Palin Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Palin Meaning
most likely origin is Welsh, from the patronymic ap Heilwyn (son of Heilwyn), where
Heilwyn is a personal name originally meaning “wine bearer.” A
Goronwyn ap Heilyn was ambassador to King Llewellyn in the late 13th
This ap Heilwyn would later
contract to “Palin” across the border in England. The name was
mainly to be found in the English border counties (while
the possibly related “Paling” occurred in the East Midlands). Llewellyn
ap Heilyn who had fought and won with Henry Tudor at Bosworth
Field might have established a well-known Palin name in England.
However, this family became Meyricks instead after his son Meyrick ap
Palin is also a Finnish
surname. Saija Palin, for instance, was a former Miss
Finland. And Palin Granit is a well-regarded
Finnish public
company. A Palin whose name was shortened from Palinski suggests
another country origin.

Resources on

Palin Ancestry

The Palin surname didn’t stick in Wales – but it did in the English
border counties, most notably in Cheshire.

Cheshire. One
family traces
their Palins back to the Cheshire village of Aldford
in the
1620’s. William Palin of this family was a dairy farmer at
Stapleford Hall near Chester in the early 19th century. Another William Palin from
Aldford was appointed Chief Constable of Manchester in 1857.

John Palin, born in
Malpas, fought in the Crimean War and then in the American Civil War. He survived and returned to tell the
tale. William Palin was a clockmaker in
Nantwich in the early 1800’s. The Palin
name was also to be found in nearby villages such as Wybonbury, Monks
Coppenhall, and Warmingham

As the 19th century
proceeded, many Palins moved north into Liverpool and
industrial Lancashire. Cheshire Palins
also crossed over to neighboring Staffordshire – with the engraver
Palin at Hanley and with his son William Mainwaring Palin

who was a noted figure painter of the late 19th century. A
descendant was
the Air Chief Marshal, Sir Roger Palin

London. The
roots of the TV comedian and writer Michael Palin were in London. His great grandfather Edward Palin was born there in 1826, the son of an
storehouse clerk. Edward became the
vicar of Lindon in Herefordshire in 1865.
A highly intelligent man, he was the subject of Allan Ricketts’
booklet The Palin Assignment.

There was another Edward Palin from London,
born around the same time, who was the son of Charles Vyse Palin, a
straw hat
maker in Holborn. He too became a straw
hat maker, based in St. Albans. His home
there was Verulam House.

America and Canada.
Several Palins crossed the

  • Henry Palin,
    a Quaker, came to
    Newbegun Creek in 1663 and was one of the earliest settlers in the
    Carolinas. His descendants established themselves along the
    river in North Carolina for the next 200 years.
  • another
    Palin family was said to have had Indian blood in them
    their sojourn in New York state. They
    migrated first to Nebraska and then to Montana.
  • Richard
    came to
    Canada in 1866 and settled in Barrie, Ontario.

The Palin line in Alaska (Sarah Palin and her
husband Todd) started with a Richard Palin from Lancashire who arrived
in Canada in the 1890’s and whose son later moved to the US West Coast.

More Palin immigrants to America in the 19th century came from
than they did from England.


Select Palin Miscellany

Early Palins in Aldford, Cheshire.  The village
of Aldford, a few miles south of Chester, recorded the following Palins in the 17th century.

Name Birth Death
Thomas Palin   1620   1681
John Palin   1655   1708
Thomas Palin   1681   1726
John Palin   1685   1717
Edward Palin   1687   1742

the first in this line, married three times and was said to have had
children.  John Palin appeared as a
tanner in the 1711 Chester rolls.  A
later Thomas Palin of this family, born in 1714, had his portrait
painted by
Sir Joshua Reynolds in the 1750’s.  It is
still held by a descendant in Australia.

Edward Palin and Brita Gallagher.  Edward Palin was the great grandfather of Michael
Palin, the comedian of Monty Python fame.
Edward, born in 1826, studied at Oxford and by the 1860’s had
become a
don at St. John’s College.

In 1861 he was travelling in Switzerland and met by
chance at a hotel a young Irish lady named Brita Gallagher some
seventeen years
his junior.  She had lost her parents
during the potato famine, been sent to Canada on one of the infamous
ships,” and was brought up there by a rich spinster who then sent her
back to
Europe to receive an education.

the age gap, Edward and Brita were attracted to each other, but nothing
came of
things.  Edward wistfully pondered in his
diary “what might have been.”  However,
they kept in touch and got married in Paris in 1867 when she attained
the legal
age of 21.

Their problems were not over,
though.  A strict celibacy rule applied
to all senior fellows at St. John’s and Edward was forced to give up his
position there.  But he did manage to
secure a living as the vicar of Linton in Herefordshire.
The couple lived in some degree of comfort,
bringing up their seven children with the help of a large domestic staff.

William Mainwaring Palin.  William Mainwaring
Palin was the son of the engraver William Palin and was born in 1862 in
Staffordshire.  He served an
apprenticeship at Wedgewoods and later was able to study abroad in
Italy and
France.  He began to exhibit at the Royal
Academy in 1892 and continued to do so until 1915, establishing a
reputation as
a genre and mural painter.   He
specialized in cupid subjects, fruit and flowers, fishes, birds and

He painted McEwan Hall
at the University of Edinburgh.  On the dome there are figures of
the Arts
and Sciences. Over the proscenium arch
to the apse there is a huge allegorical scheme on the theme of Temple
of fame
with enthroned goddesses of Science, Art and Literature.
On the right of the arch is Minerva receiving
the McEwan Hall and on the left Fame crowning Success. There are also
of Perseverance, Intelligence, Imagination and Experience.

He was twice married.  There
were two children of the second
marriage, a son and a daughter.

The Palins in Pasquotank, North Carolina.  The first
of this line was Henry Palin Sr, a Quaker, who arrived in Virginia
sometime in
the 1650’s and in 1663 patented 450 acres of land along Newbegun Creek.  He was at that time one of the first settlers
in the new Carolina colony.  His land
later became part of Pasquotank county, North Carolina.
Henry died there in 1679.

There were a number of Quaker settlements in
the new colony and Quakers did not suffer discrimination there.  John Archdale, a Quaker, was its Governor in
1695 and John Palin, one of Henry’s sons, was appointed the Chief
Justice of
North Carolina in 1731, a post he was to hold until his death six years

Henry had two other sons, Thomas and
Henry.  Thomas, who married twice, lived
onto 1733.  Henry died at a much younger
age in 1699.  Known as Harry by his
friends, Henry fell out of favor with the Quaker community in 1696 when
he was accused
of being a “procurer” in his sister Mary’s cohabitation.

Mary Clark was the sweetheart of
Henderson Walker and was living at Walker’s house in Chowan precinct.”

Mary did marry again much later in 1709 to
Joseph Glaister, this time with Quaker blessing.  Henry
apparently married an Indian girl named

Palins in America by Country of Origin

Country Numbers Percent
Scandinavia   45   58
Germany   18   23
England   11   14
Elsewhere    4    5
Total   78  100

Palin Granit in Finland.  The story of the Finnish company Palin Granit began
in 1921 when travelling stonemason Antti Palin built a base for
his stoneworking. At first the unhewn stone was transported to the small town of Loimaa in western Finland by rail and then driven by
carriages to the stonework site.  The
stones were loaded and unloaded by hand and Antti Palin crafted these
into gravestones. 

The second generation
initiated quarry
operations and the business expanded greatly over the years while


Select Palin Names

  • William M. Palin was a noted English figure painter of the late 19th century.
  • Michael Palin was a comic actor in the Monty
    TV series and more recently has made a name for himself with his travel documentaries.
  • Sarah Palin, former Governor of Alaska, was the US Republican Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008.

Select Palin Numbers Today

  • 3,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Cheshire)
  • 1,000 in America (most numerous
    in Florida).
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).




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