Warren Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Warren Meaning
Warren has Norman roots introduced into England at the time of the
Conquest. There are two possible origins of the name.
One source of the name is the Normandy village of La Varenne
which gave
the name to William
de Warenne who fought at the Battle of Hastings and whose
descendants later became Warren. A second derivation is from the
Norman French warrene, a
warren or piece of land
set aside for the breeding of game. The surname could
describe someone who lived by a game park or someone who was employed
in such a place.

Resources on

Warren Ancestry

England. William de Warenne
who had arrived in England with William the Conqueror was the forebear
of the subsequent Earls of Warren and Surrey. However, this line
died out in the 14th century.

The knight Sir Edward de Warren
married Cicely de Eton in the 1340’s and she brought with her the
estates of Poynton and Stockport in Cheshire. Poynton Hall, long
since demolished, was built by Sir Edward Warren in 1552 and then
replaced by Sir George Warren with a larger structure in 1750.

Kent The county
of Kent provided some early Warren sightings. A
certain William Warren left his house to Canterbury Cathedral “for
pious uses” in 1371. The Warrens of Dover may have been
related. William Warren was mayor of Dover in 1493, his son John
three times major of Dover in the early 1500’s. Subsequent Warrens
from the village of Ripple near Deal included emigrants to the New

SW England
However, there were probably more Warrens in the southwest, in Devon in
particular. The Warrens were long-established there in the
village of
Ottery St. Mary. One family account follows the Warrens from
Ashburton in Devon to Marnhull in Dorset

Warrens in Dorset
were to be found in Fordington and Tincleton, villages near
Dorchester. Later Warrens have been
traced to the area around Chard and Ilminster in Somerset.
Warrens from Bristol became shipbuilders in Hayle in Cornwall in the
mid 19th century. By the time of the 1891 census the
southwest overall accounted for just over 20 percent of all the Warrens

Ireland. Warren in
Ireland is mainly an English implant. Edward Warren had
arrived with Strongbow in 1172. From their base at Warrenstown in
county Meath, these Warrens became one of the old-established Dublin families.
There were related Warrens in Wexford.

A later line in county
Carlow started with Captain Humphrey Warren in the 1500’s.
Richard Warren and his family lived at Ballymurphy in county Carlow
from 1735 to 1823. Robert Warren, an English soldier in
Cromwell’s army,
was the forebear of the Warren landed gentry in county Cork. And
Irish O’Murmaines anglicized their names to Warren in Cork and Kerry.

America. Warrens came to
New England and also to Virginia and Maryland.

New England
Three early
Warren settlers in New England produced a heap of descendants:

  • Richard Warren from London, a
    passenger on the Mayflower,
    who arrived at Plymouth rock in 1620.
  • John Warren from Suffolk, who
    arrived in 1630 and settled in Watertown, Massachusetts.
  • and Peter Warren, a mariner who
    arrived in Boston in the 1650’s and bought land there. .

Richard Warren and his wife had seven children, all of whom survived,
and a multitude of descendants, including apparently Presidents Ulysses
S. Grant and Franklin Roosevelt and the actor Richard

John Warren’s descendants included Moses Warren, an
early settler in Ohio, and Levi Gale Warren, a merchant and trader in
Terre Haute, Indiana.

Peter Warren was the forebear of the
famous Warrens from Roxbury:

  • Joseph Warren, the horticulturist who developed the “Warren
    russet” apple (sadly in 1755, whilst gathering fruit in his orchard, he
    fell from his ladder and was instantly killed),
  • Dr.
    Joseph Warren
    , an early hero of the American Revolution (it
    was said, after him, that Warren became popular as a first name in
  • his younger brother John Warren,
    surgeon who founded Harvard Medical School,
  • and his son John Collins Warren,
    one of
    the most renowned surgeons of the 19th century.

Samuel Warren, born in Grafton, started a paper mill in Pepperell,
Massachusetts and became a very successful paper manufacturer in the
latter part of the 19th century. His family, known in Boston as the Mount Vernon
Street Warrens
, were prominent art connoisseurs and

Other Massachusetts Warrens headed West. Lyman Warren set off in
1818 with his
brother for Wisconsin when it was still largely Indian territory.
This Warren family befriended the local Ojibwe Indians of
that region.
Fitz Henry Warren moved to Iowa territory in 1844. And Francis
Warren headed further west and later represented Wyoming in the US

Virginia and Maryland
There were also early Warren arrivals into Virginia and Maryland:

  • Thomas Warren came to Surry county, Virginia in 1641 with his
    Daniel Gookin, the founder of Newport News.
  • Humphrey Warren from
    Cheshire was in Charles county, Maryland by 1662 and his family
    operated a plantation of 500 acres there at Hatton’s Point.
  • George Warren and his family moved from Maryland to Washington
    Virginia in the 1760’s. They were buried at the Warren family cemetery
    near Abingdon.

Virginia accounts also relate the story of William Johnston Warren, a
slave in Tazewell county who bought his freedom in 1858. He and
his brother-in-law subsequently operated a tannery in Tazewell for many
years. His home there remained in family hands until 1994.

Some Warrens moved onto Kentucky after the Revolutionary War was
over. William Warren came to Lincoln county in 1779 and settled
along the Dix river. Twenty years later, Hugh Warren and his
family arrived in Green county. His son Hardin and wife Lydia
later settled in the Ozone mountain area of Johnson county, Arkansas.

Benjamin Warren headed south at this time to Georgia. He and his
great friend James Coleman were business pioneers in this new
state. He was the owner of the Bedford plantation (which included
land now occupied by the Augusta National Golf Club on which the
Masters is played), a flour milling operation, and several other
business enterprises. It is said that many of Augusta’s
institutions today were influenced and molded by Benjamin Warren.

Other Warrens, in this case from South Carolina, came to Heard county,
Georgia in the 1830’s as a result of a land lottery draw.

Meanwhile, around 1820, Benajah and Ferriba Warren left their home in
Georgia to settle in Jefferson county in the newly opened Mississippi
territory. By the time of the Civil War, Warrens had begun also
settle in Texas. African American Warrens in Linden, Cass county
date from the early 1800’s. By the early 20th century, the state
of Texas had the largest number of Warrens in the United States.

Canada. The Warren name
in Newfoundland records dates back to 1760. Henry Warren was a fisherman in Petty Harbor in 1794. John Henry Warren arrived from
Devon in the 1830’s and ran a fish export business out of St.
John’s. He turned politician and represented Bonavista Bay where
he found many supporters from Devon. Later, William Robertson
Warren from St. John’s rose to become briefly Prime Minister of the
province in the 1920’s.

Samuel Russell Warren was the outstanding figure in Canadian organ
building in the 19th century. He was a descendant of the Richard
Warren of Mayflower fame and
had come to Montreal from Rhode Island in the 1830’s. Other
Warrens entered Canada by sea around this time, including a number from

Australia. Mary Warren, a
convict, arrived in Australia in 1790 on the notorious Lady Juliana. She married a
few years later but died through drowning in 1804. John Warren – transported to Western Australia in 1852 – had a happier outcome, however. Managing to escape the convict stigma by becoming a schoolmaster, he ended up marrying a wealthy widow who owned a hotel and a farm.

Early Warren free settlers were:

  • Thomas Warren and his family
    from Sunderland who came on the James
    in 1852. They later settled in Melbourne.
  • James and Mary Warren from
    Suffolk who arrived in the mid-1850’s. Daughter Mary lived to be
    nine before her death in East Maitland, NSW in 1941.


Warren Miscellany

William de Warenne and His Line.  William de Warenne was born in Normandy.   His line there has
been traced back three generations to Walter de St. Martin, born around
953.  He himself accompanied William the Conqueror to
England and commanded a detachment of the Norman army at
Hastings.  His reward in the victory was land and estates in
Norfolk.  In the next few years he married a certain Gundreda who
may or may not have been William the Conqueror’s daughter.

The Warenne family made its first appearance in records in 1164 when
Hamelin Plante Genest (later changed to Plantagenet), a Norman baron
and illegitimate half brother to King Henry II, married Isabel de
Warrene.  He assumed the surname of Warren, settled in Surrey, and
was granted the Earldom of Surrey.  This family also held lands in
Suffolk, Somerset and Sussex.  John, the last de Warenne Earl of
died in 1347.  Soon afterwards they appear to have been
inexplicably disinherited.

The line may not have gone dead.  The last earl was said to have
had a mistress Maud de
Nerford and an illegitimate son Edward.  This Edward has been
linked to the Warren family of
Poynton and Stockport in Cheshire.  And once this connection had
made, some much more far-reaching genealogical linkages were concocted. In 1782, the  Rev. John Watson published his Memoirs of the Ancient Earls of Warren and
Surrey and Their Descendants to the Present Time
.  This was
a vain attempt to prove that Watson’s patron, Sir George Warren, was
entitled to the earldom of Warren and Surrey.  Later, in 1902,
came Thomas Warren’s A History and
Genealogy of the Warren Family in Normandy, Great Britain and Ireland,
France, Holland, Tuscany, United States of America etc, 912-1902.

This book supposedly joined up all the dots between the Warennes in
Normandy and
Warren immigrants into America.

The Warrens of Old Ireland.  The Warrens got their estates in the days of Strongbow and held them through all the vicissitudes of olden Ireland.  They
were a house called “English-Irish” or “inside the pale,” which meant
that they stood high in British favor and contributed heroes to the army or navy from each of their hardy generations.

They had no title, but to be The Warren of Warrenstown,
Meath was to be entitled to look down with disdain upon upstart
baronets and newly created peers.  Sir Christopher Aylmer’s
daughter Catherine was honored to marry Captain Michael Warren and her
brother, Admiral Lord Aylmer, only too glad to take charge of her boy
later on.

Born in 1703, Peter was the youngest of the family and
the most ambitious of the lot.  When he was nine years old, his
father Captain Michael died and he was sent to his uncle Lord Aylmer to
be trained for the service.  Two years later, at fourteen, young
Peter enlisted.  He rose rapidly through the ranks, attaining the
rank of admiral in 1747. 

Reader Feedback: Warrens from the West Country.  The Rev. Thomas Warren published his History of the Warren Family in 1898-1902 and I have researched his findings on my own line which have suffered
the ravages of Warren want for many years.
Below is my line beginning with my own grandfather and ending
back in
1617 (proven) and possibly from there going back to the Norman conquest
beyond.  I am still working on my own
blog site, the Warren Family from Normandy to Australia.

grandfather Alfred Samuel Warren migrated to Australia from New Zealand
1887, my great grandfather Albert Frederick Warren migrated from
Winchester in
Hampshire to New Zealand where he took up the post of Government
printer in

  • Albert
    was born to Nathaniel Short
    Warren (printer and minister) in 1830.
  • Nathaniel
    was born to Christopher and Anna Maria Simms Warren
    (stonemason and churchman) at Southampton in 1805.
  • Christopher
    was born to Martin Warren and
    Anna Maria Short Warren in October 1768 at Marnhull in Dorset.
  • Martin
    was the son of Christopher Warren, born in 1698, who married Elizabeth
    Crow or Crew around 1721 with their firstborn
    being born in March 1723.
  • Christopher
    Warren was the son of John Warren, born in 1658, perhaps at Exeter in
    Devon.  He married Ruth around 1693 with
    firstborn son John being born in 1695.
  • John, born in 1658, was the son of John Warren, born
    in 1617 and
    in Marnhull 1698, at Ashburton in Devon.
  • His father was Christopher Warren who married Alice
    Webb Warren
    in 1613.

family have been ministers of the church
and parish clerks for hundreds of years, as proven by the Rev. Thomas
Warren in
his history.  The minister Harry and
Conyers Place and the Rev. John Hutchins in his Histories
and Antiquities
all verify that my line have come from
Ashburton in Devon to Marnhull in Dorset via Ilsington in Devon.

That we are of the Ashburton line is a surety
for me, but I refuse to go back past 1617 until I have absolute proof
of John’s
father. The turmoil that occurred in 1641/2 was perhaps the cause of
migration of John away from London or Ilsington in Devon and he became
first of my line to be parish clerk of Marnhull, a line that continued
for two hundred years.

Regards, Raymond J. Warren (ray.j.warren@hotmail.com) 

Richard Warren of the Mayflower.  Richard Warren of the Mayflower was a London merchant who had married Elizabeth Walker in Hertford in
1610.  Little else is known about him, however, not even who his
parents were – despite extensive searches of the records.

He joined the Leyden band of
Mayflower pilgrims at Southampton and was among the ten passengers of
the landing party at Cape
in November 1620.  After numerous hardships and an Indian fight
they set foot at Plymouth.  Richard was a signer of the Mayflower
Compact and was one of the nineteen out of forty one signers who
survived the winter.  He was described by a contemporary as “a man
of integrity, justice, and uprightness of piety and serious religion.”

His wife Elizabeth and his first five children, all
daughters, came
to America on the Anne in
1623.  Once in America, they then had two sons. Nathaniel and
Joseph, before Richard’s untimely death in 1628.  Elizabeth
survived another forty years.

Joseph Warren, Physician and Rebel.  Before he was General Joseph Warren, he was Doctor Joseph Warren, a
well-respected Boston physician.  He once saved the right hand of
John Quincy Adams when a severe fracture of the forefinger caused other
doctors to recommend amputation.

Dr. Warren gave the famous oration in memory of the
Boston massacre victims.  He was also a good friend of Paul Revere
and was the man who sent him on his famous ride.  On the day
after the Boston Tea Party, their names appeared in the following
street ballad:

“Our Warren’s there and bold Revere
With hands to do and words to cheer
For liberty and laws.”

Joseph Warren arrived at the battlefield of Bunker Hill
without any official orders.  So he fought as a private and was
shot in the back of the head by a British soldier who recognized him as
one of the rebel leaders. The enemy buried him where he fell.

Nine months later, when the British had finally retreated
from New England, his body, recognized by his two false teeth, was
disinterred and honorably buried.  A little psalm book found by a
British soldier in his pocket has been kept by one of his descendants.

The Warrens and the Ojibwes.  In 1818 Lyman Warren
and bis brother Truman headed west for the frontier.  They found
employment at a trading post run by Michael Cadotte, a fur trader, in
Wisconsin.  Michael married Cadotte’s daughter Mary in 1821.
Mary was seven-eighths Ojibwe and spoke only the Ojibwe language.

It was after the death of Truman that Lyman came down the Chippewa,
building the first sawmill at Chippewa Falls in 1836 and being the
first white person to settle in that area.  He traded with the Ojibwes and with other fur traders
there for many years.

Lyman’s son William grew up with Indians and had learned to speak their
language at a very young age.  He was very much liked by the
Indians and invited to be a guest at their lodge-fire circles.
Here the Ojibwe would tell stories of history and William in return
would translate narratives from the Bible to them.  Then William
embarked on a written history of the Chippewa “to save the traditions
of their forefathers from total oblivion.”  Sadly, William’s
health was poor and he died in 1853 at the age of twenty eight.

William’s brother Truman lived on and was responsible for organizing
and leading the Ojibwe people from their old grounds at Crow Wing and
Gulf Lake to the White Earth reservation.

Mrs. Fiske Warren’s Vase.  A rare Josean dynasty Korean blue and white porcelain jar set a world
record  at the December 2008 auction at the San Francisco
salesroom of Bonhams & Butterfields.  It had been discovered
by the Asian Art Department Director’s monthly appraisal event at the
company’s Sunset Boulevard gallery in Los Angeles. The vase had
formerly been within the collection of Mrs. Fiske Warren, part of
Boston’s Mount Vernon Street Warren family at the turn of the century;
and then became a family heirloom and was in a family member’s southern
Californian home for decades.

Mrs. Fiske Warren had been a great beauty of her
day.  She had married Frederick Fiske Warren of the Warren paper
mills fortune.  The wedding, a union of two of Boston’s most
prominent families, was the talk of the town in 1891.

The couple travelled the world extensively and
entertained lavishly within their Massachusetts home, a utopian enclave
called Tahanto.  Family records relate that their guests included
Sun Yat-sen, Clarence Darrow, Booker T. Washington, and Robert Frost
amongst others.  It was thought that Mrs. Fiske Warren acquired
the vase during one of her many trips to the Far East in the 1890’s.


Select Warren Names

  • William de Warenne came over with William the Conqueror and started an early Warren line.
  • Peter Warren, from an old-line
    Dublin family, was promoted to Admiral of the British
    Navy after a successful engagement against the French off Canada in the 1740’s.
  • Dr Joseph Warren, killed in the
    Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775, was an early hero of the American Revolution.
  • William Warren, the son of a
    British-born actor, was the great comic actor on the American stage in
    the second half of the 19th century.
  • W.K. Warren from Tennessee was a pioneer in gas liquids production in Oklahoma from the 1920’s to the 1950’s.
  • Earl Warren was three times Governor of California and was the 14th Chief Justice of the United
    States. He was of Scandinavian stock.
  • Robert Penn Warren was a mid
    20th century American writer and critic.

Select Warren Numbers Today

  • 39,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Essex)
  • 66,000 in America (most numerous
    in Texas).
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada).


Select Warren and Like Surnames.

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.




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