Select Thompson/Thomson Surname Genealogy

This is a patronymic name meaning "son of Thomas," mainly to be found in the north of England and in Scotland.   The main spellings are Thompson and Thomson.

Why are there both Thompsons and Thomsons?  Some reckon that the original spelling of the name was Thomson.  But in many areas it was pronounced as Thompson.  So it was decided to add a "p" to the written name to match what was heard. 

Select Thompson/Thomson Resources on The Internet

England.  The earliest record was a John Thompson who appeared in the charters of Whitby Abbey in Yorkshire in 1349.  Thompson with a "p" has continued as a Yorkshire and north of England name. 

The Thompsons of Scarborough were a prominent Yorkshire family, starting with Sir Roger Thompson in the 16th century.  A branch of this family, the Thompsons of York, prospered on the basis of Henry and Edward's wine importing business in York in the next century.  Henry acquired Escrick Hall in north Yorkshire in 1668 and developed it as an estate village. 

One Durham family line has traced itself back to Christopher Thompson, born in Darlington in the 1730's. Robert Thompson, born in Sunderland, founded the J.L. Thompson and Sons shipbuilding company there in 1846.  The yard continued to build ships under the founder's descendants until 1986.

Scotland.  Thomson, meaning "son of Thom," is the more common spelling in Scotland.  The name is found mostly in central Scotland.  Early Thomson records appeared in Ayrshire.  John Thomson from Ayrshire led part of Bruce's invading army in Ireland in 1318.  But there was no one single common ancestor or lineage of the Thomsons that followed.

Some Thomsons were Border reivers on the Scottish/English border in Eskdale north of Carlisle.  Syn Thomson and young Archie Thomson were listed as their leaders in 1587.  After 1603 many Border Thomsons fled to the Ulster plantations. 

Other Thomson Lowland families have been:
  • the Thomsons of Dumbarton.  This line began with William Thomson, born in 1375 who was recorded as the Collector of Customs in 1410.   However, the line seemed to have died out around 1486.
  • the Thomsons of Corstophine near Edinburgh - the first of whom, Alexander, died fighting the English at Flodden Field in 1513.  His son later died of the plague, but the line did continue.
  • and the Thomsons of Duddingston near Edinburgh as well.  Sir Thomas Thomson had acquired these lands in the 1630's and his family held them for a short time.  The Rev. John Thomson was the minister of Duddingston kirk from 1805 to 1840.  He was a friend of Sir Walter Scott and a well-known landscape artist of his time.
Ireland.  Border Thomsons moved to the plantations in Ulster in the 17th century, such as Samuel and Helen Thomson of Dumfries who arrived there in 1690.   Many of these Scots Irish Thomsons later moved again, this time to America.  Included in this number were:
  • Matthew Thompson who left Donegal with his family in 1732 for Philadelphia, eventually settling in Virginia.  His eldest son John Thompson was a merchant seaman who was killed by pirates in 1757.
  • John Thompson, also from Donegal, who came to Pennsylvania's Cumberland valley with his two brothers around 1740.  A descendant J.V. Thompson compiled notes on the various Scots Irish settlers in the Cumberland valley.
  • and James Thomson with his wife Mary and family who left Londonderry in 1771 for what was then the American frontier in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania.  By 1793 they were in Kentucky and later in Indiana.
Some Thomsons had become Thompsons by that time.  And Thompson with a "p" is very much an Ulster name today.

America.  David Thomson, a Scot although born in London, came to New England with his family in 1622 and was said to have been the first European to have set foot in what is now New Hampshire.   David died in 1628 in what is now called Thompsons Island in Massachusetts Bay.

William Thompson, a Catholic from Lancashire, was an early arrival in Maryland in 1641.  Both he and his son William died young.  But his line continued in southern Maryland in Charles county.  The Thomson/Thompson arrivals also showed many who were Scots Irish.  They began arriving in the 1730's, with the Scots Irish outpost in Augusta county, Virginia being a favored destination.

.   Richard Thompson came to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Yorkshire in 1774.  He was the first settler of Oxford, Nova Scotia and died there in 1821 at the age of 77. 

Three Thomson brothers came to Canada from Scotland in the 1780's and 1790's.  The line from the eldest son Archibald, based in Toronto, led to the newspaper tycoon Roy Thomson.  David was in 1796 the first settler of Scarborough, Ontario.  He was followed there by his brother Andrew.

Other Scottish Thomsons in Canada tended to change their spelling to Thompson.  Thompsons outnumber Thomsons by about four to one in Canada today.

Australia.  Andrew Thompson was convicted of theft at Jedburgh on the Scottish borders in 1790 and transported to Australia.  After his pardon in 1798 he settled at Green Hills along the Hawkesbury river in NSW and prospered.  By 1806 he was the largest grain grower and possibly the wealthiest settler in the colony.

Select Thomson/Thompson Miscellany

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

Select Thomson/Thompson Names

James Thomson was the early 18th century Scottish poet who wrote Rule Britannia.
J.J. Thomson was the British physicist credited with the discovery of the electron.
Ben Thompson, born in Yorkshire, was an Old West gunfighter and Austin city marshall in Texas.
Roy Thomson was the Canadian newspaper tycoon who came to London in the 1960's and bought The Sunday Times.
Hunter S. Thompson was the irreverent Gonzo journalist and writer, well known for his intake of mind-altering substances.
Daley Thompson was the British athlete who won the Olympic decathlon title twice.
Emma Thompson is a distinguished English actress.

Select Thomson/Thompsons Today

  • 237,000 in the UK (most numerous in Yorkshire)
  • 245,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 115,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

Select Surname List

Adams Ellis Johnson O'Connor
Allen Evans Jones O'Sullivan Shaw
Anderson Fisher
Kelly Parker Simpson
Bailey Foster Kennedy Perry Smith
Baker Fox King Peterson Stevens
Barnes Fraser 
Lee Phillips Stewart
Bell Graham Lewis Powell Taylor
Bennett Gray Marshall Price Thomas
Brown Green Martin Reed
Griffiths Mason      
Reynolds Turner
Campbell Hall McDonald Richards
Carter Hamilton Miller  Richardson Walsh
Chapman Harris Mitchell Roberts Ward
Clark Harrison
Moore Robertson Watson
Collins Henderson Morgan Robinson White
Cook Hill Morris Rogers Williams
Cooper Howard Murphy Ross Wilson
Cox Hughes Murray Russell Wood
Davis Jackson Nelson Ryan Wright
Edwards James O'Brien 

For other surnames check the surnames2 page where there are to be found the history and genealogy for more than 800 surnames.

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