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Our 2,743 members have registered
2,395 study surnames with us
and a further 6,089 variant names.

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About the study

This study covers the name THUBRON. It was my mother's maiden name; when I started trying to trace my ancestry in about 1998, I was smugly sure that such an unusual name would be easy to trace. I now know better! I must thank my 6th cousin by marriage, Marjorie THUBRON, who has done an enomous amount of work on the name, and has been of the greatest assisstance to me.

Variant names

The study includes THUBBORN and THUBBRON and any other obviously mis-spelled or mistranscribed Variants. However, it is difficult to know whether names recorded were mis-spelt, or whether people chose to modify their surnames. There are quite a few instances in Census and Birth, Marriage and Death registrations where families' names were spelt THOBORN or THORBURN, for instance, but eventually settled on THUBRON. Therefore the study has tended to include THUBRON and THUBBRON families, backtracking to their origins however spelt.
Many strange variants exist in transcribed indexes to information, such as, but in the majority of cases these are mis-transcriptions which can be dismissed by examining the original documents.
There is some obvious confusion with the name THORBURN; I have chosen not to include this name and the variants (unless it can be shown that this is a variant of THUBRON in any particular case) because this would make the study impossibly large.

Name origin

The earlist confirmed recorded instances of the names of which I have so far found are the marriage of James THUBRON in Stannington, Northumberland in 1687, and the marriage of Robert THUBBORN in Sedgefield, Co. Durham, in 1717. The name may have derived from the more common THORBURN, said by some to be Norse - 'THOR'S RIVER'. However it is more likely to be derived from Thor plus Old English beorn 'warrior', which is an anglicisation of the Norse biorn 'warrior'. According to Reaney's Dictionary of British Surnames biorn was derived from the Old Norse bar/bere/bjorn 'bear'. So this would give a meaning of 'Thor Warrior' or Thor Bear'. Early occurences of similar names are Torbern, Thurbernus, in the Domesday Book and Thurberni in Norfolk in 1153. However it does seem very likely that the name is of Norse origin, which would explain the north-eastern predominance. (Acknowledgements for this are due to my sister Winifred Abbott).

Historical occurrences of the name

Noted THUBRONs include Harry THUBRON, the collage artist, and Colin THUBRON the travel author. There was also a THUBRON - Ernest Blakelock THUBRON - who won a gold medal in the 1908 Olympic Games - but for France, under the name Emile! The event was powerboating, and the circumstances of this are obscure, but the name change does suggest deliberate deception. The actress June THORBURN, who died tragically in a plane crash in 1967, was born Patricia June Thubron SMITH, her mother being Emmeline THUBRON.
Examination of the 1841-1901 Censuses shows occupations predominantly within Agriculture and Engineering. It is particularly noteworthy that at a time when by far the largest occupation in Co. Durham was as a Coalminer, there were only 8 THUBRON Miners compared to 16 Engineers out of a total of 68 employed men. Compare this to my ABBOTT ancestry where, out of 34 males I have traced in the 19th Century, 32 were Miners.

Name frequency

Searches of the 1841 Census so far show 19 family groups comprising 76 individuals. By 1901 there were about 60 groups of over 200 individuals. The UK ONS statistics for 2002 show a total of 362 THUBRONs and 17 THUBBRONs. Approximately 60% of the Census THUBRONs have been linked back to Robert of Sedgefield. Another five separate family groups have been identified; at least one is probably connected to this Robert.

Distribution of the name

In 1841 every individual except one was in County Durham - the exception was in Northumberland. By 1901 a few families had migrated to Yorkshire and a few more to Northumberland; a set of three brothers and another family had gone to the USA, where the name is still found. The THUBRON allegiance to Co. Durham is illustrated by the fact that, in the 1881 Census there were two families in Wales and three sisters in Scotland, but they all returned to Durham later. The was some migration to Canada in the early 20th Century, and the name still exists there, and can also be found in Africa, Australia and New Zealand. However, even now the name is predominantly Northumbrian.


I currently have the following THUBRON databases: All UK Census 1841-1911 (over 1600 entries); US Census 1880-1930; GRO Indexes - Birth (1010 entries), Marriage (750 entries), Death (670 entries); IGI entries; some Parish Records. I have the Family Tree of Robert Thubborn and descendants, including about 400 individuals, (no living persons) and the fragmentary trees of other families in the Censuses who cannot yet be placed.


A DNA Project has been started, with the aim of establishing if the various groups are linked