Tom History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The notable Tom family arose among the Cornish People, a race with a rich Celtic heritage and an indomitable fighting spirit who inhabited the southwest of England. While surnames were well-known during the English medieval period, Cornish People originally used only a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames came into common use is interesting. As the population of medieval Europe multiplied, people began to assume an extra name to avoid confusion and to further identify themselves. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Patronymic surnames were derived from given names and were the predominant type of surname among the Celtic peoples of Britain. However, the people of Cornwall provide a surprising exception to this rule, and patronymic surnames are less common among them than other people of Celtic stock, such as their Welsh neighbors. This is due to the greater influence of English bureaucracy and naming practices in Cornwall at the time that surnames first arose. This type of surname blended perfectly with the prevailing Feudal System. One feature that is occasionally found in Cornish surnames of this type is the suffix -oe or -ow; this is derived from the Cornish plural suffix -ow. is a patronymic surname that came from the ancient given name Thomas, which itself is derived from the Aramaic name Teoma, meaning twin.

Early Origins of the Tom family

The surname Tom was first found in Cornwall where they held a family seat from very ancient times, some say before the Norman Conquest in 1066.

Early History of the Tom family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Tom research. Another 111 words (8 lines of text) covering the years 1433, 1473, and 1663 are included under the topic Early Tom History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Tom Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Thom, Thomes, Thome, Toms, Tom, Thoms and others.

Early Notables of the Tom family (pre 1700)

More information is included under the topic Early Tom Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Tom family to Ireland

Some of the Tom family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Tom migration to the United States +

An examination into the immigration and passenger lists has discovered a number of people bearing the name Tom:

Tom Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anna Barbara Tom, aged 34, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1730 [1]
  • Christiana Tom, aged 2, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1730 [1]
  • Joseph Tom, aged 35, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1730 [1]
Tom Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Mathias Tom, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1802 [1]
  • Swaya Tom, who landed in Mississippi in 1896 [1]

Canada Tom migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Tom Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Miss Mary P. Tom, (b. 1834), aged 21, Cornish servant departing from Falmouth destined for Quebec, Canada aboard the ship "Barque John" on 3rd May 1855 which sank after striking the reef, she died in the sinking [2]
  • Mr. William Tom, (b. 1838), aged 17, Cornish labourer, from Blisland, Cornwall, UK departing from Falmouth destined for Quebec, Canada aboard the ship "Barque John" on 3rd May 1855 which sank after striking the reef, he survived the sinking [2]

Australia Tom migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Tom Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Mr. John Tom, (b. 1819), aged 18 born in Truro, Cornwall, UK convicted in Cornwall on 24th March 1837, sentenced for death reduced to 7 years for housebreaking, transported aboard the ship "Susan" on 1837 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [3]
  • Mr. William Tom, (b. 1833), aged 21, Cornish farm labourer, from St. Mawgan, Cornwall, UK travelling aboard the ship "Lady Ann" arriving in New South Wales, Australia on 29th September 1854 [4]
  • Mr. Henry Tom, (b. 1863), aged 22, Cornish settler travelling aboard the ship "Wistow Hall" arriving in Queensland, Australia on 25th August 1885 [5]

New Zealand Tom migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Tom Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Miss Elizabeth Tom, (b. 1873), aged 2, Cornish settler departing on 27th June 1875 aboard the ship "Waikato" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 3rd October 1875 [6]
  • Mrs. Sarah J. Tom, (b. 1847), aged 28, Cornish settler departing on 27th June 1875 aboard the ship "Waikato" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 3rd October 1875 [6]
  • Mr. William Tom, (b. 1846), aged 29, Cornish farm labourer departing on 27th June 1875 aboard the ship "Waikato" arriving in Lyttelton, Canterbury, New Zealand on 3rd October 1875 [6]

Contemporary Notables of the name Tom (post 1700) +

  • Nathaniel Tom, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Queens County, 1781-83; Appointed 1781 [7]
  • Maeley Lock Tom (b. 1941), American Democratic Party politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from California, 1988, 1996, 2000; Presidential Elector for California, 2012 [7]
  • David Tom (b. 1978), American actor, best known for his role as Billy Abbott on The Young and the Restless, twin of Nicole Tom
  • Nicholle "Nicole" Tom (b. 1978), American actress, best known for her roles as Ryce Newton in Beethoven (1992), Beethoven's 2nd (1993), Beethoven (1994-1995), and as Maggie Sheffield on The Nanny
  • Michael Tom (1946-1999), American sculptor from Honolulu, Hawaii, he received the Catharine E. B. Cox Award for Excellence in the Visual Arts in 1992
  • Peter Tom (1964-2018), Solomon Island politician, Member of the National Parliament of the Solomon Islands
  • Bernard Tom Hadfield (1934-1935), New Zealand rugby league player for the New Zealand National Team (1956-1961)
  • H. Tom Padilla, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate in primary for Michigan State House of Representatives 61st District, 1978
  • Monnie Tom Cheves (1902-1988), American college professor and politician, Louisiana State Representative from Natchitoches Parish (1952-1960)
  • Adam Tom Heather (b. 1972), English professional cricketer from Manchester, Lancashire


  1. ^ Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  2. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/wreck_of_emigrant_ship_john_1855.pdf
  3. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/tasmanian_convicts_cornish.pdf
  4. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_nsw_1850_59.pdf
  5. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retreived 3rd May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_queensland.pdf
  6. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 2018, April 30). Emigrants to Lyttelton 1858-84 [PDF]. Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/new_zealand_assisted.pdf
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, October 21) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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