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An excerpt from archives copyright 2000 - 2016

Origins Available: English, Irish

The name Terrell is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It was name for a stubborn or obstinate person. The surname Terrell is derived from the Old French word tirer, which means to draw. This is used in the same sense as the word tirand, which means "one who pulls on the reins;" thus it may be that it was used as a nickname for a stubborn person, before coming to be used as a hereditary surname.


Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Terrell have been found, including Tyrell, Terrell, Terrill, Tyrill, Turrell, Tirell, Tyrrell and many more.

First found in Essex where one of the first records of the name is Walter Tirel III, (1065-c. 1100), Castellan of Pontoise and Lord of Poix, son of Walter Tirell II. [1] He is remembered for his involvement in the death of King William II (William Rufus) on a hunting trip in the New Forest on August 2nd, 1100. Some say it was an accident when Walter shot an arrow at a stag which glanced from the beast and struck King William II, while others disagree. However, accordingly to chroniclers of the time, they parted at the beginning of the hunt on good terms, but the king was later found with one of the arrows given to Walter by the king in his chest. There is a stone in the Forest at Stoney Cross marking the spot where the King fell. Walter's grandson Hugh Tyrrel (died 1199) took part in the Norman Conquest of Ireland where he became the first Baron of Castleknock and later took part in the Third Crusade. Another distinct branch of the family was found at Gipping in Suffolk. "This place, which takes its name from the small river Gipping, is the property of C. Tyrell, Esq., whose ancestor, Sir Walter Tyrell, Knt., held the lordship at the time of the Domesday survey." [2]


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Terrell research. Another 251 words (18 lines of text) covering the years 1086, 1423, 1450, 1502, 1502, 1597, 1676, 1661, 1676, 1617, 1701, 1643, 1718, 1642, 1718, 1623 and 1676 are included under the topic Early Terrell History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 229 words (16 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Terrell Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Terrell family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 65 words (5 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.


Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become powerful new nations. Among early immigrants of the Terrell surname to cross the Atlantic and come to North America were:

Terrell Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Tho Terrell, who arrived in Virginia in 1637
  • Katherine Terrell, who arrived in Virginia in 1649
  • Richmond Terrell, who landed in Virginia in 1656
  • Robert Terrell, who landed in Virginia in 1656
  • Rich Terrell, who arrived in Virginia in 1658

Terrell Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Alice Terrell, who arrived in Virginia in 1705
  • Mary Terrell, who landed in New England in 1717

Terrell Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • William Terrell, who landed in Mobile, Ala in 1846
  • William Terrell settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1864

Terrell Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • Samuel Terrell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Waterloo" in 1840
  • Sarah Terrell arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Waterloo" in 1840
  • William Terrell, English convict from Lancaster, who was transported aboard the "Adelaide" on April 16, 1855, settling in Western Australia
  • Samuel Terrell, aged 34, arrived in South Australia in 1857 aboard the ship "Henry Moore"


  • Ernie Terrell (1939-2014), American singer, record producer, and World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight boxing champion
  • Tom Terrell (1950-2007), American music journalist
  • James "Jim" Terrell (1965-1988), American sprint canoer at the 1988 Summer Olympics
  • Ken Terrell (1904-1966), American western and action film actor and stuntman
  • Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954), American daughter of former slaves, one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree
  • Velma Jean Terrell (b. 1944), American R&B and jazz singer
  • Tammi Terrell (1945-1970), stage name of Thomasina Winifred Montgomery, American recording artist and songwriter, best known for her work with Marvin Gaye
  • Tracy David Terrell, American education theorist, co-author of The Natural Approach
  • Charles Walter Terrell (b. 1958), American Major League Baseball starting pitcher
  • Joseph Meriwether Terrell (1861-1912), American politician, a United States Senator and Governor of Georgia



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  1. ^ The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  2. Fairbairn. Fairbain's book of Crests of the Families of Great Britain and Ireland, 4th Edition 2 volumes in one. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1968. Print.
  3. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  4. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  5. Hanks, Hodges, Mills and Room. The Oxford Names Companion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. (ISBN 0-19-860561-7).
  6. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  7. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  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).
  9. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  10. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  11. ...

The Terrell Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Terrell 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 19 April 2016 at 10:56.

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