What’s the origin of these three rare Cornish surnames?
The first Drowns were recorded close to the Tamar at Stoke Climsland and Lezant in 1544. Then a smattering of people with this surname popped up at various places across Cornwall in the later 1500s and 1600s in no particular pattern. Either the first Drowns were especially prone to migration or this was a fashionable nickname from the English word drone (as in bee), applied to an idle person and appearing simultaneously in separate places.
The name Fradd was originally Frodd. A William Frodde was living at St Kew in 1525 and a Thomas Frod was found in the same parish in 1543. By the middle of the 1600s Frodd had become Fradd. The family name had not strayed far however, as most Fradds were still living in mid-Cornwall in the district between St Minver on the north coast and Lostwithiel. Was there some connection to the placename Fraddon, some miles west at St Enoder? This placename, meaning place of the stream, was spelt Frodan in 1356. Did Frodd emerge as a short version of Frodan?
Goninans were relatively late arrivals on the surname scene. The first record I have found was Wilmot Goninnin who was buried at Breage in 1639. All Goninins before 1650 were found in the parish of Breage, where the surname had clearly originated. Was this family name linked to the place Tregonning, a farm that gave its name to the nearby hill, known as Conyn or Conin in 1540? Had the old Celtic personal name Conan or Conyn survived into this period in the Cornish language?