Reynolds


Select Reynolds Surname Genealogy

The name Reynolds was a Norman import to England, from Reginald or in Old French Reinold.  The earlier root is the Old Norse Rognvaldr, comprised of the elements ragin meaning "counsel" and wald meaning "rule." Reynold was a Viking leader who harried the English and Irish shores in the 10th century.

Name variants have included Reynold and Reynell.  The Irish MacRaghnaill derives from the Gaelic of Randal or Reginald.   This name became anglicized to Reynolds.

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EnglandThe Reynolds name first appeared in Somerset where they were granted lands after the Norman Conquest in 1066.  William filius Raunaldi is recorded in the Domesday Book. 

SW England.  A Reynell family originally from Cambridgeshire transplanted themselves to Devon in the 14th century where they were substantial landowners.  They were described as "men of great credit, fidelity, and service to their kings, country and state in peace and in war."  Both the Reynell and Reynolds names were to be found in Devon.  A Reynolds family in Plympton produced the great 18th century portrait painter Sir Joshua Reynolds. 

The naval Reynolds came from Cornwall.  They made their home in the late 18th century at Penair near Truro.  And the Reynolds name was also prominent in tin mining at St. Agnes, starting possibly with William Reynolds who was born there in the 1680ís. 

Owen Reynolds, a yeoman farmer from Melcombe in Dorset, was five times its mayor in the 1550ís.  His nephew Edward benefited from the patronage of the Earl of Essex and died in 1623 in London a rich man
.

Kent.  A Reynolds line dating back to the 16th century in East Bergholt in Kent included descendants who were among the early immigrants to America.  From a later naval family came George Reynolds who got himself involved in the Chartist movement in the 1840's.  He founded a radical newspaper, Reynolds's Weekly Newspaper, which became popular.  The paper continued in a different guise as Reynolds News until 1967.

East Anglia.  The birth of Thomas Reynolds was recorded at Great Chesterford in northern Essex in 1569.  He appeared in court in 1598 after a brawl with a neighbor.  One family history dates back to the marriage of James Reynolds and Susannah Wood at Little Bardfield in 1711.  In the churchyard of the nearby village of Great Sampford there are a number of Reynolds gravestones of the late 18th and 19th centuries.

Just across the border into Cambridgeshire were the Reynolds of Castle Camps and the Reynolds of Leverington: 
  • Sir James Reynolds, a Cromwellian general, had taken a lease on the Castle Camps estate as a safe retreat for his family during the Civil War.  His grandson Sir James was appointed Chief Justice of the Common Pleas in 1727.  
  • while Richard Reynolds was rector of Leverington near Wisbech in the 1670ís.  His son Richard, born there, became the Bishop of Lincoln.  He acquired Paxton Hall in Huntingdonshire in 1730 where the family remained for several generations.
Lancashire.  There was a Reynolds family in Lancashire which inherited the Strangeways estate near Manchester in 1711.  Francis Reynolds from this family distinguished himself in naval actions in the West Indies and later took over the family estates at Tortworth in Gloucestershire (his home there is now a country house hotel).

Lancashire received an influx of Irish Reynolds in the 19th century.  Mary Reynolds from Mohill in county Leitrim settled her young family in Manchester after the death of her husband during the famine years.  Her letters recently published, The Reynolds Letters: An Irish Emigrant Family in Late Victorian Manchester, present a story of Irish immigrants making good in industrial England at that time.
 
Ireland.  The Reynolds name came to Ireland at the time of Strongbow in the 1200's.  These English invaders took the titles of Earls of Cavan, Lisburne and Mountmorris.  A later English invasion in the 17th century gave rise to the Reynells from Devon of Reynell castle. 

However, the largest numbers of Reynolds have been home-grown.  From early times the lands around Lough Rynn in county Leitrim were owned and settled by the MacRaghnaill clan.  Sean na gCeann or John of the Heads, so called for beheading his rebellious clansmen, was their chief in the late 1500's. 

The next century saw the English taking over Leitrim and the Irish, including the McRaghnaills, being gradually pushed out.  A second exodus occurred at the time of the potato famine.  Even so, nearly half of the Reynolds in Ireland today come from Leitrim.  The Irish Prime Minister Albert Reynolds was born in nearby Roscommon. 

Portugal.  A Reynolds family from Kent has been in Portugal since 1820, first as cork importers and then as wine producers.  

America.  The English Reynolds in America came first.  Early Reynolds settlers in New England were Robert and Mary Reynolds and their four children who got there in 1630.   Christopher Reynolds from Gravesend in Kent arrived in Virginia in 1622 on the Francis and John.  Their family line is documented in Stephen Tilman's 1959 book, The Rennolds-Reynolds of Virginia and England.

Members of this family were subsequently involved in the freighting business in upstate New York.  They later moved west:
  • P.G. Reynolds became a mail contractor and stage operator in Dodge City for the trails heading south to the Texas and Oklahoma panhandles. 
  • his brother Milton, who adopted the writing name of Kicking Bird, covered Indian council meetings as a roving reporter and became an advocate for Western settlement. 
  • another Milton Reynolds, but of German origin, introduced the first ballpoint pen to an unsuspecting public in 1945.
Abraham Reynolds was a poor tobacco farmer in Virginia in the early 1800's.  His son Hardin started a plantation at Rock Spring in Patrick county.  Hardin's son RJ, the second of sixteen children born there, embarked on a plan to build his own tobacco factory at Winston Salem.  It was he who developed the huge tobacco empire that is RJ Reynolds.

Irish.  Irish Reynolds also came to America.  John Reynolds arrived in Virginia in the 1770's.  His descendants moved onto Kentucky and Missouri.  Robert and Margaret Reynolds from Louth reached Tennessee in 1784 and then continued to Illinois.  Their son John rose to be the fourth governor of that state.  Nineteenth century arrivals were more numerous.  And many Reynolds went to Canada at that time as well. 

Canada.  Early arrivals had been Empire Loyalists, such as William Reynolds, leaving America after the Revolutionary War.  William had been a coronet in the British army and led a group of Loyalists out of New York in 1796.  He and his family ended up in Dorchester (near London), Ontario. 

Bernard and Mary Reynolds came in the late 1830's from county Leitrim and settled in Renfrew county, Ontario.  Other Reynolds followed, from both England and Ireland, as the 19th century proceeded.  

South Africa.  In 1850 two Devon farmers, Thomas and Lewis Reynolds, set off on the Justina for South Africa to seek their fortunes (their uncle Charles had previously emigrated to Australia).  The brothers' business took them to sugar refining in Natal.  But it was the next generation - Frank and Charles Reynolds - who are generally considered as the founders of South Africa's sugar industry.  Frank built the family home of Lynton Hall at Pennington on the south coast.  It now operates as a luxury hotel.

Australia.  Two brothers, Richard and Edward Reynolds, were convicted of petty theft in Chelmsford and were transported to Australia in 1791.  They were educated and literate and Edward kept a diary of the hardships of the journey.  The brothers later surfaced in Hawkesbury, NSW.  Richard petitioned for a land grant:

"The petitioner arrived in this colony on the Atlantic in 1791, has been free about 28 years, has endured all the hardships to which and infant colony could subject him, and has reared a family of ten children to the habits of industry."

His petition was successful.  He died in Wilberforce in 1837 and left a large number of descendants.

John Reynell from Devon was an early settler in South Australia.  He came in 1838 and started the first commercial vineyard in the colony.  Meanwhile Thomas and Mary Reynolds arrived in Western Australia from Oxfordshire in 1842.  Their descendants are still to be found there.  Charles Reynolds from Devon came to Tocal in the Hunter valley in 1844 and worked there until his death in 1871.  In his time he was recognized an an expert on horse and cattle breeding in New South Wales.

Select Reynolds Miscellany

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


Select Reynolds Names

Walter Reynolds was the son of a Windsor baker who became a favorite of King Edward II.  The king made him Archbishop of Canterbury. 
Sir Joshua Reynolds from Devon was a leading English portrait painter of the 18th century.
R.J Reynolds, a Virginia tobacco farmer, founded the R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company in 1890.
Richard S. Reynolds, nephew of RJ, founded the American Metals Company in 1919 and developed it as one of the world's leading aluminium companies.
Paul Revere Reynolds, a descendant of the American patriot Paul Revere, was the first literary agent in New York, in 1893.
Milton Reynolds, a Chicago businessman, introduced the first ballpoint pen on the market in 1945.
Albert Reynolds was the Irish Prime Minister in the 1990's.
Debbie Reynolds, born in Texas, is an American actress and singer
Burt Reynolds is a well-known American actor.

Select Reynolds Today
  • 85,000 in the UK (most numerous in Cambridgeshire)
  • 76,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 32,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)



Select Surnames

Adams Cohen Harding McDonald Reynolds
Armstrong Corbett Harmer Meredith Richardson
Bacon Crawford Harris Mitchell Rooney
Baldwin Crowther Hayward Moore Sawyer
Bannister Doyle Henderson Murray  
Shelley
Bartlett Drake Hepburn Myers Sheraton
Bennett Driscoll Higgins Nash Spencer
Booth Ellis Hilton Newton Swan
Bowles Fitzgerald Holmes
Nightingale Sykes
Brett Fleming  Hopkins Oakes Tattersall      
Burden/Borden Foster Hudson Osborne Todd
Byrne
Fox Jackson Palin
Tucker
Carpenter Fraser Jefferson Palmer Vaughan
Carter Fry Jenner Pascoe Wade
Cassidy Fuller Lofthouse  Perry/Parry        
Wallace
Cavendish Gallagher        
Lynch  Pertwee Warren  
Chapman Goodwin Maloney Powell Washington
Chisholm Gould Marriott Pratt Webster
Clay Grant Maynard          
Probyn Witherspoon
Clinton Hancock McCarthy Quayle Wyatt 

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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