Select Thorpe Surname Genealogy

Here are some Thorpe stories and accounts over the years:

Baron John de Thorpe of Norfolk

John de Thorpe of Ashwell-Thorpe in Norfolk, born around 1270, did much to establish his familyís fortunes. He was a knight of the shire for Norfolk in the parliament of 1305 and was also a collector and assessor of aid for Norfolk and Suffolk.  Four years later he received a special summons to parliament and sat as a baron during the remainder of his life. 

In 1316 he was certified as lord of nineteen manors in Norfolk and of two, Combs and Helmingham, in Suffolk.  One of these manors, Uphall in Norfolk, remained in his family until 1522.  He died in 1324.

John Thorpe, Sussex Ironmaster

John Thorpe was by profession an ironmaster.  From 1567 he was operating the Warren furnace at Hedgecourt in Worth and the Woodcock hammer forge at Felbridge in Surrey.  John and his son Thomas lived in some splendor at Hedgecourt manor.  They were recorded in the 1580ís as being fined for cutting down mature trees for charcoal. 

The Thorpes were later to be found at Worth and Ifield on the Sussex/Surrey border.  Giles Thorpe, born there in 1577, was described as a gentleman.   However, the family had become indebted by the 1650ís and their fortunes declined.

Thorp and Thorpe in England

The following were the numbers of Thorps and Thorpes in England in the 1891 census:

Numbers (000's)

Joel and Sarah Thorpe in the Ohio Wilderness

Joel and Sarah Thorpe were some of the earliest settlers in Ashtabula county.  Their only neighbors for twenty miles were the Indians.  They cleared the land and lived in a log cabin that Joel built himself. They were so isolated that when their supplies ran low, Joel would embark on a journey of weeks to replenish them.  Without roads, Joel relied upon a pocket compass to find his way to the nearest settlement in Pennsylvania. 

In 1801, while one of his trips, heavy rains swelled the many streams that Joel had to cross and made the return trip impossible.  Back home, Sarah and the children ran out of food.  She feared that they would all starve before Joel could return. 

Then, unexpectedly, while looking out the doorway of the cabin, Sarah spotted a wild turkey flying nearby.  She got down her husband's rifle and discovered that there was just enough powder left for a small charge.  She carefully cleaned the barrel and loaded the gun and set off in pursuit of the turkey. 

In her excitement, she came close to failure by frightening the turkey so that it flew a short distance and landed in a potato patch.  On her second approach she acted with caution, creeping on her hands and knees, from log to log, until she had reached the last obstruction between herself and the turkey.  She lifted the rifle to eye level, aimed and fired, and with that one shot ensured her family's survival.

Thorpes of Woodbridge and Perth Amboy, New Jersey

The Woodbridge branch seems to have been Presbyterians and the Perth Amboy ones belonged to St. Peter's Church. 

Robert Thorp was a grocer in Perth Amboy in the 1840's.  It was said that above his counter was painted the following legend: 'Since man to man is so unjust, I cannot tell what man to trust."

Joshua Thorp in New Zealand

Why did an educated surveyor and engineer leave his family in Yorkshire in the 1820's and travel first to Australia, then New Zealand?  Writing in his memoirs Joshua recalled studying a globe with a liberal master at his Quaker school and dreaming of far-away New Zealand.  He grew to dislike the English climate and conditions.  Soon his desire for adventure was turned into a reality. 

He sailed for Australia in the early 1820ís where he designed and engineered the construction of prison buildings in Sydney, while establishing a large farm there and performing magistrateís duties.  He married Sarah Garratt of Hobart in 1827 and in 1839 they sought a brighter future in New Zealand. 

Joshua's first land purchase in New Zealand was at Te Kouma, near Coromandel.  His wife convinced him this was unsuitable and they bought land at Puke from Chief Taraia of the Ngati Tamatera tribe. 

Chief Taraia, who held his last cannibal feast in 1842 when he took revenge on a Matakana tribe for their insults, treated Joshua as friend at first and honored land agreements with him.  He ensured that "Ehoa Tapa, Rangatira pakeha" was treated with respect.  But he caused considerable trouble later. 

During those early days the Thorp family faced the challenge of the winds and tides when taking the sea route to Auckland in their cutter, of taming the land by plough, and of the tensions of living amongst warring tribes in the isolated interior.

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