This name, with variant spellings Torra and Torre, has two distinct possible origins, the first and most likely being a topographical name for one resident by a rocky peak or hill. The derivation is from the old English pre 7th Century "torr" translating variously as "a high rock, rocky peak or hill", ultimately from the Celtic "tor", a prominence or mountain. The second possibility is that the name derives from the old French "tor", a bull, and originally given as a nickname to a strong powerfully built man. John le Tor, recorded in the 1240 "Pipe Rolls of Oxfordshire", derives his name from this source. The recordings from the former source include Martin de la Torre, (Devonshire, 1242) and Walter atte Torre, (Sussex, 1296). Early bearers of the name in Scotland were Matthew de Torre who witnesses a transaction in St. Andrews, (1288), and Thomas de la Tour of Ayrshire who rendered homage in 1296. The old lands of Torr in Fife were named from the Celtic element "tor", and some Torrs may hail from this spot. William Torr, (1808 - 1874), agriculturist, gained a reputation as a live-stock judge in England and abroad. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Robert de Torra, which was dated 1182, "The Pipe Rolls of Cornwall", during the reign of King Henry 11, "The Builder of Churches", 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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