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

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

The notable Vivian family arose among the Cornish People, a race with a rich Celtic heritage and an indomitable fighting spirit who inhabited the southwest of England. While surnames were well-known during the English medieval period, Cornish People originally used only a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames came into common use is interesting. As the population of medieval Europe multiplied, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Patronymic surnames were derived from given names and were the predominant type of surname among the Celtic peoples of Britain. However, the people of Cornwall provide a surprising exception to this rule, and patronymic surnames are less common among them than other people of Celtic stock, such as their Welsh neighbors. This is due to the greater influence of English bureaucracy and naming practices in Cornwall at the time that surnames first arose. This type of surname blended perfectly with the prevailing Feudal System. One feature that is occasionally found in Cornish surnames of this type is the suffix -oe or -ow; this is derived from the Cornish plural suffix -ow. is a patronymic surname that came from the ancient Latin given name Vivianus, which itself comes from the Latin word vivus, meaning alive.

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Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Vivian, Vey, Vye, Vyse and others.

First found in Cornwall where the family has held a large estate named Trelowarren in the village of Mawgan-in-Meneage since 1427. The Halliggye Fogou at Trelowarren is the largest fogou in Cornwall. Sir Richard Vyvyan referenced the fogou at Halligey, Trelowarren in his journals. In 1982, the site was excavated after routine ploughing of the field, breached the roof of the main chamber. This hole has since been turned into an entrance stairway for visitors.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Vivian research. Another 221 words(16 lines of text) covering the years 1772, 1545, 1610, 1601, 1601, 1607, 1575, 1635, 1st , 1613, 1665, 1640, 1665, 1613, 1724, 1681, 1736, 1660 and 1727 are included under the topic Early Vivian History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 223 words(16 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Vivian Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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A look at the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Vivian:

Vivian Settlers in the United States in the 19th Century


  • John Vivian, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851

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  • John Charles Vivian (1889-1964), American attorney, journalist, and politician, Governor of Colorado (1943-1947)
  • John Henry Vivian (1785-1855), English industrialist and politician, member of the UK Parliament from Swansea (1832-1855)
  • Valentine Vivian (1886-1969), English Army Colonel, and late head of the MI6 counter-espionage unit
  • Andrew Vivian (1759-1842), Cornish mechanical engineer, and inventor
  • Sir Hussey Vivian (1775-1842), British (Cornish) cavalry leader, made 1st Baron Vivian in 1841
  • Henry Hussey Vivian (1821-1894), Welsh industrialist and politician, made 1st Baron Swansea in 1893
  • Sir Arthur Pendarves Vivian (1834-1926), British politician, member of UK Parliament from Cornwall (1868-1885)


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  1. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  3. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  4. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  5. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  6. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  7. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
  8. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  9. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  10. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Vivian Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Vivian 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 3 May 2013 at 10:14.

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