Penrose History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Cornwall in southwestern England provides the original birthplace of the surname Penrose. As populations grew, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. 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 Penrose history began in the village of Penrose in the county of Cornwall.

Early Origins of the Penrose family

The surname Penrose was first found in Cornwall at Penrose, "a hamlet near the Land's End, possessed by the family in the XV. century, and doubtless much earlier." [1] Penrose is also "a parish, in the division and hundred of Raglan, union and county of Monmouth, Wales." [2]

"The manor of Penrose [in the parish of Sithney, Cornwall] was from an early period the property, and its barton the residence, of an ancient family of this name, who are said to have been seated here before the Conquest. The word Penrose signifies the head of the valley, or, the hill of the heath. " [3]

"One of the most ancient families of the name of Penrose resided at Penrose, Sithney, in the 15th, 16th, and 17th centuries; members of this family were sheriffs of the county in the 16th century." [4]

"The manor of Borthy or Berthy, [in the parish of St. Endoer, Cornwall] to which the parish was partly indebted for its name at the time of the Norman Conquest, was for many years in the family of Penrose." [3]

Early History of the Penrose family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Penrose research. Another 71 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 187 and 1876 are included under the topic Early Penrose History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Penrose 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 Penrose, Penrows, Penrowes and others.

Early Notables of the Penrose family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Penrose family to Ireland

Some of the Penrose 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 Penrose migration to the United States +

A search of the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Penrose:

Penrose Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • John Penrose, who settled in Maine in 1622
  • Priscilla Penrose, who landed in Maryland in 1671 [5]
Penrose Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Bartholomew Penrose, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1700 [5]
  • Christopher Penrose, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1717 [5]
  • Joe Penrose and his wife Elizabeth settled in Georgia in 1732
  • John Penrose, who landed in Savanna(h), Georgia in 1733 [5]
Penrose Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • William Penrose, who arrived in America in 1810 [5]
  • John, Thomas, and William Penrose all, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1855

Canada Penrose migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Penrose Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Isaac Penrose, who arrived in Canada in 1828
  • Yarnel Penrose, who landed in Canada in 1828
  • Joseph Penrose, who arrived in Canada in 1836

Australia Penrose migration to Australia +

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

Penrose Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Charles Penrose, British convict who was convicted in Middlesex, England for life, transported aboard the "Asia" on 29th September 1831, settling in New South Wales, Australia [6]
  • Mr. Charles Penrose (b. 1808), aged 23, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 24th March 1832, sentenced for life for housebreaking with violence, transported aboard the ship "Circassian" on 4th October 1832 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [7]
  • Mr. Charles Penrose, (b. 1809), aged 23 born in Truro, Cornwall, UK convicted in Cornwall on 24th March 1832, sentenced for death reduced to life for housebreaking, transported aboard the ship "Circassian" in 1832 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [8]
  • Mr. William Penrose, (b. 1815), aged 33, Cornish cabinet maker from Redruth, Cornwall, UK departing from Plymouth on 1st May 1848 aboard the ship "Cheapside" arriving in Port Phillip, Victoria, Australia on 18th August 1848 [9]
  • Mr. William Penrose, (b. 1815), aged 33, Cornish cabinet maker from Redruth, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Cheapside" arriving in Port Phillip, New South Wales, Australia on 18th August 1848 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Penrose 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:

Penrose Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Penrose, aged 36, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballochmyle" in 1874
  • Margaret Penrose, aged 36, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballochmyle" in 1874
  • William Penrose, aged 8, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballochmyle" in 1874
  • Richard J. Penrose, aged 6, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballochmyle" in 1874
  • Nanny Penrose, aged 6, who arrived in Lyttelton, New Zealand aboard the ship "Ballochmyle" in 1874
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Penrose (post 1700) +

  • Richard Alexander Fullerton Penrose Jr. (1863-1931), American mining geologist and entrepreneur, posthumously inducted into the US National Mining Hall of Fame in 2006
  • Craig R. Penrose (b. 1953), former professional American football quarterback
  • Charles William Penrose (1832-1925), American member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1904-1911)
  • Charles Bingham Penrose (1862-1925), American gynecologist who invented the surgical Penrose drain, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1911, brother of Boies Penrose and Spencer Penrose
  • William Penrose, American politician, Representative from Ohio 15th District, 1880 [11]
  • Spencer Penrose (1865-1939), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Colorado, 1904 (alternate), 1916 [11]
  • R. A. F. Penrose, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Arizona Territory, 1900 [11]
  • Neville Penrose, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Texas, 1952, 1964 (alternate) [11]
  • John J. Penrose, American Democrat politician, Candidate for U.S. Representative from Connecticut 3rd District, 1882 [11]
  • Emlen Griffith Penrose (1844-1930), American Republican politician, Member of Iowa State Senate, 1893; Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Iowa, 1900, 1904 [11]
  • ... (Another 22 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

RMS Titanic
  • Mr. John Poole Penrose (d. 1912), aged 49, English Bedroom Steward from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [12]


  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. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ Convict Records Voyages to Australia (Retrieved 12th January 2020). Retrieved from https://convictrecords.com.au/ships/asia/1831
  7. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  8. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/tasmanian_convicts_cornish.pdf
  9. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_victoria.pdf
  10. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, May 30). Ships' Passenger Lists of Arrivals in New South Wales on (1828 - 1842, 1848 - 1849) [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_nsw_1838_on.pdf
  11. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 17) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  12. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html


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