Friday, December 23, 2011


[Photo Source: Google online images]

Submitted by: Dorothy Hazel Tarr.


It is always interesting to me to research my Family and the origin and meanings of our Family names.   Below is what I have found so far regarding my surname "TARR". 

Last Name: TARR

This unusual name seems to have originated in the Bristol area of South West England, which explains the use of the word as an occupational surname for one who worked with tar or bitumen in waterproofing ships, Bristol having been an important trading port for centuries.  The derivation of "tar" is from the Old English "te(o)rn".  The parish records of West Bagborough in Somerset show the marriage of one Elizabeth Tarr to Henry Thrasher on the 23rd of April 1639.  Sara Tarr was christened on the 14th June 1667, at Chipstable, Somerset.  The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Francis Tarr, married Ann Day, which was dated 1584, Stockland, Bristol, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth 1, 'Good Queen Bess', 1558 - 1603.  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. 

(It is interesting to note that the surnames "TARR" and "DAY" appear in my Family Tree. dht)

Tarr Name Meaning

English (southwestern England and South Wales): apparently from tar (Old English te(o)ru), and applied perhaps to someone who worked with tar or bitumen in waterproofing ships.

Tarr Meaning:   dweller in, or near a tower; dweller near a tower-like rock or hill; one who worked with tar or bitumen in waterproofing ships.

The name "TARR" has its origin in England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Prussia, Preussen, Vavaria, and Baltum. 

Tarr Coat of Arms / Tarr Family Crest

This surname of TARR was an English occupational name for someone who worked with tar or bitumen in waterproofing ships.  The name was originally rendered in the Old English form TEORU and is familiar to the Bristol area.  Many of the modern family names throughout Europe reflect the profession or occupation of their forbears in the Middle Ages and derive from the position held by their ancestors in the village, noble household or religious community in which they lived and worked.  The addition of their profession to their birth name made it easier to identify individual tradesmen and craftsmen.  As generations passed and families moved around, so the original identifying names developed into the corrupted but simpler versions that we recognize today.  Early records of the name include Reigland de TERRE, who was recorded in the year 1190 in London, and John de TAR was recorded in 1212 in County Dorset.  Over the centuries, most people in Europe have accepted their surname as a fact of life, as irrevocable as an act of God.  However much the individual may have liked or disliked the surname, they were stuck with it, and people rarely changed them by personal choice.  A more common form of variation was in fact involuntary, when an official change was made, in other words, a clerical error.  A later instance of the name includes Edward TARR, who was documented during the reign of Edward III (1327-1377), and Symon TARRE of Yorkshire, was listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379.  Among the humbler classes of European society, and especially among illiterate people, individuals were willing to accept the mistakes of officials, clerks and priests as officially bestowing a new version of their surname, just as they had meekly accepted the surname they had been born with.  In North America, the linguistic problems confronting immigration officials at Ellis Island in the 19th century were legendary as a prolific source of Anglicization.  The eagle depicted in the arms is emblematical of fortitude and magnanimity of mind.  The Romans used an eagle for their ensign, and their example has been often followed.  It is the device of Russia, Austria, Germany, and the United States of America.  In the Middle Ages, heraldry came into use as a practical matter.  It originated in the devices used to distinguish the armored warriors in tournament and war, and was also placed on seals as marks of identity.  As far as records show, true heraldry began in the middle of the 12th century, and appeared almost simultaneously in several countries of Western Europe.

So this is what I've found so far: That my family origins using the surname TARR came from mostly the United Kingdom area and were living near towers in the Middle Ages and were probably working in the shipbuilding trades.

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