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

Origins Available: German, Scottish


It was in the Scottish/English Borderlands that the Strathclyde-Briton people first used the ancient name Barr. It was a name for someone who lived in Ayrshire, where the family was found since the early Middle Ages. It is generally thought to have been a habitational name, taken on from any of various place names in southwestern Scotland, in particular in Ayrshire and Renfrewshire. These place names derive from the Gaelic word barr, meaning "height," or "hill."

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The surname Barr was first found in Ayrshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Inbhir Àir), formerly a county in the southwestern Strathclyde region of Scotland, that today makes up the Council Areas of South, East, and North Ayrshire. "The surname is most frequently found at the present day in the district around Glasgow, and is a common surname in the Kilbarchan Commissariot Record. Atkyn de Barr was bailie of Ayr c. 1340. John Bar or de Barre was burgess of Edinburgh in 1423." [1] However, some of the family were first found further south at Tollerton in Nottinghamshire. "This place, which takes its name from Torlaston, one of its possessors before the Conquest, in the reign of Stephen became the manor of Radulphus Barre, with whose descendants it still remains." [2] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list Gunilda de la Barre in Hertfordshire and Philip de le Barre in Huntingdonshire. [3]

Scribes in Medieval Scotland spelled names by sound rather than any set of rules, so an enormous number of spelling variations exist in names of that era. Barr has been spelled Barr, Barre and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Barr research. Another 247 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1590, 1551, 1554, 1565, 1600, 1612, 1686, 1600 and are included under the topic Early Barr History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Barr Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Barr 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.

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The number of Strathclyde Clan families sailing for North America increased steadily as the persecution continued. In the colonies, they could find not only freedom from the iron hand of the English government, but land to settle on. The American War of Independence allowed many of these settlers to prove their independence, while some chose to go to Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Scots played essential roles in the forging of both great nations. Among them:

Barr Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Roger Barr, who settled in Virginia in 1655
  • Roger Barr, who landed in Virginia in 1655
  • John Barr, who landed in Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1684

Barr Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Robt Barr, who came to New England in 1718
  • Gabriel Barr, who came to New Hampshire in 1720
  • Gabriel Barr, who arrived in New England in 1720
  • Samuel Barr, who landed in New England in 1720
  • John George Barr, who arrived in South Carolina in 1735


Barr Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Joseph Barr, who landed in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1802
  • Jane Barr, who landed in America in 1805
  • Enos Barr, aged 36, landed in Maine in 1812
  • Agnes Barr, who landed in Massachusetts in 1812
  • Eleanor Barr, who arrived in New York, NY in 1812


Barr Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century


  • William Barr, who was a fisherman in Port de Grave, Newfoundland in 1775

Barr Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century


  • David Barr, aged 24, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Favourite" in 1815
  • Peter Barr, who arrived in Canada in 1820
  • Ira C Barr, who arrived in Canada in 1833
  • James Barr, aged 22, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, NB aboard the ship "Madawaska" in 1833
  • Daniel Barr, aged 25, a labourer, arrived in Saint John aboard the ship "Daniel O'Connell" in 1834


Barr Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • William Barr arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Delhi" in 1839
  • Mary Barr arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Petrel" in 1851
  • William Barr, aged 20, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Dirigo"
  • William Barr, aged 39, a labourer, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "William Stevenson"
  • Margaret Barr, aged 15, a domestic servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "William Stevenson"


Barr Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • William Barr landed in Onehunga, Auckland, New Zealand in 1840
  • John Barr, aged 39, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Jean Barr, aged 37, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • John Barr, aged 19, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Arabella Barr, aged 16, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842


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  • Harvey Scott Barr Jr. (1916-2015), American politician, Member of the Washington House of Representatives (1977-1983)
  • Major-General David Goodwin Barr (1895-1970), American Commanding General Armored Center Fort Knox (1951-1952)
  • H. C. Barr, American politician, Mayor of Altoona, Pennsylvania, 1896-99
  • Harry Barr (1889-1937), American Democrat politician, Member, Illinois Commerce Commission, 1934-37; Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Illinois, 1936
  • Harry S. Barr Jr. (1919-2001), American Republican politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Kanawha County, 1957-58; Defeated, 1958, 1960, 1964
  • J. W. Barr, American politician, Candidate for Missouri State House of Representatives from Newton County, 1920
  • Jack C. Barr, American Republican politician, Candidate for West Virginia State Senate 16th District, 1980
  • James Barr, American politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Calhoun County, 1879
  • James Barr, American Republican politician, Member of Massachusetts State House of Representatives Twelfth Worcester District, 1905
  • James Barr, American Republican politician, Chair of Schoolcraft County Republican Party, 2007

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  • The Family of Adam and Mary Claycomb/Barr by Stephan A. Barr.
  • The Family of Matthew Alexander Barr and Wife Nancy Turrentine Barr by Alma Fulton Kellum.
  • John Kendig Barr: His Ancestors and His Descendants by Mary Alice Burchfield.
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  1. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, 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)

Other References

  1. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  2. Adam, Frank. Clans Septs and Regiments of the Scottish Highlands 8th Edition. London: Bacon (G.W.) & Co, 1970. Print. (ISBN 10-0717945006).
  3. Urquhart, Blair Edition. Tartans The New Compact Study Guide and Identifier. Secauccus, NJ: Chartwell Books, 1994. Print. (ISBN 0-7858-0050-6).
  4. Hanks, Patricia and Flavia Hodges. A Dictionary of Surnames. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. Print. (ISBN 0-19-211592-8).
  5. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  6. Donaldson, Gordon and Robert S. Morpeth. Who's Who In Scotish History. Wales: Welsh Academic Press, 1996. Print. (ISBN 186057-0054).
  7. Paul, Sir James Balfour. An Ordinary of Arms Contained in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland Second Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1903. Print.
  8. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  9. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  10. Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances. London: Secker & Warburg, 1963. Print.
  11. ...

The Barr Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Barr 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 9 March 2016 at 13:22.

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