Penrows History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The illustrious surname Penrows 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 Penrows is a local type of surname and the Penrows family lived in the village of Penrose in the county of Cornwall.

Early Origins of the Penrows family

The surname Penrows 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 Penrows family

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

Penrows 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 Penrows family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Penrows family to Ireland

Some of the Penrows 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.

Migration of the Penrows family

An investigation of the immigration and passenger lists has revealed a number of people bearing the name Penrows: Joe Penrose and his wife Elizabeth settled in Georgia in 1732; John Penrose settled in Maine in 1622; John, Thomas and William Penrose all arrived in Philadelphia in 1855..



  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.


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