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Origin of Surname

The name of Torode is very old. It is certainly much older than the trade names of medieval England such as Carter, Fletcher, Smith, and Cooper. It goes back to a time of almost pre-history in Britain - to the age of the Vikings. The Viking expansion throughout Europe, Iceland, Greenland, and as far west as Labrador, Newfoundland, and North America are well documented. Many Vikings set off from their northern Scandinavian homelands and headed towards the coastal regions of Scotland, Ireland, England, and northern France between the years 700-900 AD. These incursions began as raids on the small towns and hamlets along the coastline, plundering monasteries and large houses for loot, but soon the Norsemen began to settle the lush productive lands.

In the Old Norse language Torode was spelled as Turold, but pronounced the same it is today as Tor-Ode. There is no TH sound in the Viking language and this account’s for the many spelling variations that occur throughout history as it was recorded phonetically depending as to the region of that record.

The Vikings landed and settled in Orkney and northern Scotland in 870 under their King Sirgud the Stout. His descendent was Thorfin Rollo who sailed to northern France and joined up with the Vikings already in settlement there. They formed an army and drove the original Gaul’s south towards their capital city of Paris in 911AD. A treaty was signed by the French King Charles the Simple granting Rollo sovereignty over all the northern lands. This region then became known as Normandy, or the land of the Norsemen. Rollo became the first Duc de Normandie. His lands extended into Britanny and included the Channel Islands. Rollo established himself in Caen and married the daughter of Charles the Simple after being converted to Christianity.

The name is mentioned at this time. There was a poet named Turold who was reported to be the composer of La Chanson de Roland – a two hundred and ninety seven verse saga about Roland, the favourite knight of King Charlemagne.

Lady Godiva born 31st of August 981 and died 10th of September 1067 was the wife of Earl Leofic of Mercia, who remains famous for her naked ride through the streets of Coventry. She was the daughter of Thorold, the Sherrif of Lincolnshire and his wife Malet.

It is known that many Turolds, Thorolds, Thoralds, Thorrolds, Therolds, as well as those with Fitz as a prefix such as Fitzthorold, accompanied William the Conqueror on his invasion. After the battle many were granted land as repayment for their service.

Around this time there is mention of the name on Jersey where, in 1043 in the parish of St Ouen there was a district called Trodez, or Torode county. There was also a short lane called Fosse Tauraude.

In the year 1060 on the Island of Guernsey, Le Cartuliare des Isles states that Neel, Viscount du Cotenain confirmed, with the consent of his wife and sons, the same gifts which Duc Guilleaume had made to the Abbey de Marmoutier, and received from the monks there, thirty livres (pounds) of gold. Additionally Neel used his influence to persuade several people, among others the Canons of St Saviour on Guernsey, to abandon their rights relating to the church. Among these persons was Roger, the son of Touraude who gave the Abbey fifteen acres of his own land and received the sum of seven livres of gold.

The name also appears on Plate Five of the Bayeux Tapestry. This is an embroidery that relates the events leading up to, and the battle of Hastings itself in 1066. Besides the Kings mentioned, it is the only other name. Harold Godwinson was ship wrecked in the Channel and held for ransom by Count Guy de Ponthieu. He begged Guillaume (William), duc de Normandy to elicit his release. William sent two of his knights and they are pictured. One is named as Turold.

In 1070 Hereward the Wake, together with a group of Danish settlers, sacked the Abbey at Peterborough that summer in order to prevent the newly appointed Bishop Thorold taking possession of the treasures there – thus destroying what was then the richest Abbey in England.

There are references in the Domesday Book of 1085 to a Turold living in Lincolnshire. In fact within its pages there are 106 entries to either a Thoraold, or Fitzthorold, and Turold or Fitzturold..

A Gaultier (Walter) Turold is reported to be the man who fired the arrow which killed William Rufus in the New Forest. His descendent was Samuel Thorold who was granted title of lands in Lincolnshire from which the family still hold today at Harmeston and the Haugh.

William the Conqueror’s original emblem, consisting of three lions, remains part of the Royal Standard to this day. The Norman conquerors also took with them the Norman French language. This remained in daily use for the next one hundred and fifty years. With the loss of the continental lands to the French in 1204, this Norman French gradually gave way to what we term as Middle English.

In 1215, King John was finally forced to transfer Normandy back to the French, but he retained the sovereignty of the Channel Islands. After signing Magna Carta, he granted the Islanders the right to rule themselves, subject to Royal assent. This right remains to the present day, and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Sark were the last Feudal States left in Europe. On Guernsey, they spoke Guernsiaise, a patois of the Norman language which was spoken up until WWII. Most of the Island place names retain this heritage. With the threat of invasion by Nazi Germany many of the women and children were evacuated over to England. There they spent five years speaking only English, and on return continued to do so. It spelt death knell for the Island language, and today less than 10% of the population can still speak it with any fluency.

There is a reference to a Edmund Thoraold in 1279, and Gilbert Fitzthorold had lands in Worcestershire, Somerset, Hereford, and Glouscestershire. Sir Richard Thorold is mentioned in the Seige of Calais between 1345 to 1348. It is mainly from him that the present Thorold family of Marston hall in Lincolnshire can trace their ancestry.

The Guernsey Assize Rolls of 1299 states that in the Parish of St Martin, a Guillaume Toroude, Jourdain de la Rue, Jourdain le Cucuel, Pierre Dorey, and Jean Beaumont were indicted that they found a boat in the sea, in which were clothes, hoods, 2 horses, salt, and many other goods which they have detained until now, nor have they shown the Kings Bailiff. So let them be arrested and by their bodies to make answer. Afterwards they come and acknowledge the finding of the said boat, with the said horses, and some part of salt. The boat which, with the things aforesaid, they caused to be delivered to the men of Herm, from whom the boat, and the goods had been taken by violence by Norman enemies of the King who landed there. And the horses they handed over in the Island to the men from whom they had been taken, so that nothing thereof has remained with them. And on this they put themselves on record of the Bailiff, that is Pierre le Marchant, then Bailiff who being present testifies to this. Yet because they have handed over the boat with the goods aforesaid, before they had shown them to the Kings Bailiff, in due form, therefore they are in mercy (guilty).

The Assize Roll of 1331 shows there was a Toraude living in St. Peter Port.

In 1642 Sir William Thorold 1591 – 1678 of Marston Hall in Lincolnshire was created a Baron having fought for the Royalists during the English Civil War. He represented Grantham in Parliament after the Restoration of the Monarchy. He became the 1st Baron Thorold.

In 1719 Sir George Thorold was the Lord Mayor of London.

Anthony Wilson Thorold 1825 – 1895 was also descended from the Lincolnshire Thorold’s and became both Bishop of Winchester and Rochester. He consecrated the parish church at Upnor on the River Medway, and there is a Thorold Road named after him in Chatham.

The name Thoraude was fairly common on the Island in the Sixteenth Century. There is a record of a catechism class that took place in St Saviour Church in 1565. One of the pupils was Noel Thoraude who was born circa 1550. He is stated as being the son of Jean. Therefore Jean Thoraude would have been born circa 1520 – well before parish records were set up by King Henry VIII following the Reformation of the Church. At the end of the sixteenth century there were four families with the name, living at a farm named Les Lorier (The Laurels) in the parish of St. Saviour. Nicolas Thoraude born in 1553, and brother of Noel, died in 1601. His is the oldest surviving gravestone on Guernsey. Les Lorier remained in the Torode family for nearly four hundred years. This spelling of the name continued until the marriage of one of his descendents, a Thomas Thoraude to Marie Le Raie in 1658. Their children, who were born in the latter part of the seventeenth century, are registered in the parish with the spelling Torode. All subsequent births used this spelling. The reason for this change can be firmly place at the door of the church. English Clerics who could speak French were sent over from England as Recteurs of the Guernsey parishes in the mid seventeenth century. Although fluent at French, they were unfamiliar with Guernsiaise. As a consequence many of Guernsey’s old family names were spelled phonetically in the parish registers. Thus Thoraude became Torode.

The name is very rare, but survives in Normandy with the original spelling in Normandy French.

In the British 1881 Census, there were 383 people listed throughout the whole of the United Kingdom with the name Torode. Of these 363 lived on Guernsey. This shows the centralisation of the name. Of the other 20 people, we found two who were inmates of Lunatic Asylum’s in England. There was a family in Surrey, and others living in London and Liverpool.

Some of the Torode family became embroiled in the pioneering fever that gripped Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and emigrated to the New World and the Antipodes. One group settled in Elmhurst in Du Page County in the State of Iilinois. An area of woodland known locally as Frenchman’s Wood is named after Nicolas Torode, the head of this group. The Celebrity Chef John Torode of the TV program Masterchef is a descendent of a family that left Guernsey and emigrated to Australia. Others crossed the English Channel to fill the need for labour during the Industrial Revolution. London has several groups of separate Torode families. Chief Petty Officer Cecil John Torode was killed aboard the Battleship HMS Barham on the 25th November 1941 when she was torpedoed by a German U-Boat. His family still live in the Plumstead area. Today, with the global expansion of people, there are now enclaves in Sussex, Kent, Essex, Hampshire, London and Liverpool, as well as world wide.

The one true amazing fact about the name of Torode is that every member who bears the name can trace their heritage back to that small farm of Les Lorier (The Laurels) in St Saviour on the Island of Guernsey.


  • Thoraude
  • Turold

Family Trees

Notable Guernseymen

Michael William Torode - First minister of the Guernsey States Council.

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