Cromwell Surname Genealogy

The surname Cromwell in England
originates from the village of that name in Nottinghamshire some five
north of Newark. The root is the Old
English crumb, meaning “bent” or
“crooked,” and waella, a “spring” or
“stream” – thus a winding stream. There
was indeed a Ralph de Cromwella, recorded in 1177, who was lord of the
manor there.
Although the Cromwell
surname is well known through historical personages, the Cromwell
numbers today
are relatively few in England. There are more in America.

Cromwell Resources on

Cromwell Ancestry

Cromwells were lords of the manor of Cromwell in Nottinghamshire from the 12th
century and possibly earlier. Later
made their home at Tattershall castle in Lincolnshire. Lord
Ralph Cromwell served as Treasurer of England
from 1433 to 1443. But the male line died
out on his death and the Cromwell name did not survive in
Nottinghamshire. Indeed there were no
Cromwells recorded in
Nottinghamshire in the 1891 census

There followed, unconnected, two famous Cromwells.

Thomas Cromwell.
Cromwell’s birth
occurred around the year 1485 was on Putney
Hill in the outskiirts of London. His father was a blacksmith and
sometime brewery owner. From these somewhat obscure origins came
a man who held the highest office in the land
during the reign of Henry VIII. The TV adaptation of the
book Wolf Hall portrayed him
as a brilliant lawyer and a masterful political operator.
But his time at the top ended abruptly when he was tried and executed
for treason in 1540.

Despite Cromwell’s downfall, his line did continue through his son
Gregory who was created Baron Cromwell. The later line, ennobled
as the Earl of Ardglass, made their home in Staffordshire. The
male line here died out in 1687.

Oliver Cromwell.
Oliver Cromwell was distantly and indrectly related to Thomas
Cromwell. Thomas’s older sister Katharine and her husband Morgan
Williams, a Welsh lawyer, had a son named Richard who was brought to
court by Thomas. Richard was soon a King’s favorite and came into possession of Hinchinbrooke nunnery in Huntingdonshire at the time of
the dissolution of the monasteries. He changed his last name from
Williams to Cromwell at this time.

The line from Richard Cromwell led to:

  • his son Sir Henry Cromwell, one of the two wealthiest landowners
    in Huntingdonshire
  • his grandson Robert Cromwell, a man of more modest means
  • and his great grandson Oliver Cromwell, the man who led
    the Parliamentary side during the Civil War and ruled England as Lord
    Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658.

Oliver’s son Richard followed him as Lord
Protector, but lasted only two years in the position. The male
descent from Oliver was via his fourth son Henry who retired to Spinney
Abbey in Cambridgeshire after the Restoration. Later Cromwells
made their home in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire. The last male
survivor of the Lord Protector was apparently Oliver Cromwell, a London
solicitor, who died in 1821.

James Waylen’s 1897 book The House
of Cromwell
covered this family history.

The Cromwells in New York and Maryland each claimed
a descent from the family of Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector.

New York. John
Cromwell the emigrant came to Westchester
county in 1686 in an area that later was known as Cromwell’s Neck. His grandson John was an active patriot
of the Revolutionary War.

David Cromwell of this family, a Quaker, married
Rebecca Bowman in the 1820’s and produced two sons who both perished at
the time of the Civil

  • Henry B. Cromwell had started the
    Steamship Company with ten ships in 1854 at the tender age of 26. Ten years later in 1864, at the age of 36, he was
    dead. His steamship company was thriving
    continued to thrive after his death as one of the main steamship
    companies of the East Coast.
  • his younger brother James
    meanwhile, a major in
    the Union army, was shot through the heart as he was leading his men on
    a charge at
    the Battle
    of Gettysburg in 1863. A gold locket
    bearing the picture of his wife Anna was found around his neck.
    She had just given birth to a son that James would never meet.

Another line via Charles Cromwell survived the Civil War
and led in
the 1930’s to Oliver Cromwell, a noted American mountain climber, and
his brother
James Cromwell
who married the tobacco heiress Doris Duke
. Their sister
Louise was the first wife of General Douglas MacArthur.

John Nelson Cromwell from Brooklyn died at the Battle of Vicksburg in
1863. His son William Nelson Cromwell was a lawyer who was
active in the promotion of the Panama Canal project for which he was
richly rewarded. He is remembered by the Cromwell Book
Prize awarded annually in the field of American legal history.

William and John Cromwell came on the Benona
to Maryland in 1671 and their descendants were local
gentry in Anne Arundel county. Cromwell Valley Park north of
Baltimore was named after the family. Later Cromwells would
spread into Kentucky and Indiana (their lines covered in Jean Cromwell
Price’s 1984 book The Cromwells of
Maryland, Kentucky, and Indiana
). Still, Maryland has the
largest number of Cromwells in America today.

Philemon and Rebecca Cromwell moved from
Maryland to Twin townshiip in Darke county, Ohio in 1838. They purchased 156 acres in a wild state near
Ithaca where they built their home and raised
nine children. Henry
and William Cromwell fought in the Civil
War. Henry died in 1864 at the Battle of
Wilderness in Virginia.
His remains were never recovered from the
battlefield. William survived.

Canada. A
Loyalist Cromwell family came from America to Weymouth,
Nova Scotia in 1783. Curiously, this
was African American and descended from freed slaves. The
Cromwells are still there and held a family reunion in 1988

Cromwell Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Cromwell Names

Thomas Cromwell was
chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1532 to 1540. During that
time he was one of the strongest and most powerful advocates of the
English Reformation.
Oliver Cromwell
led the Parliamentary side during the English Civil War and ruled
England as Lord Protector from 1653 to 1658.
Henry B. Cromwell founded the
Cromwell Steamship Company in New York in 1854.

Select Cromwells Today

  • 1,500 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 3,000 in America (most numerous in Maryland)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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