An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright © 2000 - 2016
Cornwall, one of the original six "Celtic nations" is the homeland to the surname Killebrew. A revival of the Cornish language which began in the 9th century AD has begun. No doubt this was the language spoken by distant forebears of the Killebrew family. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. Many Cornish surnames appear to be topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees, many are actually habitation surnames. The name Killebrew is a local type of surname and the Killebrew family lived in Cornwall, at the manor of Cheligrevus, from which they took their name. 
The surname Killebrew was first found in Cornwall where "a manor in the parish of St. Erme, where this celebrated family resided from an early date down to the reign of Richard II."  One branch of the family was found at Falmouth in Cornwall. " Until 1613 there was only a single house of entertainment for seafaring persons, with a few fishermen's cottages, on the site of the pre sent town; at which period John, afterwards Sir John, Killigrew began to build several houses, and met with much opposition from the corporations of Penryn, Truro, and Helston, who united to petition King James against the work, stating the evil consequences they anticipated to their own interests, should a town be built at Falmouth harbour. The matter was referred to the lords of the council, and by them decided in Killigrew's favour; the buildings therefore proceeded rapidly, and the town became a place of great trade. Soon after 1670, Sir Peter Killigrew, Bart., constructed a new quay, and procured an act of parliament to secure certain duties." 
Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Killigrew, Kiligrew, Killigroue, Killegrew and many more.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Killebrew research. Another 163 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1350, 1580, 1633, 1603, 1622, 1680, 1608, 1672, 1612, 1683, 1606, 1695, 1660, 1685, 1686, 1652, 1712, 1702 and 1705 are included under the topic Early Killebrew History in all our PDF Extended History products.
Another 243 words (17 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Killebrew Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
Some of the Killebrew family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 37 words (3 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.
Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Killebrew were Anne Killigroue settled in Boston in 1679; with her sister Elizabeth who spelled her name Killigrew; Hannah Killegrew settled in Virginia with her husband in 1748..
The Killebrew Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Killebrew 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 18 April 2016 at 13:48.