Garner Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Garner Meaning
are French explanations, more than one, for the English surname
The name could have derived
from the French word gernier meaning
“granary” (and describe someone who was in charge of a grain
storehouse); or
from the personal name Garnier brought by the Normans; or be a
contraction of
the Gardiner surname.
Gardiner-to-Garner contraction 
might well
have accounted for many of these Garners, but may have occurred at a
date. Gardiner, derived from the
northern French word gardin, was an occupational name for
person responsible for cultivating the food from the garden. It was in
16th and 17th centuries that the Gardiner name started being shortened
Gardner and, in some cases, to Garner

Garner Resources on

Garner Ancestry

England. Some
early sightings of the Garner name were in East Anglia.
Geoffrey Gerner was recorded in Essex in

However, the later concentration of the name was to be found further
in a westward arc of the country – from Leicestershire in the Midlands
Staffordshire and Cheshire and then to Lancashire.
These four counties accounted for 45% of all
the Garners in the country in the

The Garner name was cropping up in the 18th
century in villages around the county – in Burbage near Hinckley, Hoby
Melton Mowbray, and Fleckney near Harborough.
Three prominent figures in Primitive Methodism – the Revs. John,
William, and James Garner – grew up in the early 1800’s in the village of East Leake
near Loughborough.

Garners of Lane End were a notable family in Stoke during the 18th and
centuries. A large tomb in the grounds
of the Church of St. Peter Ad Vincula commemorated members of the
family who
died in 1789 and 1837. Robert Garner and
his son Robert had been prominent potters in nearby Longton.

Garners, according to the writer Alan
, have been living at
Alderley Edge near Macclesfield since the late 16th century. They were stonemasons and blacksmiths. Their local knowledge fed Alan Garner’s
imagination and he created a fantasy world of the area in his

Lancashire. Garners
have been more numerous in Lancashire but
less conspicuous. The name was to be
found in the early/mid 1700’s in Northenden and Timperley, now suburbs

America. John Garner is thought to have arrived in
Virginia as a young lad from Shrewsbury in England possibly around 1650. He married Susanna Keene in 1660 and they
settled in the Northern Neck of Virginia in Westmoreland county where
John was
a tobacco planter. His line was covered
in the 1972 book The Garner-Keene
Families of Northern Neck
by Ruth Ritchie and Sudie Rucker Wood.

One line
through a grandson John Garner, also a tobacco farmer, led in the
1760’s to the
Garners of Moore and Randolph county, North Carolina.
Garner House
in Moore county, still standing, was built by
either John or
his son Lewis.

However, the main line remained in Virginia until after the
Revolutionary War. Afterwards there was
a scattering, some heading west to Tennessee and Texas and others south
to the
Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama.

One Gardiner line that had come to Maryland
became Garner in the early 1700’s. From
John Garner, a planter in Charles county, came Captain Hezekiah Garner
fought in the Second Seminole War and died in Florida of yellow fever
in 1841.

Texas. Sam
Houston had made the move from Tennessee
to Texas and so did Garners. There were
Garners involved in the battle of Texas independence.
John Garner helped Deaf Smith blow up the
bridge at the Battle of San Jacinto in 1836.

The Garner family from Rutherford, Tennessee came to Texas in 1851.

1851 John Nance Garner was just six when he made the long 700-mile trip
his widowed mother and two brothers and three sisters to Blossom
Prairie, Texas
in a covered wagon.”

John subsequently
fought as a cavalryman on the Confederate side in the Civil War. His son John
Nance Garner
, born in 1868, became the US Vice President under
Roosevelt in
1933. This story was recounted in Bascom
Timmons’ 1948 book Garner of Texas.

German. German
names such as Gartner and Baumgartner could become Garner in America.

Gartner from Luxemburg came with his family to North Carolina in the
becoming Henry Garner there. His
grandson David, born in 1768, lived to be 104.
He and his wife Jane followed their sons to Illinois in the
1830’s where
they encountered the Mormons and joined the Mormon Brigade. They departed for Iowa rather than Utah,
however, and were among the first settlers of Pottawattamie
county where Garner township was named in their honor.

Peter Baumgartner, probably
from the Rhine Palatinate, came as Bumgarner, also in the 1740’s, and
in North Carolina as well. The line from
Woodford Bumgarner, three generations later, went first to Georgia and
then to
Arkansas and Oklahoma. It was only in
the 1950’s that Bumgarner became Garner – in the case of those
well-known brother
actors Jack and James Garner.

Australia and New Zealand.
John Garner from Thetford in Norfolk departed
London for Wellington on the Oriental
in 1840 and settled in Wanganui a year later.
He was one of the earliest Europeans in the area and has been
called the father of Wanganui.

Two later Garner
immigrant arrivals to Australia were:

  • James Garner and
    his family from London
    who came in 1856 and settled in Sydney.
  • and Hezekiah Garner
    and his family from
    Yorkshire who arrived on the Alfred a
    year later.


Garner Miscellany

Garner as a Contraction of Gardiner or Gardner.  Charles Bardsley in his 1896 book A
Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames
gave the following
of Gardiner or Gardner to Garner spellings:

In Lancashire wills (in
present-day Cumbria)

Christopher Garner at Urswick, 1575
Christopher Gardiner
or Garner at Richmond, 1584
John Gardiner or Garner at Aldingham, 1584.

In Ulverston church records (in present-day Cumbria)
Elizabeth, daughter of
Mathew Gardner, baptized in 1706
Margaret, daughter of Matthew Garner, baptized
in 1709.

The Garner Memorial in East Leake, Leicestershire.  Three Garner brothers – John, William and James Garner – were Primitive Methodist
in the Loughborough circuit of Leicestershire.
After their deaths and that of their mother Elizabeth the
memorial was erected in East Leake, the Leicestershire village in which
grew up.

loving memory of Elizabeth Garner, fifty years a member of the
Wesleyan Methodist Society, who departed this life on December 25th,
1857 in
the eighty-seventh year of her age and the forty-first of her widowhood.

three of her sons, the Revs. John, William, and James Garner,
Presidents of the
Primitive Methodist Conference.
These all having served their generation fell asleep in sure and
hope of a glorious resurrection.” 

Alan Garner’s Mystic Cheshire Landscape.  Alan Garner is a
writer who has sought the fantastical within the ordinary, finding
magic and
menace in the local landscapes and folklore of the Cheshire
plains.  Having
embedded himself in Alderley Edge, a village near Macclesfield in
eastern Cheshire, Garner has
come to embody the spirit of place with his unmatched knowledge of the
folklore, archaeology and history.

His father’s family had been craftsmen there and
lived in the same house in the Hough area of Alderley Edge without a
break of
tenancy for centuries.   He
can in fact date his family’s links to Alderley
at least to the late 16th century.

He has said that it was his great great grandfather
Robert Garner, a stonemason in the early 1800’s, who created the
Druid’s Circle
folly and the Wizhard’s Well wizard carving.
His grandfather would tell him stories of the legends in the
area and
these fed his fertile imagination.

Alan’s first novel The
Weirdstone of Brisingamen,
in 1960,
was a fantasy tale based
on a local legend of sleeping knights
ready to awake to save the world.
Alderley Edge was the main setting for this and for others of
award-winning books.

Garners in the 1881 Census

County Numbers (000’s) Percent
Western Arc
Lancashire    1.8    19
Cheshire    1.1    12
Staffordshire    0.5     6
Leicestershire    0.7     8
Sub-Total    4.1    45
Rest of
Yorkshire    0.7     8
London    0.9     9
Elsewhere    3.7    38
Total    9.4 100

The Garner House in Moore County, North Carolina.  Moore county stands in central North Carolina and John Garner bought the land there where
the Garner House now stands in 1764.  His
son Lewis was born on the property.
Family members believe that it was Lewis who built the house in
early 1800’s, although it is possible that it was built by his father

and Lewis were tobacco planters and probably the wealthiest men in
the district.  John was listed as a
planter in 1780 owning 580 acres and twenty slaves.

The house is unaltered and
intact today and is one of the finest examples of the typical rural
homes of
early Moore county that remains today.
It is distinguished by wide heart-pine paneling with fine
moldings at the windows and doors.  The
original hand-forged hinges and posts are still there.

walls of the three
rooms on the ground floor are of unpainted, hand-planed pine boards
which glow
with the original patina.  The interior
doors have early cast hinges in contrast to the forged hardware on the
doors.  A corner stairway with winders
leads to the second floor, which features exposed log construction and
fireplace with hand-made brick.

first floor features the original pegged
mantels with early blue paint.  Much of
the furniture is original to the house, including the two painted
cupboards and
the scrub-top table.  The painted sash is
also original and some of the original glass remains on the front of

John Nance Garner.  John Nance Garner succeeded Sam Houston as Texas’ most colorful politician.

acquired the
nickname of Cactus Jack as a state representative when he championed
the prickly
pear blossom over the bluebonnet for state flower.
his run for county judge in 1893, one of
his most vocal opponents was a young lady named Mariette Rheiner.  He won the race – and her hand – and she
worked as his secretary for the next fifty-three years.

1932 he ran for
president and easily won the Texas and California primaries.  For shifting his support to Franklin D.
Roosevelt, he was rewarded with the vice-presidential slot.  However, he and Roosevelt split angrily over
New Deal policies and in 1940, after a futile run against two-termer
FDR, he
retired back to Texas.

most widely reported wisecrack was that the vice presidency “isn’t
worth a
pitcher of warm spit.”  In fact the exact
phrase he used was “a pitcher of warm piss,” and he complained that
pantywaist writers wouldn’t print it the way I said it.”

suffering from tuberculosis as a youth,
he smoked cigars all his life and lived to be ninety-eight. He also
whiskey, averring, “I’m living a good Christian life. I don’t get drunk
once a day.

John Garner, Father of Wanganui.  John Garner has been called the father of Wanganui, it being generally
that he was one of the first Europeans to set foot there.

was at
that time in the employ of the New Zealand Company, but his trade was
that of a
butcher.  For many years John Garner and
his two stalwart sons carried on the butchering business in Wanganui,
their own slaughtering and supplying the British Government for the
stationed here.

served as a local judge and contested the election in 1866
(although he came third out of three in the result).

was remembered in later
life as follows:

John Garner was well and favorably known by everyone in
the place, from the Colonel commanding down to the small boys and girls
of the
town.  His cheery laugh, and sunny, happy disposition made him a
favorite with
all.  He lived to a green old age, eighty I think, and lies at
rest in the
Wanganui cemetery where many more of the old identities are buried.”

was one tragedy in
his later life.  In January 1869 his
grandson Tyrrell, aged nine, went with other boys to bathe in the
river.  Two days later his body was
discovered.  It was taken to the Steam Packet Hotel where an
inquest was held.  The jury returned a
verdict of “accidentally


Garner Names

  • Margaret Garner was an enslaved African
    American woman in pre-Civil War America who was notorious – or celebrated – for killing her own daughter rather than allowing the child to be returned to slavery. 
  • John Nance Garner was the US Vice President from 1933 to 1941. 
  • Erroll Garner was an American
    jazz pianist and composer known for his swing playing and
  • James Garner, born James Bumgarner, became well-known as an American TV and film actor during the 1950’s and 1960’s. 
  • Alan Garner has been a popular English writer of fantasy fiction, based on the legends and stories in his native Cheshire. 
  • Joel Garner was a fast bowler in the highly regarded West Indies cricket teams of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Select Garner Numbers Today

  • 19,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 27,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)





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