Select Barlow Surname Genealogy

The Barlow surname is locational, derived from place names in Lancashire or Derbyshire. The root in Lancashire is the Old English bere meaning “barley” and hlaw “hill,” giving their name to Barlow Hale and Barlow Moor near Manchester. In Derbyshire the root is probably bar or “boar” and leah or “woodland,” hence the name Barley as well as Barlow.

Some have suggested that the Derbyshire Barlows are the senior branch, originating from a Norman family called d’Abitot which had settled there and changed their name to Barley sometime in the 13th century.

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Select Barlow Ancestry

England. Barlow is a name mainly found in Lancashire.

Lancashire The first recording of the name was Thomas de Barlowe in the Lancashire assize records of 1260. Soon afterwards, Sir Robert de Barlow founded the long-standing Lancashire Barlow family at Chorlton (near present-day Manchester). These Barlows were Catholic. They paid for their faith in the 16th and 17th centuries through executions, martyrdoms, and the confiscation of much of their land. Barlow
Hall, probably begun in the reign of Edward I, was occupied by members of this family until 1785.

Barlows had surfaced by the late 1500’s in Manchester and nearby Cheshire (where the first sightings were in Newbold Astbury and Congleton). Edmund Barlow from Bolton emigrated to New England in the 1640’s. The earliest Barlow on record in Ainsworth, a hamlet near Bury, was Abraham Barlow in 1707. A Barlow family there traces itself from Richard and Peggy Barlow of the late 1700’s. The Barlow family of clockmakers in Oldham began with Edward Barlow in 1730 and
lasted for 150 years.

The cricketer Dick Barlow was born in 1851 in Bolton; while James Barlow started his cotton spinning business there at around the same time. Another Barlow, Thomas Barlow from Quaker roots in Cheshire, began a cotton import/export business out of Manchester at that time as well. His business prospered and he later developed holdings in Asia. The family home was Greenthorne in the Lancashire village of Edgworth.

Elsewhere There were Barleys and Barlows in north Derbyshire, originating from a place-name near Chesterfield, who spilled over into Yorkshire. Hanry of Attercliffe, who called himself Barley, died in 1589 but left a number of descendants in the Sheffield area, including the famous cutlers who made the Barlow knives. In 1700, from these proceeds, Thomas Barlow was able to make himself a country gentleman by buying the Middlethorpe estate near York.

Meanwhile in the 19th century, Barlows from Rothwell in Northamptonshire moved into the market town of Burton Latimer nearby. Charles Barlow became a stalwart of that town’s business and civic development.

Ireland. Barlows came to Ireland in the 1630’s with the British army and stayed. They were mainly to be found in Dublin. James Barlow was mayor of Dublin in 1715 and a Barlow family was one of the leading lawyers of that town in the 19th century. Another Barlow family dates from the mid 18th century in Rosmilan, Galway.

America. The Barlow connection began in 1584 when Sir Walter Raleigh sent Arthur Barlow on an expedition to America. Barlow landed in North Carolina and sent back such glowing reports that full-time settlement was planned.

Virginia The Barlows who first came to Virginia were descended from Edward Barlow of the Chorlton Barlows, a merchant adventurer in Elizabethan times. From this line came Ralph and his brother Henry Barlow, merchants who were granted land in Virginia in the 1650’s. Son Thomas established himself in Isle of Wight county, Virginia in 1663.

Descendants became planters in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Other lines have been followed to Alabama and Texas. A line from Wilkes county in North Carolina was traced in Bunches of Barlows by Elizabeth Michaels and John Hawkins; and a later line is thought to go to William Barlow of Giles county, Tennessee in the 1840’s.

New England Among the early Barlow arrivals to New England were:

  • John Barlow arriving in the 1630’s, settling in Fairfield, Conn. (the poet Joel Barlow a descendant)
  • Edmund Barlow who came in the 1640’s and settled in Malden, Mass.
  • and George Barlow who came in 1657 and settled in Sandwich, Mass.

George Barlow was a preacher but also apparently a heavy drinker who took it on himself to rid the town of Quakers. Later Barlows were privateers during the time leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Barlows in Virginia and Kentucky date from the 1770’s with Robert Barlow.  Sam Barlow, born in Kentucky, headed west in 1845 and was one of the pioneers on the Oregon trail. His son Willliam bought land there in what was to become the township of Barlow, Oregon. His home, now known as Barlow House, still stands.

South Africa. Barlow Rand is one of South Africa’s largest companies today. It has its roots in the company which Major Billy Barlow founded in Durban in 1902 at the end of the Boer War. It was his son Punch – who held the reins between 1927 and 1979 – who was mainly responsible for the company’s later expansion and development.

Australia. Billy Barlow was an Australian character in the song which began as follows:

“When I was at home I was down on myluck,
And I earned a poor living by driving a truck;
But old aunt died and left me a thousand: ‘Oh, oh,
I’ll start on my travels,’ said Billy Barlow.
Oh dear, lackaday, oh,
So off to Australia came Billy Barlow.”

There followed the trials and tribulations of this free immigrant, the not-so-smart Billy Barlow.

There were real Barlow immigrants as well, such as the Barlow family who settled in Wahroonga, NSW and the Barlows in the Penrith area of western Sydney. Arthur Barlow came out to Adelaide in 1893. He proved to be an astute businessman and the shoe store businesses which he subsequently established were to become an Adelaide icon which stayed in the family until 1983.

Select Barlow Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

Select Barlow Names

William Barlow was an English bishop, an early Protestant, and a collaborator in the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII.
Edward Barlow of the Chorlton Barlows was martyred for his faith in 1641 and has since been canonized by the Catholic church.
Peter Barlow was an early 19th century English mathematicians responsible for the Barlow Tables which were used until computers made then redundant in 1965.
Sam Barlow was an Oregon pioneer and entrepreneur who helped to build the Barlow road at the end of the Oregon trail.
Punch Barlow was primarily responsible for the creation and development of one of South Africa’s largest companies, Barlow Rand.
John Perry Barlow was the lyricist for the Grateful Dead band.

Select Barlows Today

  • 26,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 10,000 in America (most numerous in California).
  • 10,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia).




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