Select 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 personal name.

The spellings of the name have been various.  The most common today are Tyrrell and Terrell.  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

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Select 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 name. 

According to Cuvillier-Morel-D’Acy’s 1869 book Genealogical History, the Tyrrells were a prominent seigneurial family in both Picardy 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.

  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 1100.

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

.  The Tyrrell estate at Heron Hall near East Horndon in Essex was to remain with the family from 1200 until the early 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.  Tyrrell Chapel 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.

.  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 Charles I.  John Tyrrell then served in the Restoration navy and was made a Second Admiral by Charles II.
Berkshire.  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 son Richmond emigrated to Virginia in 1656.  Meanwhile Tirrells four times filled the office of the mayor of Reading 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 and 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 March.  N
ine 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 landowners.

In more recent times the Tyrrells have been building boats in Wicklow since 1864 when John Tyrrell opened his 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, h
e 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.

Georgia.  William Terrell of the Virginia line moved south to Georgia after the Revolutionary War and this was where the Terrell family 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 Cherokees in their forced migratiom 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.  After 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 Terrell 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 self-taught, 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 had made his mark as a geologist, cartographer and mining consultant.  Joseph lived to be ninety eight.

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

Select Tyrrell/Terrell Miscellany

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

Select 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. 
William Terrell
of Virginia married Susannah Waters in the 1680’s and was the 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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