Orr (surname)

Orr (surname)
Family name
Orr coat of arms
Meaning 1. black cock (male black grouse);
2. pale, dun (coloured);
3. shore, hill-slope, flat-topped ridge
Region of origin Ulster, northern England, western Scotland
Language(s) of origin Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic, Old English, Old Norse
Related names Ivar, McIver, McIvor, Ore, McUre and Ure
Clan affiliations Campbell, MacGregor
Footnotes: Frequency Comparisons[1]

Orr is a surname common throughout the English-speaking world, but especially in Scotland, Ulster, the United States, Canada, and northern England. The name is considered to have numerous origins: such as being derived from an Old Norse byname; a Gaelic nickname; and an Old English topographical name, or similar place-name.



There are numerous origins for the surname. The northern English, Scottish and Northern Irish surname is derived from the Old Norse byname Orri, meaning "blackcock" (a male black grouse).[2] Another origin for the Scottish name is from the Gaelic odhar, meaning "pale", "dun".[2] Another origin for the English name is from a topographical name for a person who lived on a shore, or ridge. This name is derived from the Old English ora, meaning "shore", "hill-slope", "flat-topped ridge". The name could also be derived from a place-name, derived from this Old English word;[2] for example, the surname Ore is derived from Oare, in Berkshire, Kent; and Wiltshire; or Ore, in East Sussex.[2] Padraig Mac Giolla Domhnaigh, suggested that the Irish surname originates from an Anglicisation of Gaelic Mac Iomhaire. Mac Giolla Domhnaigh stated that this was an old name from Renfrewshire, and a sept of the Campbells; he stated that the name was earlier spelt Mac Ure.[3]

In Ireland the name is common only in Ulster, and mainly found in County Antrim, County Down, County Londonderry and County Tyrone. The first recorded evidence of the name in Ulster is of those who came from Scotland with Sir Hugh Montgomery in 1606 to settle in North Down on lands ceded by the O'Neill family. They were chiefly Presbyterian, with some Episcopalians, and a few Roman Catholics and Quakers. According to Bell, the earliest record of the name in Ireland is that of a family in County Tyrone in 1655.[4] However, according to Orr, the earliest record of the name in Ireland is of Richard Orr of Clontarf in 1563.[5]

In Scotland, the name is first known to have been recorded in Renfrewshire. Historian Edward MacLysaght suggests that the name in Scotland derives from the parish of Orr in Kirkcudbrightshire. Indeed, the River Orr flowed through the area. A tradition of some of the Orrs in Northern Ireland has it that they were descended from outlawed brothers whose original family name was McLean; they crossed this river and then made their way by boat to Donaghadee in County Down in the early 17th century. Having escaped persecution, they took river's name as their surname and settled in Newtownards.[6]

Noteworthy people named Orr

Fictional characters

See also

  • Orr, place names and other meanings
  • Orrville (disambiguation), other places named after people with this name


  1. ^ British Surnames
  2. ^ a b c d "Learn about the family history of your surname". Ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com/learn/facts/default.aspx?. Retrieved 21 February 2010.  This webpage cited: Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-508137-4.  for the surname "Ore".
  3. ^ "Orr". www.libraryireland.com. http://www.libraryireland.com/AnglicisedSurnames/Orr.php. Retrieved 12 March 2010.  This webpage cited: Mac Giolla-Domhnaigh, Padraig. Some Anglicised Surnames in Ireland. 
  4. ^ Bell, Robert (1990) [1988]. The Book of Ulster Surnames. Dundonald, Belfast, UK: The Blackstaff Press. p. 211. ISBN 0-85640-405-5. 
  5. ^ Orr, Brian J (2009). Orr-Some: Research Into the Orr Family. United Kingdom: Heritage Books Inc. p. 5. ISBN 9780788442667. 
  6. ^ The Life and Times of the Rev. John Orr, M.A., of Portaferry delivered by James C. Rutherford in the Presbyterian school-room, Portaferry, 29th March 1912. Cited at [1] (Scribd) and [2] (Ancestry.com).

Further reading

  • Ulster pedigrees: descendants, in many lines of James Orr and Janet McClement, who emigrated from Scotland to Northern Ireland ca. 1607 by Ray A. Jones
  • William Orr of Ireland, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky and his Descendants by Paul J. Ostendorf
  • The Book of Ulster Surnames by Robert Bell ISBN 0-85640-405-5
  • "Brief Sketch of the Genealogy of Captain Thomas Orr, Late of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and his descendants" compiled by John G. Orr and Andrew M.F. Orr (1923)

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Игры ⚽ Поможем решить контрольную работу

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