Show ContentsObarr History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Obarr was first used by the ancient Strathclyde-Briton people of the Scottish/English Borderlands. The first Obarr family 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." [1]

Further to the south in England, one of the early noteworthy people in the family was Richard Barre " (fl. 1170-1202), ecclesiastic and judge, [who] acted as the envoy of Henry II to the papal court, both shortly before and immediately after the murder of Thomas Becket. On the first occasion he was the bearer of a haughty and even minatory message from the king demanding that the pope should absolve all those who had been excommunicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. Barre was entrusted with the custody of the great seal on the coronation of the heir apparent in 1170, but on the revolt of the prince in 1173 he offered to surrender it to the king. Barre probably succeeded Richard de Ely, otherwise FitzNeale, as archdeacon of Ely in 1184." [2]

Early Origins of the Obarr family

The surname Obarr 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, England. "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." [3]

"His wife must have been a De Lisle, for his son Richard, in one of his deeds, speaks of Ranulf de Insula, his grandfather, and Matilda Malebisse, his grandmother. Fifth in descent from Richard was Thomas, Dominus de Teversall (or Tearsall), who first called himself Barry, as the family continued to do till it ended with John Barry in the reign of Henry VI. A branch seated at Torlaston lasted about one hundred years longer. These Barres or Barrys were benefactors to the monks of Beauchief." [4]

Richard de Barra was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as holding lands in Somerset at that time. [5]

In Northamptonshire, William Barre, or Barry, of Great Billing, held one fee of Courcy in 1165. [6] Anger de la Barra was listed at Clerkenwell, London c. 1216-1217. Later John ate Barre was recorded in Sussex in 1283. Edricius de la Bartre was listed in the Pipe Rolls for Staffordshire in 1170 and William de Barre in the Assize Rolls for Staffordshire in 1199. [7]

The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 list Gunilda de la Barre in Hertfordshire and Philip de le Barre in Huntingdonshire. [8]

Early History of the Obarr family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Obarr research. Another 124 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1590, 1551, 1554, 1565, 1600, 1612, 1686, 1600, 1170, 1202, 1170, 1173 and are included under the topic Early Obarr History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Obarr Spelling Variations

Surnames that evolved in Scotland in the Middle Ages often appear under many spelling variations. These are due to the practice of spelling according to sound in the era before dictionaries had standardized the English language. Obarr has appeared as Barr, Barre and others.

Early Notables of the Obarr family (pre 1700)

Notable amongst the family at this time was Richard Barre (fl. 1170-1202), an English ecclesiastic and judge who acted as the envoy of Henry II to the papal court, both shortly before and immediately after the murder of Thomas Becket. On the first occasion he was the bearer of a haughty and even minatory message from the king demanding that the pope should absolve all those who had been excommunicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The mission, it need hardly be said, failed of its object. The letter from Alexander III to the Archbishop of York, which Foss connects with it...
Another 180 words (13 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Obarr Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Obarr family to Ireland

Some of the Obarr family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Obarr family

The North American colonies beckoned, with their ample land and opportunity as their freedom from the persecution suffered by so many Clan families back home. Many Scots even fought against England in the American War of Independence to gain this freedom. Recently, clan societies have allowed the ancestors of these brave Scottish settlers to rediscover their familial roots. Among them: Roger Barr, who settled in Virginia in 1655; Robt Barr, who came to New England in 1718; Gabriel Barr, who came to New Hampshire in 1720; George Barr, who settled in Maryland in 1761.



  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. Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print
  3. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 1 of 3
  5. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  6. Liber Niger Scutarii ("Black Book of the Exchequer"), containing reports by county on feudal holdings in England in 1166 (reign of Henry II)
  7. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  8. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)


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