Bishop Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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Bishop Origin:


Origins of Name:

The Bishop surname has Latin origins stemming from the Greek word ‘episkopos’ which means overseer. The Old English word ‘biscop’ meaning bishop is a derivation from episkopos. Since the 4th Century, early Christianity would make use of this word, bishop was given as a title to someone who was an overseer of the local Christian community. This title would eventually loan itself to almost all of Europe. France using évêque, Spanish obispo , Italian vescovo,, German Bischof, Russian yepiskop, , and more, all of which translates to Bishop. However, it must be noted that the surname did not refer to an actual bishop.

The first instance of it being used as a surname is an occupational one as well as one used to describe someone. A person who worked in the house of a bishop assumed the surname, a person who resembled a bishop in appearance bore the surname, and it was also used as a nickname for someone who acted in theatre productions and played the part of a bishop. A very common custom in the Middle Ages in England consisted of a boy being chosen to parody a real bishop. The boy bishop was elected on December 6 during the feast of Saint Nicholas, the patron saint of children. This activity could also be a possible source source for someone with the surname.


More common variations are:

Bishopp, Bishope, Bischop, Bishopi, Bishiop, Bishoop, Bishoup, Bishopw, Bishoip, Bishp



The first recorded instance of the surname Bishop is Lefwinus Bissop recorded in the Pipe Rolls in 1166 of Nottingham, England. Thurstan le Byssop was recorded in Essex county in 1240.

Bishop is the 270th most common surname in Great Britain. The highest concentrations are in Leeds, Isle of Wight, Lincolnshire, Cheshire, and Shropshire.


Berchtoldus Episcopus was recorded in Oberweiler, Germany in 1296. Haintz der Pischoffer was recorded in Tiefenbach, Germany in 1396.

Bishop Today:

130,000 in the United States

28,000 in England

17,000 in Nigeria

11,000 in Canada

11,000 in Australia

7,000 in South Africa

Notable People:

Arthur Ernest Bishop (1917). Australian inventor

Bernice Pauahi Bishop (1831), Princess of the Kamehameha dynasty

Bridget Bishop (1632), the first woman ever sentenced to death and killed for witchcraft in 1692 during the Salem witchcraft trials

Charles Reed Bishop (1822), American businessman

Elizabeth Bishop (1911), American writer and poet

Henry Bishop (1611), English postmaster general

Henry Rowley Bishop (1786), English musical composer

Katharine Bishop (1889), co-discoveror of Vitamin E

Max Bishop (1889), American baseball player

Morris Bishop (1893), American scholar

Richard M. Bishop (1812), American politician

Sherman C. Bishop (1887), American herpetologist and arachnologist

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Anthony Bishop, Oxhill, co. Warwick, grandson of George Bishop of the same place, and son of John Bishop, of Brayles, Har. MSS.). Ar. on a bend gu. cottised sa. three bezants.
2) (Dorsetshire and Somersetshire). (Norfolk). Ar. on a bend cottised gu. three bezants. Crest—An eagle’s head erased party per fesse or and gu. beaked of the last.
3) (Evesham, co. Worcester). Ar. on a bend gu. cottised sa. three bezants. Crest—Out of a mural crown ar. a griffin’s head sa. beaked or.
4) (Crediton, co. Devon). Gu. three lozenges ar. each charged with a pheon sa.
5) (Devonshire. Visit. 1562). (Chalcombe, Dorset). Gu. three lozenges ar. each charged with an eagle displ. of the field.
6) Ar. on a bend gu. betw. two demi lions ramp. sa. three lozenges vair.
7) (Bristol, co. Somerset). Erm. on a bend cottised gu. three bezants. Crest—A griffin sejant ar. resting the dexter claw on an escutcheon also ar.

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