I've collected some information about early mention of the Ensign name, and speculation upon its origin.
The common English ancestor of the Ensigns who emigrated to Massachusetts was Thomas Ensinge, who served as Mayor of Rye, a coastal town in Sussex. He left a will naming his children, and one of his sons who died left a will naming his family. The baptisms of the emigrants are recorded in the parish registers of Rye. I've put up here transcripts of those documents, and some descendants of Thomas Ensinge of Rye for four generations.
It seems very likely that Thomas of Rye descended from an earlier Thomas Ensinge who was Mayor of Winchelsea. His political career is well documented, from the year 1515 to 1538, in the records of an association of coastal towns known as the Cinque Ports(1). Alas, no mention of his family has been discovered.
To fill the gap between the two mayors, I was excited to discover another Thomas Ensinge, of Westham in Sussex. I eagerly ordered a microfilm of his will, and was somewhat disappointed when, in his will, he declared himself childless. He's not to be ruled out, however, as his wife was still young and could have been carrying his issue.
I've assembled a bibliography of books and articles about the family.
If you find something interesting here, please let me know the name of our common ancestor, and I'll send you email whenever I change anything in that line.
visitors have come to my Ensign page since July 12, 1999.