Thurlay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Thurlay is an ancient Norman name that arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Thurlay family lived in the parish of Thorley in the union of Bishop-Stortford, hundred of Braughin, county of Hertford or at Thorley, a parish, in the liberty of West Medina, Isle of Wight division of the county of Southampton. [1] [2] [3]

Both locales date back to the Domesday Book where they were listed as "Torlei" [4] They literally meant "thorn-tree wood or clearing," from the Old English "thorn" + "lea." [5]

Early Origins of the Thurlay family

The surname Thurlay was first found in Hertfordshire where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor of Thorley at the time of the taking of the Domesday Book Census in 1086, a census initiated by King William, Duke of Normandy after his conquest of England in 1066 A.D. In 1086, Thorley consisted of a Mill and a village and was held by Rodhere from the Bishop of London who was the tenant in chief. Conjecturally, the Thorleys are descended from this Norman noble.

By the thirteenth century, the family had scattered throughout ancient Britain. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed: Robert de Torly in Sussex; and Thomas de Torlaye, or Thorlay, or Thorley in Lincolnshire. [6]

John Thorley was one of the burgesses for Lincoln in the parliament of 1397. [7]

In Norfolk, Adam de Thorle was listed there in 1337 and the same source notes Theobald de Thorlee, there temp. Henry V (during the reign of King Henry V.) [8]

"Ernald de Torley, about the reign of Henry III., held half a fee in West Winch of Simon Fitz Richard, and he of the Earl of Clare." - Blomfield's Norfolk.

Early History of the Thurlay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Thurlay research. Another 71 words (5 lines of text) covering the years 1530, 1560, 1506, 1570, 1686 and 1753 are included under the topic Early Thurlay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Thurlay Spelling Variations

Norman surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are largely due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The introduction of Norman French to England, as well as the official court languages of Latin and French, also had pronounced influences on the spelling of surnames. Since medieval scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded, rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings. The name has been spelled Thorley, Thorleigh, Thawley, Thurley, Thurlby, Thurleigh and many more.

Early Notables of the Thurlay family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was Thomas Thirlby or Thirleby (1506?-1570), the first and only bishop of Westminster, and afterwards successively bishop of Norwich and Ely...
Another 27 words (2 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Thurlay Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Thurlay family

Many English families emigrated to North American colonies in order to escape the political chaos in Britain at this time. Unfortunately, many English families made the trip to the New World under extremely harsh conditions. Overcrowding on the ships caused the majority of the immigrants to arrive diseased, famished, and destitute from the long journey across the stormy Atlantic. Despite these hardships, many of the families prospered and went on to make invaluable contributions to the development of the cultures of the United States and Canada. Early North American immigration records have revealed a number of people bearing the name Thurlay or a variant listed above: James Thorley who settled in Virginia in 1622; Jane Thorley landed in America in 1766; Henry Thurlley settled in Virginia in 1650; Thomas Thurlby settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1853..



The Thurlay Motto +

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: Fide et fiducia
Motto Translation: By fidelity and confidence.


  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Barber, Henry, British Family Names London: Elliot Stock, 62 Paternoster Row, 1894. Print.
  4. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  5. ^ Mills, A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4)
  6. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  7. ^ Cleveland, Dutchess of The Battle Abbey Roll with some Account of the Norman Lineages. London: John Murray, Abermarle Street, 1889. Print. Volume 3 of 3
  8. ^ Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print


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