Gore Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Gore Meaning
place-name Gore, found at an early date in Kent
and Wiltshire, was the origin of the surname Gore.
The word itself derived from the Old English gara
meaning a “triangular piece of
land,” itself a derivative of gar
meaning “spear” and describing the triangular shape of the spearhead

Gore Resources on

Gore Ancestry

England.  Early
records of the surname were Alan atte Gore in Essex in 1273 and William
de Gora
in Wiltshire in 1274.  The surname was
particularly well recorded in the church registers of Wiltshire and
Kent from
the mid-16th century onwards.

The Gare place-name was to be found in Wiltshire in the Domesday
and Gore Cross near West Lavington dates from early times.

The Gores of Alderton
in northern Wiltshire first made their appearance with William Gore
around the
year 1330, with a later William Gore acquiring the manor of Alderton in
1382.  The antiquarian Thomas Gore, a descendant of this line,
wrote their family history in 1666.

The Gore family of London and Ireland has
been traced back to Wiltshire.  It was
John Gore who made the move from Wiltshire to London in the
mid-1500’s.  His son
Gerard prospered as a merchant and was made an alderman of the city.
grandson John prospered even more, was knighted, and was elected Lord
Mayor of
London in 1624:

  • he
    was the forebear in England through his son William of the
    in Somerset.  They became in 1890 through
    maternal connections the Earls Temple of Stowe.
  • he
    was also the forebear
    through his son Paul of the mighty Anglo-Irish Gore family.  In 1602 Paul Gore, forsaking commerce for
    arms, had departed for Ireland as a captain of a troop of horse.

Kent.  The place-name Gore Court near Maidstone
dates from the 1500’s or possibly earlier.

But the Gores in Kent were
mainly to be found around Thanet in the
northeast of the county.  David Gore’s
2006 book On Kentish Chalk: A Farming
Family of the North Downs
recounted the history of one Gore family,
beginning with Thomas Gore and Ann Jeffrey who were married in
Canterbury in
1641.  Another family line in Kent began
with the marriage of John and Mary Gore at St. Nicholas-at-Wade on the
Isle of
Thanet in 1675.

Lancashire.  The
largest number of Gores in the 1881 census was surprisingly in
Lancashire, and
here clustered around the port of Liverpool.

The early spelling in Liverpool and
the surrounding area may well have been Goore.
The first sighting of the name was at Lydiate near Ormskirk:

  • Gore
    Farm in Lydiate was a brick built house with low mullioned windows and
    a plaque
    stating that it was built in 1596.
  • John
    Goore of Lydiate, on his death in 1669,
    left a charity for the poor people of the town. The charity has
    continued to
    this day.

Goore was a Liverpool merchant who was active in the Virginia
tobacco trades from the 1740’s onwards.
His Letter Book at the time of the Revolutionary War (which
ruined his
business) has been published.

The Gore name became well-known in Liverpool
through Gore’s Directory
of Liverpool
had been begun by
John Gore in 1766 and continued under his authorship until 1803 and
that of his
son Johnson Gore until 1832.  In that
year Johnson Gore retired from business, heart-broken at the loss of
his only
son, and soon died.

  In 1602 Paul
had arrived in Ireland as captain of a troop of horse.  There he married a niece of the Strafford
family and in 1622 was made a baronet at Manor Gore in Donegal.  The main lines from him went as follows:

  • the
    senior line, that at Manor Gore, passed to his eldest son Ralph.  A later Sir Ralph Gore served as Chancellor
    of the Irish Exchequer in 1733.  They
    were ennobled as the Earls of Ross in 1770.  However,
    the direct male line died out in 1802.
  • the
    next in line, Arthur,
    in 1662 became a baronet at Newtown in Mayo.  His
    great grandson and namesake was elevated to the peerage
    as the Earl
    of Arran in 1762.  They built Belleek
    castle in 1830 and were large landowners in county Mayo during the 19th
    century.  Another line, the Ormsby-Gores
    in the early 1800’s, became Baron Harlech.

younger son Francis did not become
a baronet in his lifetime; but his descendant, Booth Gore of Artarman
in Sligo,
did in 1760.  This line became known as
the Gore-Booth baronets.  They made their
home at Lissadell House.  This was
a house of much splendor before its decline after World War One.
Two books –
Dermot James’s 2004 book The Gore-Booths
of Lissadell
and Sonja Tiernan’s 2012 book Eva
– traced this family’s history.

.  There was a Thomas
Gore, gentleman, reported among the early Jamestown settlers in 1607.  But he probably died the same year.  The three early Gore arrivals with lines of
descents were:

  • John
    Gore and his family who came to Roxbury, Massachusetts in
  • another
    John Gore who came to Middlesex county, Virginia in 1653.
  • and
    Gore who came to Frederick county, Maryland around 1677.

Massachusetts.  John Gore arrived with his family in Roxbury,
Massachusetts, from Southampton it is thought, in 1638.
He was the town clerk for many years, as was
his son John.  Their homestead in Roxbury
was inhabited by Gores until 1876.  His
descendants have been covered in two books – in 1943 The
John Gore Family
by Mary Ferris and in 1975 A Brief
Genealogy of the Gore Family
William Whitmore.

One line of these Gores became Boston merchants.  They
were divided by the Revolutionary
War.  John Gore was a Loyalist who
departed Boston in 1776; while his son Christopher remained.  He prospered in business and was elected
Governor of Massachusetts in 1809 and later became its Senator.  He died in 1834, leaving no children.  But his palatial Gore Place estate at Waltham
survives and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

Virginia.  John Goare or Gore came to
Middlesex county,
Virginia in 1653.  His descendant Henry
Gore, a farmer, moved to Shenandoah county in the 1770’s.  One
line via his first
wife Margaret led through John Gore to Tennessee where, after the
War, he was granted land in Overton county.
His line led to the later Gore politicians of Tennessee:

  • Albert Gore Sr, born in rural
    who became its Senator in 1952 and held the post until 1971.
  • and
    his son Al Gore,
    who followed in his father’s footsteps as Senator in 1984 and was US
    President under Clinton in 1992 and 1996.

lines via his second wife Anna
were to be found primarily in Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

.  Another early Gore line
began with James
Gore, possibly from Ireland, who married Mary Burke in Frederick
Maryland in 1695.  Later Gores from this
line were to be found in South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Notable among them were:

  • Thomas
    Gore, born in
    Mississippi, who was the US Senator for Oklahoma from 1907 to 1921 and
    1931 to 1937, despite the disability
    of being
  • and
    his grandson the writer Gore Vidal through his daughter Nina

Australia and New Zealand.  William Gore arrived from Ireland in 1806
to fill the post of Provost Marshal of New South Wales.
But he was subject to ongoing problems of
debt and penal confinement throughout most of his forty years in the

Other Gores from Ireland departed
for Australia after the death of their father, an Anglican clergyman,
in 1841.  These Gores had a more successful
time.  One son William became the rector of
Saints church in Parramatta; while other Gores of the family travelled
to the
Darling Downs in Queensland and established a sheep ranch in an area
became known as Yandilla.  In 1988 a
cairn was unveiled there in commemoration of this family.

An English Gore family came
to Melbourne from Liverpool in late 1852.
After trying the life of a Victorian gold-miner for a few
months, James
joined his father Hugh in Melbourne where they prospered in the
building trade.  However, news of a gold
strike in New Zealand
drew them to Dunedin on South Island in 1861.  James
had some gold success.  But
it was the building trade that again supported the family.


Gore Miscellany

Thomas Gore of Alderton in Wiltshire.  Thomas Gore
was an amateur herald and genealogist of the 17th century, well-known
to his
readers in Wiltshire then and in later years.
He was great friends for many years with the writer John Aubrey,
although they fell out later.  He wrote Family Register, a pedigree of his Wiltshire
Alderton family, in 1666.

He was by nature a very precise and accurate
person.  However, he could carry his
accuracy to such an extent as to become ludicrously formal in trifling
matters.  The original name of his parish
was Aldrington, corrupted into Alderton.
So tenacious was he in the old spelling that he would always use
Aldrington in his correspondence, or sometimes Aldrington alias

highlight of his life was his appointment to the office of High Sheriff
Wiltshire in 1680.  He wrote an elaborate
account of his setting forth from his own door at Aldrington alias
his ride to Salisbury Assizes, and the journey back. He died at Alderton in 1684
and was buried at the church there.  His
monument can be found against the north wall of the chancel.

Gores in Kent.  The 1881
census for the Gore name in Kent showed a heavy preponderance of the
name in
the northeast of the county and particularly in the Isle of Thanet,
where for
centuries the name has been common, and westward along the coast.

Location Numbers Percent
Thanet (Margate, Ramsgate)    88    32
Blean (Herne Bay, Whitstable)    49    18
Elsewhere   141    50
Total   278   100

Paul Gore’s Subterfuge.  In 1603
Paul Gore was chosen to escort two defeated Irish chieftains to their
place of
surrender at Athlone.  Having
successfully delivered the chieftains there, he was granted lands in
northwest of Ireland by the new King James I.

Five years later he was asked to
occupy Tory Island, then controlled by Irish forces.
His plan was a sinister one.  He
orchestrated a quarrel amongst the two
main Irish forces on the island.   When
the battle was over Gore slaughtered the victors.

Gore was created a baronet in 1622.  He
resided in Ireland and built the castle of
Ardtermon on the shores of Drumcliff Bay in Sligo, just two miles from
Lissadell House (built in the 1830’s) now stands.

John Gore’s Directory of Liverpool.  John Gore,
born in 1734, was an ambitious young bookseller from his store near the
Exchange in Liverpool. With the help of
his friend Joseph Johnson, a Liverpool man working in the publishing
in London, he started up a newspaper Gore’s
in late 1765.  Known later
as Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser, it
continued in publication until 1871.

year 1766 saw the publication of the
first ever directory of Liverpool by Gore.
Gore’s Directory contained an
alphabetical list of the merchants, tradesmen and principal inhabitants
of the
town of Liverpool, with their respective addresses.
This directory spread to 48 pages, gave 1,134
names, and cost sixpence.

It was interesting that the 1766 directory contained
two Goores and four Gores:

  • Charles
    Goore, merchant, Old Churchyard
  • Richard
    landwaiter, Covent Garden
  • John
    Gore, bookseller and stationer, Dale Street
  • John
    Gore, cooper, Prince’s Street
  • Silvester
    Gore, staymaker, Bixteth Street
  • William
    Gore, barber and peruke maker, Water Street.

Goore was the Liverpool
merchant active in the Virginia tobacco trades.

Gore’s Directory was published on a somewhat irregular schedule
during John Gore’s lifetime.  After John
died in 1803 his son Johnson Gore took over the directory and it began
to appear
biennially.  The last Gore’s
was published in

Gore is remembered today in Liverpool by Gore Street.

Reader Feedback – Gores from Westminster/Kensington in London.  I have
been tracing my family who originate in London.
I noticed how many Gores there are in Lancashire in the old
including the 1841 census.  I think I
have found my family in Westminster/Kensington in London, but I have
noticed a
lot of the Lancashire ones are individual men (I have been looking for
a James
Gore), about 20 or 25 years old.  I am
wondering if they were the products of the John Goore of Lydiate legacy
in Lancashire you

Samantha Gore (samanthagore@greenbee.net)

The Travails of William Gore.  William Gore
was born in Ireland in 1765 but spent most of life in Australia.  He lived to the good old age of eighty.  But his life was a struggle the whole way

home in Ireland had been Ardthelmon castle near Raghly harbor in county
Sligo.  During the Irish uprising in 1798
both he and his wife were imprisoned by rebels.
Perhaps tired of this life he accepted, upon the recommendation
of the
Earl of Harrington, the post of Provost Marshal in New South Wales in

arrived at the colony with Governor Bligh the following year.  He
actively supported Bligh during the Rum Rebellion and was with Bligh
when he
was arrested.  In 1808 Gore was charged
with perjury by the rebel court and sentenced to transportation at the
colony of Newcastle.

He was restored to office by Macquarie in 1810.  However, eight years later he was imprisoned
for debt and suspended from his office.  Macquarie
reported that
Gore was not only in jail and thus unable to attend to his duties, but
that there had been continuous complaints to the courts of the tardy,
oppressive, inefficient and dishonest manner in which his official
business had
for some time been conducted.

1824 Gore was charged in
Sydney with willfully shooting at and wounding a soldier of the 48th
His defense that he had shot at the soldier to prevent him from
stealing had
not been believed and he was found guilty and sentenced to
transportation to Newcastle
for life.   He was, however, pardoned
following year.

he lived quietly at his home at Artarmon (named after
his family home in Ireland) in the Sydney outskirts.
However, money troubles pursued him and he
was declared insolvent in 1843.  He died
two years later.  For some years his
body, together with those of his wife and daughter, remained unburied.  Their coffins lay under palings at his
Artarmon property.

Thomas Gore the Blind Senator.  Thomas Gore,
born in Mississippi, was elected as one of the first two US Senators
Oklahoma in 1907.  He was to hold that
office until 1921 and then was to return as the Senator from 1931 to

managed this long tenure of office despite the disability of being
blind.  This had come about through a
accident with a cross-bow which had resulted in the loss of his right
eye.  His left eye had been impaired
through a
prior injury and he became totally blind by the age of twenty.

could create problems at times during his political life.
For instance, once during a filibuster Gore
did not realize that the Senator who was to take over speaking for him
had left
the room; and the filibuster failed because he did not continue to

of Gore’s colleagues in the Senate would attempt to take advantage of
blindness by tricking him into signing documents that it was not in his
interest for him to sign.  He was famous for turning the tables on
these sharp
dealers and tricking them into signing documents that they did not
intend to
sign. These exploits made him popular with the press, who dubbed him
Blind Cowboy.”

The National
Cyclopedia of American Biography
laid out his lineage as follows:

Thomas Gore was a son of Thomas Madison Gore and Caroline Elizabeth
Wingo, a
grandson of Ezekiel Fletcher Gore and Mary Green, a great-grandson of
Thomas T.
Gore and Nancy Sanders, and a great-great-grandson of James Gore, who
came from
Ireland about 1775 and settled in Frederick County, Maryland.”

to his
grandson Gore Vidal, Thomas Gore was “the first and, I believe, the
senator from an oil state to die without a fortune.”

Albert Gore and Armand Hammer.  Albert Gore
Sr. came from a farm background in rural Tennessee.
When he first ran for the US Senate in 1952
it was said that “the twang of Smith County was still in his voice and
steel of hard work was still in his muscles.”

had little money as a freshman
Senator in Washington.  But he soon made
the acquaintance of the businessman Armand Hammer, a man with a less
savory habit of buying politicians for influence.

to Bob Zelnick’s 1999 book Gore: A Political Life,
Hammer made Gore
a partner in a cattle-breeding business, from which the Senator made a
profit.  Thereafter Gore was Hammer’s
designated door-opener in Washington. When Gore retired, Hammer made
president of Occidental’s coal division, where he earned more than
$500,000 a
year.  Through the Hammer connection, Gore
got the wealth to enable him to live in splendor in Washington’s
Fairfax Hotel.

Reader Feedback – New Zealand Gores.  I am a New Zealand Gore, descended from William
James Gore (1872-1934).  William was the son of William James
Gore and Emma Jane King Gore.  I am not sure if the parents were
though.  Emma died in 1883.

I am not
sure who looked after William, but in 1888 his cousins came from New
(having emigrated in 1874) to collect him and bring him back to be
raised by
his aunt.  Interestingly, at the time of death, Emma’s husband was
as Thomas, the brother of William’s father and father of the cousins
had collected William.

Denise Gore (DGore@ait.ac.nz)


Gore Names

  • Sir Paul Gore was
    in the early 1600’s the forefather of the
    Anglo-Irish Gore family in Ireland.
  • Christopher Gore served as both Governor and Senator for Massachusetts in the early 1800’s. 
  • Thomas Gore was the blind
    Senator for Oklahoma for twenty of the thirty years between 1907 and 1937.  His grandson was the writer Gore
  • Bill Gore founded in 1958 the company
    that was to become globally known for its waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex fabrics. 
  • Al Gore was the US Vice
    President in 1992 and 1996 and Presidential hopeful in 2000 (until the Florida result

Select Gore Numbers Today

  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina)
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)





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