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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com 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.

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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.


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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.

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Another 201 words (14 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Grinnell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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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

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  • Moses H. Grinnell (1803-1877), U.S. Navy officer and U.S. Representative from New York
  • Josiah Bushnell Grinnell (1821-1891), U.S. congressman, founder of Grinnell, Iowa and benefactor of Grinnell College
  • Joseph Grinnell (1877-1939), American zoologist
  • Henry Walton Grinnell (1843-1920), American admiral, partner in Grinnell, Minturn & Co who owned the Flying Cloud, the fastest clipper ship in the world (1851)
  • Henry Grinnell (1799-1874), American merchant, financier of Arctic explorations
  • George Bird Grinnell (1849-1938), American anthropologist, historian, naturalist, and writer
  • Frederick Grinnell (b. 1945), American cell biologist
  • Frederick Grinnell (1836-1905), American engineer, creator of the first practical automatic fire sprinkler


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  1. Library of Congress. American and English Genealogies in the Library of Congress. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1967. Print.
  2. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  3. Bullock, L.G. Historical Map of England and Wales. Edinburgh: Bartholomew and Son, 1971. Print.
  4. Thirsk, Joan. The Agrarian History of England and Wales. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 7 Volumes. Print.
  5. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  6. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  7. 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).
  8. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  9. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin . Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  10. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
  11. ...

The Grinnell Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com 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 23 May 2016 at 08:25.

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