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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2014

Where did the English Grinnell family come from? What is the English Grinnell family crest and coat of arms? When did the Grinnell family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Grinnell family history?

The name Grinnell is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is a product of when the family lived in Greenhalg in Kirkham and Greenhalg Castle in Garstang. The surname Grinnell originally derived from greene as n the village greene which was the center or main square of each region. Many inhabitants in various counties adopted this surname as part of their family's nomenclature. The surname Grinnell is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.

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The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Grinnell has been spelled many different ways, including Greenhalgh, Greenhow, Greenhough, Greenhall and others.

First found in Lancashire where they held a family seat from very early times.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Grinnell research. Another 343 words(24 lines of text) covering the years 1246, 1576, 1591, 1671, 1611, 1648, 1655, 1615, 1679, 1669, 1740, 1646, 1708, 1644 and 1676 are included under the topic Early Grinnell History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 201 words(14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Grinnell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Grinnells to arrive in North America:

Grinnell Settlers in the United States in the 17th Century


  • Matthew Grinnell, who arrived in America in 1630

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  • Frederick Grinnell (1836-1905), American engineer, creator of the first practical automatic fire sprinkler
  • Frederick Grinnell (b. 1945), American cell biologist
  • George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938), American anthropologist, historian, naturalist, and writer
  • Henry Grinnell (1799-1874), American merchant, financier of Arctic explorations
  • Henry Walton Grinnell (1843-1920), American admiral, partner in Grinnell, Minturn & Co who owned the Flying Cloud, the fastest clipper ship in the world (1851)
  • Joseph Grinnell (1877-1939), American zoologist
  • Josiah Bushnell Grinnell (1821-1891), U.S. congressman, founder of Grinnell, Iowa and benefactor of Grinnell College
  • Moses H. Grinnell (1803-1877), U.S. Navy officer and U.S. Representative from New York


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  1. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  2. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  5. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  6. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  8. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  9. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  11. ...

The Grinnell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Grinnell Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 22 September 2013 at 10:19.

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