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The ancestry of the name Townsend dates from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from when the family lived on the outskirts of a village. The surname Townsend literally refers to a dweller "at the town's end." The name belongs to the 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 surname Townsend was first found in Norfolk, at Snoring Magna (Great Snoring) where one of the first records of the name was found there in 1377. "In 1398, John Townshend settled at Rainham, which according to some accounts accrued to them by the heiress of Havile. " [1]CITATION[CLOSE]
Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
Another source confirms this noble family's status. "In 1398, the ancestor of the Marquis Townshend was at Rainham, the present seat of the family." [2]CITATION[CLOSE]
Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
Actually the first record of the name was listed before the two aforementioned worthy sources. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 lists: Geoffrey de le Tuneshende in Norfolk; Henry atte Tunesende in Oxfordshire; and Alice atte Tunishende in Buckinghamshire. Years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Ricardus atte ye Thounhende; and Johannes atte Tonehende. [3]CITATION[CLOSE]
Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
Raynham Hall is a country house in Norfolk, England. Completed shortly after the death of Sir Roger Townsend's death in 1637, it has been the seat of the Townshend family for nearly 400 years. The Hall is reported to be haunted, and was the scene of the famous ghost photo of the Brown Lady descending the staircase.

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Townsend have been found, including Townsend, Townshend and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Townsend research. Another 165 words (12 lines of text) covering the years 1350, 1390, 1430, 1493, 1486, 1568, 1603, 1603, 1596, 1637, 1630, 1687, 1682, 1608, 1668, 1630, 1618, 1692, 1674, 1738, 1619 and are included under the topic Early Townsend History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Notables of the family at this time include Sir Roger Townshend ( ca. 1430-1493), who was knighted by Henry VII in 1486; Sir John Townshend (c.1568-1603), of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, an English soldier and Member of Parliament, killed in a duel with Sir Matthew Browne in August 1603; Sir Roger Townshend...

Another 81 words (6 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Townsend Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Some of the Townsend family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 107 words (8 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Townsend, or a variant listed above:

Townsend Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • William Townsend settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1630
  • Henry Townsend (1626–1695), English settler to Flushing about 1630
  • John Townsend ( ca. 1608–1668) English settler to America with his brother Henry about 1630, signatory to the Flushing Remonstrance
  • Martin Townsend, who arrived in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1634
  • Francis Townsend, aged 21, arrived in Virginia in 1635
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Townsend Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Anne Townsend, who landed in Virginia in 1702
  • Robert Townsend, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Benoni Townsend, who landed in New England in 1717
  • Edward Townsend, who landed in Georgia in 1738
  • Mary Townsend, who landed in Georgia in 1740
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Townsend Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Daniel Townsend, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1863

Townsend Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century

  • Davis Townsend, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • James Townsend, who settled, with his wife and five children, in St. John Island in 1775
  • Mr. Job Townsend U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [4]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  • Mr. Leven Townsend U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [5]CITATION[CLOSE]
    Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X

Townsend Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Charles Townsend, who arrived in Canada in 1830
  • Abraham Townsend, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • Platt Townsend, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • Samuel Townsend, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • George Townsend, aged 28, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eleanor Gordon" in 1834
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Townsend Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • James Townsend, English convict from Cambridge, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on March 5th, 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Austraila
  • John Townsend arrived in Kangaroo Island aboard the ship "Hartley" in 1837
  • William Remnant Townsend arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1839
  • mary Ann Townsend arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1839
  • Lionel Edmund Townsend arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1839
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Townsend Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Mr Townsend landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship Lord William Bentinck
  • Chauncy H. Townsend arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" in 1841
  • Michael Townsend, aged 22, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Shamrock" in 1855
  • John Townsend arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Portland" in 1864
  • George Townsend, aged 40, a railway wagon builder, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Conflict" in 1874
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  • W. Wayne Townsend (1926-2015), American politician, Member of the Indiana House of Representatives (1959-1960), (1963-1966)
  • Fitzhugh Townsend (d. 1906), American Olympic sliver medalist for fencing at the 1904 games
  • Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend (1951-1995), American attorney who was the sixth Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003
  • Charles Henry Tyler Townsend (1863-1944), American entomologist and biologist
  • Henry Townsend (1909-2006), American blues singer, guitarist and pianist
  • John Townsend (b. 1956), American psychologist and author
  • Charles E. Townsend (1856-1924), American politician, U.S. Representative Senator from Michigan
  • Charles Townsend, American fencer and Olympic silver medalist
  • Anna Townsend (1845-1923), American silent film actress
  • Robert Townsend (b. 1920), American business executive
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Townsend Historic Events



Halifax Explosion

  • F M  Townsend, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. William  Townsend (1876-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. Joseph J  Townsend, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Miss Vera Grace  Townsend (1915-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917

HMAS Sydney II

  • Mr. Mervyn Clive Townsend (1917-1941), Australian Surgeon Lieutenant Dentist from Williamstown, Victoria, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II on the 19th November 1941 and died during the sinking

HMS Repulse

  • Mr. Leslie Thomas Townsend, British Corporal, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking
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  • Allen Townsend of Madison County, Florida: A Genealogy by Joseph T. Burval.
  • Master Craftsman of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards by Michael Moses.
  • I'm Claiming the Promise: A History and Genealogy of the Wm. Henry and Edith Stratton Family by David C. Stratton.
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Citations



  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  5. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X

Other References

  1. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  2. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  3. MacAulay, Thomas Babington. History of England from the Accession of James the Second 4 volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1879. Print.
  4. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  5. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Magnusson, Magnus. Chambers Biographical Dictionary 5th edition. Edinburgh: W & R Chambers, 1990. Print.
  7. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
  8. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  9. Zieber, Eugene. Heraldry in America. Philadelphia: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  10. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  11. ...

The Townsend Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Townsend Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 19 August 2016 at 16:16.

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