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382,396 ELLIS members around the world

Family spelling variants includes Elliss, Elis, Ellice, Elys, Elles, Else, Ells, Eales, Eeles, Hellis, Elias, Ellison, Ellisson, Elisson

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ELLIS Family History

This surname derives, originally, from the personal name Elias, a form of the Biblical name Elijah, and which had become popular in France as a baptismal name by the 8th century. It later became popular as a personal name across Europe, including Britain, during and after the 11th and 12th cenutry crusades.

It was therefore originally a patronymic name, meaning 'son of Ellis' before it became fixed as a hereditary surname (by the early 1400s in England), although in some cases it may derive from the Middle English female personal name 'Elice', a diminutive of Elizabeth. The variants 'Ellison' and 'Elisson' which were sometimes contracted to Ellis would also reflect this patronymic origin.

Earlier bearers of this surname and its derivatives in England include Alicia Elys, Robert Elleson, Adam Elisson, and Stephanus Elisson who all appear on the 1379 Yorkshire Poll Tax.

In Wales, while the origin of the surname is also patronymic, it did not become fixed as a hereditary surname until between the 16th and 19th centuries – prior to that time it would be recorded as 'ap Elis' meaning 'son of Elis'. Its popularity in the country is partly due to the Biblical name Elias, although in some cases it may have evolved into a shortened form of from the Welsh peronsal names Elystan (derived from the English name Aethelstan) and Elisedd (meaning 'kind' or 'benevolent'). It appears more frequently in north Wales than it does in the south.

In 1881, most Ellis family members who lived in the UK worked as farmers, agricultural labourers and coal miners.

In 1891, the surname was widespread across England and Wales with 44,830 occurrences and a further 867 in Scotland.

Notable people

  • Ruth Ellis (1929 – 1955), a model and nightclub hostess was the last female in the UK to endure execution by hanging after being convicted of the murder of her husband.
  • Havelock Ellis (1859 – 1939), an English physician and psychologist, who, in 1897, co-wrote the first medical textbook in English on homosexuality. He also published works on a variety of sexual practices and inclinations, as well as on transgender psychology.



1881, 1891 Census

Dictionary of American Family Homes, P Hanks OUP 2003

Homes of Family Names in Great Britain, H.B. Guppy, London 1890

The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, P.Hanks, Coats, McClure OUP 2016

1860 Lower, Mark A Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom, London: J.R Smith. Public Domain

1857 Arthur, William An Etymological Dictionary of Family and Christian Names. New York: Sheldon, Blakeman. Public Domain


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My Ellis family were based around Essex and London. My great great grandfather Nelson Ellis worked in an asylum near Ilford in the early 1900s. As my maiden name is Ellis I have a few relations with the name but have found them on the whole not very interested in family history.

Barry Heeran

Hi, today is the 11th February 2021....nobody has posted here since my last post there in fact any Ellis group here or any conversation going on???

Barry Heeran

Hi, I'm trying to track down my Ellis ancestors in Co Longford and Co Leitrim in Ireland. The family may have originated in Wales and immigrated to Ireland in the 17th or 18th centuries, although this is not certain. There is a possibility that they were tenants or employees of Lord Longford as there is family folklore suggesting such connection. A John Ellis b.C1736. d C1822, my 4th GGF, lived at Newtown Forbes in Co Longford, his son John C1781 to C1844 and his grandson Henry b. C1821 who married one Mary Kirwan b C1815. Any help or information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Barry Heeran

Kylie Ellis

trying to find my Ellis family in Ireland- my uncle who has passed (Joe Ellis) went over after serving in the Marines and stayed with our family there. I believe he was in county Leitrim.


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