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Surname Parnell - Meaning and Origin

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Circling Back to my Viking Roots: Unseen Insights from iGENEA DNA Test on Parnell Lineage

The iGENEA DNA test revealed an unexpected Scandinavian ancestry in the Parnell lineage, inciting new perspectives on myself and my understanding of my ancestral roots, injecting elements of adventure, resilience, and an appreciation for hitherto unknown cultures to my self-understanding.

T. Parnell

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Parnell: What does the surname Parnell mean?

The last name Parnell is of Anglo-Norman origin and was first found in Cheshire, England. The name is derived from the Old French terms "parnel" or "pernel," which are diminutives of the name Peter. "Pernel" was a term used to describe Saint Peter, hence the meaning is often noted as "little Peter" or "rock." This surname was spread to Ireland by Anglo-Norman settlers where it became quite common, especially in County Wicklow. A notable person with this surname was Charles Stewart Parnell, an influential Irish nationalist and political leader in the late 19th century.

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Parnell: Where does the name Parnell come from?

The last name Parnell is most commonly found in the United Kingdom. It is an Anglicized version of the Irish surname Ó hAongusa, and is found mainly in England, Ireland, and Scotland. As the name suggests, it may have been carried to Ireland by Norman conquerors centuries ago.

In modern times, the highest concentrations of Parnell families are found in Northern Ireland, particularly in its counties Antrim and Down. The name also appears in significant numbers in counties Cavan and Longford in Ireland, and in England, particularly in London. Notably, the Centre for Population Change (CPC) estimates that the population of Parnel family members in London surpasses 8,500 people, which makes up nearly 1% of the total population of London.

The name is likewise present in several other countries. In the United States, the largest concentrations are found in the states of Ohio, California, Florida, and New York. There are smaller populations of Parnell families in Australia and New Zealand.

Overall, the last name Parnell is particularly common in the British Isles and English-speaking countries. Its prevalence and diversity of the countries and regions in which it is represented suggests that the name has been widely dispersed among the English-speaking world for centuries.

Variations of the surname Parnell

The Parnell surname originated from an old English, Irish, and Welsh family name of Parnall, Pernall, Parnel, Parnell, and other variations. It was a popular name that could be found, in numerous records, in many parts of the British Isles.

In England, the Parnell surname first appeared in the county of Nottinghamshire, in the late 12th century. The version of Parnall would have been an occupational name for a person who played the role of a parlimenter, a negotiator, or a peacemaker. Those who had this name may have also assumed the nickname of Parnel, a pun on the French word for peace.

In Ireland, the Parnell name derived from the Gaelic Mac Pharrell although, in earlier records, it could also be found as O’Fearghail. ‘Fearghail’ translates to ‘Manly’, ‘Vigorous’, which indicates someone strong, fit and courageous. It was popular in the regions of Munster, mostly in County Cork and County Waterford but can be found in other parts of Ireland.

In Wales, the Parnell surname was also quite popular, though it had different spellings. The most common variant was Pernall and it was often found in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. Pernall was often used as an Anglicized pronunciation of the Welsh name Peronwal, which was derived from the personal name ‘Peron’.

Whether the Parnell surname was derived in England, Ireland, or Wales, it has been used for centuries and can still be found today throughout the British Isles and in the United States.

Famous people with the name Parnell

  • Luke Parnell: Australian professional cricket player
  • Thomas Parnell: 18th century Irish poet
  • Jack Parnell: 20th century British jazz bandleader and composer
  • Brian Parnell: Actor and filmmaker
  • Charles Stewart Parnell: 19th century Irish Nationalist leader
  • Chad Parnell: Professional American football player
  • George Parnell: 19th century Irish political figure
  • Peter Parnell: Playwright and stage actor
  • Robert Parnell: British politician
  • Sam Parnell: New Zealand civil and trade union leader

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