Show ContentsKillegrew History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The illustrious surname Killegrew finds its origin in the rocky, sea swept coastal area of southwestern England known as Cornwall. Although surnames were fairly widespread in medieval England, people were originally known only by a single name. The process by which hereditary surnames were adopted is extremely interesting. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Lords and their tenants often became known by the name of the feudal territory they owned or lived on. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. This was due to the heavy political and cultural influence of the English upon the Cornish People at the time that surnames first came into use. Local surnames were derived from where a person lived, held land, or was born. While many Cornish surnames of this sort 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 derived from lost or unrecorded place names. The name Killegrew is a local type of surname and the Killegrew family lived in Cornwall, at the manor of Cheligrevus, from which they took their name. [1]

Early Origins of the Killegrew family

The surname Killegrew 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 Killegrew family

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

Killegrew 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 Killegrew 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 Killegrew Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Killegrew family to Ireland

Some of the Killegrew 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 Killegrew migration to the United States +

An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Killegrew:

Killegrew Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Hannah Killegrew, who settled in Virginia with her husband in 1748

  1. Lower, 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 on Facebook