The Ulster Orr crest.

The Orr  Name Study 

Researching the Orr Name Worldwide                                                                                           
To  the  Good  All  is  Good.    


The Orr One Name Study 

What is a One Name Study

A `One Name Study` is the research in depth and collection of all occurrences of a particular name worldwide. The name(s) to be researched can be registered with the Guild of One Name Studies (GOONS) , Box G, Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M  7BA. . An American  Association of One Name Studies, is at 2509 Placid Place, Virginia Beach, VA 23456-374          

The names ORR, ORE, OR and ORRE were registered with the GOONS. But there are many variants, including Oar, Oarr, Oare, Oarre, Oayre, Oor, Oorr Our, Oure, Owar, Ower, Owr, Ure, Ur, Urr, Urre. My paternal line is in Ulster where my researches began in 1975 although my family reside in Australia, and a brother is believed to be in the USA. The large family is, as you may already know, a feature of the Orrs - eight and more children is quite common and gives a fair sized base to begin searching.  When I reached my personal genealogical "brick wall " with researches in Ireland I turned my attention to Scotland whence the Orr`s  originate. They were prominent in Renfrewshire where they have a long history of over 700 years in the Parish of Lochwinnoch. The family is spread over the Lowlands and probably originates in the Parish of Urr in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbrightshire in the twelfth century. 

It was a short step to venture upon the One Name Study which is very big, far bigger than I ever anticipated. There are today about 132,000 Orrs scattered around the world and are particularly numerous (about 100,000) in the USA which from 1 January 2003 I have decided to exclude from my study - there are simply too many of them. An article about starting the ONS was published in the January 1999 edition of The Journal, the magazine of the Guild of One Name Studies and is reproduced on this site.

The objective of collecting and linking all Orrs wherever they may be found may never be achieved, but this site was also intended to be a clearing house for Orr information and a source guide for further reading and enquiry. Underpinning the site is a substantial database of over 100,000 records of individuals held in a separate `country` files which I am happy to search without charge. All enquiries are entered to the appropriate file and cross referenced so that later `matches` can be advised.

Exchange of information is always welcome and I am very grateful for any family files, trees, charts, files and any other Orr information that you may care to donate.

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Interests stemming from the ONS

Inevitably the researching of a name leads to reading a wide range of books and documents. Irish history at any stage is fascinating and the more so if a `family` member is involved. The events of the Plantation of Ulster (1610 -1630 ) informs us of the first Orrs in Ireland, and in the run up to the 1798 Revolution there is the story of the United Irishmen and the martyrdom of William Orr of Farranshane. He is said in family lore to be an ancestor, but proof is singularly lacking and I am content to know him as a member of the wider family and a distant relative. 

Originating, as we do, from Scotland adds another dimension to research. Here the family history makes contact with its roots in South West Scotland, especially around the Parish of Lochwinnoch Renfrewshire back to ca 1300 and Kirckcudbrightshire before then. Here too lies the connection to Clan Campbell, the Orrs being a sept of that clan. Incidentally our name does not come from MacGregor or the French D`Or or Spanish castaways from the Armada ship wrecks - we were around for some 300 years before those events even took place.

 The south west of Scotland is also steeped in the history of the Scottish Reformation - the foundation of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The Covenanters, the strict Presbyterians, were greatly persecuted for their determined stand for God`s rights on earth with over 18,000 (and probably as many as 30,000) laying down their lives for their beliefs. Two Orrs from Glasgow area were among the Covenanters imprisoned in Dunnottar Castle in 1685, and several others from the Lochwinnoch area were pursued for not paying fees allegedly due to the local episcopal clerics for such as baptisms and marriages. From these persecuted people came most of the migrants to Ulster during the Plantation period, and from them the Ulster Scots that migrated to the British colonies of the day. There were several Presbyterian ministers by the name of Orr and also some Methodist ministers.

Emigration and transportation to the former Colonies - now the USA; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; South Africa, the West Indies and other places, provides a rich and interesting research subject in its own right. Today over 90 per cent of the Orrs reside outside of the United Kingdom. and about two thirds of the world population is found in the USA. The world distribution and analysis by Country and state have been produced from examination and counts of phone books, Census statistics and Voters Lists / Electoral Rolls. 

Orr Name Study Ulster Scots Reference material