Origin of the surname "Runyon" is obscure at best. Indeed, it has been identified as an Anglicized version of an Irish Gaelic name.1 However, this seems quite unlikely for a family of Huguenot ancestry. Indeed, it is reported that the original French surname was "Rongnion". As might be expected, spellings of surnames were quite variable within early colonial society. Consequently, "Rongnion", "Rognion", Rougnion", Runyan", "Runyon", "Runion", "Runnion", among other forms are all found in civil records and can be regarded as denoting the same surname.2 Subsequently, "Runyon" has become the most accepted form, but others still remain in use.Source Notes and Citations:
Identfication of Henri Rongnion or Henri De Rongnion (perhaps, a minor noble) as the father of Vincent Rongnion, the Huguenot immigrant to New Jersey, is far from certain. Even so, Henri Rongnion appears to have been a seventeenth century inhabitant of Portiers, France, and it is a least possible that he and Vincent Rongnion were father and son (or, perhaps, more distant relatives). Nothing definitive is further known.
1. Patrick Hanks (ed.), Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, periodically updated.
"Irish: reduced Anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Rúnaidhin, from a diminutive of the personal name Ruanaidh."
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2. Robert and Amos Runyon, Runyon Genealogy, privately published, Brownsville, TX, 1955, pgs. xi-xiii.
"INTRODUCTION MOST GENEALOGISTS agree that the American Runyon---Runyan families are descendants of Vincent and Ann Martha (Boutcher) Rongnion. All references to them found in public records and early history confirm this belief. Their exist traditional stories that ancestors of some the families came from Germany, and others claim that England was the place of family origin. No evidence exists that supports either of these claims, and no record has been found that indicates that any Runyon came from any European country except France. There are many variations of the spelling of Vincent's surname. The spelling used by the authors is that which is found in his marriage license.
Almost three centuries have passed since Vincent Rongnion came to America and settled in New Jersey, His descendants are found throughout the United States, and many of them have scant or no information of their ancestor. No complete printed pedigree of this eminent French Huguenot, who sought refuge in America for a permanent home exists; however much data is scattered through public documents, histories, and genealogical magazines, which should be gathered and published. The authors have compiled much valuable data of these Runyon families who came early to Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and West Virginia, and of their descending families.
The Runyons who came from Eastern Virginia to what is Pike County, Kentucky, may have come as early as 1795 on hunting or Indian scouting tours, but no permanent settlements were made by any of them before 1810. William Ely, History of the Big Sandy Valley, erred in his narration of the Runyons. It was John Runyon who came with his son Adron, and their arrival was after 1810.
In New Jersey the early spelling of the surname Runyon was either Runyon or Runyan; both spellings were pronouced the same, and apparently Runyon was the preferred spelling. Some of the Runyon families emigrated westward thorugh Virginia circa 1770 or before. Those families who located in Virginia usually signed their names to marriage bonds and other public records as Runyon.
In Virginia the county court clerks and other officials who prepared public records spelled the name phonetically, such as Runion or sometimes Runnion. The early settlers as they went westward in Virginia soon lost contact with their ancestors in eastern colonies. Their children had no opportunity to get an education, and so they also spelled their names like they sounded. Some of the descendants of the Runyon families have accepted the Runion--Runnion spelling, and such spelling has perpetuated to the present day.
Lt. Col. Calvin I. Kephart, an authority on the Runyon-Runyan families, has said that John and Thomas, sons of Vincent and Ann Martha (Boutcher) Rongnion moved early to west New Jersey and spelled their name Runyan; while on the other hand Vincent and Peter, who lived and died near their parents' homestead, used the Runyon spelling. Their are exceptions to this rule; some have changed to Runyan from Runyon and vice versa.
After careful study of the Runyon-Runyan spellings, the authors have concluded that since all are descendants from Vincent Rongnion, they should adopt the Runyon manner of spelling.
Henry Runyon and his wife, Hannah (Collins) Runyon, apparently were the first Runyon families to settle in that part of Floyd County, which later became a part of Pike County. Soon after their arrival in that wilderness of southeastern Kentucky, Henry's father, John, his wife, son Adron and two daughters settled on Pond Creek. Contemporaneous with the arrival of John and his family on Pond Creek, Adam Runyon and his family settled on Pigeon Creek, which was located in that part of Cabell County, Virginia, which later became part of Logan County. Pigeon Creek is not far from Pond Creek. Both families apparently had lived in North Carolina, and later Tazewell County, Virginia. In later years, descendants of Adam Runyon settled in Pike and Martin counties, Kentucky. Their relationship to the descendants of John Runyon is not known; however a record may be found to exist. Before 1830, James Runyon, who is thought to be a grandson of Isaac Runyon, a Revolutionary War soldier, and his family settled in Pike County and lived their a few years, then he went elsewhere. James may have left one or more offspring in Pike County. One of them apparently went later to Pulaski County, Virginia.
Soon after 1861, David Runyon and his wife, Elizabeth, came to Pike County from Russell County, Virginia. David located on Tug River and a part of his family emigrated to Morgan County, Missouri, where he died. David is thought to be a son of Isaac Runyon, Jr., and a grandson of Isaac, Sr." This account is in error and was corrected by a later supplement, viz. John and Adron Runyon are not father and son, but are in fact brothers thought to be sons of Isaac Runyon, Sr.
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3. Robert Runyon, Supplement to Runyon Genealogy, United Printers and Publishers, Harlingen, TX, 1962, pgs. unk.
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