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


The Norman Conquest of England in 1066 brought much change to the island nation, including many immigrants with new names. Among these immigrants were the ancestors of the Mowbray family, who lived in Northumberland. The name, however, is a reference to the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, Montbrai, in La Manche, Normandy; and Thomas de Mowbray (1385-1405), 4th Earl of Norfolk, 2nd Earl of Nottingham, 8th Baron Segrave, 7th Baron Mowbray, English nobleman and rebel, after death of father, allowed to succeed him as Earl of Norfolk and Nottingham, but not as Duke of Norfolk, received his father's title of Earl Marshal, became involved with the latest rebellion of the Percies in the north, and raised an army with Richard le Scrope, Archbishop of York, they were arrested as soon as they disbanded their followers, Chief Justice Sir William Gascoigne refused to pass sentence upon them before they were tried by their peers, Henry had both Norfolk and Scrope summarily beheaded, in York 1405. The family claim descent from "the ancient barony or Mowbray, called by Odericus Vitalis Molbraium, [which] was identical with the village of Monbrai, in the canton or Perci, an arrondissement of St. Lo in Normandy." [1]

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The surname Mowbray was first found in Northumberland where they held a family seat from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their liege Lord, for their distinguished assistance at the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D. Geoffrey de Montbray (d. 1093,) bishop of Coutances was a warrior, administrator and close assistant of William. After the death of William, Geoffrey settled in Bristol, (as listed in the Domesday book) where he built a strong castle but frequently feuded with William II. "A strong castle was erected [at Thirsk in the North Riding of Yorkshire] about 979 by the family of Mowbray, where Roger de Mowbray in the time of Henry II., having become a confederate of the King of Scotland, erected his standard against his lawful sovereign: upon the suppression of the revolt, this fortress, with many others, was entirely demolished by order of the king." [2] The same Roger de Mowbray also held Bambrough Castle in Northumberland. "After the Norman Conquest it was held by Robert de Mowbray, on whose insurrection against William Rufus it was besieged, and, after an obstinate defence, surrendered to that monarch, who threatened, unless it were given up, to put out the eyes of Mowbray, who had been taken prisoner." [2]

A multitude of spelling variations characterize Norman surnames. Many variations occurred because Old and Middle English lacked any definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England also had a pronounced effect, as did the court languages of Latin and French. Therefore, one person was often referred to by several different spellings in a single lifetime. The various spellings include Mowbray, Moubray, Mowbrey, Moubrey and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Mowbray research. Another 417 words (30 lines of text) covering the years 1297, 1366, 1399, 1377, 1396, 1444, 1476, 1475, 1225, 1314, 1365, 1399 and 1397 are included under the topic Early Mowbray History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 37 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Mowbray Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Many English families left England, to avoid the chaos of their homeland and migrated to the many British colonies abroad. Although the conditions on the ships were extremely cramped, and some travelers arrived diseased, starving, and destitute, once in the colonies, many of the families prospered and made valuable contributions to the cultures of what would become the United States and Canada. Research into the origins of individual families in North America has revealed records of the immigration of a number of people bearing the name Mowbray or a variant listed above:

Mowbray Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Arthur Mowbray, who settled in South Carolina in 1746

Mowbray Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • Philip Mowbray, aged 30, landed in New York in 1812
  • W Mowbray, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1855
  • Laura Mowbray, who arrived in San Francisco, California in 1855
  • Andrew, Hugh, Robert, Thomas, and William Mowbray, who all arrived at Philadelphia between 1840 and 1860

Mowbray Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Alexander Mowbray arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Whitby" in 1841
  • William Mowbray arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Midlothian" in 1859

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  • Henry Siddons Mowbray (1858-1928), American artist
  • Lincoln J. Mowbray, American politician, Candidate for New York State Assembly from Delaware County, 1911
  • G. W. Mowbray Sr., American politician, Mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1903-04
  • Calvin W. Mowbray, American politician, Mayor of Cambridge, Maryland, 1960-64
  • Alan Mowbray (1896-1969), English-born, American actor
  • Calvin W Mowbray, American Mayor of Cambridge, Maryland from 1960-1964
  • Joel Mowbray, American columnist
  • Guy Nicholas Mowbray (b. 1972), English football commentator on British television
  • Anthony Mark "Tony" Mowbray (b. 1963), English former professional football player
  • Mr. John Henry Mowbray (1904-1941), British Stoker 1st Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and died during the sinking

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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.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Shaw, William A. Knights of England A Complete Record from the Earliest Time to the Present Day of the Knights of all the Orders of Chivalry in England, Scotland, Ireland and Knights Bachelors 2 Volumes. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print. (ISBN 080630443X).
  2. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  3. Burke, Sir Bernard. General Armory Of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Ramsbury: Heraldry Today. Print.
  4. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  5. Crispin, M. Jackson and Leonce Mary. Falaise Roll Recording Prominent Companions of William Duke of Normandy at the Conquest of England. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  6. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  7. Egle, William Henry. Pennsylvania Genealogies Scotch-Irish and German. Harrisburg: L.S. Hart, 1886. Print.
  8. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  9. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  10. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  11. ...

The Mowbray Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Mowbray 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 14 March 2016 at 14:10.

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