The Island was officially discovered and named by Captain Thomas Stuart aboard the vessel "Lady Elliot". The "Lady Elliot" was a 353 tonne vessel that was built in Bengal and registered in Calcutta, India. The ship was named after the wife of Hugh Elliot the Colonial Governor of India. On the return journey from Sydney it was wrecked on a reef off Cardwell in North Queensland and that reef is called Lady Elliot Reef.
Over the years there have been variations on the spelling of Elliot, some spelling it Eliot, Elliott or Eliott. However, in recent years there seems to have been a consensus that Elliot is the correct spelling.