See glossary for symbol meaning.
See glossary for symbol meaning.
Barr Surname Name Meaning, Origin, History, & Etymology
This popular Scottish, northern Irish, Norman-French, and English last name developed as a habitational name denoting a person who was from one of various towns and villages through Britain named Barr. There are two main locations named Barr in Scotland: one in Ayrshire and one in Renfrewshire, derived from the Gaelic or Welsh word barr, or Celtic word barro, meaning “height or hill”. There are various placed named Barr in northern France, such as Barr-en-Ouche and Barr-de-Similly. There is a town called Great Barr in West Midlands, England. A second theory is that, in England, it is a topographic surname denoting someone who lived at or near a barrier or gateway, from the Middle English and Old French word barre, meaning “bar” or “obstruction”. In France, of Norman origin, Barr may have developed. Third, it may have developed as a metonymic occupational name for a maker of bars or poles. Fourth, in Ireland, it may have developed as an Anglicized version of the Irish surname O’Bairr or O’Baire. Still others believe the name has Old Norse, Danish, or Flemish etymological roots. Elsdon Smith Coles, in his 1956 book Dictionary of American Family Names, offers the following meaning: “Dweller at the sign of the bear; one thought to possess bearlike qualities. The bear was the king of beasts in the north of Europe”.
Spelling variants and names with similar etymologies include: Bar, Barre, Baer, Baerr, and Baer. The only Barr family motto I was able to identify is Fortitudine, which translates from Latin to English as “With fortitude” or “Might”.
Early Bearers of the Barr Surname
The first known bearers of this surname was Richard de Barra, of Somerset, who was documented in the Domesday Book of 1086 AD, a survey of England and Wales ordered by William the Conqueror. Hugo Barr was listed in the Danelaw documents for county Lancaster in 1155 AD. However, a Ralph Barre is claimed to have been documented in England two years earlier in 1153 AD. William de Barre is recorded in the Assize Rolls of Stafford in 1199 AD. The Hundred Rolls of 1273 AD, a census of Wales and England, known in Latin as Rotuli Hundredorum lists two bearers of this surname: Gunilda de la Barre (Hertfordshire) and Philip de le Barre (Huntingtonshire). John de la Barre was documented in Staffordshire and William atte Barre was recorded in Derbyshire, both around 1292 AD. Albyn de Barr was the baillie of Ayr, Scotland in 1340 AD. John Bar of de Barre was a burgess of Edinburgh, Scotland in 1423 AD. The Magni Rotuli Scaccarii Normanniae lists several bearers around 1190 AD: Gerard, Geoffry, Peter, Ralph, and Tiger de Barra.
Popularity & Geographic Distribution
The last name Barr ranks 738th popularity in the United Status as of the 2000 Census. The name ranks particularly high in the following five states: Pennsylvania (290th), Alaska (318th), West Virginia (372nd), Nevada (397th), and South Carolina (406th).
The surname Barr frequency/commonness ranks as follows in the British Isles: England (820th), Scotland (149th), Wales (1,430th), Ireland (996th) and Northern Ireland (125th). In England, it ranks highest in East Riding of Yorkshire. In Scotland, the surname ranks highest in North Ayrshire and Renfrewshire. In Ireland, it ranks highest in Ulster. In Wales, it ranks highest in Conwy.
The name is also present throughout the remainder English speaking world: Canada (815th), New Zealand (434th), Australia (491st), and South Africa (9,834th).
Barr Family Tree & Barr Genealogy
Bär of Switzerland
Hans Heinrich Bar I was born in Hausen am Albis, Zurich, Switzerland in c. 1500 AD. His son, Hans Bär I, was born in the same town c. 1520 AD. Hans had a son named Hans Bär II who was born in Bruder Albis, Hausen am Albis, Affoltern, Zurich, Sweden c. 1545 AD. He married twice: Anna Strehler and Katherina Verena Huber. His son Hans Bar II was born in the same town c. 1570 AD. He married Anna Biedermann and had the following issue with her: Osil, Verena, Lorenz, Adelheid, Anna Naf, Andreas, Katharina, Barbara, and Hans Jacob II. His son, Osli, or Oswald Biedermann Bar, was born in Ebertswill, Zurich, Switzerland c. 1614 AD. He married twice: Anna, daughter of Hans Ringger and Anna Duebendorfer, and had the following issue with her: Anna L., Heinrich Lamprecht, Galli L., Hans Jakob, Martin, Magdalena, and Veronica. His son, Hans Jacob Bar, was born in Ittlingen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany in 1655. He had the following children: Barbary, Henrich, Hans, and Jackob. His son Henrich Bar was born in Adelshofen, Germany c. 1695. He went to colonial America with his father. They lived in Pennsylvania. He married Barbara Witmer and had issue with her: Benjamin John, Fronica W., Mary, Magdelena, Henry, Barbara, and Elizabeth. His son, Benjamin Bear or Baer was born in Hempfield Township in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1727. He married Maria Mylin and had the following issue: Benjamin, Barbara, Christian, Martin, Ann, and Henry. His son, Benjamin Barr, was born in Hempfield Township, Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1764. He married Catherine Mayer (or Myers). He had the following issue: Samuel, Benjamin M., Henry, Elizabeth, Mary, David, and Katie. Two of his sons are discussed below:
1) Benjamin M. Barr was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1796. He married Mary, daughter of Martin Mylin and Elizabeth Buchwalter, and had the following issue with her: Catherine, Ann, Benjamin, Maria, Elizabeth, Magdalena (Martha), Frances, and Barbara. His son Benjamin was born in the same town in 1823. He married Barbara Groff and had issue with her as follows: Mary Ann, Susan, Samuel, Emma E., Catherine, Frances, Benjamin, John, Barbara, Anna, Sarah Ellen (Saddie), Enos, and Abraham.
2) Samuel Barr was born in Marietta, Lancaster, Pennsylvania in 1793. He married Maria, daughter of John Stauffer and Anna Herr, and had the following children with her: Catherine, Ann, Benjamin, Maria, Elizabeth, Magdalena, Frances, and Barbara.
Barr from Berkshire
John Barre was born in Berkshire, England c. 1530 AD. In 1556, he married Annis Ottes in Berkshire. They had a son named John. This son, John Barre, was born in Lancashire, England in 1554. He married twice: Emmott Goye and Edye Winterbourne. He came to colonial America. He had two daughters: Marie and Elizabeth.
Barr from Lockton House
Edward Barr was born in Lockton House, Hawnby, North Yorkshire in 1639. In 1665, he married Margaret Flintoff and had four issue with her: Oliver, William, Dorothy, and Edward. His son, Edward Barr, was born in Hawnby, England in 1672. He married Ann Flintoff and had four issue with her: Ann, Bryan, John, and Edward. His son, Edward Barr, was born in the same town in 1718. He had a son also named Edward who was born in Hagg House, Kepwick, England in 1760. He had a daughter named Mary.
Barr from Flatbush
John Barre was born in Flatbush, New York in 1673. His son, James was born in 1708. James had a son named John. John was born in 1740. He had a son named Amos. Amos Barr was born in Sussex, Delware in 1779. His son, John Barr, was born in Marion County, Ohio in 1826. He married Mary Elya and had a son with her named Fleming. Fleming Barr was born in Greenfield Township, Indiana in 1852. He married Ella Frances Freligh. Their son, Frank Arthur Barr, was born in LaGrange, Indiana in 1885. He married Huldah Adelle Wilber and had a son with her named Ralph. This son, Ralph Wilber Barr was born in Indiana in 1909. He had issue. He passed away in Rochester Hills, Michigan in 1983.
Marriages of Barrs
1) William Barr married Johane Browne in Barley, Hertford, England in September 1587
2) Peter Barr married Katerine Torlesse in Saint Giles, Oxford, England in September 1619
3) Richard Barr married Elsabeth Carr in Kettlethorpe, Lincoln, England in January 1620
4) Edward Barr married Christian Cussens in Lambourn, Berkshire, England in 1621
5) William Barr married Faith Elements in Tempsford, Bedford, England in 1624
6) Patrick Barr married Jonet Sempill in Glasgow, Lanark, Scotland in December 1615
7) Anne Bar married John Greeve in Derry Catherdral, Templemore, Londonderry, Ireland in 1622
8) Patrick Barr married Elizabeth Pollok in Renfrew, Renfrew, Scotland in July 1733
9) James Barr married Eunice Carlton in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts in 1779
10) Mary Barr married John Carde in Salem, Essex, Massachusetts in September 1770
11) James Barr married Mary Ropes in Salem, Massachusetts in October 1721
12) William Barr married Leah Wilkins in Gates, North Carolina in 1784
13) Alexander Barr married Medhitabel Peabody on Portland, Cumberland, Maine in November 1786
14) Elizabeth Barr married Robert Fairservice in Boston, Massachusetts in November 1740
Early American and New World Settlers
Some of the earliest settlers in colonial America bearing this name include:
1) Roger Barr came to Virginia 1655
2) Margaret Barr came to Virginia in 1671
3) William Barr came to Maryland in 1674
4) John Barr came to Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1684
5) Hans Barr came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1739
6) Johannes Barr came to Pennsylvania in 1718
7) Robert Barr came to New Hampshire in 1718
8) Barthol Rodolphus Barr came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1739
9) Hendrick Barr came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1739
10) Gabriel Barr came to New Hampshire in 1720
11) James Barr came to New England in 1720
12) John Barr came to New Hampshire in 1720
13) Samuel Barr came to New Hampshire in 1720
14) Samuel and Mary Barr came to New Hampshire in 1727
15) John George Barr came to South Carolina in 1735
16) Jacob Barr came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1736
17) George Barr came to Maryland in 1739
18) Thomas Barr came to Pennsylvania in 1746
19) Christopher Barr came to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1747
20) Heinrich Barr came to Pennsylvania in 1749
Several thousand members of the Barr family came to the United States through Ellis Island, during the nineteenth century, including:
1) Martha Barr came from Glenmahon, Ireland in 1907 aboard the Celtic
2) Michel Barr came from Rotterdam in 1902 aboard the Majestic
3) Rebecca Batt came from London, England aboard the Carmania in 1907
4) Mary Aitkenhead Barr came from Glasgow, Scotland aboard the Carmania in 1906
5) Elizabeth T. Barr came from Windsor, Canada aboard the Republic in 1906
6) Effie Barr came from Glasgow, Scotland aboard the Astoria in 1906
7) Elizabeth Barr from Banjror, Ireland aboard the Celtic in 1903
8) Peter Barr came from Bethisay, Scotland aboard the Lusitania in 1908
9) Bernard Barr came from Donegal, Ireland in 1904 aboard the Ethiopia
10) Thomas Barr came from Glasgow, Scotland in 1893 aboard the State of Nebraska
11) Dinah Barr came from London, England aboard the New York in 1906
12) Simon Batt came from London, England aboard the Carmania in 1907
13) Patrick Barr came from Belfast, Northern Ireland aboard the Furnessia in 1906
14) Philip Barr came from London, England in 1907 aboard the Umbria
Some of the earliest settlers in Canada bearing this name include:
1) Sarah Barr, born c. 1753, came to Fort Cumberland, Nova Scotia in 1774
2) William Barr came to Port de Grave, Newfoundland in 1775
3) Peter Barr, age 25, came to Red River in 1811
4) David Barr, age 21, came to St. John’s New Brunswick in 1815
5) Crawford Barr, age 34, came to Quebec in 1821
6) James Barr, age 40, came to Quebec in 1821
7) Matthew Bar, age 85, came to Ontario in 1871
Some of the earliest settlers in Australia and New Zealand bearing this name include:
1) William Barr came to Adelaide aboard the Delhi in 1839
2) Mary Barr came to Adelaide aboard the Petrel in 1851
3) William Barr came to South Australia aboard the Dirigo in 1854
4) William Barr came to South Australia aboard the William Stevenson in 1855
5) James Barr came to Australia in 1860
6) William Batt came to Adelaide in 1862
7) Alexander Barr came to Melbourne, Victoria in 1880
8) William Barr came to Auckland in 1840
9) In 1842, John Barr and his wife Jean, along with children John, Janet, William, Jean, Mary, Margaret and, Isabella, came to Auckland aboard the Duchess of Argyle in 1842
10) John Barr, age 47, came to Otago, New Zealand aboard the Mooltan in 1849
11) James Barr came to Nelson, New Zealand aboard the Lady Nugent in 1849
There are hundreds of notable people with the Barr surname. This page will mention a handful. Famous people with this last name include:
1) Terry Albert Barr (1935-2009) was an American football player born in Grand Rapids, Michigan who played for the Detroit Lions from 1957-1965, winning one NFL Championship and 2x Pro Bowls
2) Roseanne Cherrie Barr (1952) is a Jewish-American actress and comedian from Salt Lake City, Utah,, best known for her role on the hit television sitcom Roseanne that ran from 1988-1997.
3) Robert “Bob” Laurence Barr. Jr (1948) is an American politician and attorney who was a member of the US House of Representatives from Georgia from 1995-2003, having previously served as the US Attorney General for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990, born in Iowa City, Iowa
4) Alexander Martin Barr (1968) was the lead singer of the Dropkick Murphys, an American Celtic punk band, born in Hanover New Hampshire
5) David Angus Barr (1960) was a professional hockey player in the NHL who played for seven different teams (ex. Boston Bruins, Hartford Whalers) from 1981-1987, born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
6) Albert Glenn Barr (1942-2017) was a politician from Derry, Northern Ireland who was an advocate for Ulster nationalism, a movement which seeks independence from the United Kingdom
7) James Mark McGinnis Barr (1871-1950) was an inventor, electrical engineer, and physicist who is known for proposing the notation for the golden ratio.
8) Nevada Barr (1952) is an American author who writes mystery novels set in national parks in the United States, born in Yerington, Nevada
9) David James Barr (1970) is an English cricket player from Coventry, Warwickshire who played from 2001-2005 for two teams: Buckinghamshire and Warwickshire Cricket Board
10) David Barr (1946) was an Australian politician who served in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly from 1999-2007
Barr America Civil War Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Barr who served in the American Civil War, including the following:
1) James F. Barr of the 4th Regiment New York Infantry (Union)
2) Sylvanus Barr of the 193rd Regiment Pennsylvania Infantry (Union)
3) Joseph W. Barr of the 43rd Regiment Ohio Infantry (Union)
4) Nelson J. Barr of the 15th Regiment Illinois Infantry (Union)
5) William K. Barr of the 34th Regiment Massachusetts Infantry (Union)
6) Henry W. Barr of the 21st Regiment Kentucky Infantry (Union)
7) Jacob S. Barr of the Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Union)
8) James L. Barr of the 4th Regiment Georgia Infantry (Confederacy)
9) Thomas B. Barr of the 10th Regiment Alabama Infantry (Confederacy)
10) Wyatt Barr of the 19th Regiment Louisiana Infantry
11) John M. Barr of the 28th Regiment Louisiana Infantry (Confederacy)
12) Frank M. Barr of the 136th Regiment Virginia Militia (Confederacy)
13) James J. Barr of the 16th Regiment Texas Cavalry (Confederacy)
14) Alex C. Barr of the 21st Regiment North Carolina Infantry (Confederacy)
Barr America Revolution Veterans
There were several soldiers with the last name Barr who served in the Revolutionary War, including the following:
1) Private John Barr of South Carolina
2) Private Richard Barr of Virginia
3) Private Alexander Barr
4) Andrew Barr of Connecticut
5) Sergeant Daniel Barr of New York
6) Captain Ephraim Barr of Massachusetts
7) Sergeant John Barr of New York
8) Private John Barr of Pennsylvania
9) Private Philip Barr of Virginia
10) Lieutenant Thomas Barr
11) Sergeant Major William Barr of New Jersey
12) Private William Bar of Virginia
13) John Barr of New Jersey
14) Private Adam Barr of New Jersey
15) Private Isaac Barr of Virginia
16) Private John Barr of Pennsylvania
1) (France). Az. a sinister bend ar. betw. two stars of the last.
2) Or, a fesse indented erm. betw. three pomegranates leaved ppr. Crest—An arm couped at the shoulder, vested gu. resting the elbow on the wreath, the hand towards the sinister, holding a bow ppr.
3) or Barry - (Scotland). Az. an eagle displ. ar. surmounted by a fesse(another, a bar sa. charged with two mullets of the second).
4) (Worcester, 1825). Az. an eagle displ. ar. surmounted of a fesse sa. charged with two mullets or. Crest—A lion’s head erased gu. gorged with a collar or. Motto—Fortitudine.