Show ContentsTrenowth History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Cornwall, one of the original six "Celtic nations" is the homeland to the surname Trenowth. A revival of the Cornish language which began in the 9th century AD has begun. No doubt this was the language spoken by distant forebears of the Trenowth family. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. Many Cornish surnames 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. The name Trenowth is a local type of surname and the Trenowth family 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 Trenowth family

The surname Trenowth 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 Trenowth family

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

Trenowth 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 Trenowth family

Notable amongst the family at this time was

  • John de Trenowth of Cornwall

Australia Trenowth migration to Australia +

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

Trenowth Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • George Trenowth, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847 [3]
  • William Trenowth, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847 [3]
  • Catherine Trenowth, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847 [3]
  • Susan Trenowth, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Cressy" in 1847 [3]
  • Thomas Trenowth, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Phoebe" in 1847 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

  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.
  3. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CRESSY 1847. Retrieved from
  4. State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PHOEBE 1847. Retrieved from on Facebook