Click here to go to Home Page
Use these links to move around the page
The surname Minnell which appears to be the origin for Minney in Northamptonshire also appears occasionally in Yorkshire as a spelling of Mennell. This is not uncommon as the letters 'i' and 'e' were often interchanged in old parish register entries. It is interesting that to date I have not found an instance of Mennell changing to Minnell which suggests that the surname is pronounced 'Mennell' in Yorkshire. That is not to say that a migrating Mennell could not become a Minnell.
The surname Mennell is derived from Meynell which was a landed gentry family from North Yorkshire (Sir Nicholas de Meynell) circa 12th century. I have seen a transcription of the knights of Henry III which was carried out in the 1550s. A certain Sir Hugh Menyll had been transcribed as Sir Hugh Meyni. The authority that published this transcription believes this to be an error perpetuated over the years - but no proof was supplied to substantiate this. Mesnil/Menil is a French surname believed to be not uncommon in Normandy but it is not known if it came across with William the Conqueror.
One theory for the change from Minnell to Minney is that in Old French the stress was on the last syllable; Minn-ELL. When the surname became anglicised the stress moved to the first syllable; MINN-ell, at this point the surname became more English in pronunciation; MINNel. Since this would have made little sense and the 'll' is a weak sound easily lost, the alternative Minney grew up. The loss of the 'll' is more easily understood if the name holder moved, was illiterate, misheard by a clergyman who did not understand the dialect etc.
There is another theory that the name Minney may be derived from Minall (itself derived from the place name of Mildenhall in Wiltshire). This may explain the appearance of Minney in Abingdon, Berkshire amongst others away from Northamptonshire.
The East Meon, Hampshire Minalls (also recorded as Minell and Minnell) can be traced back to the Minalls of Bedwyn, Wilts. Five Minalls from Ramsbury, Wiltshire emigrated to Pennsylvannia in 1682 (Quakers) and changed their name to Meldenhall.
A useful website is that of The Mendenall Family HistoryReturn to top
The surname Minney first appears in the parish records of Long Buckby, Northants at the start of the 17th century as a variant spelling of Mennell/Mynnell (baptism of Thomas son of Richard Myni 2nd October 1603). Unfortunately, due to the English Civil War and other mishaps there are a lot of gaps in the parish records. The parish register entries are few and far between and peter out in 1677 with the burial of Amey Minney, wife of Thomas. It does suggest that there was just the one family of Mennell/Minney at this time in Long Buckby. For interest I will list all the entries here;
In addition to the above, Richard Mynell is a witness to a will dated 17th Feb 1568/9 and in December 1602, a Thomas Attkins leaves in his will a pair of sheets and one heifer to his daughter Mary Mennell, and to his granddaughter Alice, a lamb at Michaelmas.Return to top
The name then reappears at Yardley Hastings, Northants in 1687, as both Minney and Minnell in various parish register entries, mostly Minnell to begin with, and then by 1750 as just Minney. It is not known whether or not this is the same family line that has moved from Long Buckby. The majority of persons researching their line of Minney tend to end up in Yardley Hastings. These are the earliest register entries:
Shortly after Thomas, their father died in 1721, Frances was indentured to Thomas Underwood of Yardley Hastings. Nothing is known of what became of John baptised in 1709 and Thomas baptised in 1716, although John may possibly be the John Minney that ends up in Great Barford, Bedfordshire (see later).
There were other Minney/Minnells in Yardley Hastings at this time;
Also, there are two Minnell marriages that I cannot find, where the baptisms have taken place in Yardley Hastings showing these two couples to be the parents, namely;
This does suggest that there are probably other Minney/Minnell references to be found in surrounding parishes or in Northampton town itself.Return to top
One odd name change is that of Minin to Minnil/Minill/Minnell discovered at Brackley, Northants;
The family name changes to Minnell/Minnill over the next fifty years (one or two entries were also recorded as Mining). Again there does appear to be just one family involved. I have searched the parish registers to 1837 (just over 100 entries found) and the last entry for Minnel is in 1832;
As yet I am not certain how Brackley ties in with the history of Minney.Return to top
The name Minney also occurs in Hereford in the early 18th century and persists into the 19th with some thirty or more parish register entries. The first positive parish register entry is in 1727 in the parish of St Peter, Hereford;
There are in the parish registers for St Owen, Hereford some earlier entries from 1675 for Menney, Munny and Money. Other registers have yet to be searched in Hereford, so more entries may be forthcoming.
Peterchurch in Herefordshire also has entries from 1670 to 1692 for the family of Meney (Menney/Money). This parish register is not with the record office and has yet to be searched.Return to top
In Abingdon, Berks in the late 1600s there are several entries for Minney beginning with;
Thereafter there are 20 or so further entries for Minney and then they cease in 1762;
Again, this looks like just one family. The Abingdon Minneys were described as boat people in some of the register entries. Abingdon at this time was a prosperous inland port on the River Thames.Return to top
There is also a line of Minney in Wales. It appears in the mid 19thc in Swansea, Glamorganshire. The 1881 census indicates that these Minneys, John and Sarah Minney, are one family that originated in Ireland. This is the family;
Also recorded in the census is the following family that may be related;
According to my notes taken from the General Register Office records, none of the above Swansea births were registered in Wales, let alone Swansea. The marriage between John Minnie and Mary does not appear anywhere in England and Wales. I suspect that the whole family came from Ireland. Hopefully, a later census may give the answer.Return to top
In the 19th century there is this family of Minnell in Buckinghamshire.
Thomas also appears in the Newport Pagnell Circuit book in the 1820/30s for Moulsoe. The family migrates to Newport Pagnell by 1851.
A likely candidate for Thomas's origin is the baptism of Thomas Minnell son of George and Sarah at Millbrook, Beds on 7th August 1796. The Minnells in this part of Bedfordshire may be related to those in Aspley Guise and Woburn, but where they came from is a mystery so far. It could be they originated from either Brackley or Yardley Hastings.Return to top
There are several Minnells recorded in St Dunstans, Stepney, London in the 17th and 18th centuries. These were taken from the IGI and further research of the parish registers has yet to be carried out. The first entry is;
There are then several more entries up to 1721 involving John and Mary Minnell and John and Elizabeth Minnell.Return to top
In Hampshire the surname Minell is pronounced Minnell but only once or twice have I seen the spellings interchanged. The first Minell appears in East Meon;
The first Minnell is the entry for the wedding of;
Then the birth of Edwin Henry Minnell is registered at Portsea district in March quarter 1846. I have over 100 records for both surnames in Hampshire. I believe these two surnames are connected in this area.Return to top
Minnell also occurs in Argentina, believed to be descended from a Minnell from Hampshire who migrated at the end of the 19th century.
There is also a family of Minnells in the Falklands, also from Portsmouth.
In New Zealand, the Minnells settled in the early 1900s and are grouped around the Wanganui area.
Return to top
To confuse the issue of where the Minney line originates from, there are several stray entries in England that may be connected. These have yet to be fully investigated and may be transcription errors (all from the IGI) and here they are;
The Minneys' appear to have been a typical agricultural/labouring family. In the 18th century some of the Yardley Hastings family began to migrate, firstly to neighbouring counties such as Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
In particular these marriages started new Minney family lines in Buckinghamshire;
However, the first links to Bedfordshire are less so. The first entry for a Minney in Bedfordshire is:
Spencer as a first name has cropped up generation after generation in this particular line (see above). It is not connected to the Spencer's of Althorp but more likely to have been influenced as a first name from Lord Compton, who as the Earl of Northampton, had the ancestral home at Castle Ashby, near Yardley Hastings. Many Minney families would have been estate workers at Castle Ashby. The first Spencer Compton died at the time of the civil war. It is believed that he was named Spencer after his godfather John Spencer, a Lord Mayor of London.Return to top
A search of the database shows that some Minney families had moved North (and in one case to Padstow, Cornwall) by the middle of the nineteenth century;
Current directories show that today most of these migrating families have moved on apart from one or two pockets in Lancashire.Return to top
The surname Miney often crops up as a misspelling of Minney. However, some Mineys are in fact from Ireland, although their number is very small. Current name directories show there to be several Mineys in Belfast, Armagh and County Cavan.
In 1813 the name Miney first appears in Liverpool; Joseph and Margaret Miney, parents at the baptism of Betsey. The surname persists in this area up to the present day although in no great number. It is possible that this is one family originating from Ireland.Return to top
At least one Minney went to New England in the early 1700s. I am grateful to Don Norman for the following piece of information; Daniel Minney, the first traceable ancestor of the Minney line appears in the tax records of Lebanon Township, Hunterdon County, New Jersey from 1778 to 1785, along with his brother, Peter Minney. In May 1778, Daniel paid taxes on 100 acres of land, 4 horses, 8 cattle and 7 pigs. In February 1780, he paid taxes on 8 acres of land 3 horses and 7 cattle.
Daniel may have been a weaver or a dealer in woollen cloth. Records of the Frandin Fulling Mill located near Hamden NJ record 4 job orders for Daniel between 1775 and October 14, 1781. We have no information on his wife, except that her name was Mary Reeder.
Daniel next appears in the 1789 tax records of Bethel Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. (In 1850, Bedford County was split to form Bedford and Fulton Counties, with Bethel Township presently located in Fulton County.) Peter Minney appears in the 1789 Bethel Township tax records.
The "Widow Minney" appears in the Bethel Township tax records from 1791 to 1797, leading to the conclusion that Daniel died in 1790. By 1798, Mary had married Joseph Fawney, and he became the administrator of Daniel Minney's estate. Peter Minney's will is recorded in the 1795 Bedford County PA records leaving his estate to his brother, Daniel's, children.Return to top
A number of Minneys in the States are descended from a Charles Minney who according to family legend was born in Scotland on 3rd June 1834.
According to 'Memorial and Biograpical Record Compendium of Biography' published in 1899, by George A. Ogle and Co; Chicago, Charles Minney's parents were John and Mary Minney who died in the prime of life in New Jersey, and are buried there. They left two children, Charles and his sister Mary. Mary later married a Mr Huffman and in 1899 lived in Mauch Chunk, Pennsylvania.
Charles was 11 years old when his father died. He attended private schools in New Jersey for a short time. He worked as a farm hand until he was 25. He wed Lovinah Tompkins of Tiskilwa, Bureau County, Illinois. She was born on 24th August 1840. They were married on 3rd December 1858 in Bureau County.Charles is stated as being from New Jersey at the time of the marriage.Charles Minney served in the Civil War with Company H, 9th Illinois Calvary. He enlisted on 28th February 1865, aged 32 years. He was discharged on 1st November 1865.
On 25th May 1871 Charles and his family arrived by ox team and homesteaded 160 acres of prairie land in Fillmore County, Nebraska. They had with them six children. They lived ten years in a 'dugout' one room and 'lean to' and suffered many hardships. They built a more substantial house in 1881. Eight more children were born at Fillmore County. Vinah Minney died on 25th February 1890 age 49. Charles Minney died in Denver in March 1902. Up to this time he had been living at the Nebraska farm. He seems to have suffered ill health shortly after joining the cavalry and this persisted until he died.
A photo of Charles Minney (and daughter Grace Ethel) are on the Photo Album page
additional information supplied by John and Chris MinneyReturn to top
There is a recorded entry of a Thomas Minny emigrating to the USA as an indentured servant in 1671. This is, unfortunately an error. The original apprentice records have been seen and show this to be Thomas Winny. The search continues to find the first Minney emigrants to the USA, be they from England, Ireland, Scotland or Europe. The number of Minneys in the USA today is similar to those here in the UK.
Modern telephone directories show settlements of Minney in California, Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio (the largest number of families), Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.Return to top
The earliest Minney to settle in Australia is John Thomas Minney, who was deported at the age of 15 years in 1818 for the crime of stealing four pairs of shoes. At his trial his surname was spelt Menney. He served seven years. It is believed he died at Newcastle in 1839.
Later arrivals in the 19th century include;
There is the strange case of a Minney family changing their name to McInney after a family dispute. Nothing more is known about this incident.
And another family quarrel resulted in the name change from Minney to Minny some time in the late 1800s. This line of Minn(e)y is believed to be the same as that of R J Minney.
The number of Minneys in Australia is about a quarter of that in the UK or USA.Return to top
Two other variant spellings that I have often found and recorded are Minnie and Minny - if found in the UK these are normally misspellings of Minney. Minnie and Minny do appear regularly in South Africa, Minnie also appears in Canada and Scotland.
One printed source on South African surnames attributes the origin of Minnie as being Old French from Minnar (from Mesnard meaning inhabitant of a small house). My own research shows this to be questionable. Several family trees and printed sources that I have seen show a Minnie (or sometimes spelt Mienie) line going back to the early 18th century in South Africa with definite links to Holland.
There are two possible sources, one where French Huguenots fled France for Protestant Holland in the 17th century, or when approximately 200 Huguenots settled in South Africa in the 18th century.
The Dutch settled in the Cape in the late 17th century and were added to by equal numbers of Germans plus in 1688 over 150 French Huguenots. These early immigrants became known as Afrikaners. The records that I have seen show some Minnie families settling in Graaff-Reinet and Swellendam. These areas became known as republic type settlements for the trekboers. The trekboers were fiercely independent seminomadic farmers and accounted for half the white population outside of Cape Town. Incidentally, Boer means farmer.
From Nada Crafford: According to "Suid Afrikaanse Geslagsregisters" (South African Family Registers) there are 2 progenitors for the Minnie family (surname) in South Africa, namely:
Dirk Mennen from Paderborn in Germany who arrived in 1741 as soldier on the ship Amsterdam, became permanent resident in 1741, lived in Stellenbosch. His second marriage took place in Paarl on 2.6.1743 when he married Christina Scheepers. His descendants uses Menne, Minne and probably also different forms of Minnie. And;
Jean Willems Minie who married Susanna Marscalk. She was baptised on 2.11.1692 and was the daughter of Jean Marschalk from Antwerpen (Netherlands) and Maria Helmus (daughter of Hans Helm and Geertruy Willemse). He has the bigger family. The name Minnie is the most common, but some members also use Minie, Mienie and one line of descendants (or maybe more) started using Minny.
Searching through telephone directories for Holland and Belgium I found Minnee and Minne (believed to be pronounced Minnie) occasionally but no Minnie. Minnar also occurs.Return to top
The 1871 Ontario census index (head of households only) lists six Minnie's. Bar one, they all state they have Scottish ancestry. It could be they are all related - son's of James Minnie.
The only research so far in Scotland consists of extracts from the IGI. This lists a few Minnie's and Minie's. A number of entries are dated around 1790 in Aberdeenshire. Current directories list a few Minnie's around Aberdeen.Return to top
It would appear that in the early 1800s a line of Minney appeared in Glasgow with a Thomas Minney who wed a Jane Hepburn. No dates are available. They had a son Thomas, born 1856, who wed Jane McDougall in 1877.The following generations lived in Glasgow to at least the 1930s.
Roz Doyle has suppled this; I think I may have another Miney for you, although in the Scotland Census of 1861 it is spelt “Mirreey”, and other people have taken it to be “Merry”. One Agnes Inglis appears to have married a Thomas Miney, according to the family bible which is lodged in the Inglis Memorial Hall in the village of Edzell, Angus, Scotland. I attach a photo of one of the pages inside the bible which lists family deaths; about halfway down is Thomas Miney”, and 5 lines later is Agnes Miney or Inglis. Return to top
It would be surprising if no Minney's were to be found in India records. An interesting record is of a retired British soldier (known as a Chelsea Pensioner) from the 30th Regiment of Foot, Samuel Minney, settled in Madras in 1827 and married a Mary Gainor in 1837. They had at least three children;
Ann and Mary both married in India. William emigrated to Australia on the Palmyra in 1854.
Samuel may have originated in Flamstead, Hertfordshire, and his parents from Bedfordshire. Further research is needed at the PRO to confirm this.
Rubeigh James Minney was born in Calcutta on 29th Aug 1895. Although his father, Joseph Rubyn Minney was born in Hong Kong in 1870. R J Minney told his daughter that his grandfather was born in England in 1820 and left for Hong Kong to be a merchant in 1840. Joseph wed a Esthere Mayohas whose family were Sephardic Jews from Spain.
When Joseph’s parents died they left him their money. This caused a rift and one of Joseph’s brothers, Solomon (?) changed his name to Minny and he had at least one son named Cyril (see Shanghai entry below). This family migrated to Australia after 1945.
A Malcom Minney with his wife Helena, were on the passenger list aboard the Duchess of York that arrived in Canada in 1931. Malcolm was born on 27 April 1899 in Calcutta, India. His wife was also born in Calcutta on 28 November 1895. Both stated they were English and religion as Hebrew.
A Solomon Ruben Minny (or Minney) was born in Hong Kong in 1866 and died in Shanghai 1927. Solomon may well be RJ Minney's Uncle and father of Cyril and Edward.
Also, in the Shanghai Consular's register for 1922 are these two births; Cyril E and Edward Minny. These may be adult entries.
From Leanne Minney; Interned at Weihsien Internment Camp (Shantung Province) by the Japanese May 1943 to Aug 1945 were the following Minny family:-
Dates of birth from www.weihsien-paintings.org
A Charles John Minney was a Senior Purveyor as part of the British Force in the Second Opium War 1860. In the diary of Lieut. General Sir Gerald Graham sent Charles Minney to Tien-Tsin (now pronounced Tianjin) on 4 September 1860. Tianjin is coastal city and about 75 miles from Beijing. The British and French forces were at that time attacking some forts on the river at Tianjin before moving onto Beijing. Return to top
There is as yet no evidence that the name Minney is French. There are one or two French Huguenot Minys and Minils in the Threadneedle Street, London parish registers for the early 1600s.
I have listed them here. I am not sure what the expression 'tém' means.
There are probably less than two thousand Minneys world-wide (800 each in the UK and USA using projected figures from telephone listings). The number for Minnell is tiny, suggesting a surname that is in danger of becoming extinct. There are no more than half a dozen Minnell families in the UK today.