Garrett Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Garrett Meaning
principal source of the Garrett surname in England and Ireland were the
Gerard and Gerald personal names that the Normans brought with them in
or after the invasion of England.  Gerard from the Germanic Gerhard was derived from the
Germanic element ger meaning
“spear” and hard meaning
“brave” or “hard.”
There were about 18 Gerards recorded in the Domesday Book of
1086.  Early surname spellings in England were Gerard, Gerrard,
and Garrard.  It was only around 1550-1600 that the Garrett
began to be preferred.
In Ireland, after the Anglo-Norman invasion, the
main name was FitzGerald.  Garrett was often a synonym for
FitzGerald, the name being mainly found in Ulster.  Garrett was
also a Manx name; and Garrett cropped up as well in the Stranraer
region of SW Scotland.
Select Garrett Resources on The Internet

Garrett Ancestry

England.  Earlier versions of
Garrett in England
were Gerard and Gerrard in the north and Garrard in the south.  The Gerrard spelling has remained the main
spelling in Lancashire.  Elsewhere,
including London, Garrett has generally displaced Gerard, Gerrard, and Garrard.

Lancashire.  The
Gerards, originally Fitzgerald, were from
Carew castle in Pembrokeshire and moved north, first to Cheshire, and
around 1340, to Lancashire where they were established for many
centuries at
Bryn near Chorley and became known as the Gerards of Bryn.

Thomas de Bryn spent much of his life
fighting the Scottish.  He was a hero for
the English at Flodden Field in 1513, but he was killed at the Battle
Berwick ten years later.  The Gerards
under Sir Gilbert Gerard grew rich during the reign of Elizabeth and
baronets under his son Sir Thomas.

in Ashton in
Makerfield there is a Thomas Gerrard School, a Gerard street, a Gerard
pub a
Gerard farmer, and a Gerard car dealer.

The Garrards of Sittingbourne in Kent have different
origins, from
earlier Attegare and de la Gare lines.
They blossomed in trade during Elizabethan times and were made
in the next century. The family spelling
started to change from Garrard to Garrett around the year 1600.

were also early Garrard lines in
Berkshire and Norfolk:

  • one
    Garrard line
    has been traced back in Berkshire to the 1450’s.  These
    Garrards were prominent in the village
    of Lambourn from 1530 to 1778.  William
    Garrard later owned a brewery in Reading.  
  • while
    Garrards in Norfolk have been more
    numerous.   Garrard records date back
    1550 in Diss.  The most well-known
    Garrards were the Garrards of Langford who prospered as merchants in
    London and
    were made baronets in 1662.  

the 18th century
landscape painter, is said to have had Dutch ancestry from Marcus
Gheeraerts, a painter
Queen Elizabeth.  

Garrard, Gerrard and
Garrett had become closer in sound by the 16th century and Garrett was
adopted as a spelling.  For instance, the
Protestant martyr was probably born Thomas Gerrard in Lincolnshire in
1498. But he was more frequently being described as Thomas Garrett by
the time of his martyrdom in London in 1540.

.  There were
Garretts also in the west country, stretching from Somerset to
Hampshire.  One Garrett family can be
traced to 1539 and
the parish records of Bradford

on the Dorset/Somerset border.  Some of
them moved to the nearby town of Yeovil, others emigrated to
Newfoundland in
the 19th century.  Garretts can be found
in the villages of Horningsham and Stourton in the 17th century.  And Garretts also cropped up in the Andover
area of Hampshire at that time.  

Ireland.  The Anglo-Norman
invasion under Strongbow
brought the powerful Fitzgerald family to Ireland and they remained a
force in
the land for centuries.  The descendant
in Kildare was called Earl Garrett Mor in the 16th century.  The Irish name for FitzGerald is MacGearailt.

itself has been predominantly an
Ulster name, found in Down and Antrim as well as in Dublin.  Garrett here can be an anglicization of the
Irish MacGearailt or McGarraty, particularly in the case of those who

can also be an
English implant.  Captain John Garrett,
descended from the Sittingbourne Garrards, was one of five brothers who
with Cromwell in Ireland.  His son John
established himself in 1700 at Kilgaran in county Carlow where his
lived until around 1870.  

Isle of Man
.  Garrett can be a Manx name.
Patrick Garrett was recorded at Andreas in
1727.  Another Patrick Garrett married
Eliner Cremilt in Lezayre parish in 1794.
Their son John emigrated to America in 1827 and made his home in
county in Ohio, joining other Manx settlers there.  

Scotland.  The Garrett name has also
cropped up in
Stranraer in SW Scotland.  The Rev. James
Garrett, a Presbyterian minister, was born at Inch near Stranraer in
1793.  He
emigrated to Tasmania in 1828.  James Garrett, born in 1811,
was a
well-known local fisherman who lived to be 103 years of age.

main point of entry for early Garretts was Virginia.
Some were reported there at the time of the
Jamestown settlement.  But the main lines
have come from a John Garrett who arrived in the 1630’s, after his
first wife had
died, as an indentured servant to his brother-in-law John Dunstan.  He then returned to England and married Lady
Mary Bible.

Garrett married Lady Mary Bible in 1632 when he was 37 years old.  According to Cathy Osborn’s publication Garrett Folklore & Fact, Lady Mary
Bible was of royal blood but was disinherited because she had married a

descendants in America
included children of both his first and second wives.  Later lines

  • from his
    son John, by his first wife Ann, who had come to Virginia in the 1660’s
    – one
    line from here went via North Carolina to Georgia in 1798 and then to
    county, Alabama in 1835 where John Garrett prospered as a farmer.  One of his sons was Pat Garrett, the famous
    lawman of the Old West who shot down Billy the Kid.
  • from
    his son William the
    Quaker, by his second wife Mary, who came to Chester county,
    Pennsylvania in
    the 1680’s – a descendant here was Thomas Garrett, the famous
    abolitionist and
    a leader of the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves.
  • and
    from Thomas,
    thought to be John’s brother, who also came to Pennsylvania, settling
    Brandywine Creek in Chester county – this line led to the Garrett snuff line in New Castle
    county, Delaware; it also led
    to John Garrett Jr. who headed west in 1804 and founded Garrettsville,

line in Virginia began with William Garrett of Essex county in
1752.  One of his descendants was Richard
Garrett who owned the farm where the John Wilkes Booth who assassinated
Lincoln hid out and where he was captured and shot in 1865.  This line was covered in H.L. Garrett’s 1962
book Garrett History.

Then there was the Virginia
line that began with Jacob Garrett, born there in 1730, and led first
Tennessee and then to Texas.  In the early
1830’s William Garrett was one of the first settlers on the Brazos
river.  His plantation home at San
Augustine, built
by slave labor, was completed in 1864.
It received a Texas historical marker in 1962.

Garretts from county Down
in Ireland began arriving in America in the 1790’s, settling mainly in
Pennsylvania.  Among them was a Scots
Irish family which included the seven year old Robert Garrett who later
up his own business in Baltimore.  His
son John W. Garrett rose to become the President of the Baltimore &
Railroad and a well-known business leader and philanthropist of his

Garrett was also from county Down.  He was
Catholic and departed Ireland at the time of the potato
famine.  He came to Cass county, Michigan
in 1859 and was part of the early Irish community there.

Australia.   Jonathan
Garrett arrived as a convict from
England and lived through the Castle Hill and Rum Rebellions between
1804 and
1808.  He was the focal point of the
Australian 1978 TV mini-series Against the Wind.

John and Sarah Garrett were bounty
immigrants from Liverpool who came to Sydney in 1840.
Their son Tom prospered as a newspaper
proprietor, their grandson Tom was one of Australia’s early cricketers
played in the first-ever Test Match in 1877.

Meanwhile William and John Garrett had come
from the Isle of Man to the Bendigo goldfields in the 1850’s and moved onto the
Kapunda copper mine in South Australia
They then tried their luck farming in the Flinders Ranges.  However, persistent drought in the 1880’s
them financially and many family members died, often at a young
age.  John
Garrett’s tombstone on the Willochra Plain still stands as a somber
reminder of
the harshness of the country into which they had blundered.


Garrett Miscellany

Gerards, Gerrards, Garrards, and Garrets in the UK.  The table below shows the numbers of Gerards,
Gerrards, Garrards and Garretts in the 1881 UK census.  As can be seen in the table, Gerard has mainly
given way to Gerrard which in turn has given way to Garrett.

Numbers (000’s) Gerard Gerrard Garrard Garrett Total
Lancashire    0.2    1.9    0.1    0.3    2.5
London    0.1    0.3    0.4    1.2    2.0
Elsewhere    0.2    1.6    0.7    5.3    7.8
Total    0.5    3.8    1.2    6.8   12.3

Gerrard has remained the spelling in Lancashire (only in
the port city of Liverpool did Garrett get a look-in).
The name is strongest on Merseyside.  Steve
Gerrard, the Liverpool and England
footballer, is a present-day Gerrard from there.

elsewhere Garrett has become the main spelling, even in London.  Garrard was the earlier spelling there. Garrards of London were the Crown Jewellers
to Queen Victoria and Sir David Garrard, born in north London, was a
property developer recently.  But by 1881
Garretts were outnumbering Garrards by three to one in the capital.

The Garrards of Sittingbourne.  The Garrards of Sittingbourne took their name from earlier de la Gares and Attegares in Kent.
Allured de la Gare was mentioned in 1150, Stephen de la Gare in
1273, and
Lucas atte Gare was documented around the year 1300.

Attegare, had issue, Sir Simon
Attegare of Buckland in Sittingbourne, who was the father of Stephen
Attegare, alias Garrard.  In the church
of Sittingbourne there is a monument of a knight of this family.  The Garrards were not yet in possession of the
lands in Sittingbourne, which were the lands of Simon Attegare.
So that it seems
that this Stephen was the first who departed from the name of Attegare
and assumed
the name of Garrard instead.

originally small landowners in Kent, prospered in London on trade with
promoting the first voyage there in 1553, and were granted a charter by
Elizabeth to develop further trade links.  Sir William Garrard aka
Garrett was
Lord Mayor of London in 1555, followed by his son Sir John in 1601, and
were later made the baronets of Lamer.

Reader Feedback:  The Garrards of Lamar were not Garretts.  I have traced their history and nowhere in all the hundreds of documents I have read does the name Garrett ever appear.  Bruce Plaice-Leary (

The Garretts of Bradford Abbas in Dorset.  One Garrett family originally came from Bradford Abbas, Dorset – a village on the Dorset/Somerset border. The Garretts were first mentioned in the parish records of
Abbas in 1539. The last male Garrett in Bradford Abbas passed away in
2006.  Quite a number of the Garretts
from Bradford Abbas moved to Yeovil in Somerset, only a few miles away.

Many of
the male Garretts from Bradford Abbas were skilled thatchers; while
worked as agricultural laborers. In the 19th century many of the women
Bradford Abbas worked as glovers (sewing leather gloves).

William Garrett left
Bradford Abbas for Newfoundland in the late 1820’s, marrying Diana
Denty in
Salvage. Many of his descendants moved to Port Blandford in the early
1900’s.  One branch moved to Everett,
Massachusetts in the 1920’s.

Mark Garrett, related to William, left Bradford
Abbas for Newfoundland in the 1850’s.
Mark raised his family in Bonavista Bay.
His son later moved to St. John’s.

Reader Feedback – Marcus Geeraerts and George Garrard.  Marcus Gheeraerts
was the Flemish painter who came to England during the reign of Queen
Elizabeth.  The Gheeraerts name did
become anglicized
into Garrard.  This may
well have happened in the reign of
James I.

There is another British born
artist/sculptor – Florence Violette Garrard, who appears to have used
the name
Violet Garrard.  She attended the Slade School and was a friend to
including Turner.  She is also a grand
niece of George Garrard.  Unfortunately I am having a difficult
finding any examples of her work on the internet, or any reference to

I finally discovered a possible source for your
claim for the family connection between the two men – Dictionary
of National Biography Volume 21
, published in
1890.  What is interesting is that although it states George’s
birth and death
no reference is made to his family, their connections, or any source
material at
all.   From family sources, I know considerably more but no
reference ever
made to the Gheeraert connection made in the DNB. This does, however,
interesting possibilities for continued genealogy research.

Valerie Tranfield (

James Garrett of Stranraer.  James Garrett claimed to be the oldest fisherman in
Scotland.  He was born at Innermessan, near Stranraer in 1811 and
in 1911
reached his 100th year.  His mother and father who were also
natives of the
district, were aged respectively 100 and 103 when they died.

was a
Lochryan fisherman all his life.  During
his career he had many exciting experiences.
Once, when fishing off the Ballantrae banks in a heavy sea, his
boat was
swamped and three of the crew were drowned.
But he and his son William who was also in the boat survived.

William Garrett continued the family
involvement in fishing after James’s death in 1914.

The Garrett Snuff Saga.  In 1749 John Garrett died and he bequeathed all the estates he held in New
county in Delaware, including some grist mills, to his son John.  After some time John the son found it
difficult to compete as a miller and decided to diversify.
In 1782 he established the first Garrett
snuff mill on Red Clay Creek, below his existing grist mill.  He later converted the grist mill to a paper

his death in 1804 he left the
snuff mill to his son Levi and the paper mill to another son Horatio.  Levi moved to Philadelphia and opened an
establishment to sell tobacco products at wholesale and retail prices,
the snuff that was produced at the mill.

snuff business boomed during the 19th
century and the Garretts grew rich.  Levi
Garrett died in 1833 and William Garrett became the principal
entrepreneur.  In 1857 William brought
his sons, Walter and William Jr, into the business and changed its name
to W.
E. Garrett and Sons.

neither of
their sons showed any interest in the business and in 1895, after 113
years in
the family, it was sold.  Eventually in
1930 the sole remaining Garrett of this line died without issue.  Cousins and second and third and fourth
cousins spent decades fighting over the estate.
It took twenty three years and by then most of the estate had
been eaten
up by lawyers’ fees.

C. A. Weslager’s 1965 book The Garrett Snuff Fortune has
told the story. 

Against The Wind.  Against the Wind was a 1978 TV mini-series dealing with Australia’s convict past.  It was a true story depicting Jonathan
Garrett, an Englishman who had been convicted and transported for
robbery, and Mary Mulvane, an 18 year old Irish girl who had been
for trying to rescue the family cow.

served out his sentence, obtained his ticket of leave, and set
himself up as a farmer on Castle Hill. He and
Mary lived through the Castle Hill convict rebellion of 1804,
with their Irish friend Dinny O’Byrne joining the rebels.
By the time of the Rum Rebellion four years
later, Jonathan and Mary were in Sydney running their own illicit still.  Jonathan was arrested for his failure to
attend a muster called by the officers.

the story ended happily.
Bligh was ousted and Macquarie arrived.
He freed Jonathan and asked to meet him.
Jonathan and Mary lived until 1855 and raised five children.



Garrett Names

  • Thomas Garrett was an American abolitionist
    and leader of the Underground Railroad movement before the Civil War.   
  • John W. Garrett was President of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) from 1858
    until his death in 1884, a position of much power and prestige at that time. 
  • Lesley Garrett is a well-known English soprano
    singer, broadcaster and media personality.  She is noted for being at home in both opera and crossover music

Select Garrett Numbers Today

  • 13,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 36,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 20,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Garrett and Like Surnames.

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.




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