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Genealogical Questions PDF Print E-mail
Written by Larry Grinnell   
Sunday, 17 April 2011 17:28

I want to submit new or corrected information about my family

Please contact our genealogy database manager, Marjorie Murray, at email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . She will be glad to take your updated or corrected information and integrate it into the Grinnell genealogy. Marjorie's mailing address can be found on the GFA Contacts page.


How can I obtain a Grinnell family crest?

For almost 100 years, the common belief was that the American Grinnell family descended from a minor French noble family, the Grenelles, of Paris and Burgundy. Research performed in the late 1980s and early 1990s has disproved this link, with strong evidence of the American Grinnells coming from Essex County, England. The progenitors of the American Grinnell family, Matthew and Rose (French) Greenell, were married in Lexden, Essex County, England in 1615. Several of their children were baptised in either Lexden or adjoining Colchester. They were admitted as residents of Portsmouth/Newport, Rhode Island in 1638.

The Grenelle crest artwork was published in Emery's 1931 Grinnell genealogy, as well as the 1984 Grinnell genealogy, written and edited by E. W. Grinnell. Information on this crest first appeared in French armorial registers in the mid 18th century. This alone disqualifies the descendants of Matthew Greenell from using the Grenelle family crest, as Matthew and family came to Rhode Island in the 1630s, while the Grenelle crest wasn't issued until the mid 1700s. Since the authority to use the crest is handed down from father to son, there is no way descendants of Matthew Greenell would be entitled to use this crest in any way.

What all this means is that the American Grinnell family has no proven ties to the French Grenelle family and is not entitled, under armorial convention, to display the Grenelle family crest. We are still trying to find more information of this family. We have some theories that Matthew's family emigrated, perhaps from France, to Essex County, England, in the 1550s, as we have similar-named individuals (Granel) living in the area. A 1550 date would coincide with a mass emigration of French Protestants to Holland and England, escaping the French Inquisition (only slightly less horrible than the one that took place in Spain from the 1490s to the early 1600s). The possibility always exists that we may actually tie to the French Grenelle family, but several generations earlier than previously believed, but still would not be entitled to use the Grenelle crest. The research continues...

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 May 2011 23:55