Grenville History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Grenville is a name that first reached England following the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Grenville 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 Grenville family

The surname Grenville 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]

Early History of the Grenville family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Grenville 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 Grenville History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Grenville Spelling Variations

It is only in the last few hundred years that the English language has been standardized. For that reason, Anglo-Norman surnames like Grenville are characterized by many spelling variations. Scribes and monks in the Middle Ages spelled names they sounded, so it is common to find several variations that refer to a single person. As the English language changed and incorporated elements of other European languages such as Norman French and Latin, even literate people regularly changed the spelling of their names. The variations of the name Grenville include Granville, Granfield, Grandfield, Greenfield and many more.

Early Notables of the Grenville 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 Grenville Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Grenville family to Ireland

Some of the Grenville 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.


Australia Grenville migration to Australia +

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

Grenville Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Henry Grenville, English convict from Surrey, who was transported aboard the "Agincourt" on July 6, 1844, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [5]
  • Edna Grenville, aged 27, who arrived in South Australia in 1849 aboard the ship "William Money" [6]

New Zealand Grenville migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Grenville Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Eliza Grenville, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1874
  • Susan Grenville, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Zealandia" in 1874

Contemporary Notables of the name Grenville (post 1700) +

  • William Wyndham Grenville PC (1759-1834), 1st Baron Grenville, British Whig statesman, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1806-1807)
  • Thomas Grenville (1719-1747), British officer of the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament for Bridport (1746-1747)
  • Thomas Grenville PC (1755-1846), British politician and bibliophile
  • John Ashley Soames Grenville (1928-2011), born Hans Guhrauer, German-born, British historian who escaped the Holocaust in 1939 with his brothers, his mother died in a concentration camp
  • James Grenville PC (1742-1825), 1st Baron Glastonbury, British politician, Member of Parliament for Thirsk (1765–1768), for Buckingham (1770–1790) and for Buckinghamshire (1790–1797)
  • James Grenville (1715-1783), British politician, Member of Parliament for Old Sarum (1742–1747), for Bridport (1747–1754), for Buckingham (1754–1768) and for Horsham (1768–1770)
  • Kate Grenville (b. 1950), Australian author, winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and Britain's Orange Prize
  • Henry Grenville (1717-1784), British diplomat and politician
  • George Grenville (1712-1770), British Whig statesman, Prime Minister of Great Britain (1763-1765)
  • John Grenville Fennell (1807-1885), English artist, naturalist, and angler, born at sea between Ireland and England in 1807 [7]


The Grenville 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. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2014, November 24) Agincourt voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1844 with 226 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/agincourt/1844
  6. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) "WILLIAM MONEY" 1848-49. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849WmMoney.htm
  7. ^ Wikisource contributors. "Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900." Wikisource . Wikisource , 4 Jun. 2018. Web. 30 June 2020


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