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

The name Thornhill has a long Anglo-Saxon heritage. The name comes from when a family lived in the parish of Thornhill in the county of Yorkshire. The surname Thornhill is a habitation name that was originally derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads. The surname originated as a means of identifying individuals from a particular area. In the Middle Ages people often assumed the name of the place that they originally lived as their surname during the course of travel. As a general rule, the greater the distance between an individual and their homeland, the larger the territory they were named after. For example, a person who only moved to another parish would be known by the name of their original village, while people who migrated to a different country were often known by the name of a region or country from which they came.


The surname Thornhill was first found in Yorkshire at Thornhill where they trace their descent from "Gerneber, a noble Saxon who possessed large tracts of land before the Conquest in 1066. " [1] "This place was the seat of the Thornhill family, for many generations proprietors of the manor. " [2] Fixby in the West Riding of Yorkshire was another ancient family seat. "This place, called in Domesday Book Feslei, was at an early period the property of a family to whom it gave name; it afterwards passed to the Toothills, and from them, by marriage, to the ancient family of Thornhill, of whom mention occurs in 1577 as holding lands of Queen Elizabeth in Fekisby, as of her demesne of Wakefield." [2] ". In the 15th of Edward II., John de Thornhill held the manor [of Foulridge, Lancashire]; and by marriage with his daughter, Sir Henry Saville became possessed of the property in 1404." [2]

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 Thornhill have been found, including Thornhill, Thornhull, Thornall, Thornehill, Thornell and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Thornhill research. Another 123 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1330, 1675 and 1734 are included under the topic Early Thornhill History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 31 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Thornhill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


Some of the Thornhill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 45 words (3 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 for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Thornhill, or a variant listed above:

Thornhill Settlers in United States in the 17th Century

  • Robert Thornhill, who landed in Maryland in 1674
  • Tymothy Thornhill settled in Barbados in 1680

Thornhill Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Wm Thornhill, who arrived in Virginia in 1714
  • Ben Thornhill settled in New England in 1771

Thornhill Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • George Thornhill, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1842

Thornhill Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Nancy Thornhill settled in Fortune, Newfoundland, in 1817

Thornhill Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century

  • George K. Thornhill arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Constance" in 1849
  • Ellen Thornhill, aged 18, arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1851
  • Ellen Thornhill, aged 18, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Prince Regent"


  • Leonard W. Thornhill (b. 1915), American World War II Naval officer and pilot, posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, eponym of the USS Thornhill (DE-195), a Cannon-class destroyer escort
  • Randy Thornhill (b. 1944), American entomologist and evolutionary biologist
  • Juliana Thornhill (b. 2015), Brazilian-born, American actress, known for American Genius
  • Lisa Thornhill (b. 1966), American actress, known for The Family Man (2000), Rush Hour 3 (2007) and 18 Wheels of Justice (2000)
  • Claude Earl "Tiny" Thornhill (1893-1956), All-American college football player
  • Claude Thornhill (1909-1965), American pianist, arranger and bandleader
  • George Thornhill (1811-1875), English cricketer
  • Sophie Thornhill (b. 1996), English visually impaired four-time gold medalist racing cyclist
  • Rebecca Thornhill (b. 1969), English actress, known for her role in Oklahoma! (1999)
  • Dorothy Thornhill (b. 1955), English politician, the first directly elected mayor of Watford, Hertfordshire (2002-)



  • Thornhill: Genealogy and Family History by Naomi Ruth Jackson.
  • Thornell, Planter, Woodbridge, New Jersey and His Descendants by Jay W. Thornall.

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Filby, P. William and Mary K Meyer. Passenger and Immigration Lists Index in Four Volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1985. Print. (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8).
  2. Ingram, Rev. James. Translator Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1823. Print.
  3. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  4. Papworth, J.W and A.W Morant. Ordinary of British Armorials. London: T.Richards, 1874. Print.
  5. Bardsley, C.W. A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6).
  6. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  7. Holt, J.C. Ed. Domesday Studies. Woodbridge: Boydell, 1987. Print. (ISBN 0-85115-477-8).
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  9. Le Patourel, John. The Norman Empire. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. Print. (ISBN 0-19-822525-3).
  10. Weis, Frederick Lewis, Walter Lee Sheppard and David Faris. Ancestral Roots of Sixty Colonists Who Came to New England Between 1623 and 1650 7th Edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0806313676).
  11. ...

The Thornhill Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Thornhill 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 18 April 2016 at 15:32.

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