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An excerpt from www.HouseOfNames.com archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Where did the English Townley family come from? When did the Townley family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Townley family history?

Of all the Anglo-Saxon names to come from Britain, Townley is one of the most ancient. The name is a result of the original family having lived in the settlement of Towneley in the county of Lancashire, or by any clearing in which a farm was situated. The surname Townley thus belongs to both the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads, and class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.

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The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Townley has been spelled many different ways, including Townley, Towneley and others.

First found in Lancashire where they were descended from Spartlingus, the first Dean of Whalley about 896 A.D. Descended was Liwlphus, Cudwlphus, Henricus the great Baron of Whalley. He was followed by Robertus, Geoffrey who married the daughter of Roger de Lacy, Constable of Cheshire in 1193. "An estate in Lancashire, which belonged to this ancient and distinguished family, whose pedigree is said to be traced to the time of King Alfred, and to Spartlingus, first Dean of Whalley, who flourished about the year 896. The line of this personage terminated with an heiress, Cecilia of Towneley, in the XIV. century, who married John del Legh, and conveyed the estate to his family. He died in or about 1330, and his great-grandson resumed the ancient surname of Towneley. John del Legh was a cadet of the great Cheshire family of that name. Towneley Hall is still the seat of this race, who may well challenge comparison in point of venerable antiquity with any family in England." [1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Townley research. Another 135 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1375, 1531, 1737, 1600, 1644, 1629, 1707, 1711, 1683, 1686 and 1692 are included under the topic Early Townley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 121 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Townley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Townley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Townleys to arrive in North America:

Townley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Townley, aged 35, landed in New York in 1691

Townley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Robt Townley, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Henry and Margaret Townley settled in Maryland in 1721
  • Mary Townley settled in New England in 1756

Townley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • James Townley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1831
  • Patrick and William Townley arrived in Philadelphia in 1834
  • Alfred Townley, who landed in Mississippi in 1876

Townley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Townley arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Telegraph" in 1863
  • Elizabeth Townley arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Telegraph" in 1863

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  • Sidney Dean Townley (1867-1946), American astronomer and geodeticist, eponym of the Townley lunar crater
  • Arthur Charles Townley (1880-1959), American Socialist Party organizer
  • Sir Charles Townley (1713-1774), Officer of Arms at the College of Arms in London
  • Charles Townley (1737-1805), English country gentleman, collector of the Townley Marbles
  • Simon Townley (b. 1963), English piano player and composer
  • Mr. Ernest Ethelbert Townley, Canadian 1st Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking
  • Athol Gordon Townley (1905-1963), Australian politician and Minister for Defence
  • Michael Townley (b. 1934), former Tasmanian senator
  • Reginald Colin "Rex" Townley (1904-1982), Australian politician
  • Thomas Owen Townley (1862-1935), eighth Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  2. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  3. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  4. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  5. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  7. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  8. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  9. Browning, Charles H. Americans of Royal Descent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  10. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  11. ...


This page was last modified on 10 February 2016 at 14:43.

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