Thornhill History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Thornhill family

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] John de Tornhull was recorded there in the Pipe Rolls of 1212. [2]

Sir Jordan de Thornhill (c.1123-1194) is generally thought to be the progenitor of the family. He was the son of Essulf FitzUlf (1094-1159) and Maud Fitz Ulf (1096-1200) and was born at Thornhill Hall, Thornhill, Yorkshire assuming the name of his birthplace. He is thought to have had three children by two wives: John de Thornhill; Eve de Lalander and William de Thornhill. His younger siblings were: Peter Fitz-Assulf; Richard Fitz-Essulf; Elias de Thornhill; Thomas de Thornhill; John de Thornhill, Jr. and 2 others.

"This place was the seat of the Thornhill family, for many generations proprietors of the manor. " [3] 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." [3]

"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." [3]

The Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Willelraus Thornyll; and Leticia de Thornhyll as holding lands there at that time. [4]

Early Somerset records show Walter de Thornhulle, 1 Edward III (during the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [5]

Early History of the Thornhill family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Thornhill research. Another 62 words (4 lines of text) covering the years 1330, 1675, 1734, 1500, 1557 and 1529 are included under the topic Early Thornhill History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Thornhill Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Thornhill family (pre 1700)

Notables of this surname at this time include: Sir Brian Thornhill of Thornhill; and Sir James Thornhill (1675-1734), an English painter of historical subjects, born at Melcombe Regis, Dorset, son of Walter Thornhill of Wareham, the eighth son of George Thornhill (or Thornhull)...
Another 42 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Thornhill Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Thornhill Ranking

In the United States, the name Thornhill is the 4,014th most popular surname with an estimated 7,461 people with that name. [6] However, in Newfoundland, Canada, the name Thornhill is ranked the 335th most popular surname with an estimated 137 people with that name. [7]

Ireland Migration of the Thornhill family to Ireland

Some of the Thornhill family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. More information about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Thornhill migration to the United States +

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 [8]
Thornhill Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • William Thornhill, who arrived in Virginia in 1714 [8]
  • Ben Thornhill, who 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 [8]

Canada Thornhill migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Thornhill Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Mr. Peter Thornhill U.E. who arrived at Port Roseway, [Shelburne], Nova Scotia on October 26, 1783 was passenger number 194 aboard the ship "HMS Clinton", picked up on September 28, 1783 at Staten Island, New York, USA [9]
Thornhill Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

Australia Thornhill migration to Australia +

Emigration to Australia followed the First Fleets of convicts, tradespeople and early settlers. Early immigrants include:

Thornhill Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • George K. Thornhill, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Constance" in 1849 [11]
  • Ellen Thornhill, aged 18, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Prince Regent" in 1851 [12]
  • Ellen Thornhill, aged 18, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1851 aboard the ship "Prince Regent" [12]

New Zealand Thornhill 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:

Thornhill Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr. William Thornhill, (b. 1834), aged 30, British farm labourer travelling from Gravesend, UK aboard the ship "British Empire" arriving in Lyttelton, South Island, New Zealand on 6th September 1864 [13]

West Indies Thornhill migration to West Indies +

The British first settled the British West Indies around 1604. They made many attempts but failed in some to establish settlements on the Islands including Saint Lucia and Grenada. By 1627 they had managed to establish settlements on St. Kitts (St. Christopher) and Barbados, but by 1641 the Spanish had moved in and destroyed some of these including those at Providence Island. The British continued to expand the settlements including setting the First Federation in the British West Indies by 1674; some of the islands include Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Jamaica and Belize then known as British Honduras. By the 1960's many of the islands became independent after the West Indies Federation which existed from 1958 to 1962 failed due to internal political conflicts. After this a number of Eastern Caribbean islands formed a free association. [14]
Thornhill Settlers in West Indies in the 17th Century
  • Tymothy Thornhill, who settled in Barbados in 1680

Contemporary Notables of the name Thornhill (post 1700) +

  • Juliana Thornhill (d. 2015), Brazilian-born, American actress, known for American Genius
  • Warren A. Thornhill Jr., American Democratic Party politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Raleigh County, 1931-32; Candidate for West Virginia State Senate 9th District, 1946 [15]
  • Samuel S. Thornhill, American Democratic Party politician, Candidate for Connecticut State House of Representatives from Brookfield, 1914 [15]
  • W. H. Thornhill, American politician, Mayor of Xenia, Ohio, 1953 [15]
  • Samuel Thornhill (1834-1890), American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Brookfield, 1882 [15]
  • R. F. Thornhill, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Virginia, 1940 [15]
  • Lucille W. Thornhill (b. 1917), American Democratic Party politician, Member of West Virginia State House of Delegates from Mercer County, 1965-66, 1969-70 [15]
  • L. T. Thornhill, American Democratic Party politician, Alternate Delegate to Democratic National Convention from West Virginia, 1944 [15]
  • John Skidmore Thornhill (1864-1946), American Republican politician, First selectman of Brookfield, Connecticut, 1904-07, 1910-15, 1919-21, 1924; Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from Brookfield, 1923-38 Member of Connecticut State Senate 24th District, 1939-40 [15]
  • James W. Thornhill, American Republican politician, Candidate for West Virginia State House of Delegates from Kanawha County, 1966 [15]
  • ... (Another 22 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Prince of Wales
  • Mr. James Thornhill, British Electrical Artificer 4th Class, who sailed into battle on the HMS Prince of Wales and died in the sinking [16]


Suggested Readings for the name Thornhill +

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

  1. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  3. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  4. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. ^ Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  6. ^ https://namecensus.com/most_common_surnames.htm
  7. ^ The order of Common Surnames in 1955 in Newfoundland retrieved on 20th October 2021 (retrieved from Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland by E.R. Seary corrected edition ISBN 0-7735-1782-0)
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  10. ^ Seary E.R., Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland, Montreal: McGill's-Queen's Universtity Press 1998 ISBN 0-7735-1782-0
  11. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) CONSTANCE 1849. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1849Constance.htm
  12. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) PRINCE REGENT 1851. Retrieved http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1851PrinceRegent.htm
  13. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  14. ^ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_West_Indies
  15. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2016, August 18) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  16. ^ HMS Prince of Wales Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listprincecrew.html


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