Hemphill Family Crest, Coat of Arms and Name History


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Historically, surnames have various sources of origins. In the case of the name Hemphill, it is Scottish in origin, as it is derived from a location called “Henephyll” which was near Galston in Ayrshire, Scotland. This would also classify the name as being topographical. Surnames were often created by using an identifying factor about a person such as; a familiar geographical location or a topographical landmark found near the individuals home or birthplace, using one of their parent’s names to create a patriarchal or matriarchal surname, their occupation, or a defining physical trait among other things. There was almost a limitless source from which surnames could be formed.

The use of surnames; however, did not become a common practice among the general population until the mid-sixteenth century. Until this time, surnames were generally reserved solely for the noble class. The use of surnames were found to serve a practical purposes, aside from making the distinction between people with like given names easier, it also allowed governments to more effectively track people for census, tax and immigration purposes.

It is also an important historical fact for Scottish surnames, especially those from lowland portions of Scotland how their particular surnames spread. Scotland both the lowlands and highland portions didn’t use surnames until the Protestant Reformation. People where known for their home location and or clan association. British military authorities needed to keep accurate pay records. During the Irish Catholic rebellions in the mid 17th century, saw the first usages of surnames in British muster records. It is also at this time, Scottish Protestants were relocated to Ireland. It is the descendants of these colonist/soldiers who moved to the new American colonies, which have gifted the United States with the term “Scotch-Irish.” With a large portion of their descendants settling in American States of Kentucky, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia to name just a few.

The task of record keeping was primarily under the jurisdiction of the Church, local priories, and the government. This was due in large part to the fact that literacy was a skill usually found only among the nobles, the clergy, and government officials and scribes. Even so, there often existed multiple variations of names which may be attributed to a number of factors; the origins of the surname, the lack of guidelines which existed for spelling, and the fact that many scribes who were charged with record keeping spelled phonetically, among other things. One of the earliest records of anyone bearing the surname or any variation of its spelling is that of Daniel Hemppel found in German land and census records dated 1459. Some other early variations of the name include; Hemphill; Hempshall; Hempill; Hempsill; and Hemshall among others.

With the discovery of America and the addition to the British Commonwealth of countries such as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, it was not long before people began to immigrate to these outlying areas. The use of surnames made tracking of immigrants easier. Some of the first recorded immigrants to America bearing the surname were Nathaniel Hemphill who landed and settled in New England in 1728. William Hemphill was one of the early settlers to Canada, landing and settling in Saint John, New Brunswick in 1834. James and Margaret Hemphill and their children, Edward and Robert were some of the early settlers to New Zealand, landing and settling in Auckland in 1880.

Worldwide, the highest concentration of people with the surname Hemphill are found in Canada, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, abd New Zealand. By state, the largest percentile of those with the surname Hemphill live in Mississippi, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Texas.

There are many persons of note who bear this surname, such as Barbara Hemphill, born in County Tipperary she was an Irish novelist. She is credited with writing three novels under her own name and is thought to have written other uncredited works under a pseudonym(s).

Barbara Hemphill’s youngest child was Charles Hare Hemphill, 1st Baron Hemphill. Born in County Tyrone, Ireland, he was a barrister and Irish politician.

Hemphill was made a Queen’s Council (QC), a title reserved only for lawyers and barristers considered the most learned in their field. Shortly afterward he was appointed Solicitor-General for Ireland from 1892 until 1895. He served as a Member of Parliament from 1895 until 1906. He was created Baron Hemphill, of Rathkenny and of Cashel in County Tipperary in 1906.

Arlo Hemphill, born in Baltimore, Maryland, is an American marine biologist and environmental and wilderness advocate. He is listed as one of the top one hundred global biodiversity experts and is a Fellow National of the Explorers Club. He is a founding member of the Deep Sea Conversion Coalition, an organization which works to promote the conservation of the world’s oceans and seas.

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Blazons & Genealogy Notes

(Rathkeany, co. Tipperary). Motto—Constanter ac non timide. Or, on a fesse gu. betw. two chev. and a star az. for diff. three escallop shells ar. Crest—A greyhound courant ppr. collared gu.