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

Where did the English Townley family come from? What is the English Townley family crest and coat of arms? When did the Townley family first arrive in the United States? Where did the various branches of the family go? What is the Townley family history?

The Townley name has descended through the generations from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture. Their name comes from having lived in the settlement of Towneley in the county of Lancashire, or by any clearing in which a farm was situated. The surname Townley thus belongs to both the category of habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads, and class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees.

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Only recently has spelling become standardized in the English language. As the English language evolved in the Middle Ages, the spelling of names changed also. The name Townley has undergone many spelling variations, including Townley, Towneley and others.

First found in Lancashire where they were descended from Spartlingus, the first Dean of Whalley about 896 A.D. Descended was Liwlphus, Cudwlphus, Henricus the great Baron of Whalley. He was followed by Robertus, Geoffrey who married the daughter of Roger de Lacy, Constable of Cheshire in 1193. "An estate in Lancashire, which belonged to this ancient and distinguished family, whose pedigree is said to be traced to the time of King Alfred, and to Spartlingus, first Dean of Whalley, who flourished about the year 896. The line of this personage terminated with an heiress, Cecilia of Towneley, in the XIV. century, who married John del Legh, and conveyed the estate to his family. He died in or about 1330, and his great-grandson resumed the ancient surname of Towneley. John del Legh was a cadet of the great Cheshire family of that name. Towneley Hall is still the seat of this race, who may well challenge comparison in point of venerable antiquity with any family in England." [1]


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This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Townley research. Another 135 words (10 lines of text) covering the years 1375, 1531, 1737, 1600, 1644, 1629, 1707, 1711, 1683, 1686 and 1692 are included under the topic Early Townley History in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Another 121 words (9 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Townley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.

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Some of the Townley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt. Another 57 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products.

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To escape the unstable social climate in England of this time, many families boarded ships for the New World with the hope of finding land, opportunity, and greater religious and political freedom. Although the voyages were expensive, crowded, and difficult, those families that arrived often found greater opportunities and freedoms than they could have experienced at home. Many of those families went on to make significant contributions to the rapidly developing colonies in which they settled. Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Townley were among those contributors:

Townley Settlers in United States in the 17th Century


  • Richard Townley, aged 35, landed in New York in 1691

Townley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century


  • Robt Townley, who arrived in Virginia in 1704
  • Henry and Margaret Townley settled in Maryland in 1721
  • Mary Townley settled in New England in 1756

Townley Settlers in United States in the 19th Century


  • James Townley, who arrived in Allegany (Allegheny) County, Pennsylvania in 1831
  • Patrick and William Townley arrived in Philadelphia in 1834
  • Alfred Townley, who landed in Mississippi in 1876

Townley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century


  • John Townley arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Telegraph" in 1863
  • Elizabeth Townley arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Telegraph" in 1863

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  • Sidney Dean Townley (1867-1946), American astronomer and geodeticist, eponym of the Townley lunar crater
  • Arthur Charles Townley (1880-1959), American Socialist Party organizer
  • Sir Charles Townley (1713-1774), Officer of Arms at the College of Arms in London
  • Charles Townley (1737-1805), English country gentleman, collector of the Townley Marbles
  • Simon Townley (b. 1963), English piano player and composer
  • Mr. Ernest Ethelbert Townley, Canadian 1st Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking
  • Athol Gordon Townley (1905-1963), Australian politician and Minister for Defence
  • Michael Townley (b. 1934), former Tasmanian senator
  • Reginald Colin "Rex" Townley (1904-1982), Australian politician
  • Thomas Owen Townley (1862-1935), eighth Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia

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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: Tenez le vraye
Motto Translation: Keep or speak the truth.

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  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.

Other References

  1. Humble, Richard. The Fall of Saxon England. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1975. Print. (ISBN 0-88029-987-8).
  2. Lennard, Reginald. Rural England 1086-1135 A Study of Social and Agrarian Conditions. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959. Print.
  3. 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).
  4. Chadwick, Nora Kershaw and J.X.W.P Corcoran. The Celts. London: Penguin, 1790. Print. (ISBN 0140212116).
  5. Mills, A.D. Dictionary of English Place-Names. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-19-869156-4).
  6. Skordas, Guest. Ed. The Early Settlers of Maryland an Index to Names or Immigrants Complied from Records of Land Patents 1633-1680 in the Hall of Records Annapolis, Maryland. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1968. Print.
  7. Williams, Dr Ann. And G.H. Martin, Eds. Domesday Book A Complete Translation. London: Penguin, 1992. Print. (ISBN 0-141-00523-8).
  8. Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Galveston Texas 1896-1951. National Archives Washington DC. Print.
  9. Hinde, Thomas Ed. The Domesday Book England's Heritage Then and Now. Surrey: Colour Library Books, 1995. Print. (ISBN 1-85833-440-3).
  10. Sanders, Joanne McRee Edition. English Settlers in Barbados 1637-1800. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing. Print.
  11. ...

The Townley Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Townley 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 10 February 2016 at 14:43.

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