Torr History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Torr family

The surname Torr was first found in Devon where they held a family seat as Lords of the Manor. 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. [1]

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.

Later, 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." [2]

Another source notes: "probably the family of Torr came originally from the adjacent county of Warwickshire. The ancient and honourable family of Torre or De Turre, that resided for many generations at Westwood, near Haxey, Lincolnshire, came in the reign of Henry IV. from Warwickshire. " [3]

Much further to the north in Scotland, "there were old lands named Torr which formed part of the barony of Ballinbreich, Fife, in 1517. Matthew de Torre de Inuerdouet witnessed a transaction between Serlo de Lascelis and the prior of St. Andrews, 1288. Thomas de la Tour of Ayrshire rendered homage in 1296. His seal bears a castle with 3 towers. " [4]

Early History of the Torr family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Torr research. Another 89 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1182, 1242, 1357, 1545, 1649 and 1699 are included under the topic Early Torr History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Torr Spelling Variations

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

Early Notables of the Torr family (pre 1700)

Outstanding amongst the family at this time was James Torre (1649-1699), English antiquary and genealogist, the son of Gregory Torre by his wife Anne. "Torre's family came originally from Warwickshire, but since the time of Henry IV...
Another 36 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Torr Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Torr migration to the United States +

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 [5]

Australia Torr migration to Australia +

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

Torr Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • Sophia Torr, aged 15, a servant, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Hooghly" [6]
  • John Torr, aged 39, a miner, who arrived in South Australia in 1855 aboard the ship "Hooghly" [6]
  • John Torr (c. 1815-1884), from Tavistock, Devon who with his wife Ann, née Green, and family emigrated to Burra, South Australia in 1855 [6]

New Zealand Torr 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:

Torr Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Joseph Torr, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1842 aboard the ship Birman
  • Joseph Torr, aged 27, a carpenter, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • Julia Torr, aged 29, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • William Henry Torr, aged 4, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • Thomas Torr, aged 2, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Birman" in 1842
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Torr (post 1700) +

  • 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 [7]
  • William Torr (1808-1874), English agriculturist who came of a family of yeomen which had been settled for several generations at Riby in North Lincolnshire
  • Diane Marian Torr (1948-2017), Canadian artist, writer and educator, known as a male impersonator and for her drag king
  • 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 [8]


  1. ^ 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)
  2. ^ Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. ^ Guppy, Henry Brougham, Homes of Family Names in Great Britain. 1890. Print.
  4. ^ Black, George F., The Surnames of Scotland Their Origin, Meaning and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1946. Print. (ISBN 0-87104-172-3)
  5. ^ 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)
  6. ^ South Australian Register Wednesday 21st February 1855. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) Rodney 1855. Retrieved http://www.theshipslist.com/ships/australia/rodney1855.shtml
  7. ^ The Political Graveyard: Alphabetical Name Index. (Retrieved 2015, November 12) . Retrieved from http://politicalgraveyard.com/alpha/index.html
  8. ^ Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, September 8) Alexander Torr. Retrieved from http://generals.dk/general/Torr/Alexander_George/Australia.html


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