Surname Saturday: Renfrew


I haven’t done a Surname Saturday in awhile and today seemed a good day to highlight this particular surname after stumbling across an interesting story this week – and possibly a link to my own family history.  The name I actually ran across while working on an ancestry research project was Renfro (Renfrow or Rentfrow).  As it turns out, these are all variations of Renfrew, and as I suspected the name has Scottish origins.

The name originates from a town of the same name in Renfrewshire.  Perhaps the earliest instance of the name was seen in the late thirteenth century when the name Adam de Reynfru was recorded in Edeneburk County.  Early in the following century a Scottish prisoner of war by the name of Robert Reynfreu was imprisoned at the Old Sarum Castle between 1304 and 1307.

This article was enhanced and published in the June 2018 issue of Digging History Magazine.  Preview the issue here or purchase here.


  1. Great story. My dad has did many years of extensive research and found the same to be true about the Hensley/Rentfrow connection. My Great Grandpa was John from Effingham who’s grandpa was Eli from the brothers that moved there in 1860. This is fascinating because really we should be Hensley’s. Thanks, great post!

    • Eli was my 3rd great grandfather as well…

  2. TJ Rentfrow was my 3rd G Grandfather Eli’s younger brother, both sons of Hickman Hensley and Elizabeth Rentfrow…..

    • Cousin, thanks for stopping by!

  3. Dear Sharon,
    Thank you so much for posting this great story. I just found this while looking for Samuel Bratton (only mentioned by name), as one of the other two white family names within 10 miles.
    Samuel is my 4th great grandfather on my mother’s side.
    He brought his family from SC to KY in 1800, and moved to Effingham County in 1829.
    He apparently died in Effingham County and left no known descendants in that territory. His date of death and place of burial are unknown.Can you help provide any information on him and/or his family?

    • Thanks for stopping by … glad you enjoyed the story. It kinda blew me away when I ran across it!
      Unfortunately, I didn’t pursue any further information on Samuel Bratton other than his brief mention in the article. I believe I found that in the book “History of Effingham County, Illinois”. Have you contacted the local historical society for possible leads or other sources?


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