Tyrrell/Terrell Surname Genealogy

The Tyrrell surname has Norman origins and was
brought by a Norman family to England at the time of the Conquest.  One source here is the place-name Tirel from
which the Norman family originated.
There was also an early name reference to Thurold, a Danish
The spellings of the name have been various.  The
most common today are Tyrrell and
.  Tyrell remains the main
spelling in England
and Ireland.  However, family branches
coming to America tended to spell themselves Terrell.
Now US Terrells outnumber English Tyrrells.

Tyrrell/Terrell Resources on

Tyrrell/Terrell Ancestry

The progenitor of the Tyrrells appears to have been
Ralf, sire of Tirel and Poix, in 10th century France.
He had made his home on the Seine river just
below Paris near a village named Tirel (now Triel) from which the
family got its

According to
Cuvillier-Morel-D’Acy’s 1869 book Genealogical
, the Tyrrells were a prominent seigneurial family in both
and Normandy and Sir Walter Tyrrell accompanied William the Conqueror
in his
invasion of England in 1066.  The Tyrrell
line died out in France in 1417.  But the
English and Irish Tyrrell lines have continued.

England.  Sir Walter
Tyrrell’s name was on the list of distinguished noblemen who had fought
at the
Battle of Hastings in 1066.  Afterwards
he was granted large tracts of land in Hampshire (in the New Forest)
and in
Essex.  He died in 1068 and these lands
were held by his successors.  His
grandson Walter, who was implicated in the
accidental slaying of William Rufus
the king, fled to France in

Hampshire.  Avon Tyrrell in the New
Forest was the
initial base for the Tyrrells.  Some of them
early Crusaders.  It
was from there that Sir Hugh Tyrrell departed with Strongbow for the
of Ireland in 1170.  However, by 1200 the
family focus had switched to Essex. 

Essex.  The Tyrrell estate at Heron
Hall near East
Horndon in Essex was to remain with the family from 1200 until the
1600’s.  They were an important local
family at that time – their most prominent person probably being Sir
John Tyrrell,
Speaker of the House of Commons three times in the 1420’s.
has remained there.

A branch of
the family moved to Gipping in Suffolk in the 1450’s.
But this line had its problems.  William
Tyrrell was executed for treason in
1462, as was his son James in 1502.
James had allegedly confessed to the murders of the Princes in
the Tower
under the orders of Richard III.

Buckinghamshire.  The estates of
Thornton and Oakley in
Buckinghamshire came into Tyrrell hands through marriage in the 1500’s:

  • the Tyrrells of Thornton were baronets from
    1627 until 1748.  
  • while two Sir Timothy
    Tyrrells of Oakley, father and son, acted as Master of the Hounds to
    I.  John Tyrrell then served in the
    Restoration navy and was made a Second Admiral by Charles II

The connection to Tyrrell ancestry in Essex –
possibly through William Tyrrell of Bruyn manor in Reading in the late
1500’s – is less certain here.
The spelling can be different.
Robert Terrell, a clothier, was born in Reading in 1594 and his
Richmond emigrated to Virginia in 1656.
Meanwhile Tirrells four times filled the office of the mayor of
between 1668 and 1712.

There was a Tyrrell line in Reading that began
with Timothy Tyrrell who was born there in 1693.
His son Timothy moved to London and was sworn in as the 30th
Remembrancer of the City of London in 1794.
Frederick of the next generation became a professor of anatomy
surgery in London; William a bishop in Australia

 Sir Hugh Tyrrell came to
Ireland with
Strongbow in 1170 and soon afterwards was awarded land grants for
the greater part of the barony of Fertullagh in
Westmeath, as well as the lordship of Castleknock in Dublin.  Here the Tyrrells remained for many hundreds
of years as one of the Old English Catholic families in Ireland.

Indeed Tyrrells in Westmeath opposed the English
intrusions by Elizabeth and Cromwell and later by William of Orange.  In 1597 Captain Richard Tyrrell defeated the
English in a Westmeath skirmish which was then commemorated in the
bagpipe tune of Tyrrell’s
.  Nine Tyrrells were officers in King James II’s Irish
army at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

The Tyrrells held Castleknock near
Dublin until the early 1500’s.  According
to the Lady of the Castle legend,
Roger Tyrrell was slain after carrying
off the daughter of a Wicklow chieftain to his castle.
The family did still remain influential in
Dublin, with Walter Tyrrell being appointed mayor of the city in 1540.

Thomas Tyrrell acquired Grange Castle in Kildare
in 1735 and it remained in Tyrrell hands until 1988.
The Tyrrells also held Ballinderry House
nearby (damaged during the 1798 Irish Rebellion) and were local

In more recent times the Tyrrells
have been building boats in Wicklow since 1864 when John Tyrrell opened
shipbuilding yard at Arklow.  Among the
notable boats built by the family was the Gypsy
Moth III
in which Sir Francis Chichester won the single-handed
transatlantic yacht race.

Meanwhile John Tyrrell, from Ulster farming stock, was a Belfast
alderman in the early 1900’s.  His son
William was part of the British Lions rugby team that toured South
Africa in
1910.  Trained in medicine, he went on to have a successful career in the RAF and
became the honorary
surgeon to King George VI in 1939

AmericaEarly arrivals in America were Terrill and
Terrell, not Tyrrell:

  • Roger Terrill from
    Surrey who came to Milford, Connecticut around 1638.
    He and his wife Abigail had five surviving
    sons – John, Samuel, Roger, Thomas, and Daniel – some of whom took the
    Terrell spelling.  One line led to Tillotson Terrell, a pioneer
    settler in Ridgeville, Ohio in the early 1800’s.
  • and Richmond Terrell from
    Berkshire who came to New Kent county, Virginia in 1656.  The
    forebear of the Terrell line here was the William
    Terrell who married Susannah Waters in the 1680’s.  He
    was thought to have been either the son or nephew of Richmond.  

These precedents may have contributed to Terrell
becoming the main spelling in America.  
Most of the Tyrrells who came later were from Ireland.  Many of them became
Terrell in America

William Terrell of the Virginia line moved south to
Georgia after the Revolutionary War and this was where the Terrell
really established itself.  His grandson
William was a US Congressman after whom Terrell county in Georgia was
named.   Three generations later came
Joseph Terrell, Governor of Georgia from 1902 to 1907.

Moses Terrell of this line meanwhile had moved
into Franklin county, Georgia from North Carolina in 1793 when it was
still Indian
territory.  His son John Terrell and family
joined the
in their forced
migration to Mississippi
from Georgia in 1832.

Texas.  David and
Henry Terrell became Quakers in Virginia in the 1730’s and were the
progenitors of a large number of Quaker Terrells.   One line
with John Dabney Terrell ended up in Alabama in 1814.  Christopher
Terrell meanwhile departed Virginia for a Quaker community in Ohio in
the early 1820’s.  His son Alexander moved to Texas in 1852.
the Civil War Alexander was an important member of the Texas House of
Representatives and Terrell county in Texas was named in his honor.

George and Robert Terrell, sons of Colonel James Terrell, grew up
in Tennessee in the 1830’s.  George had worked for Sam Houston
there and he and Robert followed Sam to Texas in 1839.  Robert
became an early settler in Kaufman county near
Dallas and lived there
until his death in 1881.  The town of Terrell, Texas was named
after him.

Canada.  William Tyrrell
had been born at Grange
Castle in Kildare in 1816.  He left
Ireland for Canada in 1836 and settled in Toronto where, largely
he worked as a building contractor and an architect of some talent for
close on
fifty years.  He died in 1904 at the age
of eighty eight.  By this time his son
Joseph Burr
had made his mark as a geologist, cartographer and
consultant.  Joseph lived to be ninety

Another William Tyrrell had
been born in London in 1807, the son of Timothy Tyrrell, the
Remembrancer of
the City of London.  He came out to
Australia in 1837, having been posted there by the Church of England,
and was
the first Bishop of Newcastle in Hunter Valley, NSW.

Seven years later he was joined by his nephews Lovick
and Edward who had recently lost their father Frederick.
Lovick became a priest.  Edward was
the founder of Tyrrell’s Wines in
the Hunter Valley, now run by the fourth generation of descendants.

Tyrrell/Terrell Miscellany

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

Tyrrell/Terrell Names

Sir Walter Tyrrell came with William the Conqueror to England in
1066 and was the progenitor of the English and Irish Tyrrells.
Sir John Tyrrell was Speaker of
the House of Commons in the early 1400’s.
Captain Richard Tyrrell of Westmeath was regaled in
song after his victory over the English at the Battle of Tyrrell’s Pass
in 1597.
of Virginia married Susannah Waters in the 1680’s and was
forebear of many of the Terrells in America today.
Joseph M. Terrell
was the Governor of Georgia from 1902 to 1907.
Ernie Terrell
was the WBA heavyweight boxing
champion of the world from 1965 to 1967.
He was the older brother of Jean Terrell, the lead singer of The
Supremes after Diana Ross left in 1970

Select Tyrrells/Terrells Today

  • 8,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in London)
  • 15,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 6,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Ireland)



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