Townley History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

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.

Early Origins of the Townley family

The surname Townley was 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]

Early History of the Townley family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Townley research. Another 120 words (9 lines of text) covering the years 1375, 1376, 1377, 1531, 1737, 1760, 1600, 1644, 1629, 1707, 1604, 1674, 1697, 1782, 1711, 1683, 1686 and 1692 are included under the topic Early Townley History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Townley Spelling Variations

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.

Early Notables of the Townley family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Charles Towneley (1600-1644); and his son, Richard Towneley (1629-1707), an English mathematician and astronomer from Towneley near Burnley, Lancashire who first postulated a theory that Robert Boyle later publish as Boyle's Law, but Boyle referred to as Mr Towneley's hypothesis. Christopher Towneley (1604-1674), was an English antiquary, called 'the...
Another 55 words (4 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Townley Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Townley family to Ireland

Some of the Townley family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 34 words (2 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Townley migration to the United States +

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, who landed in New York in 1691 [2]
Townley Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Robert Townley, who arrived in Virginia in 1704 [2]
  • Henry and Margaret Townley, who settled in Maryland in 1721
  • Mary Townley, who 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 [2]
  • Patrick and William Townley, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1834
  • Alfred Townley, who landed in Mississippi in 1876 [2]

Canada Townley migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Townley Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Mr. Michael Townley, aged 16 who immigrated to Canada, arriving at the Grosse Isle Quarantine Station in Quebec aboard the ship "Odessa" departing from the port of Dublin, Ireland but died on Grosse Isle in August 1847 [3]

New Zealand Townley 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:

Townley Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • John Townley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Telegraph" in 1863
  • Elizabeth Townley, who arrived in Auckland, New Zealand aboard the ship "Telegraph" in 1863

Contemporary Notables of the name Townley (post 1700) +

  • Sidney Dean Townley (1867-1946), American astronomer and geodeticist, eponym of the Townley lunar crater
  • Arthur Charles Townley (1880-1959), American Socialist Party organizer
  • James Townley (1774-1833), English Wesleyan divine, son of Thomas Townley, a Manchester tradesman
  • James Townley (1714-1778), English author of ‘High Life below Stairs,’ born in the parish of All Hallows, Barking, the second son of Charles Townley, merchant, of Tower Hill, and of Clapham, Surrey
  • Charles Townley (1737-1805), English country gentleman, collector of the Townley Marbles
  • Simon Townley (b. 1963), English piano player and composer
  • Sir Charles Townley (1713-1774), British Garter King-of-Arms, eldest son of Charles Townley of Clapham, Surrey; he descended from a younger branch of the ancient family of Towneley Hall, near Burnley, Lancashire
  • Reginald Colin "Rex" Townley (1904-1982), Australian politician, Leader of the Opposition in Tasmania (1950-1956)
  • Michael Townley (b. 1934), Australian politician, former Tasmanian senator
  • Thomas Owen Townley (1862-1935), Canadian politician, 8th Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia
  • ... (Another 2 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

HMS Hood
  • Mr. William J Townley (b. 1911), English Stoker 2nd Class serving for the Royal Navy from Lancashire, England, who sailed into battle and died in the sinking [4]
RMS Lusitania
  • Mr. Ernest Ethelbert Townley, Canadian 1st Class Passenger from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, who sailed aboard the RMS Lusitania and survived the sinking [5]


The Townley Motto +

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.


  1. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. ^ 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)
  3. ^ Charbonneau, André, and Doris Drolet-Dubé. A Register of Deceased Persons at Sea and on Grosse Île in 1847. The Minister of Canadian Heritage, 1997. ISBN: 0-660-198/1-1997E (p. 58)
  4. ^ H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from http://www.hmshood.com/crew/memorial/roh_24may41.htm
  5. ^ Lusitania Passenger List - The Lusitania Resource. (Retrieved 2014, March 6) . Retrieved from http://www.rmslusitania.info/lusitania-passenger-list/


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