Show ContentsBarnwell History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The surname is one of the Anglo-Norman surnames that came to Ireland in the 12th century. Ireland already had an established system of hereditary surnames, often the two traditions blended together quite well, but the incoming Anglo-Normans also brought with them local surnames, such as Barnwell. Local names were taken from the names of a place or a geographical feature where the person lived, held land, or was born, some from places in Normandy, or more typically, from England. Originally, the place names were prefixed by de, which means from in French. This type of prefix was eventually either made a part of the surname if the place name began with a vowel or was eliminated entirely. The Barnwell family appears to have originally lived in either of the settlements called Barnwell in the English counties of Cambridge and Northumberland. The Gaelic form of the surname Barnwell is de Bearnabhal.

Early Origins of the Barnwell family

The surname Barnwell was first found in County Meath at Crickstown Castle. "De Bernvale, accompanied William the Conqueror to England in 1066. He came from Lower Brittany, and was allied to the dukes of that province" [1]

Another source is more specific: "Sir Michael de Berneval, a scion of the family founded by the Norman knight, joined the English expedition fitted out against Ireland and affected a descent upon Beerhaven in County Cork, previously to the landing of his chief, Earl Strongbow, in Leinster. Sir Michael is mentioned in the records of the Tower of London, as one of the leading captains in the enterprise; and in the reigns of Henry II. and Richard I. he was Lord, by tenure, of Beerhaven and Bantry. " [2]

"The Barons Trimleston, like the Viscounts Kingsland, descend from the De Bernevals of Brittany. Sir Christopher Barnewall of Crickstown, in the county of Meath, was Chief Justice of the King's Bench in Ireland in 1445-1446. After the subjection of Ireland in the time of Henry II, Michael de Berneval, who served under Strongbow, obtained large grants of land at Beerhaven, county Cork, of which the O'Sullivans had been dispossessed. Here the Bernevals flourished in great prosperity until the reign of John, when the Irish rose against them, and destroyed every member of the family but one, who happened to be in London learning the law. The latter, returning to Ireland, was settled at Drumnagh, near Dublin, where his posterity remained until the reign of James I. " [3]

Early History of the Barnwell family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Barnwell research. Another 72 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1646, 1640, 1470, 1538, 1534, 1538, 1592, 1663, 1622, 1534, 1550, 1560, 1704, 1779, 1779, 1842, 1500, 1552, 1522, 1575, 1592 and 1663 are included under the topic Early Barnwell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Barnwell Spelling Variations

During the lifetime of an individual person, his name was often spelt by church officials and medieval scribes the way it sounded. An examination of the many different origins of each name has revealed many spelling variations for the name: Barnewall, Barnwall, Barnwill, Barnewill, Barnewell, Barnewelle, Barnwelle, Barnwell, Bernwell, Barneville and many more.

Early Notables of the Barnwell family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family up to this time was John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimleston (1470-1538), High Chancellor of Ireland; John Barnewall, 3rd Baron Trimlestown (1534-1538.) Nicholas Barnewall, 1st Viscount Kingsland (1592-1663), who belonged to the family of Barnewall, or De Berneval. [3] Sir Patrick Barnewall or Barnwall (d. 1622), was the eldest son of Sir Christopher Barnewall of Turvey, Gracedieu, and Fieldston, son of Sir Patrick, who in 1534...
Another 66 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Barnwell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Barnwell Ranking

In the United States, the name Barnwell is the 5,287th most popular surname with an estimated 4,974 people with that name. [4]

Ireland Migration of the Barnwell family to Ireland

Some of the Barnwell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 114 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

United States Barnwell migration to the United States +

In the mid-19th century, Ireland experienced one of the worst periods in its entire history. During this decade in order to ease the pressure of the soil, which was actually depleted by the effects of the previous years' grain crops, landowners forced tenant farmers and peasants onto tiny plots of land that barely provided the basic sustenance a family required. Conditions were worsened, though, by the population of the country, which was growing fast to roughly eight million. So when the Great Potato Famine of the mid-1840s hit, starvation and diseases decimated the population. Thousands of Irish families left the country for British North America and the United States. The new immigrants were often accommodated either in the opening western frontiers or as cheap unskilled labor in the established centers. In early passenger and immigration lists there are many immigrants bearing the name Barnwell:

Barnwell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Barnwell, who landed in Virginia in 1663 [5]
  • Peter Barnwell, who arrived in Maryland in 1671 [5]
  • Charles Barnwell, who landed in Maryland in 1671 [5]
Barnwell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • John Barnwell, who arrived in Charleston, South Carolina in 1700 [5]
  • John Barnwell, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1798
Barnwell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Barnwell, who arrived in Mobile, Ala in 1821 [5]
  • Thomas Barnwell, who landed in New York state in 1823
  • I M Barnwell, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1851 [5]

Australia Barnwell migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Barnwell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Keragon Barnwell, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "The Stebonheath" in 1850 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Barnwell (post 1700) +

  • Brigadier-General Charles Heyward Jr. Barnwell (1894-1987), American Inspector-General US Army Forces Far East (1943-1945) [7]
  • Robert Woodward Barnwell (1801-1882), American planter, lawyer, and educator from South Carolina
  • Tim Barnwell, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Texas 26th District, 2006 [8]
  • Ronald Barnwell Sr., American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1996 [8]
  • Robert Gibbes Barnwell (d. 1899), American politician, U.S. Consul in Amsterdam, 1853-61 [8]
  • Robert Barnwell (1761-1814), American politician, U.S. Representative from South Carolina at-large, 1791-93; Member of South Carolina State House of Representatives, 1795-97; Member of South Carolina State Senate, 1805-06 [8]
  • Richard B. Barnwell, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from North Carolina, 1964 [8]
  • N. B. Barnwell, American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from South Carolina, 1924 [8]
  • David Monroe Barnwell (1875-1935), American Democratic Party politician, Fresno County Clerk, 1910-33; Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1932 [8]
  • John Barnwell (b. 1938), English former football player and manager
  • ... (Another 1 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

The Barnwell 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: Malo mori quam foedari
Motto Translation: I would rather die than be disgraced.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  3. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  4. "What are the 5,000 Most Common Last Names in the U.S.?".,
  5. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  6. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) The STEBONHEATH 1850. Retrieved
  7. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, October 6) Charles Barnwell. Retrieved from
  8. The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, January 15) . Retrieved from on Facebook