. There were 1,686 people with this name in that census with 258 in Lancashire; 253 in Cumberland; 196 in Westmorland; 142 in Lancashire; 120 in Durham and 20 in Northumberland. When the comparative populations of the counties are taken into account (see end of this page) the surname is proportionally very significant in the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland.

There were only 15 Ellwoods in Scotland with the rest spread across the midlands and south east with notable numbers in Cambridgeshire and London. The variant surname Elwood with one ‘l’ occurred 562 times in the 1881 census and was widely distributed being most significant in Yorkshire (119); London (83) and Lincolnshire (46).

Elstob surname

County Durham surname

A North East surname especially associated with County Durham from the place of that name near Sedgefield. A notable Elstob was Elizabeth Elstob (1683-1756), a pioneering scholar of Anglo-Saxon studies. She was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Elizabeth’s brother was a noted English divine called William Elstob (1673-1715) and their father was a Newcastle merchant called Ralph Elstob who was from the village of Foxton near Elstob. Curiously, the Elstobs claimed to be descended from Welsh kings. In 1881 there were only 293 Elstobs in Great Britain including 106 in Durham and 134 in Yorkshire. Northumberland was home to 19 Elstobs with the rest mostly residing in southern and eastern parts of England.

The surname appears in the Durham Assize Rolls in 1235 with a mention of a Philip de Ellestob and a William de Ellestobe. A Raffe Elstobbe and a John Elstobbe of Foxton are listed in the 1575 Visitation survey of Durham.

Eltringham surname

County Durham surname of Northumberland origin

Likely from Eltringham near Prudhoe in Northumberland and certainly a North East surname, especially in County Durham. There were only 316 people of this name in the Great Britain 1881 census of which 220 resided in County Durham. Northumberland was home to 63 of this name but the distribution in other counties was almost negligible. There were 6 in Lancashire; 4 in Yorkshire; 2 in Cumberland and in the whole of Scotland there were only 9 people of this name. The 11 remaining Eltringhams resided mostly in Hampshire or Kent.

Embleton surname

County Durham surname

A North East England surname and especially in County Durham but also notable in North Yorkshire. Most likely from the village of Embleton in Northumberland, north of Dunstanburgh Castle. The surname is listed as a Guppy surname ‘peculiar’ to Northumberland.

There is also a place called Embleton in County Durham (near Hartlepool) and an Embleton in Cumberland. In early forms the surname occurs as Emilton or Emeldon. A Roger de Emilton is mentioned in the Pipe Rolls relating to Durham in 1230 and a Richard de Emeldon in records relating to the Priory of Durham in 1326 and a Norman de Embleton in Cumberland in 1332. A Richard De Emeldon was the mayor of Newcastle in 1305-1308; 1311-1312; 1314-1320; 1322-1329 and 1331-1332.

Sea view at Embleton © David Simpson
Sea view at Embleton © David Simpson

In the 1881 census there were 864 people called Embleton in Great Britain primarily focused upon Durham (285) and Northumberland (251). Yorkshire was home to 45 Embletons; Lancashire 25 and Cumberland 5. Most of the remainder could be found in London and the south east.

Emerson surname

Primarily a County Durham surname

Emerson and Emmerson are North East surnames found especially in County Durham. Emerson is also found to a much lesser extent in Northern Ireland. Emmerson with the double ‘m’ is much more widespread in England and lowland Scotland than Emerson but is still mostly a North East surname.

In Bishop Hatfield’s survey of Durham (1377-1380) a William and Robert Emerisson are listed at Stanhope and Robert Emerisson, also at South Bedburn near Hamsterley.

Henry Guppy identified a strong link to Darlington and south west Durham for centuries. Noted family members have included the mathematician, William Emerson (1701-1782) of nearby Hurworth.

Emerson Arms, Hurworth
Emerson Arms, Hurworth © David Simpson

Emersons and Emmersons are said to be descended from an Aemeric of Crook Hall near Durham City. The name appears in charters relating to the Priory of Finchale near Durham in 1411 with a mention of a William Emeryson. A John Emmerson was the mayor of Newcastle in 1660.

In the 1881 census the surnames with either single or double ‘m’ seem to have been widespread, existing side side by side. Collectively the two are easily most numerous in County Durham with 1,159 individuals. There were 741 in Yorkshire; 297 in Lancashire; 260 in Northumberland and 121 in Cumberland. Across Scotland there were 147 Emmersons or Emersons with the rest distributed across eastern and south eastern England including London.

Durham and Northumberland surname

A Northumbrian surname in origin from a place in Northumberland of that name near Chollerton. Places in Northumberland with an historic connection to this surname include the village of Anick near Hexham. The surname has an important presence in County Durham. A family called Errington held property at Elton near Stockton in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and a Northumbrian Jacobite by the name of Lancelot Errington was noted for his seizure of Lindisfarne Castle during the 1715 rising.

Errington was very much a Durham surname in the 1881 census with 717 individuals in the county out of a total of 1,712 in Great Britain. In Northumberland there were 244 Erringtons and in Cumberland 94. In Yorkshire there were 92 Erringtons and there were 51 in Lancashire. Remaining Erringtons were distributed across England with only 4 Erringtons in Scotland and 4 in Wales.

Esh surname

County Durham surname

An old surname ‘De Eshe’ associated in medieval times with the village of Esh to the west of Durham City. There were only 36 people with this surname in the entire 1881 census, with 7 in County Durham where they were found in the Hunstanworth area, and 29 in Yorkshire.

Esh village
Esh village © David Simpson

Eure surname

Medieval barons of Durham and Northumberland

Also occurring with the spellings Euer and Ever this is a notable North East family surname of times past. Kirkley the site of a tower house called the Turris de Kirklawe in 1415 (now the site of Kirkley Hall also associated with the Ogles) was the principal Northumbrian seat of the Eures from 1267.

They were also owners of Witton-le-Wear in County Durham from 1370 where they built Witton Castle in 1410. In Bishop Hatfield’s survey of Durham (1377-1380) a Radulphus Euere is listed in connection with Chester-le-Street, Escomb and Newton Cap. Several Eures were High Sheriffs of Northumberland, Sturton Grange near Warwkworth being a family estate in Northumberland.

Witton Castle.
Witton Castle © David Simpson

The Eure family were often involved in the Border troubles and warfare and one Eure who was a Warden of the East March burned the Scottish town of Jedburgh in 1644. Over in Yorkshire the Eures were owners of Stokesley for which they established a fair in 1223 (still going strong today) which they founded with the permission of King Henry III.

A Sir Ralph Euer was the MP for Newcastle in 1380 and 1381. The family were sometimes also known as Ever and were connected with the name of the Ever Tower on the town walls of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Ever Tower, newcastle Town Walls
Remains of the Ever Tower, Newcastle Town Walls © David Simpson

North East Surnames beginning with:

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Historic counties of Great Britain and Ireland
Historic counties of Great Britain and Ireland showing the six northern counties of England © David Simpson and England’s North East 2021
Note on the populations of English counties in 1881

When comparing figures for individual numbers of a surname in 1881 it is important to be aware of the actual population of each of the Northern English counties. As you can see from the figures below, 500 individuals with a particular surname in Westmorland would be proportionally much more significant than 500 people of the same surname residing in Lancashire. You might well describe such a surname as a ‘Westmorland name’ but the numbers would not be significant enough to describe it as a ‘Lancashire surname’, at least not as defined by the 1881 distribution. The 1881 northern county populations were as follows:

  • Northumberland: Population 434,658. The county included Newcastle upon Tyne, Wallsend, North Shields, Tynemouth and Whitley Bay and a mining district in the south east of the county including the port of Blyth. As well as indigenous Northumbrian surnames, ‘Border names’ are often abundant in this county, occasionally taking on a form that is distinct from similar Scottish surnames.
  • Durham: Population 869,130. The county included Sunderland, Gateshead, South Shields, Jarrow, Darlington, Stockton-on-Tees and Hartlepool. Numerous small mining towns and villages lie across the county between these major centres of population and like the industrial centres were often the home to surnames that originated in Northumberland and North Yorkshire as well as home-grown in County Durham.
  • Yorkshire: Population 2,895,049. This county included the iron town of Middlesbrough on the south bank of the River Tees in the north east corner of the county as well as ‘West Riding’ towns like Leeds, Bradford, Sheffield, Halifax, York, Huddersfield to the south. Most of the population of Yorkshire was and still is focused upon the urban and industrialised south west of the county where there is a close relationship in terms of surnames with neighbouring Lancashire across the Pennines. The far south of the county around Sheffield is also very populous. The rural East Riding along with the city of Hull may have a close relationship with neighbouring Lincolnshire. From a North East point of view many of the surnames we describe as ‘Durham and Yorkshire’ are almost always specifically focused upon North Yorkshire and south Durham, though often stretching across the whole of Durham in distribution.
  • Cumberland: Population 251,520. The main centres in this county included Carlisle and the industrial coastal towns of Whitehaven and Workington. As in Northumberland, ‘Border surnames’ have a strong influence here, often originating from or stretching into Scottish counties of the western borders, notably Dumfriesshire.
  • Westmorland: Population 64,204. This was a relatively small and rural county in terms of population. Characterised by small market towns and farming villages, it has its own distinct surname distribution. Along with Cumberland it is now part of Cumbria.
  • Lancashire: Population 3,466,597. This highly populated county included Liverpool and Manchester as well as major towns such as Bolton; Preston; Burnley; Oldham, Rochdale and a number of mill towns. The historic county also stretched into the south Lakeland area in what is now (along with Cumberland and Westmorland) part of Cumbria. The industries of Lancashire were a great draw for immigration from Scotland; Ireland and Wales, particularly in the nineteenth century.
  • Cheshire: We occasionally include details of surname distribution in Cheshire (its population in 1881 was 644,895) where relevant, though surnames in Cheshire and indeed Lancashire and to some extent West Yorkshire often take on a distinctly different character and pattern of distribution to surnames in the other northern counties. Welsh surnames are also quite significant in Cheshire given its location on the Welsh Border. In fact some suburbs of the city of Chester are located within Wales.
  • Counties of the Midlands and South: In addition to the six northernmost counties plus Cheshire, there were a further 32 other counties in England as follows: Bedfordshire; Berkshire; Buckinghamshire; Cambridgeshire; Cornwall; Derbyshire; Devon; Dorset; Essex; Gloucestershire; Hampshire; Hertfordshire; Hertfordshire; Huntingdonshire; Kent; Leicestershire; Lincolnshire; London (Middlesex); Norfolk; Northamptonshire; Nottinghamshire; Oxfordshire; Rutland; Shropshire; Somerset; Staffordshire; Suffolk; Surrey; Sussex; Warwickshire; Wiltshire and Worcestershire.
  • The South East: Of these other English counties, London and some of its neighbouring counties were particularly populous as of course they still are. There were just short of 3 million people in Middlesex (London) and additionally in Surrey there were 1.4 million people. In Essex there were more than half a million people and the population in Kent (996,770) was just short of a million. Such a populous region as the South East often inevitably includes Northern surnames that have gravitated southward but rarely do these surnames have any proportional significance within the population of the South East.
  • Scotland: The total population of Scotland in 1881 was 3.4 million, focused primarily on the central lowland belt stretching from Glasgow to Edinburgh.
  • Wales: The total population of Wales in 1881 was just over 1.5 million and focused upon Cardiff, Swansea and the industrial mining valleys of the south.

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Introduction to North East surnames

Border Reivers

Guppy’s surnames

North East Notable People


Border Reiver Surnames of the Anglo-Scottish Border. Poster Print.


North East England History and Culture