Townsend History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The ancestry of the name Townsend dates from the ancient Anglo-Saxon culture of Britain. It comes from when the family lived on the outskirts of a village. The surname Townsend literally refers to a dweller "at the town's end." The name belongs to the 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 Townsend family

The surname Townsend was first found in Norfolk, at Snoring Magna (Great Snoring) where one of the first records of the name was found there in 1377. "In 1398, John Townshend settled at Rainham, which according to some accounts accrued to them by the heiress of Havile. " [1]

Another source confirms this noble family's status. "In 1398, the ancestor of the Marquis Townshend was at Rainham, the present seat of the family." [2]

Actually the first record of the name was listed before the two aforementioned worthy sources. The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 lists: Geoffrey de le Tuneshende in Norfolk; Henry atte Tunesende in Oxfordshire; and Alice atte Tunishende in Buckinghamshire. Years later, the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 listed: Ricardus atte ye Thounhende; and Johannes atte Tonehende. [3]

Raynham Hall is a country house in Norfolk, England. Completed shortly after the death of Sir Roger Townsend's death in 1637, it has been the seat of the Townshend family for nearly 400 years. The Hall is reported to be haunted, and was the scene of the famous ghost photo of the Brown Lady descending the staircase.

Early History of the Townsend family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Townsend research. Another 83 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1350, 1390, 1430, 1493, 1486, 1568, 1603, 1603, 1596, 1637, 1630, 1687, 1682, 1608, 1668, 1630, 1618, 1692, 1674, 1738, 1619 and are included under the topic Early Townsend History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Townsend Spelling Variations

Spelling variations in names were a common occurrence before English spelling was standardized a few hundred years ago. In the Middle Ages, even the literate spelled their names differently as the English language incorporated elements of French, Latin, and other European languages. Many variations of the name Townsend have been found, including Townsend, Townshend and others.

Early Notables of the Townsend family (pre 1700)

Notables of the family at this time include Sir Roger Townshend (ca. 1430-1493), who was knighted by Henry VII in 1486; Sir John Townshend (c.1568-1603), of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, an English soldier and Member of Parliament, killed in a duel with Sir Matthew Browne in August 1603; Sir Roger Townshend, 1st Baronet (c.1596-1637), an English landowner and politician; Horatio Townshend (1630-1687), who was Created Viscount...
Another 66 words (5 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Townsend Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Ireland Migration of the Townsend family to Ireland

Some of the Townsend family moved to Ireland, but this topic is not covered in this excerpt.
Another 60 words (4 lines of text) about their life in Ireland is included in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.


United States Townsend migration to the United States +

Families began migrating abroad in enormous numbers because of the political and religious discontent in England. Often faced with persecution and starvation in England, the possibilities of the New World attracted many English people. Although the ocean trips took many lives, those who did get to North America were instrumental in building the necessary groundwork for what would become for new powerful nations. Some of the first immigrants to cross the Atlantic and come to North America bore the name Townsend, or a variant listed above:

Townsend Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • William Townsend, who settled in Boston Massachusetts in 1630
  • Henry Townsend (1626–1695), English settler to Flushing about 1630
  • John Townsend (ca. 1608–1668) English settler to America with his brother Henry about 1630, signatory to the Flushing Remonstrance
  • Martin Townsend, who arrived in Watertown, Massachusetts in 1634 [4]
  • Francis Townsend, aged 21, who arrived in Virginia in 1635 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Townsend Settlers in United States in the 18th Century
  • Anne Townsend, who landed in Virginia in 1702 [4]
  • Robert Townsend, who arrived in Virginia in 1704 [4]
  • Benoni Townsend, who landed in New England in 1717 [4]
  • Edward Townsend, who landed in Georgia in 1738 [4]
  • Mary Townsend, who landed in Georgia in 1740 [4]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)
Townsend Settlers in United States in the 19th Century
  • Daniel Townsend, who arrived in Pennsylvania in 1863 [4]

Canada Townsend migration to Canada +

Some of the first settlers of this family name were:

Townsend Settlers in Canada in the 18th Century
  • Davis Townsend, who landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1749-1752
  • James Townsend, who settled, with his wife and five children, in St. John Island in 1775
  • Mr. Job Townsend U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [5]
  • Mr. Leven Townsend U.E. who settled in Saint John, New Brunswick c. 1784 [5]
Townsend Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century
  • Charles Townsend, who arrived in Canada in 1830
  • Abraham Townsend, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • Platt Townsend, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • Samuel Townsend, who landed in Canada in 1831
  • George Townsend, aged 28, who arrived in Saint John, New Brunswick aboard the ship "Eleanor Gordon" in 1834
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Australia Townsend migration to Australia +

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

Townsend Settlers in Australia in the 19th Century
  • James Townsend, English convict from Cambridge, who was transported aboard the "Argyle" on March 5th, 1831, settling in Van Diemen's Land, Australia [6]
  • Mr. William Townsend (b. 1813), aged 20, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 31st July 1833, sentenced for 7 years for stealing hides from Rowland Clough in Callington, transported aboard the ship "Moffatt" on 4th January 1834 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [7]
  • Mr. Nathaniel Townsend (b. 1816), aged 18, Cornish settler convicted in Cornwall, UK on 31st July 1833, sentenced for 7 years for stealing raw hides from Rowland Clough in Callington, transported aboard the ship "Moffatt" on 4th January 1834 to Van Diemen's Land, Tasmania, Australia [7]
  • John Townsend, who arrived in Kangaroo Island aboard the ship "Hartley" in 1837 [8]
  • William Remnant Townsend, who arrived in Adelaide, Australia aboard the ship "Hooghly" in 1839 [9]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Townsend 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:

Townsend Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mr Townsend, who landed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1841 aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck"
  • Mr. Chauncey H. Townsend, British settler travelling from Gravesend aboard the ship "Lord William Bentinck" arriving in Wellington, New Zealand on 24th May 1841 [10]
  • Michael Townsend, aged 22, who arrived in Wellington, New Zealand aboard the ship "Shamrock" in 1855
  • Mr. Thomas Townsend, British settler travelling from London aboard the ship "Harwood" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 4th November 1858 [10]
  • Mr. W. Townsend, Australian settler travelling from Melbourne, Victoria aboard the ship "Dunedin" arriving in Dunedin, South Island, New Zealand on 14th November 1859 [10]
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Contemporary Notables of the name Townsend (post 1700) +

  • Winnie Townsend, American Democrat politician, Presidential Elector for Kentucky, 1996
  • Willis L. Townsend (b. 1858), American politician, Delegate to Michigan State Constitutional Convention 29th District, 1907-08
  • Mrs. Willis Townsend, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Arkansas, 1964
  • William L. Townsend, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Missouri, 1928
  • William K. Townsend, American politician, Member of Connecticut State House of Representatives from East Haven, 1837-38
  • William H. Townsend, American politician, Member of Minnesota State House of Representatives 23rd District, 1857-58
  • William Townsend, American Democrat politician, Delegate to Democratic National Convention from Wyoming, 1952
  • William Townsend, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Oneida County 1st District, 1883
  • William Townsend, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Washington County, 1831
  • William Townsend, American politician, Member of New York State Assembly from Queens County, 1808-11
  • ... (Another 149 notables are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

Halifax Explosion
  • F M  Townsend, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [11]
  • Mr. William  Townsend (1876-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [11]
  • Mr. Joseph J  Townsend, Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [11]
  • Miss Vera Grace  Townsend (1915-1917), Canadian resident from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who died in the explosion [11]
HMAS Sydney II
  • Mr. Mervyn Clive Townsend (1917-1941), Australian Surgeon Lieutenant Dentist from Williamstown, Victoria, Australia, who sailed into battle aboard HMAS Sydney II and died in the sinking [12]
HMS Dorsetshire
  • Charles Thomas Townsend, British Able Seaman aboard the HMS Dorsetshire when she was struck by air bombers and sunk; he survived the sinking [13]
HMS Repulse
  • Mr. Leslie Thomas Townsend, British Corporal, who sailed into battle on the HMS Repulse and survived the sinking [14]
HMS Royal Oak
  • Terence Henry Townsend (1920-1939), British Marine with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he died in the sinking [15]


Suggested Readings for the name Townsend +

  • 402 Allen Townsend of Madison County, Florida: A Genealogy by Joseph T. Burval, Master Craftsman of Newport: The Townsends and Goddards by Michael Moses, I'm Claiming the Promise: A History and Genealogy of the Wm. Henry and Edith Stratton Family by David C. Stratton.

  1. ^ Shirley, Evelyn Philip, The Noble and Gentle Men of England; The Arms and Descents. Westminster: John Bower Nichols and Sons, 1866, Print.
  2. ^ Lowe, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  3. ^ Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ Rubincam, Milton. The Old United Empire Loyalists List. Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc, 1976. (Originally published as; United Empire Loyalists. The Centennial of the Settlement of Upper Canada. Rose Publishing Company, 1885.) ISBN 0-8063-0331-X
  6. ^ State Library of Queensland. (Retrieved 2015, January 8) Argyle voyage to Van Diemen's Land, Australia in 1831 with 251 passengers. Retrieved from http://www.convictrecords.com.au/ships/argyle/1831
  7. ^ Cornwall Online Parish Clerks. (Retrieved 30th May 2018). Retrieved from http://www.opc-cornwall.org/Resc/pdfs/emigration_australia_convicts.pdf
  8. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HARTLEY 1837. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1837Hartley.htm
  9. ^ State Records of South Australia. (Retrieved 2010, November 5) HOOGHLY 1839. Retrieved from http://www.slsa.sa.gov.au/BSA/1839Hooghly.htm
  10. ^ New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from http://www.yesteryears.co.nz/shipping/passlist.html
  11. ^ Halifax Explosion Book of Remembrance | Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. (Retrieved 2014, June 23) . Retrieved from https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/what-see-do/halifax-explosion/halifax-explosion-book-remembrance
  12. ^ HMAS Sydney II, Finding Sydney Foundation - Roll of Honour. (Retrieved 2014, April 24) . Retrieved from http://www.findingsydney.com/roll.asp
  13. ^ Force Z Survivors HMS Dorsetshire Crew List, (Retrieved 2018, February 13th), https://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listdorsetshirecrew.html
  14. ^ HMS Repulse Crew members. (Retrieved 2014, April 9) . Retrieved from http://www.forcez-survivors.org.uk/biographies/listrepulsecrew.html
  15. ^ Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from https://uboat.net/allies/merchants/crews/ship68.html


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