The name Thornber has many variants including Thornborough, Thornbergh and Thornburgh but the form Thornber predominates in East Lancashire and West Yorkshire over the last 250 years. Three syllable variants such as Thornborough and Thornborrow appear mainly in East Yorkshire and South Cumbria. It is possible that all forms go back to a common root but evidence on this subject is reviewed more fully in the article on the distribution of these surnames shown below. There are more Thornbers in the Blackburn Telephone Directory than in those for the rest of England combined! I have conducted a survey of the geographical distribution of the name from entries in the International Genealogical Index for four counties.
Geographical Distribution of the surname Thornber
In addition I have looked at the earliest records yet know of Thornber families in the main areas around Clitheroe. These are parish records, wills, muster rolls and lay subsidy rolls in the 16th century. In particular I examine how different branches of the Thornber family use some male Christian names that are otherwise uncommon.
The Earliest Thornber Records in Craven and East Lancashire
If you are not in England but have some Thornber ancestors, it will be easiest for you to send me an e-mail with the names, dates and places to see if I can find a connection. If, on the other hand, you know the geography of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire, you may be able to find a connection using the information I show below. However, I have far more information in my database than is given here, particularly for families around Waddington.
Waddington, Bolton by Bowland & Pendleton near Whalley Starting with John Thornber & Catherine Altham married Waddington in 1739
A Thornber family in Blackburn with origins in Waddington: Emigration to Australia Starting with Richard Thornber & Jane Brown married in Waddington in 1715.
A family in West Bradford and Waddington using the name Nicholas in the 17th and early 18th centuries
The family of Richard & Ann Thornber with connections in Sabden, Padiham, Preston and possibly origins in Waddington
Slaidburn 1. Starting with Giles Thornber and Margaret Parker married Slaidburn in 1635 and a branch from Ralph Thornber and Elizabeth Beecroft, of Tosside, Gisburn Forest.
Slaidburn 2. Starting with Anthony Thornber and Hannah Booker married Gisburn 1733, a branch of Slaidburn Part 1
Slaidburn 3. The family of William Thornber and Jane Brennand, a branch from Slaidburn Part 2
Slaidburn 4. The family of Thomas Thornber, Betty Whittle and her half sister Isabella Whittle, a branch of Slaidburn 3
Slaidburn 5. A family with origins as in Slaidburn 1 with descent in Melling and Bentham and then the Fylde.
Slaidburn 6. With descent in Blackburn and emigration to the USA. Starting with William Thornber (from Slaidburn Part 2) and Mary Ellison
Gisburn 1 Starting with Robert Thornber & Maria Peele married in Gisburn in 1682
Gisburn 2 Starting with John Thornber & Alice Marsden, married in Waddington in 1714.
Gisburn 3 Emigration to Australia Starting with John Thornber & Ann Parker married in 1803
Gisburn 4 A branch of Gisburn 1 moving to Manchester & South Australia, starting with James Thornber & Ann Hartley who married in Colne in 1798
Gisburn 5 A branch of Gisburn 1, at Vivary Bridge, Colne, Lancashire starting with Thomas Thornber & Fanny Croasdale who married Gargrave 1797
Gisburn Forest: & Blackburn, Emigration to Illinois Starting with Adam Proctor Thornber, born 1812, (Slaidburn Part 1) and Mary Ainsworth
Scammonden, West Yorkshire, with origins in Gisburn Forest A branch of Slaidburn 1, starting with William Thornber, born Gisburn Forest in 1798, and Sarah Hirst
Paul Thornber and Stephen Thornber in Tosside, Long Preston and Sawley Preliminary notes
Two Thornber families in Burnley Family of Benjamin Thornber, with origins in Gisburn, who married Margaret Duckworth in 1888 that of Robert Thornber who married Grace Pollard in 1788 at St. Peter's Burnley
Michael Thornber and Mary Hargreaves, marrying in Colne in 1808
Oswaldtwistle and Over Darwen in the early 19th century.
Downham: Emigration to the USA Starts with Richard Thornber & Hannah Latham, married in Downham in 1803, possibly branch of Gisburn 2
Thornber families in Halifax Several small trees
Thornber families in Manchester in the first half of the 19th Century Miscellaneous Notes
John & Jane Thornber of Newchurch in Pendle and Wheatley Lane Notes
Thomas Thornber in Blackburn with connection to Great Harwood Family of Thomas Thornber & Elizabeth Booth married 1822 at Bolton le Moors