Select Warren Surname Genealogy

Warren has Norman roots introduced into England at the time of the Conquest.  There are two possible origins of the name.

One source of the name is the Normandy village of La Varenne which gave the name to William de Warenne who fought at the Battle of Hastings and whose descendants later became Warren.  A second derivation is from the Norman French warrene, a warren or piece of land set aside for the breeding of game.   The surname could describe someone who lived by a game park or someone who was employed in such a place. 

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Select Warren Ancestry

EnglandWilliam de Warenne who had arrived in England with William the Conqueror was the forebear of the subsequent Earls of Warren and Surrey.  However, this line died out in the 14th century. 

The knight Sir Edward de Warren married Cicely de Eton in the 1340's and she brought with her the estates of Poynton and Stockport in Cheshire.  Poynton Hall, long since demolished, was built by Sir Edward Warren in 1552 and then replaced by Sir George Warren with a larger structure in 1750. 

Kent  The county of Kent provided some early Warren sightings.  A certain William Warren left his house to Canterbury Cathedral "for pious uses" in 1371.  The Warrens of Dover may have been related.  William Warren was mayor of Dover in 1493, his son John three times majyor of Dover in the early 1500's. Subsequent Warrens from the village of Ripple near Deal included emigrants to the New World.  

SW England  However, there were probably more Warrens in the southwest, in Devon in particular.  The Warrens were long-established there in the village of Ottery St. Mary.  One family account follows the Warrens from Ashburton in Devon to Marnhull in Dorset

Other Warrens in Dorset were to be found in Fordington and Tincleton, villages near Dorchester.  Later Warrens have been traced to the area around Chard and Ilminster in Somerset.  Warrens from Bristol became shipbuilders in Hayle in Cornwall in the mid 19th century.  By the time of the 1891 census the southwest overall accounted for just over 20 percent of all the Warrens in England.    

Ireland.  Warren in Ireland is mainly an English implant.   Edward Warren had arrived with Strongbow in 1172.  From their base at Warrenstown in county Meath, these Warrens became one of the old-established Dublin families.  There were related Warrens in Wexford. 

A later line in county Carlow started with Captain Humphrey Warren in the 1500's.  Richard Warren and his family lived at Ballymurphy in county Carlow from 1735 to 1823.  Robert Warren, an English soldier in Cromwell's army, was the forebear of the Warren landed gentry in county Cork.  And some Irish O'Murmaines anglicized their names to Warren in Cork and Kerry.
America.  Warrens came to New England and also to Virginia and Maryland.

New England  Three early Warren settlers in New England produced a heap of descendants:
  • Richard Warren from London, a passenger on the Mayflower, who arrived at Plymouth rock in 1620.
  • John Warren from Suffolk, who arrived in 1630 and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts.
  • and Peter Warren, a mariner who arrived in Boston in the 1650's and bought land there.  .
Richard Warren and his wife had seven children, all of whom survived, and a multitude of descendants, including apparently Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Franklin Rooseveldt and the actor Richard Gere.  

John Warren's descendants included Moses Warren, an early settler in Ohio, and Levi Gale Warren, a merchant and trader in Terre Haute, Indiana.  

Peter Warren was the forebear of the famous Warrens from Roxbury:
  • Joseph Warren, the horticulturist who developed the "Warren russet" apple (sadly in 1755, whilst gathering fruit in his orchard, he fell from his ladder and was instantly killed),
  • Dr. Joseph Warren, an early hero of the American Revolution (it was said, after him, that Warren became popular as a first name in America),
  • his younger brother John Warren, the surgeon who founded Harvard Medical School,
  • and his son John Collins Warren, one of the most renowned surgeons of the 19th century.  .
Samuel Warren, born in Grafton, started a paper mill in Pepperell, Massachusetts and became a very successful paper manufacturer in the latter part of the 19th century.  His family, known in Boston as the Mount Vernon Street Warrens, were prominent art conoisseurs and collectors.
Other Massachusetts Warrens headed West.  Lyman Warren set off in 1818 with his brother for Wisconsin when it was still largely Indian territory.  This Warren family befriended the local Ojibwe Indians of that region.  Fitz Henry Warren moved to Iowa territory in 1844.  And Francis Warren headed further west and later represented Wyoming in the US Senate.

Virginia and Maryland  There were also early Warren arrivals into Virginia and Maryland:
  • Thomas Warren came to Surry county, Virginia in 1641 with his Kentish cousin Daniel Gookin, the founder of Newport News. 
  • Humphrey Warren from Cheshire was in Charles county, Maryland by 1662 and his family operated a plantation of 500 acres there at Hatton's Point. 
  • George Warren and his family moved from Maryland to Washington county, Virginia in the 1760's. They were buried at the Warren family cemetery near Abingdon. 
Virginia accounts also relate the story of William Johnston Warren, a slave in Tazewell county who bought his freedom in 1858.  He and his brother-in-law subsequently operated a tannery in Tazewell for many years.  His home there remained in family hands until 1994.

Some Warrens moved onto Kentucky after the Revolutionary War was over.  William Warren came to Lincoln county in 1779 and settled along the Dix river.  Twenty years later, Hugh Warren and his family arrived in Green county.  His son Hardin and wife Lydia later settled in the Ozone mountain area of Johnson county, Arkansas.

Benjamin Warren headed south at this time to Georgia.  He and his great friend James Coleman were business pioneers in this new state.  He was the owner of the Bedford plantation (which included land now occupied by the Augusta National Golf Club on which the Masters is played), a flour milling operation, and several other business enterprises.  It is said that many of Augusta's institutions today were influenced and molded by Benjamin Warren. 

Other Warrens, in this case from South Carolina, came to Heard county, Georgia in the 1830's as a result of a land lottery draw.   

Meanwhile, around 1820, Benajah and Ferriba Warren left their home in Georgia to settle in Jefferson county in the newly opened Mississippi territory.  By the time of the Civil War, Warrens had begun also to settle in Texas.  African American Warrens in Linden, Cass county date from the early 1800's.  By the early 20th century, the state of Texas had the largest number of Warrens in the United States.  

Canada.  The Warren name in Newfoundland records dates back to 1760.  Henry Warren was a fisherman in Petty Harbor in 1794.  John Henry Warren arrived from Devon in the 1830's and ran a fish export business out of St. John's.  He turned politician and represented Bonavista Bay where he found many supporters from Devon.  Later, William Robertson Warren from St. John's rose to become briefly Prime Minister of the province in the 1920's.

Samuel Russell Warren was the outstanding figure in Canadian organ building in the 19th century.  He was a descendant of the Richard Warren of Mayflower fame and had come to Montreal from Rhode Island in the 1830's.  Other Warrens entered Canada by sea around this time, including a number from Ireland.  

Australia.  Mary Warren, a convict, arrived in Australia in 1790 on the notorious Lady Juliana.  She married a few years later but died through drowning in 1804.  John Warren - transported to Western Australia in 1852 - had a happier outcome, however.  Managing to escape the convict stigma by becoming a schoolmaster, he ended up marrying a wealthy widow who owned a hotel and a farm.

Early Warren free settlers were:  
  • Thomas Warren and his family from Sunderland who came on the James Carson in 1852.  They later settled in Melbourne.
  • James and Mary Warren from Suffolk who arrived in the mid-1850's.  Daughter Mary lived to be ninety nine before her death in East Maitland, NSW in 1941.
Select Warren Miscellany

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

Select Warren Names

William de Warenne came over with William the Conqueror and started an early Warren line.
Peter Warren, from an old-line Dublin family, was promoted to Admiral of the British Navy after a successful engagement against the French off Canada in the 1740's.
Dr Joseph Warren, killed in the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, was an early hero of the American Revolution.
William Warren, the son of a British-born actor, was the great comic actor on the American stage in the second half of the 19th century.
W.K. Warren from Tennessee was a pioneer in gas liquids production in Oklahoma from the 1920's to the 1950's.
Earl Warren was three times Governor of California and was the 14th Chief Justice of the United States.  He was of Scandinavian stock.
Robert Penn Warren was a mid 20th century American writer and critic.

Select Warrens Today
  • 39,000 in the UK (most numerous in Essex)
  • 66,000 in America (most numerous in Texas).
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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