I registered with the Guild of One Name Studies in 1988 and I have been a member on and off for the last 24 years. I have been researching the name Gronow / Gronnow for the past 30 years, during which time I have built up a considerable database and record of Gronow families across the world, from throughout England & Wales to the outer reaches of Canada and Australia.
Origin of the surname:
The origin of the surname is a derivative of the given name of the father or a “patronymic” as is the case with most of the old Welsh surnames. Some names are derived without change. For instance, the Celtic first name Goronwy – (gohr-ON-wee) from the Welsh gwr “man” became a surname in a few rare instances, some in the fairly recent past. However appearing in 15th Century records comes an Anglicised version of the name - Goronw (gohr-ON-oo) & Gronw (GROHN-oo) & finally Gronow (GRON-o).
Given its origins there are many families in different parts of the World who have no connection to others bearing their surname.
An early reference to Goronwy appears in two Medieval Welsh manuscripts, the White Book of Rhydderch (Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch) written AD 1300-1325, and the Red Book of Hergest (Llyfr Coch Hergest) written 1375-1425 (The Mabinogion) although fragments of these tales have been preserved in earlier thirteenth century manuscripts. Scholars agree that the tales are older than the existing manuscripts, but disagree over just how much older. In one of the stories Math used his magic wand to create the loveliest woman out of flowers. She was named Blodeuedd. Math had Blodeuedd marry Lleu, and gave him the cantrev of Dinoding to live in. The marriage did not last, because during Lleu's absence, Blodeuedd met a hunter named Goronwy the Staunch, lord of Penllyn. Blodeuedd fell in love with Goronwy. Together they plotted to rid of Lleu.
Various spellings can be found in documents and the researcher should be wary not to include or discount these sources, some of which include: Greeno, Grono, Gronnah, Grunna, Grunnah, Grunnow, Garnowe, Groneaux, Garnow, Geronow, Greenow, Gryony.
The Gronow surname also originates independently in Europe - mainly Poland & Germany.
A few historical examples of how the name can be used both as a Christian name and as a Surname:
Goronwy OWEN 1723 – 1769.
A famous 18th century Welsh poet, Goronwy Owen (Goronwy Ddu o Fôn) was born in the parish of Llanfair Mathafarn Eithaf, Anglesey. He was educated at Pwllheli Free School and Friars School, Bangor, and went to Jesus College, Oxford, but left without a degree in 1745. He entered the priesthood in 1746 and spent many years as an impoverished curate in England. In 1757 he emigrated to the United States of America to take up a teaching post at William and Mary College, Williamsburg, Virginia. His wife and infant died during the voyage. He remarried in America but his second wife and child also died, a tragedy which led Owen to seek solace in drink. However, his prodigal lifestyle eventually lost him his teaching post and in 1760 he returned to the priesthood in St Andrew's Parish, Virginia. It was there, in 1763, that he married for the third time and spent the last years of his life as a tobacco planter and vicar.
Capt. Rees Howell GRONOW 1794 – 1865.
Formerly of the Grenadier Guards, and M.P. for Stafford. Best remembered as a writer of memoirs, he was the eldest son of William Gronow of Swansea. After Eton he went into the army, was ensign in 1812, served in Spain 1812-14, was at Waterloo, and was afterwards made captain; but he left the army in 1821, and being a man of means lived the life of a man-about-town. His knowledge of war and society gives value to his four books: Reminiscences of Captain Gronow, 1862; Recollections and Anecdotes, 1863; Celebrities of London and Paris, 1865; and Last Recollections, being the fourth and final series, 1866. He died in Paris 20th November 1865. In his own words “It has been my lot to have lived through the greater part of one of the most eventful centuries of England's history, and I have been thrown amongst most of the remarkable men of my day; whether soldiers, statesman, men of letters, theatrical people, or those whose birth and fortune rather, perhaps, than their virtues or talents have caused them to be conspicuous in society at home or abroad.”
Major-General Gronow DAVIS VC 1828 – 1891.
Gronow Davis was among 62 men at the first presentation of the Victoria Cross at an Investiture held on Hyde Park on Friday the 26th June 1857. He won the award as a 27 year old Captain in the Royal Regiment of Artillery, during the Crimean War when on the 8th September 1855 at Sebastopol Captain Davis commanded the spiking party in the attack on the Redan with great coolness and gallantry. Afterwards he saved the life of a Lieutenant of the 39th Regiment by jumping over the parapet of a sap and going some distance across the open, under murderous fire to help carry the wounded man to cover. He also carried several other wounded soldiers to safety. He is buried at Arno’s Vale Cemetery, Bristol England. His medal is housed at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich.
Major Joseph GRONOW 1856 – 1937.
Major Joseph Gronow was born in Liverpool, England, and joined the 7th Dragoons in 1873 at the age of 18 and in the ensuing 21 years he saw service in India and in Egypt, where he took part in the battles of Tel-el-Kebir and Kassasin in the Egyptian Campaign of 1882. He left India in 1893 and retired from the army soon after his return to England. As a member of the Barr Colony expedition, he came to Canada in 1903 and was followed three years later by his family. He homesteaded for a few years, and then he was made immigration officer at Lloydminster. Active in Militia affairs in Canada, he was a member of the 22nd Saskatchewan Light Horse and 1st Saskatchewan Mounted Rifles, he aided in recruiting the 9th CMR Battalion and the 188th Battalion at Prince Albert. Shortly before the Great War he obtained his commission as Lieutenant and retired with the rank of Major. As regimental sergeant major, he was a member of the Coronation contingent that attended the coronation of the late King George V in 1910. Major Gronow was active in the Masonic Lodge and was part District deputy Grand Master in 1922. He was twice Master of the Britannia Lodge in Lloydminster. Major Gronow was an active member and one time vice-president of the Army and Navy Veterans Association. Joseph Gronow for several years served as a Justice of the Peace at Lloydminster.
Benjamin GRONOW 1887 – 1967.
Ben Gronow picture was one of the best rugby league forwards in the world during the mid 1920’s, and was the only player from an English club to move to Australia in the first 50 years of the game Down Under. In December 1909, at Newport, Ben Gronow played in his first international trial match and so impressed the Selection Committee that he was “capped” for the Wales v. France match, played at Swansea on the 1st January 1910. In this match he scored a try. Next he played against England at Twickenham, the match which celebrated the opening of the Twickenham ground. As he also played against Ireland and Scotland, Ben represented his country in all her international matches that season.
In 1915 Ben joined the War effort and was transferred to the Army Service Corps M2/103369 and was raised to the rank of Serjeant, in charge of a motor depot at Ypres. In 1920 Gronow was one of five Huddersfield players selected for the Australian Tours. When he retired he settled in Yorkshire and in the 1930s became the coach at Morley Rugby Union Club. Ben was survived by two sons (his other son like him a Serjeant in the Royal Army Service Corps died in Egypt in 1943 and is buried in Heliopolis War Cemetery.)
Some Facts & figures:
Between the years 1837 –2012
One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Forty Five Births were registered with the General Register Office.
One Thousand, Three Hundred and Seventy One Marriages were registered with the General Register Office.
One Thousand Three Hundred and Twenty Seven Deaths were registered with the General Register Office.
Individuals taken during a Census 1841-1901
One Hundred and Seventy Persons.
Two Hundred and Five Persons.
Two Hundred and Thirty Persons.
Two Hundred and Five Persons.
Three Hundred and Five Persons.
Three Hundred and Thirty Three Persons.
Four Hundred and Fifty One Persons.
Five Hundred and Fifty Eight Persons.
A European Distribution of the name:
There are several villages Eastern Germany and Poland with names Gronow, Grunow and Gronowe and it is assumed that families originally comes from this area. In fact Gronows (both people and villages with this name) can be found in this area since 13th century. Gronow, Grunow (or Grohno, Gruhno) are most probably geographical place-names transmitted by Sorbish. Its etymology disappears in the mutual borrowing of Slavic and German groups. It could have meant a vineyard, a bunch people or houses, a craggy ridge, a border village or an estate of a man with moustache.
Grono in Polish means a circle or bunch, for example 'w gronie przyjacio´l' means in the circle of friends. In this context the original meaning word is bunch of grapes which is led to bunch, group and circle. In Polish the original form is grezno/grozno. In church Slavonic the word is grozd´. It has to be remarked that grapes exist only on the southern border of Polish, Sorbish and Wendish language area.
Behind the word we can see the Indo-European 'grgh' meaning a spike. For example perch (Perca fluviatilis) is still grgec is Croatian. The idea of 'gro/ grow' and the green colour (gron/grun) are also close. A shoot of a plant is sharp spike - compare with thorn and prickle. The same word in ancient Icelandic is grõn meaning spruce, thorn and whisker. Meaning of spruce comes from needle. The form in Gothic is grano and in late Latin granus. One member of this Eastern family of Gronow’s is Prof. Jukka Gronow, and his thoughts on his name can be found Here
I have reconstructed pedigrees for the following families;Australia
Gronow of Kurri Kurri New South Wales
Gronow of Sebastopol, Victoria
Gronow of Williamstown. Victoria (NEW)
Carmarthenshire Gronow of Bettws
Gronow of Birkenhead ( & Lloydminster Canada)
Gronnow of Farndon
Grunnow of Farndon (& Bromborough)
Gronow/Gronnow of Holt
Gronow/Gronnow of Wrexham
Gronow of Blaenavon
Gronow of St Brides Major
Gronow of Caemansel
Gronow of Cardiff
Gronow of Llangan
Gronow of Llangynwyd
Gronow of Llantrisant
Gronow of Llanwonno
Gronow of Merthyr Tydfil
Gronow of Neath (& Australia, London, Kent, Durham)
Gronow of Nolton, Bridgend
Gronow of Porth Cawl, Newton Nottage
Gronow of Pentyrch
Gronow of Swansea
Gronow / Grenow / Greenow
Gronow of Toxteth Park
Gronow of Liverpool
Gronow of St.James Middlesex.
Gronow of Newport
Gronow of Flitcham (& London, Glamorgan)
Gronow of St. Davids
Gronow of Dinas (various)
United States of America
Gronow of Cleveland Ohio (and of Coity Parish, Bridgend Glamorganshire)
I have extracted the relevant entries from the following major sources:
All the GRONOW England & Wales GRO index entries 1837 - 2006
All the GRONNOW England & Wales GRO index entries 1837 - 2006
All the GORONWY England & Wales GRO index entries 1837-2006
All Census Index entries from England & Wales 1841-1911
Copies of all Census pages from England & Wales 1841-1911 from the above index.
International Genealogical Index.
British Isles Vital Records Index.
National Burial Index.
Times Digital Archive
Cambrian Newspaper Index
Testators Index to Abstracts of Original Wills 1751 – 1858 St.Davids Diocese.
Glamorgan Monumental Inscriptions Master Index.
The Glamorgan Marriage Index.
The England & Wales Electoral Roll 2000 - 2004
All the post 1858 English GRON(N)OW probate index entries to 1968.
Copies of most of the post 1858 wills & admons to 1968.
Most of the pre-1858 English GRON(N)OW probate index entries.
Copies (or extracts) of some of the pre 1858 wills & admons.
The following AUSTRALIA index entries:
New South Wales: 1788 – 1917 BMD.1918 – 1945 MD
Victoria: 1837 – 1920 BMD. 1921 – 1985 D.
Western Australia 1841 – 1905 BMD.
Tasmania: 1803 – 1899 BMD.
Queensland: 1890 – 1919 BM. 1890 – 1919 D.
South Australia: 1842 – 1906 B. 1842 – 1915 D.
Northern Territory: 1870 – 1902 BMD.
A partial collection of Census Index entries from the United States & Canada.
British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920.
British Army WWI Service Records, 1914-1920
British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920
Australian Electoral Rolls, 1901-1936
Newspaper extracts: Liverpool Mercury (Liverpool, England). North Wales Chronicle (Bangor,
The Bristol Mercury (Bristol, England). Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales).
(NEW) 1878-1960 Inwards Passenger Lists. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives.
I have extracted miscellaneous information from the following Repositories:
The National Archives (PRO)
The National Library of Wales
Family Records Centre
Cheshire Record Office
Liverpool Record Office
Flintshire Record Office
Denbighshire Records Office
A.N.Palmer Centre for Local Studies and Archives
Glamorgan Record Office
British Library (Manuscripts)
Society of Genealogists Library
London Metropolitan Archives
New South Wales State Archives
Victoria State Archives & Libraries
New Contacts & family information is always very welcome. For further information; or if you would like to assist in the study, write or email me at the address below.
The Gronow DNA Project welcomes all participants. We encourage you to join today!.
Our project is just getting started, and we expect to have many exciting discoveries.
Participating is an opportunity to uncover information not provided in the paper records, which will help with your research of your family tree. We will also discover which family trees are related. As the project progresses, the results for the various family trees will provide information on the evolution of the surname.
The surnames in this DNA Project are researched as part of the Gronow one-name study.