The family name Snodgrass is said to originate from lands in the parish of Irvine, Ayrshire, known as Snodgrasse, or Snodgers, at a bend in the River Garnock at 55°38' north, 4°42' west, which were rented out in plots. Both forms are recorded in Ayrshire and in Glasgow between the 13th and 16th centuries. The name means "smooth grassy place" in Scottish Gaelic. In 1528 a charter from the King lists the lands of "Snotgerss" as being one of the confirmed possessions of Hugh, third Earl of Eglinton; the next record seen of the name is in the late 17th century.
The first records of the family in the new world are in the early 18th century in Virginia. The Virginia town of Hedgesville (now West Virginia) was founded by William Snodgrass, who arrived in the American colonies in 1700. William Snodgrass is buried in the cemetery of Tuscarora Presbyterian Church in Berkeley County, West Virginia. Closer examination reveals a wave of immigrants from Scotland during the Highland Clearances, Highland Potato Famine (1846-1857), and Lowland Clearances; increasing family sizes probably prompted many Snodgrasses to leave when the land could no longer support all of them.
From Pennsylvania and other ports-of-entry, they have spread across the North American continent and today there is in excess of 6000 Snodgrass families in the United States and Canada.
By Dean Hanley
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