Kuršėnai town name was first time documented in XVI century. According to historian M. Balinskis, its name is derived from word 'kuršis'. However, according to local people, the town didn't have a name for a long time. But, one summer day the river Venta flooded and washed all hay bales which were standing at the river banks. People started questioning each other: where is hay? where is hay? („Kur šienai? Kur šienai?“). Since then, the town name stayed as Kuršėnai.
Since ideal clay for fine ceramics was detected in the vicinity of Kuršėnai, pottery has long been thriving in the city. In the last century, Kuršėnai have been famous for fairs abundant in earthenware at all times. Kuršėnai are called the “Capital of Potters” not only due to the abundance of such handicraftsmen in the city but also because the All-Time Potter’s Crown has been solely won by the folk artists of Kuršėnai such as J. Paulauskas, V. Damkus, B. Radeckas, and J. Vertelis. It clearly is no coincidence that a pitcher is one of the elements of the Coat of Arms of the city of Kuršėnai.
The history of Kuršėnai Manor begins in 1564 when Sigismund Augustus gave the said manor as a fief to George Despot-Zenovich, the Castellan of Polotsk. Soon, a settlement began to grow in the manor lands on the other side of the Venta, and in 1569 the first wooden church was erected. In 1621, the estate went to S. Pac, the Grand Treasurer of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and a decade later the manor became the property of George Gruzewski and his wife. At the end of the 18th century, Kuršėnai were inherited by Stephen Gruzewski. Having brought in the artist J. Rilke with the apprentice team, he built a new (current) manor house and a chapel and renovated other buildings in 1811. The estate flourished still further under ruling of his younger son Edward who took it over in 1846. The mansion and the park were devastated by the Germans who occupied the manor during the First World War and brought away the most valuable things. The fire of 1915 destroyed the peasant farms, barns, and sheds. The manor belonged to George Gruzewski at that time. Owing to advanced farming, the estate was flourishing during the interwar period. The manor was nationalized in 1940. Kuršėnai Manor is the sole most valuable heritage of wooden manorial architecture in Šiauliai District. The original staircase, window frames, and wooden front doors have survived.