Vincent Surname Meaning, History & Origin

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

Resources on

Vincent 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.

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
Justens in Sherborne, Dorset in 1667. A number of Vincents were
rounded up
in the west country after Monmouth’s
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,
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).

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
provides American genealogy. Early
English Vincents to America were:

  • John Vincent from London, recorded in Sandwich. Massachusetts in
  • 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

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

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
occurs every five years.

Australia and 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
in 1845. He later moved to Sydney, 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.


Vincent 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 scurgings.

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

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
  • 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
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
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

Rosalie Raftis (

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

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.


Select 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.

Select 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)


Select 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.




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