This ancient and unusual surname is of Olde British or Olde English origins. It is locational deriving from the several places called Thornborough in Yorkshire and Buckinghamshire, or from the villages of Thornbrough in Northumberland and in North and West Yorkshire. The 'Thornborough' hamlets are recorded as Torneberge and Thornebegh in 11th and 12th Century charters, and both translate as 'the thorn hill', from the Olde English pre 7th century 'porn'-a thorn tree and 'berg', a hill. The places called Thornbrough have a different meaning and describe a fortified place, one protected by thorn hedges, this being a popular method of defense in pre- Roman times, and an indication of the age of these villages. The placenames have generated a wide variety of 'modern' surnames, ranging from Thornber, Thornberry, Thornbury, Thornbarrow, Thornebarrow and Thornburgh, to Thornborough and Thornborrow. Amongst the early recordings are those of Ricardus de Thornbarugh in the York Poll Tax Rolls of 1379, Robert Thornbrughe of Ravenstonedale, West Riding of Yorkshire in 1541, and Timothy Thornborrow, who was christened at Snaith in Yorkshire, on May 6th, 1651. That this name has ancient and noble antecedents is shown by an entry in Fosters 'Feudal Arms of England' of 1901. This book records one William de Thornburgh of Yorkshire, who, according to the Jenyns Roll of Heraldry in the time of Edward 1st, 1272 - 1307, bore arms with the blazon of ermine fretty, and a chief in red. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Markerus de Torneberga, which was dated 1176, in the Pipe Rolls of Buckinghamshire, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as the Church Builder, 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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