Vincent Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Vincent Surname Meaning
Vincent originates from the Latin Vincentius, a personal name from vincere, meaning “to conquer.” It owed its popularity in medieval Europe due to the veneration in which a 3rd century Spanish martyr, St. Vincent, was held.  The name became Vicente in Spain and Vincent in France and England. Sometimes Vincent became Vinson in America after losing its “t.”

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Vincent and Vinson Surname Ancestry

Vincents number about 50,000 in France today. They cut a broad swathe through the center of the country, from the Atlantic coast to the Alps. French emigration has accounted for the Vincents to be found in Quebec and in Louisiana (following the emigration of the Acadians there in the late 18th century). There were also French Huguenot Vincents who came to America.

England. The Vincent name first began to appear in England in the early part of the 13th century. William Vincent was recorded in the Cartulary of Oseney Abbey in Oxfordshire in 1230.

SW England.  Vincent appears, however, to have been very much a west country name.

Henry Vincent of Cornwall was a Royalist supporter during the Civil War, his son Walter a lawyer and MP for Truro during the Restoration (a Nicholas Vincent is a judge in Truro today). A Vincent family history started with the marriage of Richard Vincent and Ann Justens in Sherborne, Dorset in 1667. A number of Vincents were rounded up in the west country after Monmouth’s Rebellion in 1685 (including one of the ringleaders, Captain John Vincent).

SE England  The Vincent name was also to be found in the southeast of England and there were outposts in East Anglia.

In 1557 Thomas Vincent had married into a gentry family at Stoke d’Abernon near Leatherhead in Surrey. These Vincents became baronets in 1620. Sir Edgar Vincent, the 16th baronet, was a British diplomat in the Balkans in the late 1800’s.

Phil Vincent, born in London in 1908, was the founder of Vincent Motorcycles which produced the famous Black Shadow and Black Lightning motorbike marques.

Ireland. A Vincent family from Suffolk came to Limerick around 1690 and settled at Summerhill, their residence outside Limerick town on the banks of the Shannon. Many were mayors of Limerick over the next hundred years and many enlisted in the British army (the best known being General John Vincent who fought in the War of 1812).

Canada.  Vincents in Canada date from 1654 when Pierre Vincent arrived in Acadie (now Nova Scotia) from France. However, these French Acadians were dispersed a hundred years later when the English took over the colony. Pierre’s descendant Joseph was taken as a prisoner of war to England where he died. But his son Pierre Vincent made it to the new Acadian colony in Louisiana in 1785. Vincents have remained in Canada, mainly in French-speaking Quebec.

English Vincents came to Newfoundland. John Vincent from Devon, the captain of the Rachel, was recorded as a fisherman at St. John’s in 1739; while John and Joseph Vincent were fishermen later at Twillingate and Fogo. Then, beginning around 1810, came the Vincents, brothers John and George, of Cape Island.

America. Boyd Vincent’s 1924 book Our Family of Vincents provides American genealogy. Early English Vincents to America were:

  • John Vincent from London, recorded in Sandwich. Massachusetts in 1637
  • John and Rebecca Vincent, resident in New Haven, Connecticut by 1640
  • and William Vincent from Amesbury in Wiltshire, who arrived in Providence, Rhode Island around 1660

Charles Vincent was recorded as a creditor in Yonkers, New York in 1675. His line was covered in Anna Vincent’s 1959 book The Vincent Family. Another New York Vincent family traces itself back in all probability to Ambrose Vincent of Dutchess county, born around 1725. Benjamin Vincent of this family was a pioneer settler in Washington state on the West Coast.

French.  There were also French Huguenot Vincents in the New York area from an early time. An Adrien Vincent from Tournai in Belgium was recorded in Dutch New York as early as 1645. Levi Vincent, born in France, had first fled to England and then crossed the Atlantic and settled in Newark, New Jersey in the early 1700’s. He died there in 1763 at the age of eighty seven. His descendants moved onto Milton, Pennsylvania.

The Acadian Pierre Vincent arrived in Louisiana in 1785. He married Catherine Galmand in 1790 and they were to have nine children and a very large number of descendants. Today Louisiana has the largest concentration of Vincents in the United States. A Vincent family reunion occurs every five years.

Australia.  An early Croatian settler in Australia was Vicko Vukovic from Dubrovnik. He anglicized his name to John Vincent after his arrival in Western Australia in 1858. Vincent Street in Perth is believed to have been named after George Vincent, the chief draftsman in the Lands Department in the 1870’s.

New Zealand. Born in Hull, William Vincent had been involved as a journalist in the radical Chartist movements of the 1830’s. He then decided to depart for New Zealand, arriving there on the Slains Castle in 1841. Here he became actively involved in the newspapers of the new colony, helping to found the Wellington Independent in 1845. He later moved to Sydney, Australia.

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Vincent and Vinson Surname Miscellany

St. Vincent the Martyr.  This most renowned martyr of Spain was Saint Vincent, the deacon of Saragossa, who died under the Romans in AD 304.  By order of Governor Dacian he had been dragged in chains to Valencia and there kept in prison for a long time and was subjected to many cruel torments, the rack, the gridiron, and scourgings.

He was next placed in a soft and luxurious bed, to shake his constancy, but there he expired.  His body was thrown to be devoured by vultures, but it was defended by a raven.  Dacian had the body cast into the sea, but it came to shore and was buried by a pious widow. After peace was restored to the Church, a chapel was built over the remains outside the walls of Valencia. In 1175 the relics were brought to Lisbon.

Vincent and Vinson.  Sometimes Vincent became Vinson in America after losing its “t.”   The current numbers are approximately:

Numbers (000’s) Percent
Vincent            17    70
Vinson             7    30

The Vincent name is concentrated in Louisiana, but is also found in the northeast and elsewhere in the country.

The Vinson name on the other hand is generally confined to the South, notably in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina although not in Louisiana.  Groves Vinson of Meckenburg county, North Carolina gave the following information about a pitcher that had been handed down in his family:

“We have a note that is in a cream pitcher that has been passed down to the youngest girl in each generation.  The note reads: ‘1909.  Pitcher from my grandfather Groves Vinson, born in Ireland in the 1700’s.  The pitcher is 160 years old.  Mrs. J. W. Osborne.'”

Among well-known Vinsons, Carl Vinson from Georgia was a long-time member of the US House of Representatives; and the Vinson family from Virginia and Kentucky included Fred Vinson, the Chief Justice of the United States in the 1940’s.

Most Vinsons would seem to have come to America first as Vincents. 

Vincents in Monmouth’s Rebellion.  Seven Vincents were among the rebels who rose up in the West Country in 1685, supporting the illegitimate Duke of Monmouth in his unsuccessful short-lived claim to the throne against the Catholic James II.  They were described as follows:

  • Francis, pardoned of all treasons.
  • John, who had come from Holland.  He was an Ensign in the Red Regiment and as Captain Vincent commanded 50 musketeers at the barricade at Norton St. Philip.  He was tried at Dorchester and transported from Weymouth on the Betty to Barbados.
  • John or Joshua, a Nonconformist minister.  He was released from prison in Taunton; helped to seize weapons stored in St. Mary Magdalene’s.  He was arrested in Exeter, imprisoned in Devon workhouse, and taken to Newgate.  He was excepted from the General Pardon.
  • Joseph of Taunton St. Mary, a fuller.  He was charged with
    ‘aiding.’ the Blue Regiment.  Taken from Exeter to Sherborne and presumably released under General Pardon.
  • Nicholas of Taunton St. Mary, a worsted comber.  Accused of ‘aiding’ the Blue Regiment.
  • Robert of Stratton on the Fosse.  Said to be “in the rebellion and not come in.”
  • and William of Cheddon Fitzpaine, reported as “absent.”

Pierre Vincent, Acadian to Louisiana.  When the English took over the French colony of Acadie in Canada in 1755, Joseph Vincent with his wife and two children, Marie-Josephe and Pierre, were taken to Liverpool, England as prisoners of war.  Joseph died there in prison.   The rest of the family ended up in France, as did many other displaced Acadians.

Some thirty years later, the Spanish Government, which then owned the Louisiana territory, was anxious to encourage Acadian settlement.  Acadians in France started boarding ships for Louisiana.  On June 11, 1785 the third of these ships, Le Beaumont, departed France with Acadians.  On board was Pierre Vincent, then aged 36 and by occupation a cooper.

He would eventually settle in Louisiana on lands at the intersection of the Vermilion river and Bayou Que de Tortue, near what today is the town of Milton and almost the dead center of Acadiana.  When Pierre died in the early 1800’s (after the sale of Louisiana territory to the Americans), he left a widow and nine children – all of whom were American citizens without their knowing it.

Pierre Junior would later marry an American, Sally Ryan. The Ryans had founded the town of Lake Charles. But the Vincents just stayed on their farm across the river and raised cattle and kids.

The Vincent Family Reunion.  Kaplan, Louisiana was selected as the location for the Vincent Family International Reunion of 1999  The oldest reunion participant in attendance was Sosthene Vincent from Gueydan, Louisiana at the age of 95. Eight different states and one foreign country were represented by the people who attended.

The special guest, Jean Francois Vincent from Brossard in Quebec, gave the reunion informative details about Vincent family genealogy. As Jean walked throughout the crowd asking who was their favorite pop singer, he then informed the crowd of two famous singers with Vincent family connections, Celine Dion and Madonna.

Clyde Vincent from Beaumont, Texas spoke on the history of the
Acadiens, Joseph and Pierre Vincent, and their hardship travels from Nova Scotia to Louisiana.  City Councilman Warren Whaley presented a proclamation declaring August 14 as the Vincent Reunion Day. Whaley also presented Jean Francois Vincent an honorary citizenship to the city of Kaplan.

Monsignor Amos Vincent from the diocese of Lake Charles gave the closing blessing.  Martin Vincent and the Lacassine Playboys
capped off the evening with Cajun/French music.  Completing the reunion activities, a mass was was held Sunday at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in honor of the Vincent family.

Benjamin Vincent – from East to West Coast.  In 1854 at the age of twenty, Benjamin Treen Vincent left home for Boston where he drove a milk wagon, took a factory job and learned shoe manufacturing.   He married there in 1864 but didn’t settle down.  Two years later he took passage to Nicaragua, travelled overland to the Pacific, sailed to San Francisco and Portland, and then walked to Seattle to join his cousin in boot and shoe making.

The partners moved their shop to Olympia and then Benjamin returned East to fetch his family.  Benjamin later took over the enterprise and other Vincents from the East joined him (at that time Washington was still territory and did not – until 1889 – become a state of the Union).  A biography of Benjamin Vincent was published in a book on the history of Washington state.

Reader Feedback – John Vincent from Croatia.  John Vincent was not the first Croatian in Australia. He was certainly a pioneer but he came after his second cousin Antonio Vukovic or Wolfe who arrived in 1853.  There is a fantastic book about Croatians in Australia by Dr. Ilya Sutalo that records the arrival of Croatians in Australia.  And there were certainly Croatian men who settled in Australia before either of the above gentlemen.

Rosalie Raftis (raftis@iinet.net.au)

The Vincent Black Shadow and Black Lightning.  The most renowned and famous of its motorcycles, the Vincent HRD 998 Black Shadow, first appeared in 1948.  It was easily distinguished by the motorcycle fraternity by the gleaming black finish of the engine and gearbox that had all internal parts highly polished and fine tuned.  Sporting a big five inch chrome Smith speedometer also enhanced its appearance.  The bike was also very fast and could easily maintain a constant 100 mph with a top end of 125 mph.

Also in 1948 a full race spec custom machine, the Vincent HRD 998 Black Lightning, appeared and won acclaim as a living legend almost straight away as the world’s fastest standard motorcycle.  It was on September 13 1948 that a man by the name of Rollie Free smashed the world motorcycle speed record by riding a Vincent Black Lightning at 150.3 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

However, the party came to an end in 1955 when Philip Vincent announced that the company would cease to manufacture its bikes due to heavy financial losses.

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Vincent Names
  • William Vincent was the Dean of Westminster Abbey who supervised its restoration in the early 19th century.
  • Phil Vincent was the British motorbike pioneer who founded Vincent Motorcycles in 1928.
  • Casey Vincent was an American flying ace of World War Two.
  • Fred Vinson was Chief Justice of the United States from 1946 to 1953.
  • Gene Vincent, born Vincent Eugene Craddock, was a 1950’s rock and roll star.

Vincent Numbers Today
  • 22,000 in the UK (most numerous in Essex)
  • 20,000 in America (most numerous in Louisiana)
  • 18,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)
Vincent and Like Surnames.

These are French-originated names, French Canadian surnames that were brought by French settlers to what was then New France.  Many are found in Louisiana after the Acadian exodus from the Canadian maritime provinces in the 18th century.  Here are some of the French surnames that you can check out.

BernardDurantLandryTrudeau
BlanchardDuvalMartinVincent

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