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Home: Surnames: Emslie Family Genealogy Forum

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Origin of name Emslie
Posted by: Lisa Mullin Date: January 07, 2001 at 11:10:31
  of 111

I have researched my family to 1800 in the West Riding of Yorkshire. My family's surname is spelt "Emsley". The family was based at various times in the towns/ parishes of Shipley, Bradford, Fewston, Haworth, Halifax, Oakworth, Leeds and Stainburn all in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

On the origins of the name Emsley I have the following information sourced from the Public Library of Aberdeen:

The surname Elmslie, Elmsley, Elmsly or Emslie is now found mainly in Aberdeenshire and seems to have been on English origin. Bardsley in his Dictionary of English and Welsh surnames in 1901 gives the source as Helmsley, a town in the North Riging of Yorkshire. It is recorded in Aberdeenshire in 1296 when a Robert de Elmleghe rendered homage to Edward 1, and there is also a mention of a William de Elmysley serving on an inquisition in Aberdeen in 1333. James Emslie of Loanhead was the first to quarry the famous Aberdeen granite between 1715 and 1745 and a family called Elmsley were owners of the Estate of Pitmedden, Dyce during the nineteenth century. The above information was based on "The Surnames of Scotland" by G.F. Black 1946.

The town Helmsley has an attractive market place and a Norman castle. Nearby is the ruined abbey called Rievaulx. The houses are stone built and in the spring all the village greens and the countryside are crowded in masses of wild daffodils. The Emsleys left Hemsley in 1100 and went to Aberdeen. There are lots still there and they developed the famous granite quarries. later our branch came back to Yorkshire in the Border Wars.

Since the name is English in origin it would not belong to any Highland clan. However, in such a case it is order to adopt the tartan of the clan which predominated in the district where the family was most in evidence. It is most likely that the members of the family would have attached themselves to this powerful clan for protection and defence. The clan Gordon occupied extensive lands in Aberdeenshire so the Emsley family could adopt the Gordon tartan. The family crest of the Emslies as described in Fairburn's Book of Crests is "a thistle leaved proper".

I am interested in any information on the family Emsley from the West Riding in Yorkshire and on the origins of the name Emslie/ Emsley.

Lisa Mullin


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