Travers Surname Genealogy

French origins, from travers meaning
“to cross” or “crossing.”  It was an
occupational name for a gatherer of tolls.  In 1285
the Bishop of Norwich claimed that he and his predecessors were
accustomed to
take “travers” at South Elmham in Suffolk.
Travers and Travis are the main spellings today.  Over time Travis increasingly displaced Travers in its heartland of Lancashire, as it has in America.  Travers has retained a foothold in the southwest, particularly in Dorset.

Travers Resources on

Travers Ancestry

Travers and Travis names combined are most numerous in Lancashire today
there are the earliest records there as well.

Lancashire.  A Travers family, Norman in origin, was said to
have taken over Tulketh castle near
Garstang, with the Travers chief marrying the Tulketh daughter Alison.  A later union took place around 1295 when
Travers married Isabel Nateby.  And so Travers came to hold both
the Tulketh and Nateby
estates for more than three hundred years.
Another old Travers family held Whiston manor until 1506 and
were recusants later.

Christopher Travers of
Doncaster in Yorkshire may have come from the Nateby family.  The linkage to the Travers of Halton
Hall in Cheshire appears much more definite, starting with Hamon
Travers in
1522.  John Travers of this family was a
merchant in London in Stuart times.
Travers from Nateby departed for Ireland in 1599 and for America
1627.  Nateby Hall itself was sold in 1626.

Travis spelling was already evident in Lancashire by 1600 and it had
become the main spelling by the late 1800’s.  The
principal concentration at that time was around Oldham.
John Travis’s 1893 book Genealogical Memorials of
the Travis Family
covered Travises in
this area.

Elsewhere.  John Travers
was Sheriff of London three times between 1215 and 1224.
There were reports that he was a merchant,
importing grain from Ireland, and an extensive landowner, but no clues
as to
his origins.   Richard Travers was a
merchant tailor at Cornhill in London in the early 1500’s.
His son Walter, a Puritan theologian, became
Provost of Trinity College in Dublin in 1594.

In Devon the Travers at Pille in the parish of Bishops Tawton date from
the 1460’s to the early 1600’s.  Walter Travers who married in
1526 was minor gentry
at Witherstone in Dorset.  Nearby is the village of Loders where
Travers have been traced from the early 1600’s to the 20th

Travers from Nateby, who had married a sister
of the poet Edmund Spencer, came to Ireland in 1598 and made his home
at Ballinamona
in west Cork.  His son Robert was killed in
1647 in the fighting during the English Civil War.

of Robert’s sons, John and
Richard, founded long-lasting branches of the Travers family at
Timoleague near
Bandon.  Many of their descendants were
distinguished soldiers, most notable of them being General Sir Robert
Travers in
the early 1800’s and his son General James Travers.  
was burnt down in 1920 during the Troubles.  The
Travers family subsequently built a new
house in 1926 close to the ruins of the 13th century Barry castle

Travers in Ireland can be an anglicization of O’Treabhair, a clan in Leitrim that
were erenaghs to the O’Rourkes of Breifne.  Cairbre O’Treabhair was
known as Charles Travers in Elizabethan timesTreabhair in Gaelic means a
ploughman and the Travers name was fairly common in north Leitrim and
south Donegal.

frequently became Travis in
America.  This was true for the Travers
family from Nateby in Lancashire that came to Virginia.
Robert Travis covered the family in his 1954
book The Travis (Travers) Family.

Edward Travers arrived in Jamestown in 1627
and ended up owning the entire east end of Jamestown island.  His descendants held that land until 1831.  His home there, Travis House, has been
preserved and is now a popular tourist site in Williamsburg.  Edward’s brother William Travers, who grew up in Ireland, came to
Virginia in 1655
and later settled in North Carolina.

Travis may have been related to the Lancashire line, although the
evidence is
elusive.  It appears that he arrived in
Virginia, aged twelve, sometime around 1760 as an indentured servant.  He moved to South Carolina in 1772 and later
ran a tavern in Edgefield.  His grandson
was the famous William Barrett Travis or Buck Travis, born in Edgefield,
died in Texas defending the Alamo in 1836.

Elsewhere.  William
Travers, a London merchant, came to
Maryland in the late 1600’s, making his home on Taylors Island
Dorchester county.  His son Matthew
became one of the wealthiest and most prominent men in the county and
wealth was handed down.  Samuel Travers
who lived there in 1875 published a dairy of his ocean-going journey to

Garrett Travis bought land in Westchester
county, New York in 1657.  He was called
Dutchman,” although there was no proof that he was.
His descendants generally remained in
Westchester county.  Nathaniel Travis, a
Loyalist, did depart for Nova Scotia in 1784.
Travis, possibly related to this family, was living in Westchester
county in
the early 1700’s.  His descendants
settled upstate in Putnam county

Canada.  One
Travers line in Canada
started with John Travers, an Irishman who was a soldier in the British
army. He was posted to New York at the time of
Revolutionary War.  After the war was
over, he moved with his family to Canada in 1784 and was granted land
in Bonaventure, Quebec.  His line extended
to Lawrence
Travers in the Gaspe region and his daughter Mary Rose-Anna who, as
Bolduc, was to achieve fame and fortune in the 1930’s as a folksinger

A Travis family from Westchester County, New York also crossed the
border at this time, heading for Nova Scotia with some Travises later
settling in St. John, New Brunswick.  William Henry Travis was a
customs officer there.  It was said that he was the seventh son of
seventh son.   Later Travises of his line moved to Milwaukee.

New Zealand.  William Travers was an Irishman from county Limerick who
had joined the British army.  After his military service ended, he
moved with his family to Nelson in New Zealand in 1849.  He was
for many years a local politician.  But he is best remembered as
an avid explorer, often mounting expeditions into the less well known
parts of New Zealand.  The Travers Range, Travers Valley, and
Travers River were all named after him.

Travers Miscellany

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

Travers/Travis Names

William Barrett Travis was
the commander of the Texan garrison who died defending
the Alamo in 1836.
P.L. Travers was the
Australian-born author of the Mary Poppins series of children’s books.
Merle Travis was a well-known
American country singer who was elected to the Country Miusic Hall of
Fame in 1977.  Travis picking is a syncopated style of finger
picking named after him.
Mary Travers was an American
folk singer, part of the Peter, Paul and Mary trio that were popular in
the 1960’s.

Select Travers/Travis Today

  • 10,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Lancashire)
  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 8,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Canada)




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