Onion History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Brythonic in origin, the name of Onion came from the rugged landscape of Wales. The name is from the common Welsh personal name Enion. The Old Welsh form of this name was Enniaun, which is ultimately derived from the Latin name Annianus. The name is also associated with the Welsh word "enion," which literally means "anvil" and connotes the qualities of stability and fortitude.

Some experts also associate the surname Onion with the Welsh word "uniawn," which means "upright" or "just." One of the most celebrated bearers of this forename was Einion (or Enyon), a 11th century Welsh warrior-prince and the son of Collwyn. He played a significant role in the legend of the Conquest of Glamorgan by the Normans. It is generally believed that he built Port Eynon castle near Swansea, but evidence of the early castle has been lost. Port Eynon (also spelt Port Einon) still survives today as a village and community in the city and county of Swansea.

As a forename, the name is fairly numerous in early Welsh history including: Einion Offeiriad ("Einion the Priest") (died 1356), Welsh poet and grammarian; Einion ap Gwalchmai (1202-1223), Welsh court poet; Einion ap Gwgon (fl. c. 1215), Welsh court poet; Einion ap Gollwyn, (possibly legendary) Welsh prince of the eleventh century; Einion Wan (fl. c. 1202-1245), Welsh court poet; Saint Einion Frenin (c. 5th century), a son of Owain Ddantgwyn who reigned as a local king in Gwynedd; and Einion Yrth ap Cunedda (c. 420-500; reigned from the 470s), king of Gwynedd.

Early Origins of the Onion family

The surname Onion was first found in Sussex, where "in the register of East Grinstead, Sussex, in the first half of the XVII. century, the name is written indifferently Ennion and Onion. " [1]

"Onions is probably another form of Inions, also a Shropshire name and above referred to. It is, however, probable that away from the Welsh border this name, as Lower suggests, may be a corruption of Unwin or Onwen, an old personal name, which was represented in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere in the 13th century by the surnames of Onwinne and Onoiun." [2]

The Pipe Rolls of Shropshire (Salop) in 1159 list Ennian filius Gieruerd and later in Herefordshire, Ennion de Caple was listed there in the Curia Regis Rolls of 1205. The singular names Eynon and Eynun were listed in the Assize Rolls for Shropshire in 1221 and in Cheshire, Eignon was found there in the Assize Rolls of 1287. Anian was Bishop of Bangor in 1284 and Gruffydd ap Madog Vnyon was listed in 1392. Gode heynon was found in Suffolk in 1221 and in the Hundredorum Rolls of 1273, William Anyun was listed in Berkshire. Andrew Heizhnon was listed in the Subsidy Rolls for Essex in 1327 and John Eynon was found in the Subsidy Rolls for Worcestershire in 1327. [3]

Early History of the Onion family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Onion research. Another 86 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Onion History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Onion Spelling Variations

Welsh surnames are relatively few in number, but they have an inordinately large number of spelling variations. There are many factors that explain the preponderance of Welsh variants, but the earliest is found during the Middle Ages when Welsh surnames came into use. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, which often resulted in a single person's name being inconsistently recorded over his lifetime. The transliteration of Welsh names into English also accounts for many of the spelling variations: the unique Brythonic Celtic language of the Welsh had many sounds the English language was incapable of accurately reproducing. It was also common for members of a same surname to change their names slightly, in order to signify a branch loyalty within the family, a religious adherence, or even patriotic affiliations. For all of these reasons, the many spelling variations of particular Welsh names are very important. The surname Onion has occasionally been spelled Einion, Ennian, Annian, Anyan, Einion, Ennion, Enions, Inion, Inions, Innion, Innions, Ineon, Eneon, Onion and many more.

Early Notables of the Onion family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Onion family to Ireland

Some of the Onion 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 Onion migration to the United States +

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many people from Wales joined the general migration to North America in search of land, work, and freedom. These immigrants greatly contributed to the rapid development of the new nations of Canada and the United States. They also added a rich and lasting cultural heritage to their newly adopted societies. Investigation of immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Onion:

Onion Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • George Onion, who settled in Virginia in 1624 with his wife Elizabeth
  • George Onion, who arrived in Virginia in 1624-1625 [4]
  • Robert Onion, who settled in Boston in 1635
  • John Onion, who landed in Virginia in 1639 [4]
  • Robert Onion, who landed in Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1646 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Onion Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Thomas Onion, who arrived in America in 1760-1763 [4]

West Indies Onion migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [5]
Onion Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Mary Onion and her husband who arrived in Barbados in 1654

Contemporary Notables of the name Onion (post 1700) +

  • Ken Onion (b. 1963), American award-winning custom knifemaker
  • Alfred Onion (1858-1921), Welsh Labour Party politician
  • George Oliver Onion (1873-1961), significant English novelist
  • Francis Onion, Judge


  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  3. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  4. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  5. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies


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