Study into the Palgrave Name

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Palgrave And Its Variants

[Those marked * are dubious; a ^ symbol indicates elision of the letters before and after the symbol]

Pag^ave (Pagave), Paggegrave, Paggrave, Pagram, Pagraua Pagraue, Pagrava, Pagrave, Pagrayfe, Pagrief Pagrife, Pagriff, Pakegrave, Paldegrave, Palegraue Palegrave, Palegreve, Palesgrove, Palglafs*, Palgran Palgrane, Palgraue, Palgraufe, Palgrave, Palgraves Palgraw, Palgrawe, Palgrawfe, Palgraze, Palgrife Palgriff, Palgriss, Palgrive, Palgroave, Palgrove Palgroves, Palgrowe, Palg^ue (Palgue), Pallgraue, Pallgrav Pallgrave, Pallgraves, Pallsgrove, Palmgrove, Palsegrave Palsgraf*, Palsgraff*, Palsgraue, Palsgrave, Palsgrof* Palsgrove, Palsgroves, Paltsgrove*, Paltzgeoff*, Palzgraf* Palzgraff*, Palzgrove*, Pargrave, Pasgrave, Paugrave Paulgraue, Paulgrave, Paullgrave, Paulsgrave, Paultsgrove* Pavegrave, Pawgrave, Pawlgraue, Pawlgrave, Paxgrave Paygraue, Paygrave

Peagrave, Peagriff, Peasgrave, Pedgrave, Pedgriff Pedgrift, Pedgrifth, Peggram, Pegrave, Pegriff Pegrom, Pelgrave, Pelgrift, Pellgrave, Pensgrave Pesgrave

Pfaltzgraf*, Pfaltzgraff*, Pfalygraft*, Pfalzgraf*,

Pilgram, Pilgrane, Pilgraue, Pilgrave, Pilgrove Pilsgrave, Pisgrove

Poldegrew, Polegrave, Polgrane, Polgrave, Polgraves Polgravis, Polgreen*, Pollgrave, Pollgraves, Poulgrave Poullgreene*, Poulsgrave, Powell-Greaves, Powlgrave, Powlgraves


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An outline of the origin and development of the surnames Pagrave, Palgrave, Pelgrave, Polgrave, etc

compiled by Derek Palgrave

Early Occurrences

In the Domesday Book, compiled in the eleventh century, there are references to the villages of Pagrava in Norfolk and Palegrava in Suffolk. The Norfolk village is in the centre of the county just north east of the town of Swaffham whilst its Suffolk counterpart lies on the northern county boundary just across the River Waveney from Diss in Norfok.

Inhabitants of the Norfolk village, including William de Pagrava, Robert de Pagrave, Maud de Pagrave and many others, are mentioned a variety of documents during the 12th and 13th centuries. A certain John Pagrave paid tax at Sporle, the next village, in 1380. By the 15th century the Pagraves were Lords of the Manor at Pagrave and were in the process of marrying into some of the more influential families in the county.

At Palgrave in Suffolk the Lord of the Manor was the Abbot of Bury St Edmunds so there was no manorial family there, but, as inhabitants of the village went elsewhere, they came to be known by their place of origin. For instance in the 13th century there are references in documents to Osketel and William de Palegrave, Petronilla de Palgrave and Johannis de Palegrave. 14th century Suffolk taxation lists and deeds refer to several bearers of the name, Palgrave.

Formal Adoption of Surnames

By about 1350, descriptive names were being transformed to recognisably hereditary surnames which may be traced from generation to generation. Consequently it is possible follow the lineage of the Pagraves of Pagrave through ten or so generations to Sir Richard Palgrave who was living at North Barningham near Holt in the 18th century.

The church there contains a 16th century brass to Henry Pagrave, the great great great great grandfather of Sir Richard. It should be noted that Henry's children seem to have decided to modify the spelling of their surname from Pagrave to Palgrave. One of these children, Thomas, married Alice Gunton of Thuxton, Norfolk, where they settled and established another large branch of the family which included a grandson, Dr Richard Palgrave, who subsequently emigrated to America in 1630. His descendants include two US Presidents.

Many of the Palgraves, who derived from Palgrave in Suffolk, migrated into South Norfolk, where they became established in the Pulham area for at least eight generations. Some of these moved on down the River Waveney to Great Yarmouth and thence into the Broads area of East Norfolk. There was a great deal of trade between ports on the east coast and this may explain how the Palgraves came to settle in Lincolnshire on the south bank of the Humber estuary during the sixteenth century. There are references to both Palgrave and Polgrave in many parts of Lincolnshire as family groups tended to migrate further south.

Several Palgraves had remained in Suffolk especially in the hundreds of Hartismere and Hoxne where they were well represented throughout the 16th and 17th centuries. Thereafter they began to migrate eastwards so, by the late 18th century, they were well established in the Halesworth area. However, references in local archives were recording both Palgrave, Pelgrave and Pedgrave entries which later evolved into Pedgrift. In some instances the name was expressed 'Pedgrift alias Palgrave' confirming that it was the same family.

There is some evidence of the surname, Palgrave, in the adjoining county of Essex as early as the 15th century but archival entries in the Maldon area during the 17th and 18th centuries often appear as Palsgrave or Palsgrove. These particular variants seem to have been be more widespread in Surrey and Hampshire during the 18th and 19th centuries. These versions also appeared in London, in addition to virtually every other known variant including Pargrave which occurred in Hertfordshire.

Later Ramification

Migration gathered considerable momentum during the 19th century as a result of major improvements in transport and communication. Migrants from East Norfolk took the surname, Palgrave, to Tyneside, whilst others, mainly from Lincolnshire, secured its presence in Birmingham and also in South Wales. However Welsh Census enumerators seemed to have entered only the Pelgrave version in their returns.

Emigration overseas was also significant, Christmas Palgrave, a criminal, being transported to New South Wales, Australia, in 1823. Many others made their own way to Australia and New Zealand including several Pelgraves from South Wales who arrived in South Australia around the 1880s. Others have emigrated to this part of the world and to North America during the 20th century.


There seems little doubt that the surname is locative with two original versions derived from the villages of Pagrava and Palegrava in Norfolk and Suffolk respectively. Some time during the sixteenth century the bearers of the surname Pagrave changed the spelling to Palgrave. Widespread migration into areas where the surname was unfamiliar led to corruption by the distortion of vowel sounds to give the versions Polgrave, Pelgrave, Palgrove, etc. The modification of consonant sounds gave rise to further variants including Pargrave, Palsgrave, Pedgrave, Pedgrift, etc. Several other less frequent versions have been recorded and details published by the Palgrave Society.

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