• step01
  • step02
  • step03
  • step04
step 01
step 02
step 03
step 04

Blazons & Genealogy Notes

1) (Meikledale and Langholme, Dumfries). Motto—Magnum in parvo. Sa. a saltire engr. ar. Crest—A tiger’s head affrontée ppr.
2) (Libberton, co. Edinburgh). Motto—Magnum in parvo. Sa. on a saltire ar. a Crest gu. Crest—A leopard’s head or.
3) Ar. six lions ramp. gu. (another, sa.) three, two, and one.
4) (Llanvair Grange, co. Monmouth). Motto—Magnum in parvo. Sa. a chev. engr. ar. Crest—A leopard’s head ppr.

Origin, Meaning, Family History and Little Coat of Arms and Family Crest

Little Origin:


Origins of Name:

The Little surname is one of the oldest surnames from England. It dates as far back as ancient times when it was a personal name of affection. The meaning of the surname was “Little man”. In medieval times it retained this name of affection. However, quite the contrary it meant the opposite of little. The famous outlaw Robin Hood tale contained someone nicknamed “Little John”, he was not small in stature at all. He was called little because in fact he was a giant man. His long bow was reported to be seven feet in length. It was kept for many years at the infamous Bolton Arms, at Bolton Abbey, in Wharfedale, Yorkshire.

The name was also used to describe the younger of two containing the same surname. In modern times this would be similar to using the name “junior” to describe someone who was the son of someone who had the same name.

The Irish version of the name in Gaelic is O Beagain, meaning ‘descendant of Beagan’.

The French would have their own variation of the name also. Petit and Lepetit or “the little one” were French versions of the surname. Jean Petit would translate to “little John”.


More common variations are:

Lyttle, Littell, Lytle, Lytell, Littley, Littlle, Llittle, Littile, Liettle, Liittle, Littlee, Littleh, Littlie, Wlittle



The first known recorded spelling of the family name was in 972 for Eadric Little in the register of Old English Bynames. This was recorded in the county of Northamptonshire.

In 1202 Richard de Lidel was recorded in Roxburghshire where he held grant of lands from the Church of Largs.

The Little clan was spread among the banks of the River Esk and part of Ewarsdale. Neighbors of the Little clan were Elliots, Beatties, and Armstrongs.

An early example of this surname was Thomas Lytle in 1296 in Sussex in the Subsidy Tax roll.

In 1376, Adam Lityll was a tenant of the Douglas Clan in the barony of Kilbucho. Eventually a branch of the Little clan would move north to Aberdeen. However, the main clan would stay near to Roxburghshire. By 1350 the Little clan had become well established and closely affiliated to the Douglas clan. The territories would go as far north as the Scottish West Marches, over 20 miles north of Carlisle.

John Little and his wife Jane Little would emigrate to the New World English colonies. In 1678 they were recorded in the parish of Christchurch, Barbadoes.


The origin of the Little name in Scotland can be found along the Scottish borders when the English clan moved north. Little was originally written as “parvus” in Latin documents, also translated to little or small. Since the name is a descriptive one, there is no clear origin of the Little name in Scotland.

By the year 1300, the Little clan had made a home in Dumbriesshire. Nicol Little was recorded as a conservator of the peace along the Scottish-English border.

Simon Lytil was given tenure of quite a few lands. Meikledale, Sorbie and Kirtoun in Ewesdale by the Duke of Albany, Robert Stewart. By 1426 the grant was officially confirmed. Simon Little, the 1st Laird of Meikledale is widely considered to be the first chief of the clan Little.

Clan Little famously fought alongside William Wallace to push the English out of Scotland and eventually gain its independence. The name in Scotland was also associated with a “little clan”. The main source of income for the Little clan in Scotland was stealing horses from the English on the other side of the border.

In the 16th century, the Armstrong clan rose to power, and they were famously reported as being able to gather over three thousand horsemen. Of which included the Little clan.

By the 18th century, David Little was the last in the line to be Laird of Meikledale. The lairdship would pass to Thomas Beattie following the pacification of the border, and David was given work as a groom at Windsor Castle.

Little Today:

United States 113,994

England 18,434

Canada 11,737

Australia 10,142

South Africa 4,493

Scotland 3,012

New Zealand 2,312

Ghana 1,358

Malaysia 1,113

Kenya 1,020

Mexico 995

Notable People:

Ian Little (b. 1973), Scottish football player

Bryan Little (b. 1978), Scottish football player

Roy Little (1931-2015), English football manager

Mr. George Little, English Engineer from Liverpool, England

Mrs. Margaret Little (d. 1915), sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania

Miss Alice Laura Little (d. 1915), sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania

Mr. Francis Donald Little (1917-1941), British Marine

Little Coat of Arms Meaning

The four main devices (symbols) in the Little blazon are the saltire engrailed, leopard’s face, crescent and lion. The three main tinctures (colors) are sable, argent and gules .

Sable, the deep black so often found in Heraldry is believed to named from an animal of the marten family know in the middle ages as a Sabellinœ and noted for its very black fur 1. In engravings, when colors cannot be shown it is represented as closely spaced horizontal and vertical lines, and appropriately is thus the darkest form of hatching, as this method is known 2. Although it may seem a sombre tone, and does indeed sometimes denote grief, it is more commonly said to represent Constancy 3.

Argent is the heraldic metal Silver and is usually shown as very pure white. It is also known more poetically as pearl, moon (or luna) 4. In a sketch or drawing it is represented by plain, unmarked paper 5.

The bold red colour on a heraldic shield is known as gules. It has a long history within heraldry, it is known that one of those who besieged the scottish castle of Carlaverock in 1300 was the French knight Euremions de la Brette who had as his arms a simple red shield.6. The word gules is thought to come from the Arabic gule, or “red rose” 7. Later writers associated it with the precious stone ruby and the metal iron 8, perhaps because of the red glow of iron in the heat of the blacksmith’s forge.

The saltire, whilst frequently associated with Scotland is actually a widely used and popular ordinary found throughout all of British Heraldry, perhaps because of its cross-like form 9. In order to allow for clear differences between similar arms, heralds designed a series of decorative edges, not all of them are appropriate for the saltire (because of the interior angles) but those are suitable can be very effective artistically. The pattern engrailed works well here. It is a series of scalloped indentations with the points facing outwards – and should not be confused with invected, which has the points facing inwards! Wade believes that both of these indented forms represent “earth or land”, and one perhaps can indeed see the furrowed earth embodied in them.

The leopard’s face (sometimes, incorrectly referred to as a leopard’s head occurs very frequently in heraldry 10. Early heraldic artists tended to treat lions and leopards as the same animal, but during the development of British Heraldry the heads of the two creatures have adopted separate, and more realistic forms. Wade would have us associate leopards with warriors, especially those who overcome ”hazardous things by force and courage” 11

For easy recognition of the items on a coat of arms, and hence the quick identification of the owner, bold simple shapes are best. Hence, simple geometric shapes are often used for this purpose 12xz`, and the crescent Is a typical example of this, and can appear in any of the main heraldic tinctures. Some common is this device that there are special names for its appearance in various orientations – whilst it lies normally with points upward, the decrescent points to the sinister side, and the increscent to the dexter 13. The allusion, obviously is to the shape of the moon in the sky (indeed, the French have a version “figuré” which includes a face!) and has been said to signify both “honour by the sovereign” and “hope of greater glory” 14.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • 1 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Sable
  • 2 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 26
  • 3 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P35
  • 4 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 5 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1847, P11
  • 6 The Siege of Carlaverock, N. Harris, Nichols & Son, London, 1828, P180
  • 7 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 313
  • 8 Understanding Signs & Symbols – Heraldry, S. Oliver & G. Croton, Quantum, London, 2013, P53
  • 9 Boutell’s Heraldry, J.P. Brooke-Little, Warne, (revised Edition) London 1970, P 42
  • 10 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Lion
  • 11 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P65
  • 12 A Complete Guide to Heraldry, A.C. Fox-Davies, Bonanza (re-print of 1909 Edition), New York, 1978, P146
  • 13 A Glossary of Terms used in British Heraldry, J.H. Parker, Oxford, 1894, Entry:Moon
  • 14 The Symbolisms of Heraldry, W. Cecil Wade, George Redway, London, 1898 P106