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Included in this name are:
- or anything else like that!
There are other surnames that may appear to be part of this
group (such as Thorncroft), but they may also be separate, independent surnames and are
not the subject of this web site. Feel free to browse here anyway in case you're not
sure if your surname is really part of this group.
History - pre 1500's
The earliest known record of the name
is found in the Macclesfield area of Cheshire, where there is record of one Hamo de
Thornicrofte living in the parish of Siddington circa 1240AD. The name recorded there is
Norman in form, which is appropriate for the time, although it may have earlier origins.
Its most obvious etymology would appear to relate its meaning to the state of the owner's
farm (ie. a 'thorny' croft)!. The words themselves, if not the name, indicate a possible
Saxon or Nordic origin rather than Norman.
J.P.Earwaker's 'East Cheshire, Past & Present, or a
History of the Macclesfield Hundred' (published 1877, 2 volumes) also gives early evidence
of the name, specifically those of Richard de Thornicroft (1361) and Hugh Thornicroft of
1500 - 1750s
The keeping of parish records in
Britain commenced during the mid 1500's, and by that time records show the name occurring
in a number of counties - Cheshire / Lancashire / Warwickshire / Northamptonshire /
Oxfordshire / Buckinghamshire / Gloucestershire / Sussex. The counties of Wiltshire /
Shropshire / Staffordshire / Worcestershire / Bedfordshire / Kent / Surrey , and
metropolitan London show occurrences by the 1600's, a number of which can demonstrate
links with the original family in Cheshire. Unfortunately, though probably linked, some of
the family connections are lost in the mists of time!
The family has already well demonstrated its migratory
nature. This was also evidenced in settlement in the 'New World', when William Thornicraft
settled at Long Island, New York in the 1640's and raised a family there; others are found
settling in Scotland, Ireland, Jamaica, and elsewhere.
Revolution & Victorian period
Migration continues! With the
urbanisation of areas of Britain, notably the Midlands and Lancashire, whole families who
have been settled for several generations in a particular area now uproot and move across
Britain. This can cause much confusion to the unwary genealogist. Just because families
bearing the same name exist in one location is no proof of connection.
A prime example of this is Wolverhampton, Staffs, where in
the mid-to-late 1800's several 'Thorneycroft' families exist in the same locality, yet
actually originate from five distinct Thorneycroft 'groupings' from Cheshire / Shropshire
/ Staffordshire / Worcestershire & Northamptonshire! There are also similar cases in
Manchester and elsewhere.
Migration also increased overseas, the 1800's seeing many
families depart for foreign shores. There are at least 7 distinct family groupings in
Canada alone, with many of these joining others in the USA to form a real 'melting-pot'!
During this period the family can be found established on almost every continent.
It should be noted that it is in this
latter period that the various forms of the name appear to consolidate - probably because
of the rise in educational standards. Prior to this time spelling varies considerably even
within entries of the same family!
The family in Cheshire took the 'y' spelling in the main, as
also did those in London, while the 'ey' form occurs in Shropshire / Staffordshire /
Worcestershire / Warwickshire / Northamptonshire / Sussex & Kent. The 'i' spelling
finds greater use in Warwickshire & Worcestershire, whereas 'Thornicraft' appears in
Wiltshire and Sussex. The variant 'Thorndycraft' occurs almost exclusively in the Kent
& Surrey area, with the earliest known occurrence being in Sussex.
The spread of the family was not only
global, but also in social standing. Whilst the early family in Cheshire were untitled
landholders, amongst their descendants are the Milcombe branch who were granted
knighthoods. There are also soldiers who have served king and country in every war and in
every rank from private to general. To the Thornicroft name there have been artists,
explorers, yeomen, sculptors, torpedo manufacturers, car makers, ship-builders, lawyers,
politicians, architects, clergymen, and many more. But there are also the less conspicuous
who have served their years as day labourers, railway workers, farmhands, carpenters,
undertakers, puddlers, film makers, sailors, gardeners - some of whom ended their lives in
obscurity in the workhouses of the day. They have been convicts transported to Australia;
explorers in Africa; civil servants in India, all of which make up a very colourful family
Some of those who have distinguished themselves are as
Thornicroft Hall at Siddington,
Cheshire, was the seat of the family from earliest times until the death of Edward
Thornycroft in 1815, who died without issue. The estate passed to Rev. Charles Mytton who
assumed the surname and the estate in 1835. The [Mytton] Thornycrofts sold Thornycroft
Hall in 1910 on their emigration to Rhodesia in 1910. The Hall was renamed Palliotti for a
short period when it was a Children's Home & School. After World War2 it was resold
and renamed Siddington Manor. It has been sold again in recent years when the name
'Thornycroft Hall' has been resurrected.
- Capt. Edward Thornycroft of Thornicroft, (born about 1614) a
captain of horse in the service of Charles I
- Lt. Col. Edward Thornycroft (born 23 April 1664) of Sir
Charles Hotham's regiment who was blown up in the defense of the castle of Alicante in
Spain, and buried under the high altar there
- Thomas Thornycroft, (1815-1885) sculptor, of Cheshire, who
married Mary (Francis) Thornycroft, (1814-1895) artist & sculptor (daughter of John
Francis, scuptor). Their two children were:
- Sir John Isaac Thornycroft, (1843-1928) naval architect,
founder of J.I.Thornycroft & Co.Ltd, knighted 1902, and
- Sir William Hamo Thornycroft, R.A. (1850-1925) sculptor,
- Mrs Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, (Mrs.Felkin) (1860-1929)
novelist & hymn writer, the wife of Henry Hartley Fowler, 1st Viscount of
- Maj. Gen. Alexander Whitelaw Thorneycroft (1879 - 1931), of
Tettenhall Towers, Wolverhampton, who became famous in the battle of Spion Kop in the Boer
War; founder of the Thorneycroft Light Horse Regiment
- Harry Thorneycroft, (1892-1956) Labour MP for Clayton,
- George Edward Peter Thorneycroft, (1909-1994?) Conservative
MP for Stafford 1938-1945, Monmouth 1945-1966, created Baron Thorneycroft of Dunston
(Staffs) in 1967. Sometime Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Chairman of the Conservative
There is also a nearby farm which bears the
name Thornycroft, together with stretch of water in the vicinity which apparently has an
excellent reputation amongst those who enjoy coarse fishing.
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