To the Antipodes
From England 

Thurlow Connections

Dedicated to the families of Sarah (Thurley) & Wolton Wigg, William, 
John & Susan (Froment), Jane (Thurley) & Thomas Cole, and their
Descendants in Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere who have their origins in 
Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, England as their linkage 

Thurlow Motto and Crest in readable form
The name THURLOW arrived in England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The THURLOW family lived in Suffolk, at Thurlow which was in turn derived from the Old English word tryohlaw, meaning dweller by the hill. The ancient chronicles of England and early records of the name THURLOW, show it to be an old Norman surname. The history of the name is closely interwoven within the majestic tapestry as an intrinsic part of the history of Britain.

In-depth research by skilled analysts into ancient manuscripts such as the Domesday Book (compiled in 1086 by William the Conqueror), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace poem), the Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, The Curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll, tax records, baptismal, family genealogies, local parish and church records, shows that the THURLOW name was first found in Suffolk where they were anciently seated as Lords of the Manor of Thurlow. Conjecturally, they are descended from Godric, the holder of the King's lands of Great and Little Thurlow at the time of the taking of the Domesday Book in 1086, a census initiated by King William, Duke of Normandy after his conquest of England in 1066. The village at that time consisted of a Church and 33 goats.

Many alternate spellings were found in the archives researched, typically limited to a common root, usually one of the Norman nobles at the Battle of Hastings. Although your name THURLOW, appeared in many references, from time to time the surname included Thurlow, Thurlough, Thurlowe, Thurlow, Thurlo, Thurlows, Thurles, Thurle, and these changes in spelling frequently occurred, even between father and son. Scribes recorded and spelled the name as it sounded. Typically a person would be born with one spelling, married with another, and buried with a headstone which showed another. All three spellings related to the same person. Sometimes preferences for different spelling variations either resulted from a branch preference, religious affiliation, or sometimes nationalistic statements.

The ancestors of the family name THURLOW are believed to be descended originally from the Norman race, frequently but mistakenly assumed to be of French origin. They were more accurately of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 A.D., under their King. Stirgud the Stout, Thorfinn Rollo, his descendant, led his people into northern France early in the 10th century. In 911, King Charles III was forced to cede territory to Rollo, who became the first Duke of Normandy, the territory of the north men. Rollo married Charles' daughter and became a convert to Christianity. Duke William who invaded and defeated England in 1066, was descended from the first Duke Rollo of Normandy.

Duke William took a census of most of England in 1086, and recorded it in the Domesday Book. A family name capable of being traced back to this manuscript, or to Hastings, was a signal honour for most families during the Middle Ages and even to this day.

The surname THURLOW emerged as a notable family name in Suffolk where they were anciently seated. They also acquired estates at Burnham Overy in adjoining Norfolk and it was from this source that the Lords Thurlow originated.

They also acquired estates at Burnham in Surrey where the scion of the family was the Reverend Thomas Thurlow brother of the second Lord Thurlow. In 1775, Mr Edward Thurlow, Attorney General of Canada, was one of the representatives of the Quebec Act, Canada's first constitution. Prominent amongst the family at this time was Lord Thurlow of Thurlow.

The surname THURLOW contributed much to local politics and in the affairs of England or Scotland. During the 11th and 12th centuries many of these Norman families moved north to Scotland. Later, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries England was ravaged by religious and political conflict. The Monarchy, the Church and Parliament fought for supremacy. Religious elements vied for control of, the State Church, the Roman Church and the Reform Church. All in their time, made demands on rich and poor alike. They broke the spirit of men and many turned from religion, or alternatively, renewed their faith, pursuing with vigour and ferocity, the letter of the ecclesiastical law. Many families were freely "encouraged" to migrate to Ireland, or to the 'colonies.' Nonbelievers or dissidents were banished, sometimes even hanged.

The settlers in Ireland became known as the "Adventurers for land in Ireland." They undertook to keep the Protestant faith. The name THURLOW may well have arrived in Ireland with the "Cromwellian Adventurers for Land," in the 17th century. At that time, 1,000 acres of land was available to settlers in Ulster for £200, in Connaught for £300, and in Leinster for £600.

The democratic attitudes of the New World spread like wildfire. Many migrated aboard the fleet of sailing ships known as the "White Sails." The stormy Atlantic, small pox, dysentery, cholera and typhoid took its toll on the settlers and many of these tiny, overcrowded ships arrived with only 60 or 70% of their passenger list. The migration or banishment to the New World continued, some voluntarily from Ireland, but mostly directly from England or Scotland, their home territories. Some classes and families even moved to the European continent.

In North America, migrants which could be considered a kinsman of the family name THURLOW, or variable spellings of that same family name included Abram Thurlo who settled in New Orleans La. in 1821. From the port of arrival many settlers joined the wagon trains westward. During the American War of Independence some declared their loyalty to the Crown and moved northward into Canada and became known as the united Empire Loyalists.

Many of the earliest settlers to Australia were convicts in the late 1700s. Third Fleet convicts include Henry, from Suffolk.

Among notables of this name in recent history were Baron Thurlow, Francis Edward Hovell-Thurlow-Cumming-Bruce, K.C.M.G. Governor and Commander in Chief, Bahamas, Very Reverend Alfred Gilbert Goddard Thurlow, Dean of Gloucester, Hugh Motley "Pud" Thurlow (1903-1975), Australian cricketer, Clifford Thurlow (b. 1952), English journalist, and Thomas Thurlow (1813-1899), renowned English sculptor.

The Motto for the Coat of Arms translates as: Fidelity is the sister of justice.

© Copyright 2008-2014 Ray & Sheila Thurlow


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Further Reading

Other articles of interest may be found in:

HUSBAND, John c2007, Pubs o’ the South : A Collection of Paintings and Drawings of the public houses of Otago, Dunedin, Central Otago, Southland & Invercargill, Invercargill

MASON, Judy and WILSON, Heather c1989, The History of Education in the Upper Manuherikia Valley: Becks, Cambrian, Lauder Railway, St Bathans, NZ

NICOLSON-GARRETT, Gladys 1977, St Bathans, John McIndoe, Dunedin

St Bathans : An Historic Town, 1977, Dunedin

WILSON, Heather and MASON, Judy c1989, St Bathans and Cambrian 125 Years of Sport and Entertainment, Wilson, Naseby NZ.


Hospitality, NZ August 1987 p46

Pacific Way, NZ July 1990 No. 31

Otago Daily Times, June 20, 1997 pp12-13

Otago Daily Times, December 21, 2001 p17

Otago Daily Times, Weekend, November 27-28, 2004

NZ Today, September 2006 No. 18


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