Unwin Surname Genealogy

Unwin was an important figure in Anglo-Saxon legend in England in the
time before the Norman conquest. He appeared as a warrior
king, as in this later version of the Waldef

“At the time after Arthur there reigned
in Norfolk a certain king called Attalus. In Suffolk ruled Unwyn,
king of Thetford, who fought in single combat against Attalus.
But the two were reconciled without the intervention of a mediator.”

The name Unwine developed as a personal name and later as a surname.

There are two Old English words from which this name might have
derived. The first was the personal name Hunwin, from hun meaning “bearcub” and wine meaning “friend.” The
second was the Old English unwine,
meaning “unfriend” or
“enemy.” Both Hunwine and Unwine appeared in 13th century
renderings of the name.

Unwin Resources on

Unwin Ancestry

The 19th century surname distribution suggests two groupings of the
Unwin name – first in East Anglia stretching down to London and second
in the north, mainly in Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Derbyshire.

East Anglia. The
name seems to have originated in East Anglia.
Later sightings in that region

  • the Rev. Morley Unwin in Huntingdon in the 1760’s. His son
    William was a friend to the poet William Cowper. He was killed in
    a riding accident.
  • George Unwin who rented Baythorne Hall in Halstead, Essex in the
    late 19th century. He started a grain business there. The
    family still live at the hall.
  • and Unwin Seeds, the company first begun at Impington near Cambridge
    by William Unwin selling his sweet pea pod seeds. The firm
    celebrated its centenary in 2003 by publishing Colin Hambridge’s The
    Unwins Century.

Morley Unwin had come from an Unwin family long established at Castle Hedingham in Essex
where they
were clothiers. Thomas Unwin of this
family lived in some style at Black Notely Hall. His
sons were a clothier, a brewer, and Jacob
who went on to found the Gresham Press.

became a name in the London book publishing world. Jacob Unwin had started the
Gresham Press
in London in 1826. And Stanley Unwin of
this family founded the publishing house of Allen &
Unwin there in 1914. His son Rayner, who as a young boy had
the publication of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, followed him at
the helm.

in publishing predated Jacob Unwin.
Matthew Unwin was Birmingham’s first printer in the early 1700’s
another Matthew Unwin,
probably his
son, Leicester’s first printer and active in the book trade from 1727
to 1743.

Elsewhere. Then
there were the Unwins further north. Unwins in the
Ravenscliffe area of North Staffordshire date from late Elizabethan
times. Simon Unwyn was High Sheriff of Staffordshire in the
1670’s. Unwin was to be found in the parish records of Firbeck
and other
villages near Rotherham in the early 1700’s.

The Unwin name first appeared at Mansfield in Nottinghamshire in 1603
when William Unwin married there. Unwins were yeoman farmers in
Mansfield in the 1600’s. Samuel Unwin settled in Sutton in
Ashfield, marrying Elizabeth Fisher in 1735. He built a cotton
mill there, based on Arkwight’s revolutionary new design, in the

“The machinery of this factory was
originally propelled by oxen and horses, which, however, were soon
superseded by a large water-wheel when the concern was considerably
extended. Later, the supply of water being insufficient,
the works were put in motion by steam.”

Samuel died in 1774, as did his eldest son William. The mill
continued with his younger sons Samuel and Edward until Edward’s death
in 1841.

Unwin genealogy in England was covered in Philip Unwin’s 1937 book Unwiniana.

Unwin Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Unwin Names

Stanley Unwin was a
British publisher, founder of the Allen & Unwin publishing house in
Stanley Unwin, sometimes
billed as Professor Stanley Unwin, was a British comedian and comic
writer and the inventor of his own language “Unwinese.”

Select Unwins Today

  • 4,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 2,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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