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The Thorne family name

A brief history of the Thorne family name. Note: This is not my original research, so you should not contact me regarding updates or asking questions about it! :)

History of the family

The name Thorne is of Anglo-Saxon origin and came from when the family leaved near a thorn bush or hedge. Thorne is a local surname, which belongs to the category of hereditary surnames. Other types of local surnames include topographic surnames, which could be given to a person who lived beside any physical feature, such as a hill, stream, church or type of tree. Habitation names form the other broad category of surnames that were derived from place-names. They were derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes or farmsteads. Other local names are derived from the names of houses, manors, estates, regions and entire counties. The surname Thorne comes from the Old English or Old Norse words which mean thorn. The surname Thorne may also be a habitation surname, for someone who came from a place named with this word, for example Thorne, in Somerset, or Thorns, in Suffolk. The Thorne family's origins date back to the period prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066, to the county of Somerset, where they resided at Thorne-Falcon and Thorne-St. Nargaret. Careful analysis of surviving ancient records has revealed the Thorne family to be descended from Anglo-Saxon tribesmen. Historians have studied documents such as the Domesday Book, and evidence suggests that the name Thorne was first found in Somersetshire where it is believed they were seated after the Norman Conquest of 1066 as Lords of the manor of Thorne-Falcon and Thorne-St. Nargaret in that shire.

Over time the Thorne surname was sometimes spelled Thorn. Thorne and these spelling changes often occurred in records referring to the same person. In the 16th century, for example, legal transactions recording the famous William Shakespeare spelled his name as Shakespere, Shakspear, Shakspeare and even Shaxspere. Before the 19th century, people concerned themselves more with the sound of the name rather than any convention of spelling.

The Anglo-Saxons ancestors of the Thorne family, originally two separate Teutonic tribes, migrated from what is now the Scleswig-Hostein region of Germany. They settled along what is now the southeastern coast of England in the 5th century. The rival kingdoms established by the Angles and Saxons were unified in the 9th century, and this stronger nation withstood Viking invasions for nearly two centuries. At the beginning of the 11th century, the Anglo-Saxons lost the throne to Danish chieftains and, after a brief return in the person of Edward the Confessor, were completely ousted from power by the Normans in 1066.

Norman rule brought many political and social reforms to England, with some actually benefiting the average citizen. William the Conqueror abolished the great earldoms which had divided power under the Anglo-Saxons with disastrous results. He revised the judicial system, introduced religious and economic reforms and encouraged learning. The Norman line was followed by the Plantagenet line and England became an imperial power through the possession of lands in France.

History, continued

At this time, the Thorne family emerged as notable Englishmen in the county of Wiltshire. They later acquired the manors of North Allerton and Todwick in Yorkshire but these were ravaged by the Conqueror. They moved to Thorne in Halsworthy in Shropshire, and by the 13th century they had branched to Melverley and Shelvolk in that same shire and into the parish of Shenstone in Staffordshire. They also branched to Edge in Shropshire and into Devonshire. Richard Thorne was High Sheriff of Shropshire in 1610. Their present family seat is at Knowl Hill House. Notables of the family include John Thorne, Abbott of Reading, who was personally starved by King Henry VIII.

The Thorne family survived the Middle Ages, despite famine, plagues and the trials of daily life. However, in the 17th century, political and religious upheaval forced many families to leave England.

Among the destinations selected by migrant families was Ireland. Protestant settlers and the followers of Cromwell were granted lands belonging to the Catholic Irish. Other families were banished to this isle or moved in search of jobs in the developing industries. In Ireland, the family settled in Ulster.

The newly discovered lands of the Western hemisphere drew people seeking land, riches, religious and political freedom. Migrants bearing the Thorne surname, or a variant spelling of that name, include William Thorne, who settled in St. John's Newfoundland, in 1762. Richard Thorne was a property owner and fisherman of Torbay, Newfoundland in 1794. Joseph Thorn settled in Boston MA in 1712. Samuel Thorn arrived in Pennsylvania in 1773. Henry Thorne settled in Virginia in 1622. Peter Thorne settled in Boston MA in 1635. Thomas Thorne settled in Virginia in 1635. Nathaniel Thornes settled in New England in 1679.

The open spaces and untamed frontiers of Canada attracted many migrants in search of a new home. The first large influx of English-speaking migrants occurred in the years surrounding the American Revolution, when Loyalists fled to colonies still held by Britain. Later, western expansion of Canada and the thriving communities in the established regions drew more migrants from Britain and the United States.

More recent notables of the surname Thorne include many distinguished contributors such as John Thorn, Headmaster Winchester College; Sir Jules Thorn, Company Chairman, Thorn Group; Peter Thorne, Sergeant at Arms, House of Commons; General Sir Andrew Thorne; Stanley Thorne, M.P.; Robin Thorne, Diplomat; Ralph Thorne, Banking Executive; John Thorne, New York Advertising Executive.