Pettigrew Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Pettigrew Meaning
Pettigrew comes from the French petit cru, meaning “small growth,” and was probably in this case a nickname for a small or short man. However, there is an alternative derivation for the name, that it is derived from pie de grue, meaning “crane’s foot” (i.e. one with long legs).  The name was brought first by the Normans to England and Scotland and later by French Huguenots to Ireland.
Select Pettigrew Resources on The Internet

Pettigrew Ancestry

Early sightings of the name in England were in Cornwall. There
were records of a Pettigrew manor at Gerrans in Cornwall in the
Alice Pettigrew was born in Helston, Cornwall around 1257 and married
William Godolphin there in 1276. The Pettigrew name appeared
frequently in Cornish parish records in the 16th and 17th centuries,
but was less common later. Most Pettigrews in the 1891 census in
England in fact probably
originated from Scotland.

. Exactly who brought the Pettigrew name to
Scotland and when is not known. Some think that a Pettigrew
family may have arrived with or at the same time as the
. A Thomas Petykreu of Lanarkshire appeared
in the
Ragman’s Roll of 1296. From that time onwards the Pettigrew name
was to be found in the Old Monklands area of Lanarkshire where
Coatbridge and Airdrie now stand. The name later extended into
Glasgow and parts of Ayrshire.

Blantyre parish near Hamilton in NW Lanarkshire listed many
Pettigrews. One Pettigrew family traces their history back to
Alexander Pettigrew, a shoemaker of the parish in the late
1600’s. Pettigrews were also living nearby at Dyesholm
in the 19th century.

From the Glasgow cleric Pettigrew – who appeared in Walter Scott’s Rob Roy – is said to have descended
the naval surgeon
William Pettigrew. He settled in London and his son Thomas was
an early expert on Egyptian mummies.

James Bell Pettigrew, born near Airdrie, was a distinguished
19th century academic who was a pioneer in the theory of flight well
before the time of Wilbur Wright.
One line of these Pettigrews were mining engineers who moved to
Ireland and then to Chile in the early 1900’s. Stanley Pettigrew
returned to Ireland in 1930 and became a well-known painter there.

Ireland. The Pettigrews in Ireland may be either of
Scottish or of French Huguenot origin. Both settled n the
northern counties of Ulster.

Scottish. One of
the main planters who brought Scottish settlers to county Down
in Ireland in the early 1600’s was James Hamilton of Ayrshire. He
acquired land at Killyleagh where several families of Pettigrews later
settled. Gavin Pettigrew and Rachel McCormick were married there
in 1706 and had thirteen children between 1707 and 1732.

were also Pettigrews in Cumber parish, a few miles south of Belfast,
from Daniel Pettigrew in the early 1600’s. The spelling in county
Down was sometimes Petticrew or Pettycrew.

Huguenot. The
Huguenot Pettigrews in Ireland were originally
Petigrus. Fleeing religious persecution in France, it is
thought that they had first come to Scotland. James
Pettigrew – as he then styled himself – was an
officer who fought for William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in
In recompense he was granted land
in county Tyrone where he built his family home, the Crilly House. This large
stone and slate house was to stay with successive generations of
Pettigrews until 1945.

America. This Huguenot trail
moved to America when James Pettigrew and his wife
Mary left their home in
Tyrone for America in 1745, staying first in Pennsylvania and then
moving south to the Abbeville district of South Carolina. One of his sons William penned a family history around the
year 1800.

Another son James adopted the old Huguenot spelling of Petigru and was
leading lawyer of his time. It was said that by changing the
spelling of his name James Petigru enjoyed much
greater upward mobility in
Charleston society.

Another son Charles settled in Tyrrell county, North Carolina.

“Of all the zealous clergymen in the
Church of England in North Carolina at the time of the Revolution, none
ranked higher than the Rev. Charles Pettigrew. He built
Pettigrew’s Chapel at his own expense and for many years ministered
there, as well as at Edenton and elsewhere throughout the province.”

Charles’s family became prominent Tidewater planters and
politicians. Son William expanded the family holdings. His
homestead and lands are now the Pettigrew State Park in North
Carolina. Another son James Johnston was a well-known local
figure and a Confederate general during the Civil War (his life was
described in Clyde Wilson’s 2002 book Carolina

However, the family fortunes declined
after the defeat in the
Civil War. One branch of this family moved to Fayetteville,
where James Pettigrew was a prominent lawyer and
newspaperman before and after the Civil War.

The Pettigrew Family Papers
that came out in four volumes in 1971 cover this family history.

William Pettigrew from Ayr in Scotland came out
to Australia on the Fortitude in
1849, settling in Queensland. He built
Brisbane’s first steam-power sawmill in 1853 and was active in the
industry there throughout his life. He
was mayor of Brisbane in 1870. His
diaries and papers provide some interesting material on colonial
Queensland at
that time


Pettigrew Miscellany

Reader Feedback – Pettigrew, An Alternative Derivation.  There is an alternative derivation for the name Pettigrew, that it is derived from pie de grue, meaning “crane’s
foot” (i.e. one with long legs).  It
may not look like Pettigrew at first – until you hear it
pronounced.  Then
it’s a dead ringer.

This alternative theory doesn’t require one to
explain why the “it” was inverted to “ti”, and it explains
why many early versions of the name were spelled with a “d.”

It would be great if you guys at least put the
alternative theory on your page.  If
Pettigrew truly means small growth, then so be it.   But if it doesn’t, it’s a
little bit
of humiliating etymology.

David B. Pettigrew (

The Pettigrews and the Hamiltons.  Pettigrews
have often been linked to or named in conjunction with the Hamiltons,
Anglo-Norman family who became major landowners in Lanarkshire.  Perhaps a Pettigrew ancestor arrived in
Lanarkshire from England as a follower of the Hamiltons.
There certainly was a connection in
subsequent centuries.

  • Thomas
    Pettigrew, the
    senior Scottish herald, married Katherine Hamilton, who was the sister
    Patrick Hamilton, the first Scottish Protestant martyr (burnt at the
    stake in
    St. Andrews in 1528). Katherine and Patrick were niece and nephew of
    the Earl
    of Arran and great grandchildren of King James II.
  • One
    of the main ‘planters’ who brought
    Scottish settlers across to county. Down in the early 1600’s was a
    Hamilton from Ayrshire.  He acquired land
    at Killyleagh where Pettigrew families were to settle.
  • In 1655 Thomas Pettigrew was recorded in the
    Register of the Great Seal in 1655 as a portioner (i.e. small
    landowner) in
    Shettleston on land owned by James Hamilton of Torrens.

The Pettigrews of Dyesholm and Malcolmwood.  William
Pettigrew, aged 33, left his cottage at Dyesholm one morning in January 1800 to marry
Jane Pollock, aged just 17.  It was a
later William Pettigrew, his grandson, who moved his family up the hill
from Dyesholm in
1860 to the family farm at Malcolmwood above the Calder river.  He
had married
Betsie Imrie on Christmas Eve 1858 at Auchterarder in Perthshire where
she had
been born out of wedlock.  Their marriage
was to produce seven sons and five daughters.

1865 Jane Pettigrew wrote a poem about the beauty of this area which
began as

“Sweet Dyesholm, sweet Dyesholm,
Thy lowery haunts I love to roam,
Thy woods, thy glens, thy mossy dell
Sweet Dyesholm I love thee well.”

only one of William’s sons,
John, stayed at home.  William departed for
America, Robert and Andrew for Australia, and Alex, Jimmy and Dick for
New Zealand.

Petticrews and Pettycrews in Ireland.  The following
Pettycrews were recorded in Ireland in the mid-18th century:

Hugh Pettycrew Belfast 1742 Belfast merchant who died that
John Pettycrew Co. Down 1760’s innkeeper in Ballynahinch
John Pettycrew Belfast 1765 Belfast linen draper who died
that year
Richard Pettycrew Co. Down 1770 horse breeder in Ballyallely
Robert Pettycrew Co. Down 1773 flax mill owner in Gransha
James Pettycrew Co. Down 1779 breeched maker in Drumalig,
accused of murder

Joseph Petticrew
was a tenant on land near Lisburn in county Down in the late 18th
century.  He died in 1806.
His eldest son Joseph emigrated to America in

Petticrew family were
long-term farmers in Boardmills, county Down.
Their first may have been Robert Petticrew, born in 1777,
Elizabeth Wilson in 1803, and died in 1849.
Joan Petticrew of this family has been its historian.

Petticrews have been optometrists in Belfast
since 1887, one of the longest-established family practices in the UK.

James Pettigrew and the Indians.  In 1773
James Pettigrew bought a farm in what was known as the flat section of
Abbeville district on the Little river in South Carolina.
But an outbreak among the Cherokee Indians three
years later forced all those who had settled there to abandon their
and seek safety in the Huguenot fort of James Noble.

At that time James Pettigrew had become very
religious and this may have saved him and his family from Indian attack.  He was so strict in his observance of the
Sabbath that he allowed no cooking to be done on that day.
One Sunday his family averted being massacred
along with all the other inhabitants of the village. The
story goes that the Indians, upon seeing
no smoke coming from his chimney, presumed the home to be unoccupied.

William Pettigrew’s Family History.  William Pettigrew, the son of James
Pettigrew in South Carolina, gave the following account of his family
around the year 1800.

“As you wish to know something of the
origin of your family I will give you as good an account as I

My great
grandfather left France for the sake of his religion in the time of
King Louis
XIV and was an officer in Cromwell’s Army.
He had two sons, John and James.

As to John, we have very little account
given of him.  James married Martha
Moore, a Scottish lady.  He settled in
Ireland and was an officer in King William’s army at the Battle of the Boyne in
1690.  After the peace he was given a tract
of land
of 300 acres in county Tyrone
what was called the Blackwater where he lived and died.
He had seven sons and two daughters.

James, my
father, had a classical education, but never went to college.  In his 18th or 19th year he married Mary
Cochran, the daughter of Captain George Cochran who lived at a place
called the
Grange.  After having four children, he left all of
his friends
and came to America in November 1741.  He
landed at New Castle.

My father became acquainted with Dr. Franklin who wished
him to study physic which he declined.
He got a tract of 300 acres on March Creek in Pennsylvania where
lived until it was broken up by the war in 1755.  Shortly after
defeat he sold his land
for 80
pounds and removed into Virginia and Lunenburg Old Court House, renting
land.  There I was
born in

After staying there three or four years we removed to
Granville county in
North Carolina where he bought 300 acres of land.  Then,
hearing a good account of Long Cane, my
father sold out and set out in October 1768 for South Carolina where we
landed after some
three weeks traveling.”

James Pettigru’s Epitaph.   The tombstone of James
Louis Petigru bore an epitaph so impressive that it was said that
Woodrow Wilson, attending the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, requested
the epitaph be sent to him.  The simple
marble headstone had the following words:

at Abbeville, May 10, 1789,
died at Charleston, March 9th, 1863.
Jurist, orator, statesman, patriot.

times will hardly know how great a life this simple stone
commemorates.  The tradition of his
eloquence, his wisdom and his wit may fade; but he lived
for ends more durable than fame.  His
eloquence was the protection of the poor and wronged.
His learning illuminated the principles of law.

the admiration of his peers, in the
respect of his people, in the affection of his family, his was the
place.  The just mead of his kindness and
forbearance, his dignity and simplicity, his brilliant genius and his

by opinion, unseduced
by flattery, undismayed by disaster, he confronted life with antique
and death with Christian hope.

In the
great Civil War he withstood his people for his country.
But his people did homage to the man who held
his conscience higher than their praise.
And his country heaped her honors on the living, his own
righteous self
respect sufficed alike for motive and reward.

Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail or knock
the breast, nothing
but well and fair, and what may quiet us in a life so noble.”

The Pettigrews of Fayetteville, Arkansas.  George
came from North Carolina, by way of Georgia, Kentucky, and Missouri, to
Arkansas in 1825 where he settled with his wife Sarah just outside
Fayetteville.  He got active in politics
was elected to the Arkansas Legislature in 1840.  He
found there a friend and ally in the
lawyer William Reagan who was to be a mentor for his son James.

James Pettigrew studied law under Reagan and
became his law partner.  He also married
Reagan’s eldest daughter Allie and began to dabble in politics.  In 1859 he was the sheriff for Washington
county and he started a pro-Confederate newspaper The
with the politician Elias Boudinot.

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1861
Pettigrew enlisted in Company K of the Confederate army and ended the
war as
Colonel.  Arkansas saw much of the
fighting during the war, including the Battle of Prairie Grove
in 1862.  Allie wrote regularly to her
husband during the war years.  Her
letters, which have been preserved, talked about the lack of food and
on the home front, the burning of homes, and Federal foraging.

When the war was over Pettigrew and Reagan returned
to their Fayetteville law practice.  His
wife Allie died of smallpox in 1871.  He
survived, married another of Reagan’s daughters, and was elected mayor
Fayetteville.  In 1875 he started another
newspaper in Fayetteville, The Arkansas

Pettigrew died in a hotel in Waco, Texas in 1886.  A
coroner’s inquest listed the cause of death
as alcohol poisoning, although obituaries in the local papers reported
that he
died of a fever.  His body was shipped
back to Fayetteville to be buried in Evergreen cemetery.


Petigrew Names

  • Thomas Pettigrew was a London-based antiquarian who became an expert in Egyptian mummies in the early 19th century.
  • J. Johnston Pettigrew was a Confederate general killed soon after the Battle of Gettysberg.

Select Pettigrew Numbers Today

  • 2,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lanarkshire)
  • 2,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)


Select Pettigrew and Like Surnames.  These are Huguenot names, names sometimes anglicized brought by Protestant refugees from France in the 17th century to England and America. Here are some of the Huguenot originating surnames that you can check out here.




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