Nanfan History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Atlantic Ocean to the north and west and the English Channel to the south borders Cornwall, the homeland to the Nanfan family name. Even though the usage of surnames was common during the Middle Ages, all English people were known only by a single name in early times. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames are derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. The Nanfan family originally lived in the village of Nanfan, in Cornwall. Members of the family were involved in the blacksmith trade and prior to the 18th century often went by the occupational name Trengove, from the Cornish words tren meaning strong, and angove, meaning smith. Many used the name Trengoff of Nance.

Early Origins of the Nanfan family

The surname Nanfan was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Nanfan.

"So early as the days of Henry VI. Trethewell [in the parish of St. Evall] was purchased by the family of Nanfan; who, during the preceding reign, were in a state of comparative obscurity, but were raised by the favour of the reigning monarch, as a reward for the services they rendered him in the foreign wars in which he was engaged. John Nanfan is the first gentleman, that, in the records of the Pipe Office, is distinguished with the appellation of Esquire. This was in the reign of Henry VI. when he was made sheriff of Cornwall, which appellation was not generally given to those who filled this office till the days of Henry VIII. Several of this family were sheriffs of this county in the fifteenth century. In the days of Henry VIII. this estate was carried in marriage by an heiress to Erisey." [1]

Early History of the Nanfan family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Nanfan research. Another 90 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Nanfan History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Nanfan 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 Nanfan, Nanfant, Nantford and others.

Early Notables of the Nanfan family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Nanfan Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Nanfan family

The records on immigrants and ships' passengers show a number of people bearing the name Nanfan: John Nanfant who settled in Carolina in 1710; and Francis Nantford who settled in Barbados in 1672.



  1. ^ Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print


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