Petrie Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Petrie Meaning
a pet form of the first name Peter.
As a surname it originated in the northeast of Scotland. Some think that the name was brought by
Flemish artisans
who arrived in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Petrie name is pronounced Paitrie in

Petrie Resources on

Petrie Ancestry

Petrie records suggest that the name moved in the northeast of
Scotland from Morayshire through Banff into Aberdeen and Kincardine
(part of
present-day Angus).

Hendrie Petrie was a prominent businessman in Aberdeen in
the early 1600’s. His large house there,
known as the Miscellany
of the Spalding Club in Aberdeen
, was used for public entertainment. Robert Petrie, a burgess in Dundee, died
there in 1616.
Petrie was the Provost of Montrose in
1625 (and the Petrie name remained prominent
in Montrose

from the northeast of Scotland included:

  • James
    Petrie, a wool weaver who was born in 1755 at Coleburn in
  • Alexander
    Petrie and Janet
    Spence who were married at Premnay in Aberdeenshire in 1765. They were the forebears of the Petries of
    Kennethmont in Aberdeenshire.
  • Arthur Petrie from
    Aberdeenshire who
    was Bishop of Moray from 1778 to 1787.
  • while
    David Petrie married Helen Cock at
    Lerwick in the Shetland Isles in 1710.

largest Petrie
numbers in the 1881 census were in Forfarshire (now Angus) – in Dundee,
and St. Vigeans (near Arbroath).

. Robert Petrie, son of George
Petrie the
provost of Montrose, came to Sweden with his brother George soon after
father’s death in 1628. There he founded
the Brattfors steel works at Ockelbo.
His descendants continued to own the steel works until well into
19th century.

England. One early family had definite
origins. The
Petres were yeoman farmers at Torbryan in
Devon, going back to the late 1300’s.
John Petre was “a rich tanner of Torbryan” in the early 1500’s. His son John was a founder member of the
Exeter merchant adventurers in the 1560’s.

Another son Sir William made it to
London and the Tudor court, serving as Secretary of State for four
from Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth. He
Hall in Essex at the time of the
dissolution of the monasteries. He
established it as a Catholic refuge which it has remained under the
family until the present day.

Petries of Lewisham in Surrey had Scottish origins, however. The Rev. Robert Petrie grew up on the
Scottish borders and had previously been a minister in Dumfries. He died in Lewisham in 1791.

Lewisham church there is a monument to
his widow Margaret, showing her dying in the arms of Religion supported
Faith and Hope.”

Two of their sons
prospered in India, John in Bengal and William in Madras:

  • John
    returned the richer. He became an MP and a
    slave owner with
    plantations in the new colony of Tobago.
  • but
    William had the more distinguished
    descendants, most notably Flinders
    the father of Egyptian archaeology.
    Flinders died in 1942,
    he donated his head – and hence his brain – to the Royal College of
    Surgeons in
    London where it is now stored.

Scottish Petries, however, were to be found closer to Scotland, in
England. Charles Petrie from Fife, for
instance, developed his family fisheries business in Liverpool where he
as its mayor in 1901 and was made a baronet in 1918.
His son Charles was a historian, his grandson
Peter a British diplomat.

. The Petries of Herkimer
county, New York were
German immigrants from the Palatinate who had made their home at German
in the Mohawk valley in the early 1700’s.
Catherine Petrie married Johan Herkimer around 1720. William Petrie was a surgeon in Nicholas
Herkimer’s brigade during the Revolutionary War. The
family history was traced in Hazel Patrick’s
1979 book The Mohawk Valley Petrie and
Allied Families

The origins of Alexander Petrie of South Carolina are
uncertain. Some suspect that he came
from French Huguenot roots. He was the
premier silversmith of Charleston from the 1740’s until his death in
1768. His son Edmund was a suspected
during the Revolutionary War.

Milton Petrie’s origins were Jewish.
His parents had arrived from Russia and were
running a pawn shop in Salt Lake City when he was born in 1902. He made a fortune from a chain of retail
stores in New Jersey, which he supplemented through canny investments
in real
estate and stocks.

Two Petrie British officers settled in Canada.

Nova Scotia.  George Petrie
was a British soldier in Canada in the 1780’s,
probably Scottish, who was entitled to a land grant because of his
service. He took up this land grant in
1789 with his wife Isabel at Sydney in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Fort Petrie, named after them, exists there

Petrie descendants on Cape Breton are sizeable, including the mid-19th
century descendants of James Petrie at Glace Bay. Sergeant
John Petrie of Glace Bay died on the
Western front during World War One in 1916.

Daniel Petrie, born in Glace Bay in
1920, came to New York in the 1960’s where he made his name as a movie
and TV
director. His
family expanded there to include two directors (Daniel Petrie and his
Donald), a television movie producer (Dorothea Petrie), a screenwriter
Petrie Jr.), a movie studio executive (June Petrie), and an actress

Ontario. Another British officer who had received a
Canadian land grant was the Scotsman Captain Archibald Petrie. He was a purser on ships patrolling Lake
Ontario during the War of 1812. His
grant was in Cumberland township, Ontario where he became a prominent
and politician. He gave his name to
Petrie Island on the Ottawa river.

Australia. Andrew

from Fife came out with
his family to Australia in 1831, first
staying in NSW and then moving, some ten years later, to the emerging
town of
Brisbane in Queensland. There he started up his own construction
company. He was the pioneer architect and
builder of
the town. His name continues in Petrie,
a suburb and electoral division.
His son John was the first mayor of Brisbane. Another
son Thomas was an explorer, grazier and
friend to Aborigines.


Select Petrie Miscellany

Petrie’s Flemish Origins?  One persistent story has the Petries of Scotland originating from a Flemish family named
Peters that had migrated from Antwerp to Cornwall in the 12th century.  From there the family moved to the northeast
of Scotland – to Kincardine (where they were said to have owned a manor) and to
Aberdeen and Caithness.  It is known that
Scotland was encouraging Flemish immigration at the time, because of
skills in weaving.

Prominent Petries in Montrose

Helen Petrie wife of John Mylne, burgess    1597
George Petrie provost of Montrose    1625
Katherine Petrie wife of Alexander Pirie    1625
Alexander Petrie master at grammar school    1625
Elizabeth Petrie wife of John Ochterlony, baillie    1662
James Petrie shipmaster    1756
William Petrie master at grammar school    1766
William Petrie shipmaster    1775
James Petrie son of James Petrie, maltman    1808
Alexander Petrie Montrose merchant    1810

first Alexander Petrie above became a Scottish Covenanting minister
based in Rotterdam. 

George Petrie, Bishop of Moray.  George’s first
employment in the 1740’s was as a tutor to the family of Walkinshaw,
not far
from Glasgow, on the salary of £6 per annum.
Here he devoted himself so sincerely to his duties that, when he
ill, as he did, the family took the most anxious care of him. One
trouble he
had, and that was whether the influential friends of the Walkinshaws
insist on his taking the oaths to the Government.  But
the point was never raised.

1754 he
wanted to emigrate to Jamaica, but was persuaded to stay in Scotland by
relatives. In 1756 his mother fell ill and died.  The
next year Arthur accepted the tutorship
as a layman at Balgowan near Perth but stayed only a short time.
He returned to
Aberdeenshire in 1757 and his father died the following year.   Arthur’s
first pastoral charge was at Wartle and Meiklefolla in Aberdeenshire.  He was appointed the Episcopal Bishop of
Moray in 1778.

still relates the gratification with which Bishop
Petrie was hailed, when seen coming slowly up the glens on his little
pony, his
check plaid serving for gown and lawn sleeves.”

Petrie died in 1787
“in the fifty-sixth year of his age and the eleventh of his Episcopate.”

Flinders Petrie’s Heritage.  Flinders Petrie
was born in Kent in 1853, the son of William and Ann Petrie.

was the daughter of Captain Matthew Flinders, the surveyor of the
coastline.  She spoke six languages and
was an Egyptologist.

father William was an electrical engineer who had
developed carbon arc lighting and subsequently chemical processes for
Matthey.  His Petries had originated from
the Scottish borders.  His great
grandfather William Petrie had gone out to India in the 1780’s and
with a modest fortune.  While in Madras
he had set up his own private observatory at his home, the first ever
to be
built outside Europe.

Petrie was raised in a Christian household – his
father being a Plymouth Brethren – and he was educated at home.  He had no formal education.
But his father taught him how to survey
accurately, thus laying the foundation for his archaeological career.

George Petrie, Nova Scotia Settler.  George Petrie
was a British soldier in North America in the 1780’s and entitled to a land
grant based on his service.  He took up
this land grant in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

origins were probably Scottish
but obscure.  Some have connected him
with the Captain George Petrie who was a staff officer on General
staff in Boston and Kingston.  Captain
Petrie was captured in the Battle of Saratoga and marched with 6,000
British soldiers to ships to transport them from Saratoga. Captain
Petrie was
listed as a prisoner on parole in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

there was
an interesting paragraph in the Rev. John Murray’s 1921 book The History of the Presbyterians in Cape

earliest settlers on the Low Point shore in Cape Breton, between
Lingan and South Bar, were Irish Roman Catholics.  But
there were a few Presbyterian families
among them.  These families were from
Ulva in the Hebrides. They were all Gaelic speaking people, bearing the
name of
Livingstone, McGillivray, McPhee and Petrie.
The Livingstones were closely related to Dr. Livingstone the
African missionary.”

this true for Petrie?

Andrew Petrie and His Passage to Australia.  In the
early 1830’s Andrew Petrie was an enterprising young man working in the
building trade in Edinburgh when he was approached by the Rev. J.D.
Lang to
emigrate to Australia.

Lang was an
evangelical Protestant of great tenacity who recruited skilled
tradesmen that
had been recommended by respected local Presbyterian employers and
churchmen.  Since one of the reasons for
the Rev. Lang’s conscription of families was to remedy the climate of
immorality in the penal settlement in Australia, only those of the
moral character were chosen.

The restrictive economic climate of the Scotland in
the 1830’s made the Petrie family – Andrew, his wife Mary and four
growing boys
– keen to emigrate.  They were on board
when the Stirling Castle carrying 52
Scottish mechanics and their families set off in June 1831 with Captain
Fraser at the helm.

The time taken for the voyage was not wasted.  In
addition to Bible readings and strict
observance of the Sabbath, male passengers devoted a considerable
amount of
time to study.  Mathematics, geometry and
political economy were studied five days a week.  Many
of the mechanics, Andrew included,
signed a temperance pledge before they disembarked.

On arrival in Sydney life
was very different. The mechanics were soon employed in building Lang’s
Australian College and the Petries were working hard to pay back their
money, as half of their wages was deducted for this purpose.


Select Petrie Names

  • Sir William Petre was
    an English Secretary of State in Tudor times, from
    Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth.   
  • Andrew Petrie was a pioneer,
    architect and builder in Brisbane, Queensland in the mid-1800’s. 
  • Flinders Petrie was an English Egyptologist of
    the early 1900’s
    and a pioneer of systematic methodology in
    archaeology and the preservation of artifacts

Select Petrie Numbers Today

  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Angus)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in New York)
  • 5,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Petrie and Like Surnames 

These surnames originated from the northern part of Scotland, either the northeast of the country, the Scottish Highlands, or in one case (the surname Linklater) the Orkney isles north of Scotland.




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