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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.

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The surname Orr was first found in Renfrewshire (Gaelic: Siorrachd Rinn Frił), 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.

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.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Orr research. Another 133 words (10 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.

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

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Some of the Orr family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 139 words (10 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

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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 Ameri ca. 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

Orr Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Samuel Orr, who landed in Leeward Islands in 1710
  • Hugh Orr, who arrived in Boston, Massachusetts in 1740
  • Clement Orr, who arrived in New England in 1742
  • Ann Orr, aged 18, landed in New York, NY in 1774
  • Isabella Orr, aged 20, arrived in New York in 1774

Orr Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Alexander Orr who arrived in New York state in 1803
  • Alexander Orr, aged 25, arrived in New York in 1804
  • Joshua Orr, who arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • Josua Orr, who landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1811
  • Mathew Orr, who arrived in New York, NY in 1811
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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, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Neptune" in 1833
  • Paddy Orr, aged 18, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Madawaska" in 1833
  • George Orr, aged 29, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Salus" in 1833
  • Thomas Orr, aged 36, a labourer, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Edward Reid" in 1833
  • Robert Orr, aged 22, arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Perseus" in 1834
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Orr Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • William Orr, a millwright, arrived in New South Wales, Australia sometime between 1825 and 1832
  • William Orr, aged 44, a farm bailiff, arrived in South Australia in 1852 aboard the ship "Gloucester"
  • Isabella Orr, aged 18, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1854 aboard the ship "Sir Thomas Gresham"
  • Mary Orr, aged 18, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Victoria Regia"

Orr Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Andrew Orr arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Gertrude" in 1868
  • Arthur Orr, aged 22, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Oxford" in 1874
  • Daniel Orr, aged 20, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maraval" in 1879
  • James Orr, aged 21, a farm labourer, arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Maraval" in 1879
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  • 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
  • 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
  • Gary Orr (b. 1967), Scottish professional golfer
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Orr Historic Events



Halifax Explosion

  • Mr. Archibald D.  Orr (1908-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Miss Isabel J.  Orr (1911-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. Harry  Orr, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mr. Samuel N.  Orr (1871-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
  • Mrs. Annie L.  Orr (1875-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the Halifax Explosion on 6th December 1917
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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
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  • 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.
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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.

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Citations



    Other References

    1. Warner, Philip Warner. Famous Scottish Battles. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1996. Print. (ISBN 0-76070-004-4).
    2. Leeson, Francis L. Dictionary of British Peerages. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-1121-5).
    3. Burke, Sir Bernard. Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, The Privy Council, Knightage and Compainonage. London: Burke Publishing, 1921. Print.
    4. Scots Kith and Kin And Illustrated Map Revised 2nd Edition. Edinburgh: Clan House/Albyn. Print.
    5. Martine, Roddy, Roderick Martine and Don Pottinger. Scottish Clan and Family Names Their Arms, Origins and Tartans. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1992. Print.
    6. Colletta, John P. They Came In Ships. Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1993. Print.
    7. 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.
    8. Innes, Thomas and Learney. Socts Heraldry A Practical Handbook on the Historical Principles and Modern Application of the Art of Science. London: Oliver and Boyd, 1934. Print.
    9. Bradford, William. History of Plymouth Plantation 1620-1647 Edited by Samuel Eliot Morrison 2 Volumes. New York: Russell and Russell, 1968. Print.
    10. Barrow, G.W.S Ed. The Charters of David I The Written Acts of David I King of Scots, 1124-53 and of His Son Henry, Earl of Northumerland, 1139-52. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 1999. Print.
    11. ...

    The Orr Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Orr 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 3 July 2016 at 02:57.

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