Thurnay History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Thurnay is a name that came to England in the 11th century wave of migration that was set off by the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Thurnay family lived in Shropshire. Their name, however, is a reference to Tournay-Sur-Dive, Normandy, the family's place of residence prior to the Norman Conquest of England in 1066.

Another source claims the name was derived from Tornai in Normandy. [1]

Early Origins of the Thurnay family

The surname Thurnay was first found in Shropshire where they were Lords of the manor of Kinnersley and other lands in that shire, which the Domesday Book in 1086 shows as being an under tenant of Earl Roger. They were originally castellans of the castle at Exmes for the Counts of Exmes, the Montgomerys. The Tournay estates were originally at Tournay-Sur-Dive at Orne in the arrondisement of Argentan in Normandy.

Walter de Torni held Tornai, Normandy it 1165, by Castle Guard. "Upon the redistribution of the conquered province of Mercia, when Earl Roger de Montgomery entered Shropshire to possess and rule, Gerard de Tornai, one of his followers, received as the meed of service, eighteen valuable Saxon manors, of which the largest was Sutton.

"Gerard was one of those western magnates who, upon the accession of Rufus, rebelled against him. At any rate, De Tornai's career in Shropshire terminated, about 1088, in a total and absolute forfeiture. The disinherited Baron had a daughter, Sibil, wife of Hamo Peverel, who by special favour acquired a succession to the forfeited estate, under a title from the first ambiguous."- History and Antiquities of Shropshire.

Goisfrid de Tornai held a fief in Lincoln 1086 [2] and William de Tornai was Viscount of Lincoln before 1130 (Pipe Rolls).

Simon of Tournay (fl. 1184-1200), was an early English schoolman, said to have been a native of Cornwall. His name was spelt many ways including Thurnai, Thurvay and in Latin as Thurnaius. "Whether he received that name because he was a native of Tournay, or because he subsequently held a canonry in the cathedral there, is uncertain. " [3]

John de Thorney, Lord of Figheldean in Wiltshire, was summoned in 1324 to attend the great Council at Westminster: Simon Thorney, in 1316, was Lord of Holcombe in Somersetshire; and William de Thorney one of the "Servientes" performing military service due from the Bishop of Worcester in 1310.-Palgrave's Parliamentary Writs.

In Devonshire, Hugh de Tournay, in 1212, bestowed part of his manor of Molland on St. Nicholas' Priory, Exeter (v. Cartulary). In 1264, Roger de Tournay, being in attendance on Henry III. during his visit at Hurstmonceux Castle in Sussex, was accidentally killed by a bowshot while he was hunting in the park. William de Tornei witnesses Henry I.'s charter to Thetford Priory. (Cleverland3)

Early History of the Thurnay family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Thurnay research. Another 202 words (14 lines of text) covering the years 1664 and 1681 are included under the topic Early Thurnay History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Thurnay Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries. For that reason, spelling variations are common among many Anglo-Norman names. The shape of the English language was frequently changed with the introduction of elements of Norman French, Latin, and other European languages; even the spelling of literate people's names were subsequently modified. Thurnay has been recorded under many different variations, including Tournay, Tornay, Tornai, Tourney and others.

Early Notables of the Thurnay family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Thurnay family to Ireland

Some of the Thurnay 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.

Migration of the Thurnay family

To escape the uncertainty of the political and religious uncertainty found in England, many English families boarded ships at great expense to sail for the colonies held by Britain. The passages were expensive, though, and the boats were unsafe, overcrowded, and ridden with disease. Those who were hardy and lucky enough to make the passage intact were rewarded with land, opportunity, and social environment less prone to religious and political persecution. Many of these families went on to be important contributors to the young nations of Canada and the United States where they settled. Thurnays were some of the first of the immigrants to arrive in North America: Louis Tourny arrived in Philadelphia in 1858; James Torney arrived in Philadelphia in 1835; Patrick Tornnay arrived in Philadelphia in 1865.



  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds., Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8)
  3. ^ Smith, George (ed), Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1885-1900. Print


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