Grenvile History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Grenvile reached England in the great wave of migration following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Grenvile family lived in one of the many places named Grenville in Normandy. Grenville was a seaport in Lower Normandy. [1]

There are also many places in Normandy called Grainville, which is a place-name derived from the Germanic personal name Guarin, which means guard, and the Old French word ville, which means village or settlement. [2]

Early Origins of the Grenvile family

The surname Grenvile was first found in Buckinghamshire, where they descend from Richard de Grenville who came with the Conqueror in the train of Walter Giffard, Earl of Longeville and Buckingham. He was son in law of Giffard. [3]

Cornwall and Devon is home to the family too as George Grenville of Stowe stated in 1711 in a letter to his nephew: "Your ancestors for at least five hundred years never made any alliances, male of female, out of the western counties: thus there is hardly a gentleman either in Cornwall or Devon, but has some of you blood, as you of theirs."

Here is another account of the family's origin: "The ancient and noble family of Grenville of Stow in Kilkhampton, so much renowned in Cornwall, came into England with William the Conqueror. Richard de Grenville, who first visited this country, and who was a military officer, is said to be a younger brother of Robert Fitzhaman, Earl of Carbill, Lord of Thurigny and Granville in France and Normandy, and to have lineally descended from Rollo Duke of Normandy. Richard de Grenville, on obtaining a settlement in England, married Isabel, daughter of the Earl of Buckingham, and thus became the common ancestor of the Grenvilles in Cornwall, Devonshire, and Buckinghamshire. Those who came into the western parts, took up their primary residence at Bideford, where one of them held three knights' fees in the reign of Henry II. during which period they appear to have had a seat at Stow in Kilkhampton; but at what time this settlement began is very uncertain." [4]

"The manor of Treglasta, which lies principally in Alternon, has its site at Treglasta in this parish. The manors of Halwell and Hendraburnick, were held formerly under Launceston Castle. These, with the manor of Tremeal, partly in this parish and partly in that of St. Juliot, were for some time in the Grenville family, from whom they were alienated prior to 1620." [4]

"[The parish of] Kilkhampton, which is rendered famous by the renowned family of Grenville, to whom it gave residence, and for furnishing to the celebrated Mr. Hervey an occasion to write his 'Meditations among the Tombs,' is situated in the northern part of Cornwall, in the deanery of Trigg Major, and in the hundred of Stratton, from which town it is about three miles and a half distant." [4]

"The name continued to be written Grenville until the Earls of Bath, in the seventeenth century, adopted the form of Granville." [5]

Early History of the Grenvile family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Grenvile research. Another 145 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1165, 1315, 1542, 1591, 1576, 1577, 1596, 1643, 1600, 1658, 1628, 1701, 1661, 1701, 1691, 1693, 1692, 1711, 1707, 1666, 1735 and 1712 are included under the topic Early Grenvile History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Grenvile Spelling Variations

Before the advent of the printing press and the first dictionaries, the English language was not standardized. Sound was what guided spelling in the Middle Ages, so one person's name was often recorded under several variations during a single lifetime. Spelling variations were common, even among the names of the most literate people. Known variations of the Grenvile family name include Granville, Granfield, Grandfield, Greenfield and many more.

Early Notables of the Grenvile family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Sir Richard Grenville (1542-1591), an English sailor from Bideford, Devon, sea captain and explorer, Sheriff of Cornwall (1576-1577) and Sheriff of Cork; Sir Bevil Grenville (1596-1643), Royalist soldier in the English Civil War, and Member of Parliament; Sir Richard Grenville (Granville) (1600-1658), 1st Baronet, a Cornish Royalist leader during the English Civil War; John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath (1628-1701), English Royalist statesman during the English Civil War, who was made Lord...
Another 80 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Grenvile Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Grenvile family to Ireland

Some of the Grenvile family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Grenvile family

To escape the political and religious chaos of this era, thousands of English families began to migrate to the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. The passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe; however, those who made the voyage safely were encountered opportunities that were not available to them in their homeland. Many of the families that reached the New World at this time went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations of the United States and Canada. Research into various historical records has revealed some of first members of the Grenvile family to immigrate North America: Xtop Granfield who settled in Virginia in 1650; Pierre Granville, who settled in Louisiana in 1719; and Catherine Granville, who arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1818..


Contemporary Notables of the name Grenvile (post 1700) +

  • Sir Alfred Grenvile Pugsley OBE, FREng, FRS (1903-1998), British structural engineer


The Grenvile 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: Frangas non flectes
Motto Translation: Thou may'st break, but shalt not bend me.


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  3. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  4. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  5. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 2 of 3


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