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About the study

Researching the name STERRY - WORLDWIDE. Your feedback and comments are most welcome. If you have information about STERRY families around the world and would like to share it, I'd be delighted to receive it.

Variant names


Name origin

With the exception of the STERRI family of Norway, all STERRYs originated in England.

'Of all possible words from which the English name Sterry may have originated, perhaps the best two candidates are (1) the Middle English word 'sterre' meaning 'star' or celestial body ... and (2) the Anglo-Saxon word 'stor,' sometimes spelled 'steor,' meaning 'large' ... common practice of adding '-y' to words making them into personal names, having the effect of 'son of'.' (W. B. Smith, 'The Sterry Family of America 1670-1970,' Israel, 1973)

The earliest STERRYs to establish a clear family line were undoubtedly the Sterrys from the Forest of Dean area of Gloucestershire.

The spelling of the surname in the Forest of Dean area in the sixteenth century had several variants including Stirrie, Stirri, Sterrie, Sterry, Sterri and Stirry. However, only the form Sterry and a 19th century variant Sterrey survive into modern times.

Apparently quite unrelated to the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire Sterrys is the early Lowestoft, Suffolk line.

There was also a significant early Sterry presence in Devon and Cornwall but no link has been made to other Sterry lines to date. Sadly, by the mid-1600s, Sterrys had all but disappeared from both Devon and Cornwell and the line may have died out.

There are scattered examples of Sterry-like names in other counties of England in the sixteenth century, especially in Shropshire, but none of these produced Sterry family lines as far as we know.

Historical occurrences of the name

#A George Sterry went to Barbados in 1635

#In 1649 Rev Peter Sterry was chaplain to Oliver Cromwell

#A Captain Sterry, commander of the Fairfax, seized a Merchant ship from Amsterdam near Gibralter in 1658.

#American Thomas Sterry Hunt (1826-1892) was a prolific author and published some 300 scientific articles and many books, including 'Chemical and Geological Surveys', 'The Domain of Physiology' and 'A New Basis for Chemistry'

#Sir Wasey Sterry (1866-1955) was the son of the Rev. Francis Sterry, who is considered as the greatest English Sterry genealogist. He became a barrister of Lincoln's Inn in 1892 and continued as an attorney or jurist the rest of his life. In 1901 he entered the British Colonial Service and was assigned to the Sudan to serve as judge in the courts. He was acting Governor-General of Sudan in 1923, 1924 and 1925.

#In 1921 Arthur William Sterry produced the 'first' motion picture in Australia. For the first time in Australia! When 'The Man They Could Not Hang' was first screened in Sydney, Haldane & Sterry, dramatic actor orators, related the story while the silent film was being screened.

Name frequency

In the 1841 census for the UK there were 332 Sterrys. The clear majority (144) lived in Gloucestershire, followed by Suffolk and Surrey. By 1881 census there were 557 Sterrys in the UK. The clear majority still came form Gloucestershire and Suffolk. Sterrys migrated very early to America and establised Sterry families there by the latter part of the 17th century. In the 1880 US Census there were 206 Sterrys. The clear majority still resided in Connecticut, close to where they started.

Distribution of the name

The earliest known definite Sterry family line was established in the Forest of Dean area in Gloucestershire, UK by the early 16th century and by the early 17th century had spread to the Surrey area of London. An apparently unrelated Sterry family was established in the Lowestoft area of Suffolk, UK also by the early 17th century. By the latter part of the 17th century Sterrys were firmly established in the Connecticut area of America. By the mid nineteenth century Sterrys had spread to Australia and Canada.


STERRY and variants surname extracted from
Civil Registration Indexes (UK) 1837-1992
Census (UK) 1841-1901
PCC Wills and National Probate Calendars (UK)
County Wills
Monumental Inscriptions (UK)
Parish Registers (UK)
Diaries and Trade Directories (UK)
Poll Books & Electoral Records (UK)
Taxation Records (UK)
Criminal Records (UK)
Parish Records (UK)
Court Records (UK)
Property Records (UK)
Trades & Businesses Records (UK)
Shipping Records (UK)
BDM Indexes (Australia)
Shipping Records (Australia)
Civil and Church BMD Records (USA)
Census (USA)
Directories (USA)
Military (USA)
Shipping (USA)
BMD Records (Canada)
Census (Canada)
Shipping and Migration (Canada)


A STERRY DNA Project has been established with FamilyTreeDNA.
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