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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

The name Grinnell is part of the ancient legacy of the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. It is a product of when the family lived in Greenhalg in Kirkham and Greenhalg Castle in Garstang. The surname Grinnell originally derived from greene as n the village greene which was the center or main square of each region. Many inhabitants in various counties adopted this surname as part of their family's nomenclature. The surname Grinnell is a topographic surname, which was given to a person who resided near a physical feature such as a hill, stream, church, or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions, and entire counties. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.


The surname Grinnell was first found in Lancashire where they held a family seat from very early times.

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Grinnell has been spelled many different ways, including Greenhalgh, Greenhow, Greenhough, Greenhall and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Grinnell research. Another 343 words (24 lines of text) covering the years 1246, 1576, 1591, 1671, 1611, 1648, 1655, 1615, 1679, 1669, 1740, 1646, 1708, 1644 and 1676 are included under the topic Early Grinnell History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Distinguished members of the family include William Greenhill (1591-1671), an English nonconformist clergyman from Oxfordshire, independent minister, and member of the Westminster Assembly; Thomas Greenhill (1611/12-1658), an English colonial administrator, one of the early pioneers of the East India Company and the Agent of Madras for two terms (1648-52) and (1655-58)...

Another 56 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Grinnell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Grinnells to arrive in North America:

Grinnell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Matthew Grinnell, who arrived in America in 1630

  • William F. Grinnell, American politician, U.S. Consul in Bremen, 1878-82; Bradford, 1882-89; Manchester, 1889-98
  • Robert Grinnell, American politician, U.S. Vice Consul in Brisbane, 1942-46
  • Moses Hicks Grinnell (1803-1877), American Republican politician, U.S. Representative from New York 3rd District, 1839-41; Delegate to Republican National Convention from New York, 1856 (speaker), 1868; Presidential Elector for New York, 1856
  • Leo R. Grinnell, American politician, Representative from New York 25th District, 1902
  • Josiah Bushnell Grinnell (1821-1891), American Republican politician, Pastor; Abolitionist; Founder of Grinnell, Iowa;
  • Joseph Grinnell (1788-1885), American politician, Representative from Massachusetts 10th District, 1843-51; President, Wamsutta Cotton Mills
  • George H. Grinnell, American Republican politician, Member of New Hampshire State House of Representatives from Derry; Elected 1938; Delegate to New Hampshire State Constitutional Convention from Derry, 1956
  • H. L. Grinnell Jr., American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Hampshire, 1920
  • Ervin G. Grinnell, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Genesee County, 1909
  • George G. Grinnell, American Republican politician, Member of Maine State House of Representatives from Penobscot County, 1919-20
  • ...

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    Other References

    1. Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Noble and Gentle Men of England Or Notes Touching The Arms and Descendants of the Ancient Knightley and Gentle Houses of England Arranged in their Respective Counties 3rd Edition. Westminster: John Bowyer Nichols and Sons, 1866. Print.
    2. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
    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. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
    5. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
    6. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
    7. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
    8. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
    9. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
    10. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
    11. ...

    The Grinnell Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Grinnell Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

    This page was last modified on 22 July 2016 at 13:23.

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