Show ContentsTrenowork History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The Trenowork history begins in Cornwall, a rugged coastal region in southwestern England. Quite distinct from Devon, the adjoining county, Cornwall had its own spoken language until the late 18th century. The Trenowork history began here. The manner in which hereditary surnames arose is interesting. Local surnames were derived from where the original bearer lived, was born, or held land. Unlike most Celtic peoples, who favored patronymic names, the Cornish predominantly used local surnames. The Trenowork family originally lived in Cornwall at the manor of Trenowth in Crantock. However, another source claims the family came from the manor and barton of Trenwith, in the parish of St. Ives, Cornwall.

"As its manorial rights have long since been annihilated, Trenwith is now considered only as a barton. This, about the time of Henry VIII. became the property of a family who are said to have taken its name. This family became extinct in the male line in the year 1796, on the death of Mr. Thomas Trenwith, a lieutenant in the navy. This barton is now the property of Mr. William Lander, and other representatives of the Trenwith family." 1

Early Origins of the Trenowork family

The surname Trenowork was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Trenowth in Crantock. They are described as a very ancient and powerful family of Cornwall and the first on record is a junior branch of the powerful Trenowths of Trenowth, John Trenowth of Cornewe and Tillond, whose daughters and co-heiresses married into the Sprys of Cornwall.

"The original name of this family was Baillie. Thomas Baillie, the first ancestor, was living temp. Edward III. His son, Henry Baillie, obtaining from the Duchy of Cornwall, a grant of the manor and barton of Trenwith, near St. Ives, began to write himself De Trenwith." 2

"In the reign of Richard III. a descendant of this gentleman named Henry Trenowith, or Bodrugan, received the honour of knighthood; but siding with that monarch, he was attainted of treason by Henry VII. ; he retired into Cornwall, and endeavoured to conceal himself on this estate. But the place of his retreat was soon discovered by the officers of justice, who secretly repaired hither to seize their victim. But Sir Henry having intimation of their designs, provided for his own security by a desperate effort that almost surpasses credibility. Finding his house invested with men appointed to seize him, he secretly retired through a back door, and hastened towards the cliff, where a boat had been appointed to receive him. But being pursued so closely, as not to have time to gain the proper path, he jumped from the cliff, which was 100 feet high, on a small grassy projection near the surface of the water; and receiving but little hurt, reached the boat, and was carried to a vessel that was ready to convey him to France. To commemorate this fact, the place is still distinguished by the name of 'Bodrugan's Leap.'" 1

Early History of the Trenowork family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Trenowork research. Another 125 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1280 and 1560 are included under the topic Early Trenowork History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Trenowork 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 Trenowth, Trenowith, Trenoth, Trenoith and others.

Early Notables of the Trenowork family

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

Migration of the Trenowork family

Early records show that people bearing the name Trenowork arrived in North America quite early: William Trenoth who landed in North America in 1713.

  1. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  2. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print. on Facebook