Caldwell Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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Caldwell Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
There are five different origin theories and meanings for the English, Scottish, and Northern Irish, surname Caldwell/Coldwell and its ten or so other spelling variants. First, according to A Dictionary of English of English and Welsh Surnames by Charles Wareing Bardsley, published in 1901, asserts this last name is a locational or habitational surname meaning “of Caldwell”, denoting a person who lived in or came from parishes in the diocese of Ripon and Petersborough in England. It derives from the Anglo-Saxon or Old English word ceald (cold or cald) and wiella (well or spring), meaning cold or cold, meaning the cold well. Along the same lines of the first origin theory, in his book Patronymica Britannica, author Mark Antony Lower states the name could have sprung out of several localities in counties across the British Isles. Also along the same lines, another source states there are places named Caldwell in Warwickshire, North Yorkshire (in parish Richmondshire), as well as places named Cauldwell in Derbyshire, Bedfordshire, and Nottinghamshire, and that there are also placed called Chadwell and Chardwell. The locale in Yorkshire is recorded as “Caldeuuella” in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, which was a survey of Wales and England ordered by William the Conqueror.

Second, another source identifies the origin as being from a locale in Scotland: George Fraser Black’s 1946 book The Surnames of Scotland, states the following in regard to this last name: “Of territorial origin from the lands of the name in Renfrewshire. The old family of the name appears to have ended in the direct line in an heiress in the fifteenth century”.  In this theory, the name denoted a person who lived close to a well that provided cold water, and was first used as a last name by the Strathclyde-Briton people. According to, “Stathclyde or Ystrad Clud (beautiful Estuary) was a kingdom of the Britons, or brythonic celts in the Hen Ogledd, in what is now Northern England and southern Scotland, through the post-Roman and medieval eras. The original occupants of the area where a Celtic tribe known as the Damnoni…The kingdom emerged after Roman rule was withdrawn from Britain at the beginning of the fifth century”. The family held seat (land, manors, titles) in Scotland, perhaps prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066 AD.

Third, In his book A Guide to Irish Names, author Edward MacLysaght states the name is an Anglicized form of the Irish surname Ó hUairisce in counties Tyrone, Ireland and also an Anglicized form of the Irish surname Cullivan, Colavin, or MacConluain in county Cavan, Ireland.

Fourth, in his 1862 book The Origin and Significance of Scottish Surnames, author Stanley Sims, mentions the name may derive from the word colwold, meaning “the hazel wood”, likely denoting a person who lived in or near such as place.

Fifth, it may be a spelling variant of the surname Caudle, which was a sweet, thick, and hot alcoholic beverage that was popular throughout the Middle Ages in Europe for its supposed medicinal properties.

Spelling Variations
Some spelling variants or names with similar etymologies include Coldwell, Caldwall, Colwell, Cauldwell, Calldwell, Caldewell, Coaldwell, Caldwelle, Caulduoll, Cauldwill, Guildwell, and Caudle.

Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Caldwell ranks 301st in popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following seven states: Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The spelling variant Coldwell ranks 18,330th in the same census.

The surname Caldwell frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (1,214th), Scotland (399th), Wales (1,303rd), Ireland (1,282nd) and Northern Ireland (296th). In England, it ranks highest in counties Herefordshire and Lancashire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in Ayshire, Renfrewshire, and Wigtownshire. In Wales, it ranks highest in Flintshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in county Cavan. In Northern Ireland, it ranks highest in county Londonderry.

The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world:  Canada (872nd), New Zealand (443rd), Australia (597th), and South Africa (3,381st).

Early Bearers of the Surname
The earliest known bearer of this surname was  Adam de Caldwella, who was recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Derbyshire in 1195 AD. The Poll Tax of Yorkshire in 1379 AD lists three bearers of this last name: Johannes de Caldewell, Johannes de Coldwell, and Ricardus de Coldewell. Early marriages involving this surname include John Caldwell and Margaret Hilde in London in 1581, John Caldwell to Margaret Mathews at St. George’s Hanover Square in 1786, and Robert Coldwell to Agnes Hanshawe at the Church of St. Mary le Bow in London in 1547. An early baptism involving this name was  Nycolas Coldwell at the Church of St. James’s Garlickhithe in London, England in 1555. William de Caldwell is recorded in an entry fee in Scotland in 1342 AD. A one Robert Cauldwell was a merchant in the service of Sir John of Montgomery in 1405 AD in Scotland as well. ugh de Calde Wel, scutiferus, appears as charter witness in 1419 AD.

Caldwell Family Tree & Caldwell Genealogy

Caldwell of New Grange
This is a family of Scottish ancestry and lineage. The discussion of the Caldwell genealogy begins with Charles Caldwell, Esquire of Dublin, Solicitor to the Customs, who was born in 1707, the son and heir of Andrew Caldwell and Catherine Campbell. In 1732, Charles married Elizabeth, daughter of Benjamin Heywood of Liverpool, with whom he had the following eight issue: Andrew (of Cavendish Row, Rutland Square, Dublin, Barrister-at-Law), Charles (of Liverpool, had issue named Reverend George, William of Kingstown Jamaica, Anne, and Harriott), Benjamin, Ponsonby, Amelia (married George Cockburn), Catherine (married Phineas Riall of Heywood), and Mary Elizabeth (married Jacob Sankey of Coolmore). His third son, Admiral Sir Benjamin Cadlwell, was born around 1738 and in 1784, married Charlotte, daughter of Admiral Henry Osborn, Vice-Admiral of England, and had a son with her named Charles. This son, Charles Andrew, was an Esquire of New Grange in Meath, Ireland. He was born in March of 1785. In 1808, he first married Charlotte Ann, daughter and co-heiress of Sir William Abdy of Chobham Place, and had six issue with her as follows: Charles Benjamin, James Thomas (Commander in the Royal Navy), Captain William Charles, Henry (Commodore in the Royal Navy, married Mary Eleanor Bulwer, had issue named Charles Henry Bulwer, Mary Elizabeth Abdy, Emily Charlotte Ernestine, and Henriea Eleanor), Mary Catherine, and Charlotte Louisa. His son Charles Benjamin Caldwell, Esquire of New Grange, county Meath, was born in 1809 and became a Captain in the 91st Regiment. In 1868, he married Sophia Frances, daughter of William Cust. The Caldwell Coat of Arms (mistakenly called the Caldwell Family Crest by some) is blazoned in heraldry as follows: Or, in chief three piles sable, each charged with a fountain, proper, in base four bars wavy alternatively gules and very, quartering Abdy. Crest: A demi-lion grasping a broken scimitar all proper. Motto: Ense liberate petit animico tyrannis.  This family was seated at New Grange, Slane, county Meath, Ireland, as well as New Grange Lodge, Bray, county Wicklow.

Caldwell of Linley Wood
The lineage of this branch of the Caldwell family tree begins with James Caldwell, Esquire, and Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for Stafford, who married Elizabeth, daughter and co-heiress of Thomas Stamford of Derby and Hannah Crompton of Chorley Hall, and had seven children with her as follows: James Stamford, Hannah Eliza (married William Stanley Roscoe, had issue named William, Arthur, Thomas S., Francis James, Elizabeth Jane, and Anne Mary), Mary, Anne (married Arthur Cuthbert Marsh), Margaret Emma (married Henry Holland, Baronet, had issue), Catherine Louisa, and Frances. He died in 1838. He was succeeded by his son James. James was an Esq. of Linley Wood in county Stafford, English, as well as a Justice of the Peace, a Barrister-at-Law educated at Cambridge. He died in 1858 and was succeeded by his sister Anne. Anne Marsh, who assumed the name Caldwell by sign manual in addition to that of Marsh,on succeeding her aforementioned brother, was the widow of Arthur Cuthbert Marsh of Eastbbury, the son of William. She had two sons and six daughters as follows: Arthur, Martin William James, Eliza Louisa, Frances Mary (married  Major General Richard Crofton of Lakefield, had issue), Georginia Amelia, Rosamund Jane, Mary Emma (married Admiral Sir Leopold George Heath of Anstie Grange, had issue), and Hannah Adelaide (married Reverend Edward Henry Loring, had three sons) She died in 1874 and was succeeded by her three unmarried daughters: Eliza Louisa, Georgina Amelia, and Rosamund Jane. The Caldwell Coat of Arms (erroneously called the Caldwell Family Crest or Caldwell Family Shield by those unfamiliar with heraldry and genealogy) is blazoned as follows: Quarterly: 1st and 4th, per pale sable and very, a stag’s head couped argent, in chief three cold wells proper, for Caldwell; 2nd and 3rd, argent, two bars azure on a canton gules, a gauntlet grasping a broken sword proper hilt and pommel gold, for Stamford; and now quartered with the Arms of Marsh, Quarerly: Gules and argent in the 1st quarter a horse’s head of the 2nd. Crests: 1st, Caldwell: A lion couchant argent gorged with two bars, the upper sable the lower very, holding between the paws a cold well proper; 2nd Marsh: Rising from a mural crown gules a horse’s head argent ducally gorged or. Mottoes: Caldwell, Niti, facere, experiri, Marsh, Si bene, statuas nil metuas. The family seat was at Linley Wood, Talk of the Hill.

Other Caldwell Pedigree & Family Trees
Robert Caldwell II was born in Worcester, England in 1504. He had two sons: Thomas and Richard. His son Thomas was born in the same county in 1527. He married Alice Tomilson. He died in Staffordshire in 1554.

William W. Caldwell was born in Ireland around 1710. He went to colonial America. He had two sons: Stephen and Robert. His son Robert was born around 1737 in Pennsylvania. He had the following issue: Agnes, Ann (McNary), Arthur, Margaret, John, James, George, William, Mary (Patterson), Elizabeth, Jane (Hamilton), and Joseph. His son George Caldwell was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania around 1772. He married Mary Thomas and fathered the following children with her: Rebecca, Rhoda, Joseph, Margaret (Bates), Anna, Abijah, Lydia, Mary J. (Cone), George, and Jonathan T. He purchased three hundred acres of land (around modern day Painesville). His son George was born in Ohio around 1815. He married Amanda L. Dexter and had four children with her: Eugene, Helen, Dilno, and Frank.

William Coaldwell I, son of Thomas, was born in Ely, Suffolk, England in 1624, He married Jane Golsborough and had two issue with her: Prudence and William II. His son William I was born in Wisbech, Norfolk in 1673. He married Mary Edwards and had a son with her named William III. This William Coaldwell III was born in Wisbech, England in 1695 and went to Canada. He married Jane Jordan and had the following issue with her: William IV, John I, Jeddediah, Jemima (Schofield), Jane (Fielding), Ebenezer, Jonathan, Jacob, Mary (Forsythe), Eliphalet, and Olivia F. (Ells). His son John Coldwell I was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, Colonial America in 1736. He married Eleanor Hackett and had the following issue with her: Judson, Sarah (Martin), Lucy, Eleanor (Graham), John, John II, Eunice (Bishop), Elizabeth (Jackson), Joseph, Lavinia (Angus), and Olive (Bishop). His son John was born around 1770 and he married Eliphal Bishop, with whom he had the following issueL Thomas McGrath, Isaac, John, Emily (Lightizer), Lavinia (Duncanson), Hiram, James Henry, Perez, Sarah (Duncanson), and Cyrus. His son Isaac was born in Gaspereay, Nova Scotia, Canada in 1797. He married Nancy Kinnie and had the following children: Eliza (Miner), Amy, Lydia (Wescott), Andrew, Isaac J., Nancy, and Jacob T. His son Andrew Coldwell was born in the same town in 1826. He married Nancy Graham and had the following issue: Lilian, Nina, Alice, and Cassie M.

Early American and New World Settlers
The book Genealogical Guide to the Early Settlers, mentions two bearers of this last name: John Caldwell of Ipswich, Massachusetts, admitted as a freeman in 1677. He married Sarah, daughter of John Dillingham, and had the following issue with her: Sarah (1658), John (1661), Ann (1661), Dillingham (1667), William (1669), Mary (1672), and Elizabeth (1675). Other early settlers in colonial America bearing this surname include Archibald Caldwell (New Jersey 1685), John Caldwell (1693), Vincent (Philadelphia 1699), Robert (Charleston 1703), Allen Caldwell (New York 1710), Andrew Caldwell (1718), and Charles Caldwell (1718).

In Canada, one of the earliest settlers with this surname was Eleanor Hackett Caldwell, who came to Nova Scotia in 1761 with her sons John and Jacob. In Australia, in 1839, a family bearing this surname came to Adelaide aboard the Asia, John, Margaret, Matthew, Ann, and Robert Caldwell. In New Zealand, one of the earliest bearers was one T. Coldwell, who came to the city of Auckland in 1842. In 1865, two bearers I. Caldwell and E. Caldwell came to Auckland aboard the Armstrong.

Early Americans Bearing the Caldwell Family Crest
Charles Bolton’s American Armory (1927) contains one entry for this surname:
1) Three wells 2 and 1. Crest: from a coronet a cubit hand grasping a cross. Motto: Fortiter! Ascende! Bookplate Roxana Caldwell Cowles, descended of John Caldwell of Ipswich, Mass., and Sarah Dillingham.
2) Azure a chevron argent between in chief two doves and in base a garb or. Crest: a dove argent holding a branch vert. “By the name of Caldwell” and palm branches. Framed water color owned by Mrs. W. B. Stevens, Sr., 98 Mt. Vernon St., Boston, whose grandfather, Ezra Palmer (q. v.), married Elizabeth and then Susan Caldwell of Ipswich, Mass.

Crozier’s General Armory (1904) and Matthew’s American Armoury and Bluebook (1907) do not contain any entries for this surname.

I have identified eight Caldwell family mottoes:
1) Ense liberate petit inimico tyrannis (An enemy to tyrants seeks liberty with the sword)*
2) Ense libertatem petit (He seeks liberty by the sword)
3) Niti, facere, experiri (To strive to do is to experience)
4) Fac et spera (Do and hope)
5) Virtus et spes (Courage and hope)
6) Sapere aude (Dare to be wise)
7) Seringapatam (for their service at the Siege of Seringapatam, Inida, 1799)
8) Fortiter! Ascende! (Forward! Up!)

It’s from Algernon Sidney who was executed for conspiring against James II. Manus haec inimica Tyrannis Ense petit placidam, sub libertate quietem. Paraphrased by John Quincy Adams… This hand to tyrants ever sworn the foe, This hand to tyrants ever sworn the foe.


We have 15 coats of arms for the Caldwell surname depicted here. These 15 blazons are from Bernard Burke’s book The General Armory of England, Ireland, and Scotland, which was published in 1848 (with the exception of the last blazon, which is from Bolton’s). The bottom of this page contains the blazons, and in many instances contains some historical, geographical, and genealogical about where coat of arms was found and who bore it. People with this last name that bore an Caldwell Coat of Arms (or mistakenly called the Caldwell Family Crest)
1) Robert Caldwall of London, haberbasher, by Segar, 1422, Azure a cross pattee fitche between 8 stars in orle, or.
2) Ralph Caldwall of Alston, county Stafford, by Wriothesley, 1422
3) John Coldewell, Doctor of Medicine, 18 February 1578-9, by Fowler

There are hundreds of notable people with the Caldwell surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include: 1) James Caldwell (1955) is a former college football player (Iowa) who was born in Beloit, Wisconsin who went on to have a prominent coaching career in the NFL for five different teams including the Indianapolis Colts and Detroit Lions, 2) Robert Coldwell Wood (1923-2005) who was the 2nd Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during the Lyndon Johnson presidential administration who was born in St. Louis, Missouri and served in World War II as well, 3) George Robson Coldwell (1858-1924) who was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba from 1907 to 1915, a member of the Conservative Party, 4) Alexander Caldwell (1830-1917) who was a US Senator from Kanas from 1871 to 1873, born in Drakes Ferry, Pennsylvania, 5) Ben Franklin Caldwell (1848-1924) who was a member of the US House of Representatives from Illinois, born near Carrollton, Illinois, elected as a Democrat, 6) Admiral Sir Benjamin Caldwell (1739-1820) who was a British Royal Navy Officer from Liverpool who served in the Seven Years’ War, American War for Independence, and the French Revolution, 7) Andrew Jackson Caldwell (1837-1906) who was a member of the US House of Representatives from Tennessee from 1883 to 1887 who was born in Montevallo, Alabama, 8) Bruce Caldwell (1906-1959) who was an athlete born in Ashton, Rhode Island who played in the MLB for the Cleveland Indians and Brooklyn Dodgers (as an outfielder and first baseman) and in the NFL for the New York Giants (as a running back), 9) Charles Henry Bromedge Caldwell (1823-1877) who was a US Navy officer during the American Civil War, born in Hingham, Massachusetts, who was the Chief of Staff of the North Atlantic Fleer in 1870, and 10) Zoe Caldwell (1933) who is an Australian actress born in Melbourne, Victoria who is a four time Tony Award winner and did voice over work in the Lilo & Stitch cartoon.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Caldwell, Scotland). Ar. three piles issuing from the chief sa. and in base four bars waved gu. and vert.
2) (Col. Hugh Caldwell. 1838). Same Arms, the piles charged with as many hunting horns or. Crest—Issuing out of a mural crown or, a dexter arm in armour the hand holding a sword in bend all ppr. Motto—Fac et spera.
3) (Linley Wood, co. Stafford). Quarterly, 1st and 4th, per pale sa. and vert, a stag’s head couped ar. in chief three cold wells ppr., for Caldwell; 2nd and 3rd, ar. two bars az. on a canton gu. a gauntlet grasping a broken sword ppr. hilt and pomel gold, for Stamford. Crest—A lion couchant ar. gorged with two bars, the upper sa. the lower vert holding betw. the paws a cold well ppr. Motto—Niti, facere, experiri.
4) (Newbery, co. Berks). Paly wavy of six or and sa. on a chev. gu. three griffins’ heads erased of the first.
5) (Sir James Lillyman Caldwell, G.C.B.; a Lieut. Gen. in the Indian army and chief Engineer of the Madras Presidency). Or, three piles meeting in the centre fesse point sa., in base barry wavy alternately gu. of the field and vert surmounted by a portcullis of the second. On the centre pile suspended by a ribband, orange, a representation of the medal presented to Sir J. L. Caldwell, in commemoration of his services at the storming of Seringapatam, with the word “Seringapatam” underneath. Gold, the whole within a bordure embattled of the third. Crest—Out of an eastern crown or, a demi lion gu. holding in the dexter paw a sword ppr. pomel and hilt gold, supporting betw. the paws two flag staves in bend sinister the one being that of the union flag of Great Britain, surmounting the other with the staff broken, being a flag swallow-tailed vert semee of mullets ar. Motto— Virtus et spes. Supporters—On the dexter a grey horse supporting in bend a flag swallow-tailed vert semee of mullets ar., the staff broken ppr.; on the sinister a royal tiger of Tippoo Sultan vert striped ducally gorged and chained or, supporting in bend sinister a flag swallow-tailed vert semee of mullets ar.
6) (London and Worcestershire). Az. a cross formee fitchee betw ten estoiles or. Crest—A cock’s head betw. two wings expanded ar. combed and wattled gu. holding in the beak a cross formee fitchee or.
7) (Upton Warren, co. Gloucester, and co. Leicester. Visit. Leicester 1619). Same Arms. Quartering ar. on a fess dancettee sa. three whales’ heads erect and erased or. Crest—A cock’s head ar. (sometimes, or) beaked, combed, and wattled gu. betw. two wings expanded sa. in the beak a cross pattee fitchee or.
8) (Gloucester, Har. MSS., 1566). Gu. three crosses pattee fitchee or.
9) (granted 4 March, 1845, to Sir Henry John Caldwell, Bart., of the city of Quebec, North America). Az. three tops of wells in masonry, two and one or. Crest—Out of a ducal coronet or, a dexter cubit arm in pale ppr. grasping a cross calvary gu. Motto—Sapere aude.
10) (Staffordshire). Ar. on a fesse dancettee az. three fishes’ (ling’s) heads erased or.
11) Ar. on a fesse dancettee sa. three lions’ heads erased or.
12) (New Grange, co. Meath). Or, in chief three piles sa. each charged with a fountain ppr., in base four bars wavy alternately gu. and vert, quartering Abdy. Crest—A demi lion grasping a broken scimetar all ppr. Motto—Ense libertatem petit inimico tyrannis.
13) (Alston, co. Stafford, confirmed to Ralph Caldwall, of that place, by Wriothesley, Garter, and Benolte, Clarenceux). Ar. on a fess dancettee betw. three lozenges longways gu. as many whales’ heads erect and erased or. Crest—A cock’s head ar. beaked, combed, and wattled gu. betw. two wings expanded sa. holding in the beak a cross pattee fitchee or.
14) Az. a cross moline ar.
15) Three wells 2 and 1. Crest: from a coronet a cubit hand grasping a cross. Motto: Fortiter! Ascende! Bookplate Roxana Caldwell Cowles, desc. of John Caldwell of Ipswich, Mass., and Sarah Dillingham. (Source: Bolton’s American Armory).

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