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2,517 study surnames with us
and a further 6,384 variant names.
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About the study

Having researched over the years, many of the names associated with my ancestry, I decided in 1999 to look at TRANAH, the surname of my maternal grandmother. As I suspected it was a very small family from a very specific area of the U.K. The name has now travelled around the world and I correspond with TRANAHS in the U.S.A, Canada and Australia. I produce a 6-monthly newsletter 'TRANAH TRAIL,' to update people with my on-going research. The name was registered with the Guild of One-name Studies in 2000.

Variant names

The variants registered with the Guild are TRANAH, TRANNAH, TRENAH & TRINAH but the following have been found on old documents TRANAW, TRENAUGH, TURAY, TURNAH, TURNNAH, even FRANAH. But invariably I have found it spelt TRANAH. The family have 2 different pronunciations, to stress either the first or last syllable.

Name origin

A number of suggestions have been put forward by family members as to the origins of the name, which I have looked into.

*Cornish - in looking through the I.G.I. records for Cornwall I could find no TRANAH or TRANNAH at all; in 1842 one TRANARE, 1847 one TRENAH, in 1592 & 1836 TRENNA and one TRENNAILLE.  Since starting the DNA Project, early results are pointing to the village of St Erth in Cornwall to the TREGUNS/TREGUNNA family.  Gradually as the name moved east across the U.K. the name became corrupted to TRANAH.

*Jewish - the one connection here we can be certain of, were two marriages in the 19thC. The brothers Arthur & Henry, born 1825 & 1829 respectively, sons of Arthur & Mary Freeman TRANAH, married 2 Jewish sisters, Sarah Guy Cotton and Hannah Cotton, whose mother was Jewish of the Levy family in the Medway area of Kent.

*Huguenot - the name is not recognised as being Huguenot by the Huguenot & Walloon Research Association or the Huguenot Society of Great Britain & Ireland and the only name I can find remotely like it in Huguenot records is one Peter TRANO who came to this country from Burgoine near Paris. There is a very strong verbal tradition that the name was French, which may be so even if not of Huguenot descent. The French surname TRENET would very easily be anglicized to TRANAH.


History of the name

Few TRANAHS have risen to great importance but many have been featured in some way on old documents, quite a few through inter-family court cases heard in the Court of Chancery. This has made the task of researching the family extremely interesting.

Name frequency

The first person I have found recorded with the name TRANAH was Arthur, who was listed in 1664 as having to pay hearth tax for 2 hearths in the Strood Little Borough Quarter Sessions Assessment in Kent. And that area is where most of them stayed until the end of the 19thC. To date only 700 have been born with the TRANAH name.

Distribution of the name

Nearly all the Tranahs recorded in the 17th,& 18thC's were found in the Medway area of Kent, particularly Strood and Rochester. One family went to London to seek their fortune in the mid-1700's and 2 families left for the U.S.A. in the 1880's. Now they can be found all over the U.K. as well as the U.S.A. Canada and Australia.


I have indexes for all the recordings of TRANAH in the General Registry Office for England & Wales, I.G.I listings, parish registers, census returns for the U.K. & U.S.A., trade directories, wills, grants of probate, apprentice records, Kent poll boks, victuallers records, immigration records, newspaper articles, military & naval lists and the research is on-going.  With more and more information available about men who served in WW1 I have been able to obtain the Battalion War Diaries of the only Tranah who was killed on active service.


The DNA Project was started in the autumn of 2012. It really is a voyage of discovery, identifying which family trees descend from the surname origin. As the project progresses I hope it will help to knock down any brickwalls, confirm any surname variants, validate our family history so far researched and discover information about our distant origins.