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Thornley Family History

Thornley Name Meaning

English (mainly Lancashire): habitational name from Thornley in Lancashire and perhaps also from Thornyleigh near Heaton in Leek (Staffordshire) and Thornleigh in Huddersfield (Yorkshire). The Lancashire name derives from Old English thornede ‘thorny’ + lēah ‘wood woodland clearing’. The other placenames derive from Old English thorn ‘thorn tree’ or thornig ‘thorny’ + lēah.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022

Similar surnames: Thorley, Chorley, Charnley, Horsley, Thomley, Townley, Torney, Harley

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Hint: Try searching for a relative alive in 1940.

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Where is the Thornley family from?

You can see how Thornley families moved over time by selecting different census years. The Thornley family name was found in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Scotland between 1840 and 1920. The most Thornley families were found in United Kingdom in 1891. In 1840 there were 3 Thornley families living in Pennsylvania. This was about 38% of all the recorded Thornley's in USA. Pennsylvania had the highest population of Thornley families in 1840.
Use census records and voter lists to see where families with the Thornley surname lived. Within census records, you can often find information like name of household members, ages, birthplaces, residences, and occupations.

What did your Thornley ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Farmer and Teacher were the top reported jobs for men and women in the USA named Thornley. 19% of Thornley men worked as a Farmer and 16% of Thornley women worked as a Teacher. Some less common occupations for Americans named Thornley were Clerk and Operator. .

View Census Data for Thornley | Data not to scale

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations In 1940

  • Farmer
  • Laborer
  • Truck Driver
  • Clerk

Top Female Occupations In 1940

  • Teacher
  • Stenographer
  • Waitress
  • Operator
Black & white image of two construction labourers

What Thornley family records will you find?

Census Records

There are 40,000 census records available for the last name Thornley. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Thornley census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

Search US census records for Thornley

Passenger Lists

There are 4,000 immigration records available for the last name Thornley. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the USA, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

View all Thornley immigration records

Draft Cards

There are 3,000 military records available for the last name Thornley. For the veterans among your Thornley ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.

View all Thornley military records

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What is the average Thornley lifespan?

Between 1952 and 2004, in the United States, Thornley life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1953, and highest in 1982. The average life expectancy for Thornley in 1952 was 47, and 76 in 2004.

View Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for Thornley

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