Tempest Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Tempest Meaning
Tempest surname is thought perhaps to reflect
behavioral characteristics, a nickname for someone who had a blustery
Alternatively, the name may be locational.  The surname was
appropriated by one family in particular in west Yorkshire, starting
with de Tempest soon after the Domesday survey of 1086.

Tempest Resources on

Tempest Ancestry

The Tempest

were in the Bracewell
parish of what was then the West Riding of Yorkshire. Roger
Tempest was probably born around 1098
and Roger and Richard Tempest descendants alternated there over the
next two hundred years
.  The family head at the time of
Henry V was Sir Piers Tempest who fought at the Battle of Agincourt in

At an early period the Tempests were to separate into several distinct
branches, of which the main ones were:

  • those of Bracewell, Tong and Broughton in Yorkshire
  • and those of Holmside, Stella and Wynyard in Durham.

Many of the Durham Tempests were recusants,
adherents to the old Catholic faith after the Reformation.  They
were Royalist and it was said in the 17th century: “Tempests resided
there in Catholic splendor and loyalty during the reign of four Stuart

After their religious wobble, the Temples of Old Durham re-established
themselves as country gentry in the 18th century and three generations
of Tempests served as Durham MP’s during that time.  From this
line through Frances
Tempest came the Vane-Tempests.

Yorkshire.  The
Tempest Yorkshire base shifted from Bracewell in west Yorkshire to
Broughton Hall near Skipton in north Yorkshire when they built the
present house there in 1597.  Eleanor Blanche Tempest, who
married into this family, produced the 600 page document Tempest Pedigrees shortly before
her death in 1928.  Her work was followed by M.E. Lancaster’s 1978
book The Tempests of Broughton.

Broughton Hall fell into decay during the 20th century under the
eccentric Stephen Tempest.  But after his younger brother Henry
took over in 1970, there has been a revival in Broughton Hall fortunes.

Tempests Elsewhere.
There were Tempests elsewhere in England, mostly related to the
family lines.

In 1569 Tempests from Durham had fled the north to escape retribution
from the failed Catholic Northern Rebellion. Robert
Tempest, the Sheriff of Durham, and his
eldest son Michael fled abroad and both died in exile.
Another son William ended up in
Cambridgeshire and his family held
Manor in Haddon
between 1608 and 1661.  William Tempest,
born at Shepherds in Cranbrook, Kent in 1682, was a

Durham Tempests owned the Little
Grove estate at East Barnet on the outskirts of London in the late 18th
century. But the property was sold on
Anne Tempest’s death in 1817.

Marie Tempest,
in late
Victorian and Edwardian times, took her Tempest stage name
Lady Susan Vane-Tempest whom she referred to as
her godmother.

Ireland.  Tempest
crossed the Irish Sea to Ireland, the name appearing in county Louth
records in

William Tempest was recorded as a
musician owning a lodging house in Rostrevor, county Down in 1815.  His son or grandson William moved to Dundalk
in Louth in the 1850’s and soon started a printing and stationary
there. The Tempests became a well-known family in Dundalk
and a
later William Tempest was a Justice of the Peace in the early 1900’s.

Tempest Annual, first produced in Dundalk in 1861, was essentially
business directory.  It continued under
Temple descendants until 1959 when a Centennary Annual was published.


Tempest Miscellany

Tempest Family Origins.  The book Kin of Mellcene Thurman Smith had the following description of the origins of the Tempest family:

of Bracewell (in the West Riding of Yorkshire), with the adjoining
hamlet of
Stoke, was a part of the great fee of Roger of Poitou, who had come
William I in 1066, remaining in his hand at the time of the Domesday

The two great Saxon lords, Ulchil and Archil, had had to give us these
to this powerful Norman invader; and it was probably not long after the
date of
the Domesday survey that these manors were granted to Roger de Tempest.

this man was a Norman, the name will not permit us to doubt; that he
was a
dependent of Roger of Poitou is extremely probable; that he was, at all
possessed of these manors in the reign of Henry I is absolutely

Tempest, whatever its
origin, seems to have been venerated by the family; as in the two next
centuries, when local appellations became almost universal, they never
chose to
part with it.  It is also alluded to in their armorial bearing.”

Dame Marie Tempest.  Marie Tempest
was an English singer and actress known as the
“queen of her profession.”  She
was the most famous soprano in
late Victorian light opera and Edwardian musical comedies.
Later she became a leading comic actress and
toured widely in North America and elsewhere.
She was at times her own theatre manager during a career
spanning more
than fifty years.  She was also
instrumental in the founding of the actors’ union Equity in Britain.

was born Mary
Susan Etherington in
London in 1864.  She adopted as her stage
name Tempest from Lady Susan Vane-Tempest whom she referred to as her

had married Lord
Alphonsus Vane-Tempest in 1860 several weeks after her 21st birthday.  He held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the
Army, but was allegedly an alcoholic as
well as being mentally unstable.  On at
least one occasion Susan and her infant
son were physically attacked by her unstable husband.
He died in 1864.

Vane-Tempests were originally the Vanes.  Sir
Henry Vane-Tempest was the son and heir
of the Rev. Sir Henry Vane and
his wife, Frances née Tempest. He was the MP for Durham from 1794 to 1800,
replacing his uncle
John Tempest from whom he had inherited the Tempest estates in Durham
condition he adopt the name and arms of Tempest.

The Tempests in Dundalk.  A photograph taken at
Blackrock in county Louth in the late 1800’s shows a mother and her son filling
a bag with sand on a beach.

boy’s name was Trevor.  His
father William Tempest was originally from Rostrevor in county Down
which had
been started by the Trevor family (which is probably where the boy got
nickname).  In fact his christened name
was William Caxton Tempest, his name when he enlisted in the army at
the start
of World War One.

that time his father was a Justice of the Peace in Dundalk.  He died there in 1918.

Elaine Blanche Tempest.  Eleanor Blanche
Tempest, born in 1853, had married into the Tempest family, being the wife of
Arthur Cecil Tempest, the holder of the Tempest estate at Broughton Hall.

was truly a remarkable woman.  Blind in
one eye, she undertook extensive genealogical studies of her husband’s
and of other families of Yorkshire. She acquired a large library of
genealogical books at Broughton Hall, as well as manuscripts and other
documents.  She was evidently in close
contact with other antiquaries of the day and other collectors of

One of her major achievements was a 600 page manuscript, Tempest Pedigrees, which she worked on
during the first two decades of the 20th century.  It
was written in small black script, with
citations in red ink and various coats of arms scattered about, in
color and
tracings of ancient signatures.  The
sheets are crammed with information about the early Tempests, with

She died in 1928, not long after the completion of the manuscript.

Broughton Hall’s Revival.  Henry Tempest,
a second son, unexpectedly inherited Broughton Hall in north Yorkshire
1970.  His father Roger, a war hero
during World War one, had maintained the Hall’s standards during the
years, with 22 indoor servants being employed at the house.  But standards slipped markedly after Roger
died and his oldest son Stephen took over.  By
1970 the eccentric Stephen died
unmarried and without children and the house had a leaking roof, a heap
of debt,
and death duties of 65 percent were due.

Stephen inherited Broughton Hall in 1948, Henry
Tempest had been encouraged to emigrate to Northern Rhodesia – “banished to the
colonies” according to one member of the family.
He took various jobs, including selling
firewood, acting as a driving instructor, and letting warehouse space,
and met
his wife Joan there.  By 1961, however,
as the winds of change were blowing over Rhodesia, Henry and his family
returned to England almost destitute.  Henry
was able to find a job as a financial officer at Oxford University.

Henry took over Broughton Hall, he had to
sell some of the family silver, paintings, books, and even the local
pub, the
Tempest Arms
, to keep his head above water.
Having restored the estate’s fortunes, Henry then became active
in local affairs,
serving on North Yorkshire county council from 1973 to 1987 and as
deputy lieutenant
for the county from 1981 to 1998.

His son
Roger took over the running of the estate in 1988.  Henry
Tempest died in May 2017.


Tempest Names

  • Roger Tempest, born around 1098 in Yorkshire, was the first recorded of the Tempest family.
  • Pierce Tempest from Yorkshire was an English book and print seller, best known for his series Cries of the City of London published in 1711. 
  • Marie Tempest, born Mary Etherington, was a famous soprano in England in late Victorian and Edwardian times. 
  • Gerard Tempest, born Gerard Tempesta in Italy in 1918, was an American painter who is considered the father of Abstract Spiritualism.

Tempest Numbers Today

  • 2,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Yorkshire)
  • 400 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Tempest and Like Surnames

Nicknames must have been an early feature of medieval life in a family or community as these nicknames later translated into surnames.  People then lived a more natural life than we do today and the surnames have reflected that.

They could be about color (Brown, Gray, Green etc), whether of hair or complexion or other factors; mood (Gay and Moody are two extremes); youth (Cox and Kidd); speed of foot (Swift and Lightfoot); and actions (such as Shakespeare and Wagstaff).  Then there were likenesses to animals (notably Fox and Wolfe but also Peacock) and to birds (Crowe and Wren for example).  And then there were some extraordinary nicknames such as Drinkwater and Wildgoose.

Here are some of these nickname surnames that you can check out.






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