Thorpe Surname Genealogy

Thorp or Thorpe as a name in England is generally to be found in areas
where there was Danish settlement. Places with “-thorp” or “-thorpe” as
a suffix crop up in Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and Norfolk. The
word – of Old Norse and Old Danish origin – means a small hamlet or
village.Its first recording as a surname was William de Torp in the
Northumberland pipe rolls of 1158.
Thorp and Thorpe are the main
spellings, with Thorp more to be found in the north of England.
Thorp could become Tharp in America.

Thorpe Resources on

Thorpe Ancestry

The main locations for Thorpes in the 19th century were, following the
Danish settlements, in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and
Lincolnshire, with smaller numbers further south along the coast in
East Anglia.

Early Thorpes.  One early recorded Thorpe family started with a Stephen de Thorpe who
lived in the late 12th century in Yorkshire and begat a line of
Stephens there.

Another was to be found in East Anglia in the
late 13th century. This Thorpe family held Uphall manor in
Norfolk until 1522. John
de Thorpe

of Ashwell-Thorpe in
Norfolk, born around 1270, did much to establish his family’s fortunes. But p
erhaps the best known member was
Sir William
de Thorpe. As Chief Justice of the King’s Bench in the 1340’s he
amassed great wealth and estates through bribery and corruption.

“As a clerk of the court he had been
assaulted on one occasion in 1318 when his enemies allegedly urinated
on him. In 1350 he was imprisoned and condemned to hanging and
confiscation of all his property. The next year, however, he was
pardoned and had his property restored.”

Thomas Thorpe from Essex was speaker of the House of Commons in 1453
who, unfortunately, was beheaded by a London mob eight years later (one
speakers to be beheaded in the fractious 15th century). A
descendant – via
churchmen and Conservative MP’s – was
the Liberal party leader of the 1970’s, Jeremy Thorpe.

a place-name was to be found near Chertsey in Surrey (from whence has
come Thorpe Park, the amusement center).
John Thorpe was a Surrey MP in the late 14th century and the Thorpe
ironmasters in Sussex
in the
late 16th century may have been related.

Later Thorpes.
There were the Thorps in Northumberland and Durham, starting
with the Rev. Thomas Thorp of Chillingham. His son Robert became
Archdeacon of Northumberland in 1792 and his son Charles, also a
clergyman, was a founder of Durham University in 1837.

One family history began with the birth of Ezekiel Thorpe in Aldeburgh,
Suffolk in 1709. These Thorpes were to remain there for the next
150 years before beginning to drift to London, with some emigrating to
Canada. Another started with Thomas Thorpe who was born in the
Staffordshire village of Elford in the 1750’s. And Francis Thorpe
of Pateley Bridge in Yorkshire was born in 1776.

America. Thomas Thorpe was in Ipswich, Massachusetts in
1631, married Rebecca Milward in Boston in 1656, and later settled in
Woodbridge, New Jersey. His descendants lived
in Woodbridge
and Perth Amboy
for more than 200 years. Other Thorpes
had spread by that time into neighboring Monmouth and Union

Another early arrival was William Thorp from London on the Hector in 1637. He was one of
the first settlers of New Haven, Connecticut. Joel Thorpe
of this
family headed west to Ohio in 1799 but was killed in a skirmish with
the British during the War of 1812. His son Lewis became a sailor
on Lake Erie and later settled in Missouri.

There were several
Tharps that immigrated to Virginia and Maryland in the colonial period. John Jacob Thorp, related to the Woodbridge
Thorpes, migrated west in the early 1800’s.
Interestingly, his name was Thorp in New York and Ohio and Tharp
Indiana. From a Quaker farming family in Portland, Indiana came
the dance choreographer Twyla Tharp.

Hiram Thorpe was born in Kansas in 1852, reportedly the son of
Irishman and a Native woman. A member of the Sac and Fox tribe in
Oklahoma, he was the father of Jim Thorpe – whom some have called “the
greatest athlete of all time.” Sadly, Jim Thorpe lost his amateur
Olympic medals that he won in 1912 because he had been a professional
and he lived out the latter part of his life in poverty and poor

Australia and New Zealand
. Early Thorpe arrivals were
convicts. Charles Thorpe, convicted at York assizes, was one of
the 338 convicts transported on the Coromandel
and Experiment to Australia
in 1803.

Joshua Thorp
left his native
Yorkshire for Australia in the 1820’s. He married Sarah Garratt
of Hobart
in 1827 and twelve years later they embarked on a new challenge in New
Zealand. Joshua wrote his memoirs of those early days in 1880 in Journey
of a Visit to New Zealand.

Three Thorpe brothers from London went to South
Australia with
their families in the early years of settlement there. Robert and
Margaret Thorpe travelled on the Navarino
in 1837. Three years later came Charles and Mary Ann Thorpe and
their large family of seven on the Fairfield,
together with brother Thomas and his wife Amelia.

Thorpe Miscellany

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

Thorpe Names

Thomas Thorpe was an
English publisher, best known for publishing Shakespeare’s sonnets in
Jim Thorpe was an American
athlete of mixed ancestry (Caucasian and American Indian) who won
Olympic gold medals in 1912 for the pentathlon and decathlon and also
professional football, baseball, and basketball.
Jeremy Thorpe was leader of
the British Liberal party from 1967 to 1976.
Ian Thorpe, nicknamed
“Thorpedo,” was the Australian swimming sensation in the early 2000’s.

Select Thorpes Today

  • 20,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Nottinghamshire)
  • 7,000 in America (most numerous in California)
  • 7,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)




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