Thorburn History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The origins of the name Thorburn are with the Anglo-Saxon tribes of Britain. The name is derived from the baptismal name for the son of Thurburn. This ancient personal name was originally derived from the name of the Saxon God of Thunder, Thor. After the Norman Conquest, the Old English naming system gradually dissolved. Old English names became less common and were replaced by popular continental European names. The earliest surnames in England were found shortly after the Norman Conquest and are of Norman French rather than native English origins.

Early Origins of the Thorburn family

The surname Thorburn was first found in Norfolk where Thomas filius Thurbernus (Turberni) was listed 1153-1186. A few years later, Richard Turbern was listed in the Feet of Fines in 1198 and later, Richard Thurubern was listed at Ely in Norfolk in 1277. The name may have been listed in the Domesday Book as Thurbernus, Turbern and Torbern, [1] but it from the Norfolk branch that seems the most prevalent in these early years. In Sussex, the name claims descendancy from Thunder (Thor) or Thunder's Hill at Chittingly. Thor was the name of the ancient Saxon God of Thunder.

Early History of the Thorburn family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Thorburn research. Another 49 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1197, 1273, 1327, 1607, 1688, 1656 and 1659 are included under the topic Early Thorburn History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Thorburn Spelling Variations

The first dictionaries that appeared in the last few hundred years did much to standardize the English language. Before that time, spelling variations in names were a common occurrence. The language was changing, incorporating pieces of other languages, and the spelling of names changed with it. Thorburn has been spelled many different ways, including Thorburn, Thurburn, Thurbrand, Torburn and others.

Early Notables of the Thorburn family (pre 1700)

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

Thorburn Ranking

In New Zealand, the name Thorburn is the 782nd most popular surname with an estimated 932 people with that name. [2]


United States Thorburn migration to the United States +

Thousands of English families in this era began to emigrate the New World in search of land and freedom from religious and political persecution. Although the passage was expensive and the ships were dark, crowded, and unsafe, those who made the voyage safely were rewarded with opportunities unavailable to them in their homeland. Research into passenger and immigration lists has revealed some of the very first Thorburns to arrive in North America:

Thorburn Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Thorburn, who arrived in Virginia in 1716
  • Margaret Thorburn, aged 36, who landed in New York in 1775 [3]
  • James Thorburn, who arrived in Virginia in 1786 [3]
  • Grant Thorburn, who landed in New York in 1794 [3]
Thorburn Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Miss Thorburn, who landed in New York in 1800 [3]
  • Frederick Thorburn, who arrived in Arkansas in 1882 [3]
  • Thomas Thorburn, who arrived in Arkansas in 1882 [3]
Thorburn Settlers in United States in the 20th Century
  • William Thorburn, who landed in Mississippi in 1901 [3]
  • Charles J. Thorburn, aged 38, who landed in America from Cardiff, in 1903
  • Agnes Thorburn, aged 23, who landed in America from Kilmarnock, Scotland, in 1904
  • David Scott Thorburn, aged 30, who landed in America, in 1906
  • Christina Thorburn, aged 31, who settled in America from Falkirk, Scotland, in 1907
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Canada Thorburn migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Thorburn Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
Thorburn Settlers in Canada in the 20th Century
  • Eleanor Thorburn, aged 30, who immigrated to St. John's, Newfoundland, in 1907
  • Eleanora Thorburn, aged 30, who settled in Montreal, Canada, in 1909

New Zealand Thorburn 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:

Thorburn Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • William Thorburn, aged 23, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Mary Thorburn, aged 21, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Elisabeth Thorburn, aged 6, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Duchess of Argyle" in 1842
  • Robert Thorburn, aged 19, a farm servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • Andrew Thorburn, aged 17, a farm servant, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Philip Laing" in 1848
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Thorburn (post 1700) +

  • Wayne Thorburn, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from Texas, 1988 [5]
  • Rose Thorburn, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Minnesota, 1960, 1964; Presidential Elector for Minnesota, 1972 [5]
  • James S. Thorburn, American Republican politician, Circuit Judge in Michigan 6th Circuit, 1963-85; Appointed 1963; Candidate for justice of Michigan State Supreme Court, 1972 [5]
  • George H. Thorburn, American Democratic Party politician, Member of Massachusetts State House of Representatives Fifteenth Essex District, 1905 [5]
  • Barbara Thorburn (b. 1946), American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Texas, 2004, 2008, 2012 (alternate) [5]
  • Archie H. Thorburn, American Republican politician, Candidate in primary for New Hampshire Governor's Council 1st District, 1956 [5]
  • Albert J. Thorburn, American Republican politician, Candidate for Michigan State Senate 1st District, 1964 [5]
  • Shona Thorburn (b. 1982), English-born, Canadian professional WNBA basketball player
  • June Thorburn (1931-1967), popular English actress whose life was cut short by an airplane crash in 1967
  • Peter Robert Tyler Thorburn MNZM (1939-2021), New Zealand rugby union player and United States National Rugby Union Coach (2006–2007)
  • ... (Another 10 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)


  1. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. ^ https://forebears.io/new-zealand/surnames
  3. ^ 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)
  4. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  5. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, August 18) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html


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