Select Griffin Miscellany

Here are some Griffin stories and accounts over the years:

Griffin Origins in Ireland

O'Griobhtha, pronounced O’Greefa, was one of the many Gaelic surnames which assumed in their anglicized form those of English names of similar sound.  In this case, the earlier form of O'Griffy was almost entirely superseded by the English Griffin.

There is no doubt, however, that the great majority of Irish Griffins are really O'Griffys of Gaelic stock.  Their numbers in Ireland amount to over eight thousand.  Griffin stands seventy fifth in the list of the most common Irish surnames.  

Griffins are chiefly to be found in Munster – in Clare, Limerick, Kerry and Cork

Gerald Griffin's Emergence as a Writer

Gerald's parents came from good families in the south of Ireland.  Thirteen children were born to them, nine boys - of whom Gerald was the youngest - and four girls. When Gerald was seven years old his parents moved to Fairy Lawn by the river Shannon about twenty-seven miles from Limerick.

However, ten years later in 1820 the family at Fairy Lawn was broken up.  His parents and several of their children emigrated to America.  Gerald was left behind under the care of an elder brother.

Boy though he was at this time, he conceived the bold project "of revolutionizing the dramatic tastes of the time by writing for the stage."  With this idea in mind he wrote several plays, expecting to have them staged in London. When only nineteen years old he started on his quixotic journey - "a young gentleman totally unknown coming into town with a few pounds in one pocket and a brace of tragedies in the other."

His life in London during the first two years was life in a city wilderness.  It was a sad time. He could not get an opening for his dramas and he did not live to see his play Gisippus acted at Drury Lane in 1842.

But Gerald survived and eventually made his literary mark in London.  He began a series of short stories, Anecdotes of Munster, which established his reputation and enabled him to give up his literary drudgery. No longer haunted by the failure he was able to return to Ireland.

Though broken down by poor health, he kept on working and produced his finest work, The Collegians, published in his twenty fifth year, which assured him of fame and and a little fortune. This novel gives a comprehensive picture of every phase and gradation of Irish life.

The Rise and Fall of Baron Griffin of Braybrooke

Edward Griffin rose to prominence in English court circles during the Restoration after Charles II had come to the throne.  He was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Duke of York's Regiment of Foot Guards and then served as Treasurer of the Chamber to the King from 1679 to 1685.  During that time he narrowly escaped drowning in the wreck of the Gloucester off the Yorkshire coast in 1682.

When Charles died in 1685 he served James II in the same capacity until his exile in 1688.  He followed the King into exile and was with his son, the titular King James III, in France until 1708.

He was then captured on the Salisbury off Leith whilst on a mission to Scotland.  Taken prisoner, he was tried for treason in London and condemned to death.  He was reprieved shortly before the date set for his execution and spent the remaining two years of his life locked away in the Tower of London.

Edward Griffin, Early Emigrant to America

Some have maintained that Edward Griffin was Welsh, either connected to early Welsh princes or to the Pengruffwnd family of Pembrokeshire in Wales.  There is no substantive evidence that either of these connections are true.  Other reports have his family originating from Yorkshire. 

More likely was the report that he was a constable in London and had killed a man in a tavern in the line of duty.  He was pardoned by the King in 1625 and subsequently held a trusted position as an agent in London before his departure for America, indentured to Captain William Claiborne, in 1635. 

He ended up in Dutch New York in the 1650's and converted to the Quaker faith.  He died there in 1698.

Lewis Lawrence Griffin

Around 1810 a young man named Lewis Lawrence Griffin came to Georgia with his widowed mother and settled in Twiggs county.  This poor Georgian would become President of the Monroe railroad and the founder of the city of Griffin. 

Griffin became a General in the Georgia militia after fighting in the Indian Wars against the Creeks. He served in the Legislature in 1829 and 1830. He lived in Monroe county and Macon, all the while amassing a large fortune with the Monroe railroad.  The general purchased 800 acres of land and planned a city at the crossing of his Monroe railroad and another line.  

But not long after June 1840, when the city’s first lots were sold, a depression hit the nation and the Monroe Railroad and Banking Company collapsed.  General Griffin lost most of his fortune. 

He then moved to Aberdeen, Mississippi.  There, he remarried, raised a family, ran a drugstore, and acquired another fortune.  He died in Aberdeen in 1867, survived by his wife and two children.  General Griffin’s ante-bellum home still stands across the street from Aberdeen’s city hall, owned and occupied by his grandchildren.


A Mississippi Family - The Griffins of Magnolia Terrace

From a plantation ledger, an abandoned graveyard, a fragile manuscript, and old newspapers, author Mary Halloran has raised the bones of her ancestors and made them come alive in this memoir that traced the history of five generations of her Mississippi family.  

In A Mississippi Family, Halloran painted a backdrop to the life the family lived.  The story began with the life and times of three men:

  • Jonas Griffin (1762-1815)
  • his son Francis Griffin (1800-1865)
  • and his son Judge John Bettis Griffin (1826-1903). 
It ended with portraits of two remarkable women, Judge John's daughters, Mary Lane Griffin (1858-1942) and Helen Knight Griffin (1864-1949).

The stories of these five people, whose fates and values shaped the lives of their children, capture the early history of the Mississippi Delta, Warren and Washington counties, and the town of Greenville. 
Telling tales of river journeys and life on southern plantations, Halloran's meticulous research has provided a record of her fascinating family saga at a crucial period in the history of the county, state, and nation.

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