Gravenor History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Gravenor was brought to England in the wave of migration that followed the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is a name for a person in charge of hunting on the Lord's estates. Further research showed the name was derived from the Anglo Norman French gros, which means great, or chief, and veneor, which means hunter, collectively "the chief or royal huntsman." [1] [2]

"This noble house [Westminster] traces its descent in the male line to a family which is stated to have flourished in Normandy for a century and a half before the conquest of England, and obtained its surname from having held the high and powerful office, in that principality, of le Grovenour." [3]

Another source gives more details: "Le Gros Veneut- 'the great or chief hunter' - that office having been hereditary in the family under the dukes of Normandy. The family descend from an uncle of Rollo the founder of Normandy; and the first settler in England was Gilbert le Grosvenor, nephew of Hugh Lupus, earl of Chester, who was nephew of the Conqueror. This illustrious name is properly Latinized Magnus Venator, but sometimes, absurdly, De Grosso Venatore." [2]

"The ancient seat of the Le Venours appears to have been Venables, near Evreux. Three brothers of this family came to England with Hugh Lupus: 1. Gislebert Venator, or De Venables, ancestor of the barons of Kinderton, of whom Gislebert Venables of Cheshire is mentioned in Normandy 1180 as 'Gislebert Venator' (Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae). The French line of Le Venur, descended from him." [4]

Sir Robert Grosvenor (d. 1396), the English knight, was the "defendant in the case of Scrope and Grosvenor, having descended from Gilbert le Grosvenor, nephew of Hugh Lupus, earl of Chester, in the time of William I. Sixth in descent from Gilbert was Sir Ralph Grosvenor of Hulme, Cheshire, who died in or before 1357, leaving his son Robert under age. " [5]

Early Origins of the Gravenor family

The surname Gravenor was first found in Lancashire where Robert le gros Venour was listed c. 1200. [6]

"Robert Grosvenor 1178 witnessed a charter of John, Constable of Chester, for Stanlaw Abbey. Ralph, his son, temp. John, was ancestor of the Grosvenors of Cheshire." [4]

Early History of the Gravenor family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Gravenor research. Another 113 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1585, 1645, 1604, 1665, 1655, 1700, 1693, 1732, 1695, 1755, 1676, 1758, 1676, 1710, 1712 and 1716 are included under the topic Early Gravenor History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Gravenor Spelling Variations

Before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago, spelling variations of names were a common occurrence. Elements of Latin, Norman French and other languages became incorporated into English throughout the Middle Ages, and name spellings changed even among the literate. The variations of the surname Gravenor include Grosvenor, Grosvener and others.

Early Notables of the Gravenor family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Richard Grosvenor, 1st Baronet (1585-1645); Sir Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Baronet (c.1604-1665); Sir Thomas Grosvenor, 3rd Baronet (1655-1700), an English Member of Parliament; Sir Richard Grosvenor, 4th Baronet (1693-1732); and Sir Robert Grosvenor, 6th Baronet (1695-1755), English Member of Parliament. Benjamin Grosvenor, Gravenor or Gravener (1676-1758), was a "dissenting divine, born in London on...
Another 61 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Gravenor Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Gravenor family

In England at this time, the uncertainty of the political and religious environment of the time caused many families to board ships for distant British colonies in the hopes of finding land and opportunity, and escaping persecution. The voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, though, and many arrived in North America sick, starved, and destitute. Those who did make it, however, were greeted with greater opportunities and freedoms that they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make important contributions to the young nations in which they settled. Early immigration records have shown some of the first Gravenors to arrive on North American shores: John Grosvenor who settled in New England in 1630; Louis Grosvernor settled in Boston in 1822; E.C. Grosvenor settled in Savannah, Georgia in 1826.


Contemporary Notables of the name Gravenor (post 1700) +

  • Mr. Gravenor, English "successful apothecary" in Ipswich and politician; he and his family were subjects of a Thomas Gainsborough portrait entitled The Gravenor Family (c. 1755), now in the Yale Center for British Art
  • Kristian Gravenor, Canadian news reporter and city columnist in Montreal
  • Colin Gravenor (1910-1993), English-born, Canadian real-estate developer and public-relations pioneer from Bridgwater, England, father of JD Gravenor and Kristian Gravenor
  • Denys Gravenor Rhodes (1919-1981), English writer, best known for his novel The Syndicate which was adapted into a 1968 film, his second wife was The Honourable Margaret Elphinstone (1925-2016), a first cousin of Elizabeth II


The Gravenor 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, non stemma
Motto Translation: Virtue, not pedigree.


  1. ^ Smith, Eldson Coles, New Dictionary of American Family Names New York, Harper & Row, 1956. Print
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Burke, John and Burke, Sir Bernard, C.B. LL.D Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage . London: Harrison, 59, Pall Mall, 1865, Print.
  4. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  5. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  6. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)


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