Recorded as Garnswood, Garnsworthy, Girwood, and probably others, this is a rare English surname. It is locational and would seem to originate from a place called either Gerner's wood or possibly Gerner's yard, from the pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon or possibly French personal name 'Gernier', and 'worp,' a yard, an enclosure within a wood, or a wood itself! However no such place has been found in any of the known gazetters of the British Isles for the past three centuries. This would suggest that either the spelling of the place name or surname or both, has changed completely over the centuries and is no longer recognizeable, or more likely the place itself is what is now known as a 'Lost medieval village'. At least five thousand such places, many of which gave rise to surnames, have disappeared over the past five centuries. This has been as a result of changes in farming practice, urbanisation where the growing towns have swallowed up the villages, the great plagues which swept the county between the 12th and 17th centuries, coastal erosion or even war. Examples of the surname are rarely found in the famous International Geneological Index of surnames, but such as we have been able to find include John Garnwood who married Anne Willis at the famous church of St Mary-le-Bone, in the city of London,on April1 8thth 1802.
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