Origin of the Surname
The surname Nisbet or Nesbitt derives from the lands and barony of Nesbit, near Edrom, in
Berwickshire, Scotland, although several places of the name appear also in Roxburghshire,
Haddingtonshire, and in Northumberland, England. Believed to be descended from the royal
family of the kings of Northumbria, they are thought to be allied to others who bear the
boar in their coat of arms - families such as Hume, Gordon, Swinton, Redpath and Dunse,
who once held contiguous baronies in the shire of Berwick.
The name is perhaps best known through the works of Alexander Nisbet (1657 to 1725), the
famous Scottish herald. In February 1994, the Lord Lyon King of Arms recognised Robert
Anthony Ellis Nesbitt, descended from a grand-uncle of Alexander, the heraldic writer, as
Chief of the name and arms of Nesbitt.
Since then the members of the Nisbet / Nesbitt family have spread far and wide.
Cadet branches include the Nisbets of Cairnhill, Craigentinnnie, Dalziel, Dean, Dirleton,
Greenholm, Johnston, in Scotland, with numerous other well-documented branches in England,
Ireland, America, and Australia.
Arms: Argent, three boars' heads erased Sable, armed Argent and langued Gules.
Crest: A bear passant Sable, armed Argent and langued Gules.
Motto: I byde it.
A Brief History of the Australian Branch
In the early part of 1986 A. Bruce Nesbit, the only Australian member of the then
Nesbitt/Nisbet Society of the UK and North America was requested to "get things
going" down under. Not being a person to take such a request lightly, Bruce compiled
a mail list based on the Australian telephone directories; 659 names in all.
In August of the same year, the first "gathering" of N/Ns was held at Bruce's
home. In 1996 the Nesbitt/Nisbet Society - Australia celebrated its first Ten Years.
Currently membership stands at 120, with members from all states and territories, New
Zealand and some from overseas.
The Society's flagship is the newsletter, produced 4 times each year. In addition to the
newsletter, the Society has produced 9 Monographs on a wide range of topics of direct
interest to N/Ns. The monographs are distributed free of charge to all members.
A major project for the Society was the production of the Biographical Dictionary of N/Ns,
largely based on the family histories of the Australian N/Ns. It was well received by N/Ns
both in Australia and overseas.
The majority of the Australian N/Ns reside in the two most populous States, New South
Wales and Victoria, and a number of social events are held throughout the year in Sydney
and Melbourne. While these gatherings are an integral part of the Society, they are low
key genealogically speaking. The visit of fellow N/Ns from overseas often results in an
impromptu gathering, an opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality and fellowship extended
to N/Ns from the antipodes.
While not resourced to undertake genealogical research, the N/N Society has assisted many
N/Ns in extending the knowledge of their N/N family history.
The purposes of the Nesbitt/Nisbet Society in relation to persons bearing the family name
of Nesbitt/Nisbet, by whatever ancient of modern or variant spelling, and their relatives
and descendants are:
- To conduct research and studies on the genalogy, heraldic situation, migration, settlement, vocations and avocations of bearers of the family name Nesbitt/Nisbet and their relatives and descendants.
- To identify, record and encourage the preservation of art, artifacts, books, relics, buildings, sites and other memorabilia related to the bearers of the family name Nesbitt/Nisbet and their relatives and descendants.
- To disseminate information and to provide education on the ancient and modern history of bearers of the name Nesbitt/Nisbet and their relatives and descendants and on Scots history and culture bearing on those persons and their activities.
- To provide a means of communication and congregation among persons bearing the family name of Nesbitt/Nisbet and their relatives and descendants and persons interested in the Nesbitt/Nisbet Society and/or Scots history and culture.
- To carry on other activities in support of the purposes of the Nesbitt/Nisbet Society.
The Nesbitt/Nisbet Society is a Worldwide Clan Society