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

Origins Available: English, German


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The surname Torr was first found in Devon where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. The Norman influence of English history dominated after the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The language of the courts was French for the next three centuries and the Norman ambience prevailed. The family name was first referenced in the 12th century when they held estates in that shire. They were of the great Norman family of Martin de Tours from Tour near Bayeux. The Sire de Tour conquered Cameys in Wales and became the Lord Marcher of South Wales. His sons either took the name FitzMartin or Tour, sometimes Tower. He built the Benedictine Abbey of St.Dogmael's and, of course, his great Castle at Newport, where the ruins still exist. The family was granted vast estates in Devon, Somerset, and Dorset. Torre Abbey is today a historic building and art gallery in Torquay, Devon. It was founded in 1196 as a monastery for Premonstratensian canons. However, some of the family went north to Syndale in the West Riding of Yorkshire as evidenced by the following: "The township comprises by computation 1300 acres, and is chiefly the property of James Whitwell Torre, Esq., whose seat, Snydale Hall, is a handsome residence." [1]

Spelling variations of this family name include: Tour, Tor, Torr, Torre, Thor, Thore, Thour and others.


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Torr research. Another 221 words (16 lines of text) covering the years 1182, 1242, 1455 and 1487 are included under the topic Early Torr History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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More information is included under the topic Early Torr Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Torr Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Hans Georg Torr, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1747

Torr Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century


  • Sophia Torr, aged 15, a servant, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Hooghly"
  • John Torr, aged 39, a miner, arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Hooghly"
  • John Torr (c. 1815-1884), from Tavistock, Devon who with his wife Ann, née Green, and family emigrated to Burra, South Australia in 1855

Torr Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • Joseph Torr landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Birman
  • Joseph Torr, aged 27, a carpenter, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • Julia Torr, aged 29, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • William Henry Torr, aged 4, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • Thomas Torr, aged 2, arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842


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  • Helen Torr (1886-1967), early American Modernist painter in the 1920s
  • Franklin Torr, American Republican politician, Alternate Delegate to Republican National Convention from New Hampshire, 1988
  • Diane Marian Torr (b. 1948), Canadian-born, British artist, writer and educator
  • Dona Ruth Anne Torr (1883-1957), British Marxist historian and major influence on the Communist Party Historians Group
  • Sam Torr (1849-1923), British music hall comedian
  • William George Torr MA, BCL, LLD, (1853-1939), nicknamed "Old Oxford", a religious educator in South Australia, son of John Torr, the Australian immigrant from Devon to South Australia
  • Michèle Torr (b. 1947), born Michelle Cléberte Tortis, a French singer and author
  • Brigadier Alexander George Torr (1907-1952), Deputy Engineer in Chief, Australian Military Forces, Army Headquarters in 1945


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  1. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.

Other References

  1. Dunkling, Leslie. Dictionary of Surnames. Toronto: Collins, 1998. Print. (ISBN 0004720598).
  2. Burke, Sir Bernard. Burke's Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry: Including American Families with British Ancestry. (2 Volumes). London: Burke Publishing, 1939. Print.
  3. Reaney P.H and R.M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X).
  4. Robb H. Amanda and Andrew Chesler. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: Haper Collins, 1995. Print. (ISBN 0-06-270075-8).
  5. Best, Hugh. Debrett's Texas Peerage. New York: Coward-McCann, 1983. Print. (ISBN 069811244X).
  6. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  7. Burke, John Bernard Ed. The Roll of Battle Abbey. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  8. 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).
  9. The Norman People and Their Existing Descendants in the British Dominions and the United States Of America. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-8063-0636-X).
  10. Bowman, George Ernest. The Mayflower Reader A Selection of Articales from The Mayflower Descendent. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Torr Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Torr 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 12 February 2016 at 11:46.

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