Terry Surname Genealogy

English and Irish surname Terry can be traced
back to the Germanic Theodoric, meaning “people rule” from the Latin
or Terence.  It became Thierry in France
and was brought to England by the Normans in that form. The
English version of Terry began to appear
in the 13th century

Terry Resources on

Terry Ancestry

The Terry name distribution in the 19th century showed two main
one in Kent in the southeast and the other in Yorkshire in the

Kent.  The
earliest record in Kent appears to have been a Thierry, the son of
Deorman in London, who was granted lands there by the Earl of Pembroke
in the mid-12th century.  The later surname spelling here could be
either Terrey or Terry.  For instance:

  • David Terrey died at Pelham near Gravesend in 1662; and Edward
    Terrey appeared in the hearth tax records at Cudham near Bromley in
  • while the name John Terry was recorded at Maidstone in 1602; and
    William Terry appeared in the hearth tax records at Cowden near
    Sevenoaks in 1664.

The Terrey spelling persisted into the 19th century.   But there were only 17 Terreys left in Kent by
the time of the 1881 census.

Hampshire.  There was a Terry
family at Long Sutton in
Hampshire from the early 1500’s.  Stephen
Terry made his home at Hydegate House and was a substantial landowner
there in
Elizabethan times.  His son the Rev.
John Terry
was a well-known anti-Catholic writer and his
grandson John a
wealthy goldsmith in London.

But the
most famous Terry family from Hampshire was of reputed Irish descent
it is not known where and when they came from Ireland).
The first known was Benjamin Terry, innkeeper
at the Fortune of War in Portsmouth who married Catherine
Crawford in
1812.  His son Benjamin and wife Sarah,
comic actors in a Portsmouth-based touring company, were the first of the
Terry theatrical dynasty

later Irish arrival, from Cork, was Paul Terry who came to Portsmouth
in 1899
and worked there as a physician until his death in 1951.

Yorkshire.  Terry seems to have been a
name from the
North Riding of Yorkshire.

One Terry
family record began with the birth of John Terry in Askrigg in north
in 1705.  He was a badger by trade, a man
who bought grain and carted it to a buyer, as was his son Edward.  Later Terrys were millers.
Edward Terry unfortunately drowned at his
mill while tipsy in 1789.  After the
Napoleonic Wars, economic conditions deteriorated in the North Riding
and John
Terry departed for Australia in 1818.

There was also a Terry family from Guisbrough in north Yorkshire in the
early/mid 1700’s.  Thomas Terry of this
family emigrated to South Carolina in 1825.
There he organized in Fountain Inn the building of a new
church that came to be known as Terry’s Chapel.

Joseph Terry, the son of a butcher, came from the village of
at the foot of the Yorkshire Wolds in east Yorkshire.
He took over Terry’s of York, the
chocolate-making company, in 1828 and it remained in family hands until

The heyday of the company was
probably in the 1920’s and 1930’s when it was run by Joseph’s grandson Noel
  He it was who introduced
famous All Gold and Chocolate Orange selections.  Goddards, close by the chocolate

was the home of the Terry
until 1980

Ireland.  The Terrys
of Cork
an old Anglo-Norman family who were steadfastly Catholic at the time of
Cromwell.  They first appeared in Cork
documents, generally as Tyrry, around the year 1300 and they rose to
as merchants and traders in Cork city a century or so later.  Edmund Tyrry, who died in 1454, was the first
in this line of merchants.  During the
1500’s and the early 1600’s Terrys served as mayor of Cork city no
fewer than
twenty times.

However, it became
untenable for them to maintain their position and their Catholic faith
Cromwell.  In 1644 all Catholic families
were thrown out of the city.  Some Terrys
converted to Protestantism and remained in the city. Others
retained a certain presence in the
surrounding countryside.  Still others
emigrated.  Their power was broken. 

Spain and Latin America.
After the Jacobite defeat in Ireland in 1690, many Terrys
refuge abroad.  James Terry (whose
family was originally from Cork) fled Limerick for Spain.
His relation William Terry obtained an estate
with vineyards near Jerez in the region of Andalusia and began to
fortified sherry there.  Terrys have
remained there in the Cadiz region.

One line of these Terrys settled across the Atlantic in Cuba where they
became powerful.   Tomas Terry made a fortune as a sugar planter
in the mid-19th century and was probably the richest man on the island
on his death in 1886.  His son Emilio served as Cuba’s Minister of
Agriculture in the early 1900’s.  Other Terrys had migrated to
Peru in the 18th century.  Fernando Terry of this line was twice
President of Peru in the mid-20th century.

America.  There were two notable early
Terry lines in
New England. 

New England.  Three Terry brothers –
Thomas, Robert, and
Richard – were said to have come to the Massachusetts Bay colony from
London on
the James in 1635.  The youngest
of them, Richard, was one of the thirteen original settlers of
Southold, Long
Island.  He died there in 1676.  From Long Island, his descendants seem
to have scattered,
some settling in Orange
New York
and others in

A line from Connecticut via Parshall Terry
migrated to the Wyoming valley in Pennsylvania in 1763.
One of his sons Jonathan was the
of Terrytown
in Bradford county, Pennsylvania in 1787.  An elder son Parshall fought in the
Revolutionary War, but later deserted and joined the British side.  After the war he decamped to Ontario in
Canada where he prospered.  He drowned in
the Don river in 1808.  A third Parshall
Terry, born near Niagara on the New York side in 1778, moved to Ontario
1820.  Jacob Terry of this family was a
Mormon pioneer to Utah
in 1852. 

Samuel Terry, born near London, was brought to New England in 1650 by
William Pynchon, the man who founded Springfield, Massachusetts.  There Samuel was apprenticed to Benjamin
Cooley as a weaver.

“Samuel’s ancestry is uncertain. Some have
him as the grandson of the Rev. John Terry, the noted anti-Catholic
writer of
his time and vicar of Stockton in Wiltshire.
John was married to Mary, the sister of John White of Dorchester.  But others have disputed this linkage.” 

His eldest son Samuel settled nearby
at Enfield where he started up a sawmill.

Several generations later, Charles and Huldah Terry departed this area
for upstate New York.  They settled after
the Revolutionary War in Wayne county, having purchased land in the
there.  Charles fought in the War of 1812
but died two years later as a result of gunshot wounds.
His son John prospered as a businessman in
Portsmouth, Ohio.

Another line from
Enfield via Nathaniel Terry led to Dr. Charles Terry, a pioneer
physician and
surgeon in Clark county, Wisconsin in the years prior to the Civil War. 

Elsewhere.  Thomas
Terry, a Quaker, was one of the
original settlers of Bucks county, from lands granted him by William
Penn in
1683.  Five generations of Terrys lived
there.  But David Terry, Thomas’s great
grandson, found the Quakers no longer being tolerated there in the
1800’s.  He embarked on a desperate
course of action – emigration to Canada.
He and his family left Pennsylvania for
north of

were a number of Terrys in Virginia in the 1600’s:

  • the earliest may have been William Terry from
    London who arrived in 1652.  He was
    apparently from a Terry family that transported indentured servants to
    colonies.  William himself stayed and
    settled in Lunenburg county.  There were
    later Terrys of this line in South Carolina.  
  • Thomas Terry was born in 1665 in what became Caroline
    county.  His descendants were to be found
    Edgefield, South Carolina in the late 1700’s.  Joseph
    Terry moved to Mississippi in 1836 where he bought
    land in Hinds
    county for a farm and general store.  His
    son William had the town of Terry named after him.
  • James Terry was born in the 1680’s
    also in
    Caroline county.  He moved in later life
    to North Carolina and his descendants to Alabama in the early 1800’s.  William Terry was a Methodist preacher there

Australia.  Samuel Terry’s history in
Australia was a
rags-to-riches story, from his arrival from Manchester as a convict in
in 1801 to the business empire that he had created there some twenty

He died in 1838 as the “Botany
Bay Rothschild” and possibly the wealthiest man in the colony.  But any dreams of a family dynasty were soon
to be dispelled.  Edward, his son and
principal heir, died childless soon after Terry himself.
And much of the family’s fortune was
dissipated in the speculations and bankruptcy of the mercantile firm of
& Hosking. 

John Terry arrived
from Yorkshire in 1819 with a letter of introduction to the Governor to
whom he
appeared “a good worthy man.”  He had
been a miller in Yorkshire and he established a mill along the Derwent
river in

Terry Miscellany

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

Select Terry Names


who died in 1454 was
the first of the Terry merchants of Cork.

Joseph Terry
the confectionary company Terry’s of
in 1828.
Samuel Terry
, transported
to Australia as a convict in 1800, was the wealthiest man in the colony
by the
time of his death in 1838.
Tomas Terry
was a Cuban sugar planter, probably the richest man on
the island on his death in 1886.
Ellen Terry
an English stage
actress of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the leading
actress of her time

Select Terrys Today

  • 15,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Kent)
  • 30,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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