Gerningham History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Gerningham is a name whose history on English soil dates back to the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of England of 1066. The Gerningham family lived in Suffolk. "The surname, now rare, is found particularly in Suffolk where Little Stonham, also known as Stanham Gernagan (1244 Feet of Fines for Suffolk), was long held by the family of Hubert Jarnegan (1222 Feet of Fines for Suffolk). In [the Domesday Book of ] 1086 [1] land was held in Stonham by Earl Alan and Iuichel the priest and there can be little doubt that Gernagan is a Celtic name brought over by the Bretons at the Conquest." [2]

Early Origins of the Gerningham family

The surname Gerningham was first found in Norfolk, where one of the first records of the name appeared as a forename: Jernegan Fitz-Hugh who was listed there in 1180. The surname was probably derived as someone who was "the son of Gernegan." Jernegan was anciently a Christian name that appeared in quite a few records. "The first that I meet with of this family was called Hugh, without any other addition, whose son was named Jernegan Fitz-Hugh, or the son of Hugh; he is mentioned in the Castle-Acre priory register, and he died about 1182." The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list William Gernegon in Norfolk and Walter Gernegan in Suffolk. [3] The Jernegan spelling was used by Lord Stafford's ancestors until the 16th century when the name was changed to Jerningham. His successors took the baptismal name Jernegan as their surname. [4]

"A branch of the Jerningham family was established at Painswick, in Bisley hundred [in Gloucestershire]. Sir Henry Jerningham, the second Baronet of his family, married Mary, daughter of Benedict Hall, of High Meadow, Esq." [5]

Early History of the Gerningham family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gerningham research. Another 181 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1182, 1222, 1550 and 1762 are included under the topic Early Gerningham History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gerningham Spelling Variations

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Jernegan, Jerningham, Jernygham, Jernigan, Jenningham, Jenningan and many more.

Early Notables of the Gerningham family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Gerningham Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gerningham family

Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Gerningham or a variant listed above: Thomas, Ellen and Mary Jermegan, who sailed to Maryland in 1637; Michael Jenningan to New York in 1820 and Jenny Jernegan to San Francisco in 1875.



The Gerningham 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: Virtus basis vitae
Motto Translation: Virtue is the support of life.


  1. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  5. ^ Oliver, George, Collections Illustrating the History of the Catholic Religion in the Counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wilts, and Gloucester London: Charles Dolman, 61, New Bond Street, 1857. Print


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