Orr History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The story of the Orr family is rich with Scottish history. It begins in the ancient kingdom of Dalriada where Orr evolved as a name for some who lived on a bank, or on the edge of a hill. The Orr surname arose independently from different sources. In some instances, it came from the Old English word ora, which means "edge" and was probably a name for someone who lived on a bank, or on the edge of a hill. Orr also came form the Old Norse name Orri, which meant "black rooster." It also emerged from the Gaelic word, odhar, which meant "pale" and would have been a nickname that became a surname.

Early Origins of the Orr family

The surname Orr was first found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Friù), a historic county of Scotland, today encompassing the Council Areas of Renfrew, East Renfrewshire, and Iverclyde, in the Strathclyde region of southwestern Scotland, where they held a family seat from early times and their first records appeared on the census rolls taken by the ancient Kings of Scotland to determine the rate of taxation of their subjects.

Early History of the Orr family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Orr research. Another 67 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1296 and 1503 are included under the topic Early Orr History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Orr Spelling Variations

Historical recordings of the name Orr include many spelling variations. They include They are the result of repeated translations of the name from Gaelic to English and inconsistencies in spelling rules. Orr, Ore, Orre and others.

Early Notables of the Orr family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Orr family to Ireland

Some of the Orr family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 76 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Orr migration to the United States +

Scottish settlers arrived in many of the communities that became the backbones of the United States and Canada. Many stayed, but some headed west for the endless open country of the prairies. In the American War of Independence, many Scots who remained loyal to England re-settled in Canada as United Empire Loyalists. Scots across North America were able to recover much of their lost heritage in the 20th century as Clan societies and highland games sprang up across North America. Early immigration and passenger lists have documented some of the first Orrs to arrive on North American shores:

Orr Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Robert Orr, who landed in Maryland in 1674 [1]
Orr Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Samuel Orr, who landed in Leeward Islands in 1710 [1]
  • Hugh Orr, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1740 [1]
  • Clement Orr, who arrived in New England in 1742 [1]
  • Ann Orr, aged 18, who landed in New York, NY in 1774 [1]
  • Isabella Orr, aged 20, who arrived in New York in 1774 [1]
Orr Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Alexander Orr who arrived in New York state in 1803
  • Alexander Orr, aged 25, who arrived in New York in 1804 [1]
  • Joshua Orr, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811 [1]
  • Josua Orr, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811 [1]
  • Mathew Orr, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811 [1]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Orr migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Orr Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Isaac Orr, who landed in Nova Scotia in 1750
Orr Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Samuel Orr, aged 26, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Neptune" in 1833
  • Paddy Orr, aged 18, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Madawaska" in 1833
  • George Orr, aged 29, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Thomas Orr, aged 36, a labourer, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Edward Reid" in 1833
  • Robert Orr, aged 22, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Orr migration to Australia +

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

Orr Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • William Orr, a millwright, who arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • William Orr, aged 44, a farm bailiff, who arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Gloucester" [2]
  • Isabella Orr, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Sir Thomas Gresham" [3]
  • Mary Orr, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Victoria Regia"
  • Mr. William E. Orr, (b. 1837), aged 26, Scottish labourer travelling from Queenstown, Ireland aboard the ship "Golden Empire" arriving in Brisbane, Australia in July 1863 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Orr 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:

Orr Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Orr, British settler as part of the 8th Detachment of the Royal New Zealand Fencibles travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Oriental Queen" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 18th September 1849 [5]
  • Mr. Thomas Orr, Scottish settler travelling from Glasgow aboard the ship "Storm Cloud" arriving in Otago, South Island, New Zealand on 30th July 1861 [5]
  • Miss Sarah Orr, (b. 1863), aged Infant, Irish settler from Antrim travelling from London aboard the ship "Tiptree" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 20th January 1864 [5]
  • Miss Martha E. Orr, (b. 1862), aged 11 months, Irish settler from Antrim travelling from London aboard the ship "Tiptree" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 20th January 1864 [5]
  • Mr. Thomas Orr, (b. 1839), aged 24, Irish farm labourer from Antrim travelling from London aboard the ship "Tiptree" arriving in Lyttelton, Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand on 20th January 1864 [5]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Orr (post 1700) +

  • Benjamin Orr (1947-2000), American rock musician, best known as the bassist, vocalist and co-founder of the rock band The Cars
  • Alexander Ector Orr (1831-1914), American businessman in New York City, influential in the building the NYC subway system, President of the New York Produce Exchange (1887-1888), President of the New York Chamber of Commerce (1894)
  • James Lawrence Orr (1822-1873), American politician, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (1857-1859), 73rd Governor of South Carolina (1865-1868), United States Ambassador to Russia (1872-1873)
  • David L. "Dave" Orr (1859-1915), American first baseman in Major League Baseball from 1883 through 1890
  • Douglas Orr (1892-1966), American architect
  • Ashley Rose Orr (b. 1990), American actress
  • Sir John Orr OBE, QPM (1945-2018), Scottish senior police officer from Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police between 1996 and 2001
  • Sheena Shirley Orr (b. 1959), birth name of Sheena Easton, Scottish four-time Grammy Award nominated singer
  • Robin Orr CBE (1909-2006), Scottish composer
  • Baron John Boyd Orr (1880-1971), Scottish Professor of Agriculture awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949
  • ... (Another 9 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • Mr. Archibald D.  Orr (1908-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [6]
  • Miss Isabel J.  Orr (1911-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [6]
  • Mr. Harry  Orr, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [6]
  • Mr. Samuel N.  Orr (1871-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [6]
  • Mrs. Annie L.  Orr (1875-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [6]
  • ... (Another 4 entries are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. J. Orr (d. 1912), aged 40, English Assistant Vegetable Cook from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and died in the sinking [7]
USS Arizona
  • Mr. Dwight Jerome Orr, American Seaman First Class from California, USA working aboard the ship "USS Arizona" when she sunk during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941, he died in the sinking [8]


The Orr Motto +

The motto was originally a war cry or slogan. Mottoes first began to be shown with arms in the 14th and 15th centuries, but were not in general use until the 17th century. Thus the oldest coats of arms generally do not include a motto. Mottoes seldom form part of the grant of arms: Under most heraldic authorities, a motto is an optional component of the coat of arms, and can be added to or changed at will; many families have chosen not to display a motto.

Motto: Bonis omnia bona
Motto Translation: All things are good to the good.


Suggested Readings for the name Orr +

  • 670 Ulster Pedigrees: Descendants, in Many Lines of James Orr and Janet McClement, Who Emigrated from Scotland to Northern Ireland ca. 1607 by Ray A. Jones, William Orr of Ireland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky and his Descendants by Paul J. Ostendorf.

  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. ^ South Australian Register Tuesday 3 February 1852. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) GLOUCESTER 1852. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/anglia1852.shtmL
  3. ^ South Australian Register Monday 20th March 1854. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Sir Thomas Gresham 1854. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/sirthomasgresham1854.shtml.
  4. ^ The Ships List Passenger Lists Ship Golden Empire (Retrieved 26th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.ozlists.com/genies/shipping/special_lists/s_golden_empire.htm
  5. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 26th March 2019). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  6. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  7. ^ Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from http://www.titanicfacts.net/titanic-passenger-list.html
  8. ^ Pearl Harbour: USS Arizona Casualties List Pearl Harbour December 7, 1941. (Retrieved 2018, July 31st). Retrieved from http://pearl-harbor.com/arizona/casualtylist.html


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