Barnell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Barnell comes from a name for a person with brown hair or a dark complexion. The surname Barnell is derived from the Old English word burnel. This word comes from the Old French word brunel, which is a diminutive of the Old French word brun. Normally a nickname, Barnell was also used as a personal name.

Early Origins of the Barnell family

The surname Barnell was first found in Shropshire where they were a family of great antiquity. They held a family seat at Acton Burnell in the county of Salop where they were found as early as 1087 according to Dugdale. They also acquired Holgate in the same shire and one of the first on record was Lesire le Burnell, whose son Robert Burnell (1239-1292) was Bishop of Bath and Wells in 1275 and Lord Chancellor of England from 1274-1292. He was "descended from a knightly family in Shropshire, and was born at their seat of Acton Burnell, near Shrewsbury. After he became famous the monks of Buildwas forged a genealogy which traced his family back to the Conquest." [1]

Another branch of the family was found in the parish of Sibthorpe in Nottinghamshire. "This place was anciently of some importance, and was the residence of the Burnell family, of whose spacious mansion, however, no remains now exist." [2]

The parish of Acton-Burnell is of great importance to the family too. "This place, which is of considerable antiquity, is on a branch of the Roman Watling-street. It takes the adjunct to its name from the family of Burnell, of whom Robert, Bishop of Bath and Wells, and Lord High Chancellor in the reign of Edward I., had a castle in the parish, of which there are still some remains. Nicholas Burnell, a distinguished warrior in the reign of Edward III., was born and buried here." [2]

Early History of the Barnell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Barnell research. Another 48 words (3 lines of text) covering the years 1571, 1542 and 1641 are included under the topic Early Barnell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Barnell Spelling Variations

Until quite recently, the English language has lacked a definite system of spelling rules. Consequently, Anglo-Saxon surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. Changes in Anglo-Saxon names were influenced by the evolution of the English language, as it incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other languages. Although Medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, so it is common to find one person referred to by several different spellings of his surname, even the most literate people varied the spelling of their own names. Variations of the name Barnell include Burnell, Burnhill, Byrnell and others.

Early Notables of the Barnell family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include Edward Burnell ( fl. 1542), English professor of Greek at Rostock, Germany. [1] Henry Burnell fl. 1641), the dramatist, belongs to the Anglo-Irish family of Burnell, which acquired considerable estates in Leinster...
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Barnell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Barnell family to Ireland

Some of the Barnell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 33 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Barnell family

Searching for a better life, many English families migrated to British colonies. Unfortunately, the majority of them traveled under extremely harsh conditions: overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the ocean. For those families that arrived safely, modest prosperity was attainable, and many went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the new colonies. Research into the origins of individual families in North America revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Barnell or a variant listed above: Mrs. Burnell who arrived in Barbados in 1680 with servants; Henry Burnell settled in Virginia in 1656 with his brothers Francis and Robert; William Burnell settled in Salem Massachusetts in 1630.



The Barnell Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Caritas fructum habet
Motto Translation: Charity bears fruit.


  1. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.


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