Show ContentsTorney History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The name Torney arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Torney 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 Torney family

The surname Torney 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 Torney family

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

Torney Spelling Variations

Anglo-Norman names are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. When the Normans became the ruling people of England in the 11th century, they introduced a new language into a society where the main languages of Old and later Middle English had no definite spelling rules. These languages were more often spoken than written, so they blended freely with one another. Contributing to this mixing of tongues was the fact that medieval scribes spelled words according to sound, ensuring that a person's name would appear differently in nearly every document in which it was recorded. The name has been spelled Tournay, Tornay, Tornai, Tourney and others.

Early Notables of the Torney family (pre 1700)

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

Ireland Migration of the Torney family to Ireland

Some of the Torney 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 Torney migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that plagued their homeland made the frontiers of the New World an attractive prospect. Thousands migrated, aboard cramped disease-ridden ships. They arrived sick, poor, and hungry, but were welcomed in many cases with far greater opportunity than at home in England. Many of these hardy settlers went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Among early immigrants bearing the name Torney or a variant listed above were:

Torney Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • James Torney, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1835
  • George Torney, who settled in San Francisco in 1852

Canada Torney migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Torney Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Hugh Torney, who arrived in Montreal in 1816

Contemporary Notables of the name Torney (post 1700) +

  • Henry Walter Torney (1884-1942), American football player and industrial engineer, an All-American at the halfback and fullback positions in 1904 and 1905 while attending the United States Military Academy
  • Brigadier General George Henry Torney (1850-1913), American physician in the United States Navy and Army who served as the 21st Surgeon General of the United States Army, eponym of Torney General Hospital
  • Jason Torney (b. 1977), Australian rules footballer who played for the Richmond Football Club and the Adelaide Football Club in the Australian Football League (AFL) (1995-2007)
  • Rhona Torney, Irish camogie player, winner of a Soaring Star award in 2010 and an All Ireland Intermediate championship medal in 2011
  • Thomas William Torney (1915-1998), British Labour Party politician, Member of Parliament for Bradford South (1970–1987)
  • Kate Torney OAM, Australian CEO of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, former CEO of the State Library of Victoria from 2015 to 2021
  • Hugh Jacob Torney (1909-2000), Australian rules footballer who played with Essendon in the Victorian Football League (VFL), and with Williamstown in the Victorian Football Association (VFA) (1933-1943)

  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 on Facebook