The GROSE Surname

Grose, Cross or Gross?

Surnames were in common use in the British Isles by the 15th century. Many derive from a parent’s name, a place name, a landscape feature (topographic), an occupation, or a nickname.

The surname GROSE possibly has at least two distinct origins in the British Isles.

1) Landscape (topographic) origin

The Cornish surname GROSE could be an anglicised version of GROWS.

Grows is a mutation of crows or krows, the Cornish word for ‘CROSS‘.

Changing ‘c’ or ‘k’ to ‘g’ is a common mutation of consonants in Celtic languages.

Good Friday in the Cornish language is ‘Gwener an Grows’ (Friday of the Cross).

Many Cornish place names incorporate a variant the Cornish word for cross.

Crows-an-Wra (Krows an Wragh) means ‘witches cross‘ or ‘white cross‘.

Rose-an-Grouse (historically Resincrous or Res-an-Grows) means ‘ford of the cross‘.

Cornish crosses, everywhere!

Old stone crosses are a common sight in Cornwall and were erected across the countryside for many reasons:
Wayside crosses by roads, tracks or footpaths normally marked the route to the nearest parish church.

Crosses on riverbanks indicated a safe or shallow place to pass through.

Boundary crosses marked land or parish boundaries.

– Market or village crosses were often a focal point for activities like trade, collecting taxes and public meetings.

Memorial crosses honoured ancient kings and chieftains.

Churchyard crosses were erected on burial sites.

In Cornwall, GROSE might have originated as a topographic surname for a person who lived near a CROSS.

2) Nickname origin

Another origin of the surname GROSE is as a variant of the Middle English nickname surname of GROSS, referring to a large, big or great person.

 is a common surname across Central and Eastern Europe.

The word comes from Old French gros and from Middle High German grōz, both deriving from the late Latin word of Germanic origin, grossus meaning large or great.

Members of the Gross or Grosse family – landed gentry – moved from Norfolk and Suffolk to Cornwall in the 1500’s.

These are likely the ancestors of many GROSE families in Cornwall.

Sources and further reading:


Consonant mutation

Cornish crosses

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