Gardner Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Gardner Meaning
surname Gardner derived from the northern French
gardin and was introduced to Britain after
the Norman invasion of 1066. It was an
The function of the gardiniere
in medieval times was a very
important one. He was responsible for
the kitchen garden, which provided almost the only source of fresh food
herbs, and hence played a critical part in maintaining the health of
household. The use of the word gardener,
referring to someone who tended ornamental lawns and flower beds, was a
application. That may not be the only derivation.
Other sources have claimed that the name
was derived from the Saxon words gar,
meaning “a weapon,” and dyn
meaning “sound or alarm,” combined with the termination

Gardner and Gardiner are the main spellings today, although there are other variants. Gardiner was probably the earlier spelling that was later shortened to Gardner.

Gardner Resources on

Gardner Ancestry

sightings of the surname in 1273 placed it in
eastern England – Geoffrey le Gardener
Oxfordshire, Ralph le Gardiner in Huntingdonshire,
and William le Gardiner in Lincolnshire.

Eastern England. Oxfordshire has
sometimes been cited as a possible origin
of the Gardiner surname. Various de
and Gardiners were recorded in the county in the mid-13th century. William Gardiner, born there in 1451, was a
merchant before enlisting as a mercenary in the campaign of Henry
Tudor. It was said that he slew Richard
III with a pollaxe at the Battle
of Bosworth Field in 1485.

horse was trapped in
the marsh where he was slain by one of Rhys Thomas’ men, a commoner
named William

Other early Gardiners
hailed from Suffolk. Their numbers included:

  • Sir Richard

    who became Lord Mayor of London in 1478. He grew up in Exning
  • Stephen Gardiner who served as
    the English
    Lord Chancellor in the 1550’s during the reign of Queen Mary. He
    was born
    in Bury
    St. Edmunds where his father John was a cloth merchant.
  • and
    Robert Gardiner who held the post of Lord
    Chief Justice of Ireland in the early 1600’s. He came from the
    village of Shimpling

The Tudor writer William Camden, referring of Stephen Gardiner, averred
that “his name was not Gardener as the English pronounce it, but
Gardiner with the French accent and therefore a gentleman.”

. Sir
Osbern Gardiner, probably a Norman knight, was recorded at Oral manor
in Wigan parish in Lancashire in the 12th century. Legend has it
that he joined the Second Crusade and won his crest at Acre in 1191 by
chopping through the shoulder of a Saracen who was about to kill
Richard the Lionheart. Later Gardiners were to be found at Otley
and nearby at Pilling and Garstang. Whether Sir Osbern himself
was the
antecedent of subsequent Gardiners in Lancashire, Yorkshire, or even in
Scotland is based more on speculation than on proven fact.

Aldringham Hall near Ulverstone in Lancashire was the seat of one
Gardner family for nigh on five hundred years. Gardners in fact
became quite numerous in Lancashire. Hugo Gardner was a burgess of Liverpool in the early
1600’s. His descendant Edmund Gardner
founded England’s first timber firm in 1748 for the import of hardwoods. The business prospered. Joseph
Gardner helped develop Blundellsands as
a well-to-do suburb of Liverpool during the 19th century.

By the end of the 16th
century the Gardner name was also in the west country – in
Gloucestershire primarily but also in Somerset and Devon.

The shortening of Gardiner to Gardner began in the 17th century,
perhaps earlier in Lancashire. By the time of the 1881 census the
Gardner/Gardiner ratio in England was about 70/30, which is roughly
what it is today.

Scotland. The
Gardiner name in Scotland dates from the 15th century. The
best-known Gardiners were those at Bankton House near Edinburgh.
Captain Patrick Gardiner had been killed fighting abroad in Germany in
the 1690’s. His son James became a Colonel in the British army
and he also died in combat, this time at Prestonpans in 1745 fighting
against Bonnie Prince Charlie. The battle took place very near
Bankton House and he died of his wounds within sight of his own home.

Ireland. Gardner or
Gardiner is an English implant, found either in Dublin or the Ulster

William Gardner
from Lancashire commanded a company within the walls of Londonderry in
the siege of 1689. His grandson Allen from Coleraine joined
the British navy and attained the high rank of Admiral during the
Napoleonic wars.

Luke Gardiner was probably of English origin, although he was described
as a “sturdy parvenu of Irish descent.” He was a successful land
developer in Dublin in the early 18th century, contributing much to the
Georgian look of the town. His Gardiners later became Viscount
Mountjoy and the Earl of Blessington. However, the first Earl
squandered his inheritance and died in Paris in 1829 at the age of 46.

America. Probably the
first Gardner to arrive in America was Richard Gardener, a seaman
on the Mayflower in
1620. But he died that year or soon after without issue.
Other Gardiners and Gardners followed, mostly into New England.

early Gardner arrivals there have a large and distinguished descendant

  • Thomas Gardner who came to Cape Ann in 1623 with his first wife
    Margaret and their three sons. He is considered by some to have
    been the first Governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony. He was
    buried on Gardner Hill in Salem. Prominent Gardner descendants
    have been Thomas
    Gardner the patriot who fell at Bunker Hill in 1775 and the
    businessman Jack Gardner whose wife founded the Isabella Stewart
    Gardner Museum in Boston.
  • and Lion Gardiner from Scotland who came to Boston in 1635 and
    then settled in Long Island. He acquired Gardiners Island off Long Island
    in 1639 and this island has remained with his family ever since.
    Among his Gardiner descendants were New York state senator David
    Gardiner, whose daughter married President Tyler; and Winthrop
    Gardiner, the 14th proprietor of Gardiners Island who married the
    Norwegian figure skater and actress Sonja Henie.

Two other notable early New England families have been:

  • the
    Gardiners of Rhode
    Island. George Gardiner came to Newport
    in 1638 and was one of the early settlers of Rhode Island.
    George had thirteen children by two
    wives. A grandson John Gardiner was a
    Deputy Governor of the colony. Gar
    has been the preferred spelling
    in Rhode Island. They jokingly referred to the “blind Gardners”
    (those without an
    “i”) as those who left Rhode Island and spelt their name differently. The family history was recounted in Caroline
    Robinson’s 1919 book The Gardiners of
  • and
    the Gardners
    of Nantucket. They were seafarers who
    became a well-known whaling family. Their
    forebear was Thomas Gardner from Hampshire who had come to
    Massachusetts in
    1624 and settled in Nantucket in 1673. He
    remained on the island for the rest of his life, sailing
    ships from
    their port until his death in 1706. Later
    Gardners intermarried with other early families of Nantucket – the
    Folgers and
    Macys. Their whaling heyday was the early 1800’s. Captain Edmund
    recounted many of his whaling adventures in his Journal.

Canada. Thomas
Gardner moved from Boston to Nova Scotia in the 1760’s after the defeat
of the
French. His descendants at Liverpool
were shipbuilders and privateers on the British side in the
Revolutionary War.

Gardner was one of a number of Scottish Gardners who left
their homes near
Glasgow for a new life in Canada in the 1820’s. Many
of these Gardners were converted to the
Mormon faith. In fact 24 Gardners made
the journey from Warwick in Canada to Salt Lake valley in 1847.

South Africa. James Gardner from Kirkcaldy in Scotland came
to the Eastern Cape in the 1830’s as a soldier before staying on as a
engineer. Two of his wives died there
because of the harsh conditions and he himself was murdered in the
1850’s. His children were found
wandering in the bush and were taken into missionary care.
The eldest son Charles married and became a
farmer in Barkly East in the Eastern Cape.

Australia and New Zealand. Among the Gardners arriving there during the
19th century were:

  • Andrew
    Gardner from
    Scotland who was transported to NSW in 1818 for the crime of “the sale
    spiritous liquor.” On getting his ticket
    of leave, he was engaged in the building of The
    Scotch Thistle Inn
    at Blackheath.
  • William
    Gardner who came with his family from
    Fermanagh in Ireland to NSW in the early 1840’s.
  • two
    Gardners families from Hampshire – George
    and his wife Harriet in 1853 and John and his wife Jane in 1856 – who
    came to
    NSW on an assisted passage scheme. The
    documents suggest that the Gardners could neither read nor write.
  • John
    Gardner and his wife Margaret from Scotland who came to New Zealand in
    1862 and settled in Glorit outside Auckland at the Mataia
    homestead. Their descendants are still living there.
  • and
    the Gardner family from Kent
    came to New Zealand in stages between 1876 and 1883.

Gardner from
Gloucestershire had enlisted in the Royal Navy as a young man and seen
service at
a number of trouble spots around the world.
after his arrival in Australia in 1861, he joined the Newcastle
Naval Brigade where he rose to the post of commander, retiring after
years of service as one of the oldest officers in the Australian Naval
Reserve. In 1916 he presented the city
of Newcastle with an Anzac memorial monument for the fallen at Gallipoli


Gardner Miscellany

Gardners and Gardiners Today

Numbers (000’s) Gardner Gardiner Total
UK    41    21    62
America    47     4    51
Elsewhere    22    17    39
Total   110    42   152

Gardner and its Variants.  Gardner and Gardiner are the
main spelling forms in England today.
The principal other variant found is Gardener.
The name Garner, originating in East Anglia,
has probably come from different roots.

German variants are Gartner and Baumgartner.
Gartner is principally found in eastern Austria, Slovenia, and
Tyrol; while Baumgartner occurs in the same areas as well as in parts
southern Germany. 

The Will of Sir Richard Gardiner, Lord Mayor of London.  In his will of 1488, Sir Richard Gardiner, Alderman of Walbrook Ward, left to
or Audria, his wife, his lands and tenements etc. in London parishes
for her
life, with the remainder to Mary, Lady Alington, his daughter-in-tail.

In default of an heir he left the sum of ten
pence per diem to five poor men in honor of the five wounds of Jesus
and to five poor women in honor of the five joys of the Blessed Virgin
the said men and women being nominated by the Mayor and Recorder and by
Master of the Hospital of St. Thomas de Acon in the manner prescribed.

The aforesaid tenements etc. were to remain to the
master of the house or hospital aforesaid and his successors subject to
above charge; the remainder in case of default to the Chamberlain of
the City
of London on like condition.

Lion Gardiner and Gardiners Island.  Lion Gardiner, a native of Scotland, served under
General Fairfax in the Low Countries as an engineer.  He was sent
America in 1635 by Lords Say and Brooke to build a fort and make a
on their grant at the mouth of the Connecticut river.  He built
the fort
at Saybrook, which name he gave to it after the names of his patrons
Lords Say
and Brooke.

His eldest son David, born
at Fort Saybrook in 1636, was the first white child born in
Connecticut. Lion
afterward bought from the Indians an island in Long Island Sound
five square miles in size which was called by them Monchonack and by
English the Isle of Wight.  He paid for
it, as the old records say, with a black dog, a gun, and some Dutch

moved there with his family and gave it
the name of Gardiner’s Island.  Their daughter Elizabeth was born
there in
1641.  She would later be responsible for
the first witch hunt and witch trial in the American colony.

The island has remained in the possession of
the family.  The original Manor House,
in 1774, burned down in 1947 after a guest fell asleep while smoking.  The last male Gardiner, Robert Gardiner, died in
2004 and ownership passed to his niece Alexandra Goelet.

Reader Feedback – Gardiners in Maryland.  Do you have any information that shows a connection to Richard Gardiner (father of Luke
Gardiner born in 1622) who came to Maryland and William Gardiner who
married Helen Tudor?  Is there any DNA that shows a link?

John Q. Thomas (

Captain Edmund Gardner of Nantucket.  Captain Edmund
Gardner was the last of a long line of adventurous men from Nantucket
who for
more than a hundred years put their ships into many of the far parts of
globe in the dangerous search for whales. Few
other whalemen could have had more
exciting adventures than Edmund Gardner.

for posterity, he lived a long
life, within a month of ninety-one years, and as he was getting old he
took to
writing down in his Journal a story
of his adventures, his thoughts and his philosophy.  For
nearly a century this Journal was treasured by his
descendants.  It was published for a wider
audience in 1958.

Gardner described his roots in
Nantucket as follows:

“I was born and
brought up on the island of Nantucket.  Born
on the 8th of November 1784.  My parents
were Thomas and Anna Gardner.  My
ancestors were some of the first settlers of the island. My
great grandfather was the first male white
born on the island.  His name was John
Swain.  He married the daughter of Peter
Folger.  Her name was Experience Folger.  Thus it will be shown that my connections were
with the first settlers of the island.”

He first took to sea in the year of 1800 at the age of sixteen.   His Journal
described many encounters with whales and mishaps with his
ships.  The sinking of the Union
in 1807 was perhaps not as dramatic as the sinking of the Essex
in 1820 and the Ann Alexander in 1851, as these two
ships were sunk in battles with whales while the Union
merely collided with a whale in the night.  He almost died of his
injuries in Peru but fortunately was able to find the right doctor
there in time.

Archie Gardner and His Wooing in Canada.  Archie Gardner was a Scotsman who had come to Canada as a small boy, settling in the
in Warwick, Canada.  A determined lad, he
built his own grist mill in 1832 at the age of 18.
Seven years later he married Margaret
Livingston.  Of his romance Archie wrote:

“I went with two Irishmen to cut a
road through the woods of Brooke township, in which vicinity I later
built a
mill. We stayed all night with a Highland Scotsman and our bed was
spread out
on the floor in front of the fireplace. After we had retired for the
three girls passed through the room. I did not notice the first or the
but when the third girl came in, although I had never seen her before,
something spoke to my understanding: “That is your future wife.”
learned her name, Margaret Livingston, and had a five minute talk with
before she left for her work in Detroit.

I could not get her out of my mind,
I decided to take another little walk of one hundred and ten miles to
see her.
The weather was very cold, the snow, sixteen inches on the level. My
went only part-way and I broke the trail the entire distance.

arriving at
the city of her employment, I found her address. In the afternoon I was
permitted to see her at the gate. I tried to arrange a meeting that
evening but
she was not allowed to go out or see anyone. I was so provoked at this
that I
went home the next day without any further interview. I courted and
asked other
girls to marry me but circumstances seemed to upset my plans. Always my
reverted to Margaret.

my mill was well started, I went to Detroit to see
her. She came and on February 19, 1839 I married my little Highland

was a Mormon pioneer, one of those who embarked for Salt
Lake valley in 1847.  At the time of his
death in 1902 he left three wives, sixteen sons, and twelve daughters. 

The Gardners from Kent to New Zealand.  The Gardner family from Monks Horton in Kent made their way
to New Zealand over a period of seven years on six different ships,
with the
elderly parents forming the final link in the chain.

In 1876 one Gardner son,
together with two other members of the family, emigrated to New
Zealand. This
was probably George Gardner, a 26-year-old farm laborer, sailing on the
in December 1876. Two younger
brothers, John and Thomas who were both single farm laborers, followed
on the Rakaia
in July 1878.  When Alfred Simmons
recruited his party for the Stad Haarlem in 1878–9, two married
daughters with their husbands who were members of the family joined him.  Later in the year another married daughter
and her husband from Folkstone emigrated.

The patriarch of this family now had
six children in New Zealand, five of them situated within five minutes’
walk of
each other at Ashhurst.  Two single sons
offered him a home to spend his last days without hard work.  So he took up their offer, sailing with his
wife in September 1883 and landing in Wellington on the first day of

Only a few days later, on 6 January 1884, he was killed at
North when the horse he was driving bolted on being frightened by a
train and
he fell between horse and dray.


Gardner Names

  • Sir Robert Gardiner
    was an English-born judge who was a trusted political advisor to both Queen
    Elizabeth and James I and held the office of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland for eighteen years. 
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
    was an American writer best
    known for his Perry Mason detective stories. 
  • Ava Gardner was a well-known Hollywood actress
    of the 1940’s and 1950’s.

Select Gardner/Gardiner Numbers Today

  • 62,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 58,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 39,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Gardner and Like Surnames   These were status positions within the feudal position of that time – usually positions serving noble families, lords of the manor, or in the church.  Here are some of these status position surnames that you can check out.




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