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

Origins Available: English-Alt, English, French

The distinguished surname Petre emerged among the industrious people of Flanders, which was an important trading partner and political ally of Britain during the Middle Ages. As a result of the frequent commercial intercourse between the Flemish and English nations, many Flemish migrants settled in Britain. In early times, people were known by only a single name. However, as the population grew and people traveled further afield, it became increasingly necessary to assume an additional name to differentiate between bearers of the same personal name. One of the most common classes of surname is the patronymic surname, which was usually derived from the first name of the person's father. Flemish surnames of this type are often characterized by the diminutive suffix -kin, which became very frequent in England during the 14th century. The surname Petre is derived from the personal name Peter. This is derived from the Latin name Petrus, which in turn comes from the Greek name Petros. The word petros means rock or stone. Peter was an extremely popular personal name in medieval Europe since it was the name conferred by Christ upon the apostle Simon bar Jonah. He became St. Peter and is regarded as the founding figure of the Christian Church.


The surname Petre was first found in Lincolnshire, where a bearer of Petrus was on record in the Domesday Book of 1086. Other early records include Ralph Peter listed in the Pipe Rolls in Hertfordshire in 1195; Luke Petre listed in London in 1282 and a William Petres listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Somerset of 1327. [1]

Flemish surnames are characterized by a large number of spelling variations. One reason for this is that medieval English lacked definite spelling rules. The spellings of surnames were also influenced by the official court languages, which were French and Latin. Names were rarely spelled consistently in medieval times. Scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to specific spelling rules, and people often had their names registered in several different forms throughout their lives. One of the greatest reasons for change is the linguistic uniqueness of the Flemish settlers in England, who spoke a language closely related to Dutch. The pronunciation and spelling of Flemish names were often altered to suit the tastes of English-speaking people. In many cases, the first, final, or middle syllables of surnames were eliminated. The name has been spelled Peters, Peter, Petre, Petry and others.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Petre research. Another 409 words (29 lines of text) covering the years 1603, 1643, 1645, 1549, 1613, 1598, 1660, 1631, 1699, 1505, 1572, 1626, 1684, 1633, 1706, 1688, 1689, 1713 and are included under the topic Early Petre History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 153 words (11 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Petre Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Petre family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 87 words (6 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


In the immigration and passenger lists a number of early immigrants bearing the name Petre were found:

Petre Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • James Petre, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1682

Petre Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Philip Petre, aged 22, landed in Pennsylvania in 1740
  • Jacob Petre, who landed in Pennsylvania in 1743
  • John William Petre, aged 28, arrived in Pennsylvania in 1776

Petre Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Johann Petre, who landed in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1848
  • Henry Petre, who arrived in Washington County, Pennsylvania in 1882

Petre Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century

  • Henry Petre, aged 19, arrived in Port Nicholson aboard the ship "Oriental" in 1840


  • John Patrick Lionel Petre (b. 1942), 18th Baron Petre, English peer
  • Joseph William Lionel Petre (1914-1989), 17th Baron Petre, English peer
  • Lionel George Carroll Petre (1890-1915), 16th Baron Petre, English peer
  • Philip Benedict Joseph Petre (1864-1908), 15th Baron Petre, English peer
  • William Joseph Petre (1847-1893), 13th Baron Petre, English peer
  • William Bernard Petre (1817-1884), 12th Baron Petre, English peer
  • William Henry Francis Petre (1793-1850), 11th Baron Petre, English peer
  • Robert Edward Petre (1763-1809), 10th Baron Petre, English peer
  • Robert Edward Petre (1742-1801), 9th Baron Petre, English peer
  • Robert James Petre (1713-1742), 8th Baron Petre, English peer



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: Invidia major
Motto Translation: Superior to envy.


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  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)

Other References

  1. Hitching, F.K and S. Hitching. References to English Surnames in 1601-1602. Walton On Thames: 1910. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0181-3).
  2. 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.
  3. Elster, Robert J. International Who's Who. London: Europa/Routledge. Print.
  4. Markale, J. Celtic Civilization. London: Gordon & Cremonesi, 1976. Print.
  5. Foster, Joseph. Dictionary of Heraldry Feudal Coats of Arms and Pedigrees. London: Bracken Books, 1989. Print. (ISBN 1-85170-309-8).
  6. Virkus, Frederick A. Ed. Immigrant Ancestors A List of 2,500 Immigrants to America Before 1750. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1964. Print.
  7. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  8. Samuelsen, W. David. New York City Passenger List Manifests Index 1820 - 1824. North Salt Lake, Utah: Accelerated Indexing Systems International, 1986. Print.
  9. Bede, The Venerable. Historia Ecclesiatica Gentis Anglorum (The Ecclesiastical History Of the English People). Available through Internet Medieval Sourcebook the Fordham University Centre for Medieval Studies. Print.
  10. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  11. ...

The Petre Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Petre 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 1 March 2016 at 10:51.

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