Killebrew History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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. [1]

Early Origins of the Killebrew family

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." [1]

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." [2]

At one time the family held a manor in the parish of St. Anthony and Kirrier. "Like the ancient cell of Black Monks, this church was originally appropriated to the priory of Tywardreath. About the year 1563, the rectory of this parish is said to have been granted by Elizabeth to the Killegrew family; but since that time it has become the property of the late Francis Gregor, Esq. of Trewarthenick." [3]

"Rosmeran in this parish, was formerly a seat of the Killigrews; but their chief mansion was at Arwenick, or Arwenack, now contiguous to Falmouth town, but formerly in Budock. By this renowned family Rosmeran was afterwards leased to the Knyvets, with whom it continued for three generations." [3]

Early History of the Killebrew family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Killebrew research. Another 156 words (11 lines of text) covering the years 1350, 1663, 1567, 1584, 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 and printed products wherever possible.

Killebrew Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Killebrew family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Sir Robert Killigrew (1580-1633) of Arwenack in Falmouth, Cornwall, knighted by King James I in 1603, Ambassador to the United Provinces; his daughter Elizabeth Boyle (née Killigrew), Viscountess Shannon (1622-1680), an English courtier; Mary Killegrew, who was the mother of Frederick Nassau de Zulestein (1608-1672), 1st Earl of Rochford; Thomas Killigrew, (1612-1683) English dramatist and theater manager...
Another 65 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Killebrew Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Killebrew family to Ireland

Some of the Killebrew 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.


United States Killebrew migration to the United States +

Amongst the settlers in North America with this distinguished name Killebrew were

Killebrew Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • George Winberley Killebrew, aged 41, originally from Mount Pleasant, arrived in New York in 1903 aboard the ship "Campania" from Liverpool, England [4]
  • Ottis Killebrew, arrived in New York in 1923 aboard the ship "Taxandrier" from Antwerp via Hull [5]

Contemporary Notables of the name Killebrew (post 1700) +

  • Joseph Buckner Killebrew (1831-1906), American planter and geologist; born in Montgomery County, Tennessee, during the Civil War he taught his slaves the essentials on how to be free men: reading, writing, and math
  • Dr. Flavius Charles Killebrew (b. 1949), American academic, 10th President of the Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi
  • Gwendolyn Killebrew (b. 1939), American operatic contralto
  • Robert Winston Killebrew (b. 1984), American former CFL football linebacker for the Calgary Stampeders (2009)
  • Miles Killebrew (b. 1993), American football strong safety for the Detroit Lions
  • Harmon Clayton Killebrew (1936-2011), American Major League Baseball player, Hall of Fame member
  • O. D. Killebrew, American Democrat politician, Alternate Delegate to Gold Democrat National Convention from Alabama, 1896 [6]
  • JoAnn E. Killebrew, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Pennsylvania, 1972 [6]


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  4. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JFRQ-W27 : 6 December 2014), Geo. Winberley Killebrew, 23 May 1903; citing departure port Liverpool, arrival port New York, ship name Campania, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  5. ^ "New York Passenger Arrival Lists (Ellis Island), 1892-1924," database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JNFZ-73L : 6 December 2014), Ottis Killebrew, 26 May 1923; citing departure port Antwerp via Hull, arrival port New York, ship name Taxandrier, NARA microfilm publication T715 and M237 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  6. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, October 6) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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