Show ContentsPengilly History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The proud Pengilly family originated in Cornwall, a rugged coastal region in southwestern England. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. 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 Pengilly family originally lived in Cornwall, at the manor of Pengelly. The family claim descent from "an estate in the parish of St. Neot in Cornwall, anciently the property of the family." 1 2 Literally the place name means "the head of the grove," from "pen-gilly, -gelly. 3

"There is a hamlet of the name in St. Teath. The Pengellys are now mostly found around Penzance, and the Pengillys around Helston." 4

Early Origins of the Pengilly family

The surname Pengilly was first found in Cornwall at Pengelly (Cornish: Penn-gelli), a hamlet now part of the village of Delabole. 5

The first record of the family was found here: John (de) Pengelly in 1297. 6

"Higher Hampt, [in the parish of Stoke-Climsland, Cornwall] belonged to the family of Pengelly, and afterwards to that of Harrison, is now the property and residence of Mr. William Mason." 7

Early History of the Pengilly family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Pengilly research. Another 63 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1642, 1650, 1675, 1683, 1696, 1712 and 1730 are included under the topic Early Pengilly History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Pengilly 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 Pengelly, Pengley, Pengelley and others.

Early Notables of the Pengilly family

Notable amongst the family at this time was Thomas Pengelly (fl. c.1650-1696), a wealthy British merchant who traded with the Eastern Mediterranean and the Atlantic Seaboard; he owned property in the East End of London, as well as in Finchley and in Cheshunt in Hertfordshire 8; and his son, Sir Thomas Pengelly (1675-1730), Chief Baron of the Exchequer, descended from a west of England family, was son of Thomas Pengelly, by his wife Rachel, the eldest daughter of Lieutenant-colonel Jeremy Baines. He was probably born at his father's house 'next door to the 2 Twins in Moorefields,' and was baptised in...
Another 126 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Pengilly Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Australia Pengilly migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Pengilly Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • John Pengilly, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1840 9
  • Grace Pengilly, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1840 9
  • William Pengilly, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1840 9
  • Sarah Pengilly, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1840 9
  • Thomas Pengilly, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Lysander" in 1840 9
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Pengilly migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Pengilly Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Pengilly, (b. 1842), aged 21, Cornish farm labourer departing on 18th June 1863 aboard the ship "Accrington" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 5th September 1863 10

Contemporary Notables of the name Pengilly (post 1700) +

  • Michael Redding Pengilly (b. 1950), Australian politician, formerly the mayor of Kangaroo Island and former Chairman of the SA Country Fire Service Board
  • Kirk Pengilly (b. 1958), Australian musician, best known as a member of the Australian rock group INXS
  • Jessie Eunice Pengilly (1918-1945), Australian cyclist who at the time of her untimely death held 43 women's cycling records including 3 World, 17 Australian and 23 Western Australian records
  • April Rose Pengilly (b. 1988), also known as April Rose, an Australian actress and former model, daughter of Kirk Pengilly
  • Adam Pengilly (b. 1977), British silver medalist skeleton racer at the 2009 World Championships

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  3. Charnock, Richard, Stephen, Ludus Patronymicus of The Etymology of Curious Surnames. London: Trubner & Co., 60 Paternoster Row, 1868. Print.
  4. Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  6. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  7. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  8. Hanks Patricia, Flavia Hodges, Mills A.D., Room Adrian, The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7)
  9. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) LYSANDER 1840. Retrieved from
  10. Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from on Facebook