The Goninan Family

(also Goninon, Goninen, Goninion, etc)

  Goninan is a very rare name and it is believed that the origin of the name is from the cornish (ie celtic) word Keonnen, meaning hedge of ash trees. One of the earliest written references to the name that has been found is in the Protestations of 1641. This was when the House of Commons, in an attempt to show that the country was united, required all adult males to pledge their allegiance to the King, Parliament and the Church. In the Parish of Breage in Cornwall the name of Peter Goninin is recorded and then in 1660 in the poll tax records we find the names of Peter Goninnan and wife, Richard Goninnan and wife, Thomas Goninnan and wife and Faith Goninnan.  
  Early on there were any number of different spellings of the name, not helped of course by the fact that very few ordinary folk could read or write. The spellings recorded depended on the whim of the person actually writing down the name. In fact it's not unusual to see a father and son's name recorded differently (eg Goninan and Goninon). Eventually three main spellings emerged. The accepted spelling in the UK is Goninan. This spelling is also found in Australia and the States but the branch of the family that settled in Wisconsin spell their name Goninen and the descendants of the branch of the family that settled in Tasmania spell their name Goninon.  

By the first census in the UK in 1841, four main branches of the family have become established. At that time there were just 39 people in the world with the name Goninan most of them living in Cornwall:-

The Gwithian branch (17)
Mary Goninan and her remaining unmarried children, Matthew, John, Henry, William and Jennifer
Edward (Mary's eldest son) and his wife Catherine and their children Edward, Richard and John
Richard (Mary's son) and his first wife Bessy and their children Elizabeth, Mary, Richard and Jane.
All of these were living in Connor Downs in the Gwithian Parish except for William who was lodging in St Just

The St Just branch (9)
William Goninan in Penzance with his daughter Jane
William (son of the above) and Jane Goninan and their children William, Alfred and Edward (living in St Just)
William's brother Josiah (serving in the army)
Peter Goninan in Madron workhouse

The Helston Branch (6)
Edward and Honour Goninan and their sons Edward and Henry (living in Helston)
Henry and Ann Goninan living in London (believed to be of the Helston branch)

The Perranuthnoe branch (7)
Richard and Ann Goninan and their daughter Elizabeth (living in Sithney)
Their son Richard and his wife Letitia and their children Eliza Ann and John William living in the Parish of Phillack (in 1842 they went to New Zealand before settling in Australia)


A Grand Gathering of Goninans from around the world took place in Cornwall on the 7th, 8th and 9th June 2002
when family members had an opportunity to meet and celebrate their shared cornish ancestry. Over 70 family members attended including 20 from the US and 24 from Australia. This was the first truly global gathering of the family.
Group Photo

It was followed in October 2005 with a very successful gathering in Launceston, Tasmania. Here is a group photo taken at Beaconsfield where Henry and Mary Goninon and their family settled.

The third global Gathering took place in Madison, Wisconsin in June 2009. This was attended by family members from Australia, New Zealand and the UK as well as various States in America including Georgia, Michigan, Iowa, Washington and of course Wisconsin. Wisconsin was chosen as a venue because Matthew and Belinda Goninan settled here having left Cornwall in 1849.
Group Photo

A 4th Global Gathering was held in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia in 2013


For further information on the Goninan Family contact John Saunders email:-
zgoninan1695 followed by
or follow these links:-

  Goninan Family Tree   the family tree from 1695 (new website)
  Family Matters   results of family tree research
  New Website   with various links