Recorded as Mac Kilgrew, Kilgrew, Killigrew and Kilgrove, this is a surname that the Irish suggest is English, and the English do not seem to be sure! Certainly according to the gazetters of England there is a place near Chelmsford in Essex called Killigrew House, which is understood to occupy the site of a former medieval village. If this is correct it would seem to tbe the place of origin of the surname. However Patrick Lower, the author of the famous etymology book "Patronimica Britannica" written in 1840, claims that the surname originates from a place called Cheligrevus Manor near St Erme in Cornwall, whilst the Irish researcher and author Wolfe declares that is Irish and a form of the surname Kilgore. This if correct is from the ancient Gaelic Mac giolla Gheirr, meaning the son of the follower of the short one! What we do know with absolute certainty is that the name appears several times in the 16th and 17th century in English registers of proven reliability. The first in 1590 is in the register of students at Oxford University where one Robert Killegrew of Hampshire is so recorded whilst Henry Killygrew appears in the same register but in 1615, and his address is given as Cornwall. The Mac Killgrew as recorded in Ireland in the 17th century would seem to have been an attempt of Gaelicize the name. The meaning of the name may be "ships prow" from Norse "kylyfa-gruau" but this is conjecture.
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