Osborne Surname Genealogy

The surname Osborne comes from the Old Norse or Viking personal name Asbjorn, comprised of as neaning “god,” and bjorn meaning “bear.”
The word “god bear” may have been a reference to the colossal Ursus
an ancient bear that once roamed the plains of Europe after the last
ice age.
The name had appeared in England before the Norman Conquest. The
of Egbert, the king of Wessex, was called Osbern. But
Osbern acheved a greater prominence in England through the Normans,
first because of William FitzOsbern and then
because of the spread of Norman Osberns in the Domesday Book.  Another William FitzOsbern led a popular uprising in London in 1196.
The first surname recording was a Henry Osbern in Cambridge in
1260. Over time Osbern became Osborn and Osborne. The
predominate today.

Osborne Resources on

Osborne Ancestry

England. The Osbern name
was widely spread throughout England in the Domesday Book. And
the surname Osborne was also spread in the 19th century:

  • there
    was one
    cluster around London and the southeast (Kent and Essex)
  • another in
    the southwest (in particular in Devon and Cornwall)
  • and then it spread
    across the Midlands and into Yorkshire.

The manor of Osborne (originally Oustbourn)
on the Isle of Wight which dates from about 1320 gave its name to
Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s favorite residence.

Kent. The
record of an Osborne family comes from the will of Julian and Harjanna
Osborn, recorded in Maidstone in Kent in 1404. Alexander Osborne
was mayor of Maidstone in 1700 and the family
remained in this area. The Osbornes at Hartlip near Sittingbourne
dated from 1464. Thomas Osborne from Ashford was an early settler
in New England in 1637. Later Osbornes in Kent were to be found
in the seaside town of Deal.

Elsewhere. Edward Osborne,
a clothmaker in Elizabethan times, is said to have made
his family’s
fortune by leaping into the Thames to rescue the
daughter of his employer. His descendants became landed gentry at
Kiveton in Yorkshire and, as the Duke of Leeds, owned a number of
the country, in particular in the county of Buckinghamshire.
There were
Osbornes recorded in the village of Castlethorpe in Buckinghamshire
from the 1640’s onwards.

Another titled Osborne family started with Peter
Osborne, also during the reign of Elizabeth. He acquired the
family seat
at Chicksands Priory in Bedfordshire in 1576. His Royalist family
rewarded for loyalty during the reign of Charles II. One sibling,
Dorothy Osborne, created a stir by her affair with a prominent
roundhead, William Temple. A later offspring, Danvers Osborne,
was briefly, for five days, the Governor of New York.

Ireland. The name
Osborne was brought to Ireland by the English in the 15th
century. The main settlement point was at Waterford where an
family owned Knockmaun castle and established itself as landed
gentry. Their baronetcy at Ballintaylor in Tipperary dated from

  • the 17th baronet, Sir Peter Osborne, made his mark in London
    he co-founded
    the Osborne & Little home furnishing store in 1968.
  • while his son
    Osborne, a Conservative MP, became Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2009.

The Osborne name spread across
Ireland. One Osborne
family was involved in granite mining in Ballyknockan,Wicklow.
Osborne, born in Dublin, was a well-known Irish
painter of the late 19th century.

Spain. The
Osborne name came
to prominence in Spain in a curious way. In the 1950’s the
Osborne sherry company erected
large images of bulls, in black with the maker’s name, on roadside
advertising hoardings around Spain. This image
so iconic that the Osborne bull (toro
de Osborne
) is now regarded as the unofficial national symbol of

Grupo Osborne got its Osborne name from a young Englishman
from Devon named Thomas Osborne Mann who had come to Cadiz in 1772 and
founded a winery. The Osborne sherry brand came some hundred
years later.

America. Thomas
Osborne arrived in Boston from Kent
in 1637 and moved on the next year with other colonists to found the
town of New Haven in Connecticut. He and his son Thomas later
settled on Long Island. The old Osborne house was built in East
Hampton in 1680. The
on this East
Hampton site had
Osbornes living there until the 1920’s and is an international hotel

Later in the 1600’s, Alexander Osborne had arrived in New England from
Ireland as an indentured servant. He married Sarah Prince in
Salem who – as Sarah Osborne – became one of the
first persons to be accused of witchcraft in the town. She
came to trial; she died in 1692 while shackled in prison.

Virginia and the
. Other Osbornes came via Virginia. Captain Enoch
was a
pioneer settler in Grayson county, Virginia in the 1750’s. Whilst
his antecedents are uncertain, his descendants have been traced in
books such as Rita Sutton’s 1973 book Early
Osbornes and Alleys

Descendants of Ephraim Osborne from
North Carolina are to be found in Harlan county, Kentucky.
Another Osborne family account starts
in the 1750’s, also in North Carolina. A later generation moved
Charleston, South Carolina through Alabama and Arkansas before heading
for Hill county, Texas in 1855. This Osborne rover was a
Presbyterian doctor.

Canada. Three Osborne
brothers were said to have come to Newfoundland in the early 1800’s,
one settling in Notre Dame Bay, another in Gooseberry Bay, and a third
eventually in Port aux Basques.

Joseph Osborne was the skipper of a schooner which took families from
Port aux Basques to colonize the offshore Anticosti islands.
However, when these islands were acquired on the early 1900’s by a
French magnate as his personal fiefdom, the Osbornes – together with
the other fishing folk there – were deported and sent off to the plains
of Manitoba. The farming experiment did not work and they soon
drifted back to the East Coast.

Australia. The name
Osborne figured prominently in the early history of South
Australia. The first instance was tragic. EE Osborne, a
young apprentice printer in London, was brought to the new colony in
1836 to help start a newspaper there. He and a young doctor named
Slater were walking on Kangaroo Island but lost contact with their
party from the Africaine and
were never seen again.

Henry Osborne provided a more substantive presence. Born the
youngest of ten in Ireland (county Tyrone), he made his way to
Australia in 1829. Ten years later, he set off with one
free settler, three convicts, and three Aborigines for new lands in
South Australia. He became a big cattle rancher in the Maitland
area and entered local politics.

Joseph Osborn
was one of the most successful racehorse owners in South Australia in
the early 1900’s. In 1912 he sold his stable to buy a winery in
McLaren Vale. This winery is now run by the fourth generation of

Select Osborne Miscellany

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

Osborne Names

William FitzOsbern was William the
Conqueror’s right hand man during the invasion of England and the man
who suppressed revolt around the country after 1066.
Dorothy Osborne
from Bedfordshire is noted for
the letters she wrote to her husband Sir William Temple in the late
Walter Osborne, born in Dublin,
was a well-known Irish painter of the late 19th century.
was the English playwright and critic of the
Establishment best remembered for his 1956 play Look Back in Anger.
Charlie Osborne
was a renowned fiddler in the Appalachian
Mountains who died in 1992 at the age of a hundred and one.
Adam Osborne
was a British PC pioneer
with his Osborne laptop computer of the early 1980’s.

Select Osbornes Today

  • 40,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Cornwall)
  • 40,000 in America (most numerous in Ohio)
  • 16,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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