The Barlow Name

A Brief History of the Barlow Surname and Its English Origins"

- Source -
The following information is presented by Susan Barlow Holmes of who cites that it is from the book, "Bunches of Barlows", by John Hawkins and Elizabeth H. Michaels; and she credits the original to notes from Allan Poe, Caldwell County, North Carolina genealogist.


Barlow was originally a place name of Anglo-Saxon derivation, signifying a hill or clearing planted in barley (Anglo-Saxon "Baerlic").

There are several villages and manors bearing the name -- all in the north of England, (Lancashire, Yorkshire and Derbyshire).

The oldest and by far the most numerous of the Barlow families originated in Lancashire, taking their name from a manor in the parish of Whalley, near the modern industrial center of Manchester; and near the point where the three counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire meet (click map for enlargement and see the red X). They descend from a 13th century knight, Sir Roger Barlow of Barlow, in the reign of Edward I. 

The senior male line of the family continued in possession of the manor of Barlow for at least four centuries, with Thomas Barlow as lord of the manor in the reign of Charles II, in 1664.

The medieval coat of arms of the Lancashire Barlows was (in simple terms), a two-headed silver eagle on a black shield, very similar to the arms of the German emperors, still used, I think, as the arms of West Germany. 

Some of the junior branches of the family produced some individuals of moderate importance--a Bishop of Rochester (1603), an Archbishop of Tuam in the Church of Ireland (1634), the ancestor of a Lord Mayor of Dublin (1715). 

Records of descendants of more modest pretensions include: 
__ George Barlow, a baker in Manchester in 1583. 
__ Henry Barlow of Derbyshire, a student at Oxford in 1584. 
__ John Barlow of Cheshire, another Oxford student in 1600. 
__ Sir Alexander Barlow, Knight of Barlow, whose Will was probated in 1620 at Chester. (Whalley Parish, in which the manor of Barlow was situated, was in the diocese and archdeaconry of Chester). 

The Reverend Canon C.W. Bardsley, who was a rector of a city parish in Manchester for 30 years, published his authoritative A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames in 1896, and he remarked in it that the Barlow name in Lancashire "has ramified 
(definition: spread, branched out) in an extraordinary manner." 

The 1873 Post Office Directory for Lancashire listed 75 Barlow householders in the city of Manchester. Other directories of the period listed 15 Barlow householders in the West Riding of Yorkshire; and 33 in the city of London. 

The following is copied directly from "A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames With Special American Instances" by Charles Wareing Endell Bardsley:

Barlow - Local, 'of Barlow,' near Manchester. The Lancashire Barlows spring from Barlow Hale and Barlow Moor, near Manchester. The name has ramified in an extraordinary manner. Barlow is also a parish in co. Derby, near Chesterfield, but nearly all our Barlows trace back to the neighborhood of Manchester. The Barlows of Barlow Hale (whence William Barlow, bishop of Lincoln, born about 1550) were seated there so early as so Ric. II. The first entry below probably represents Barlow, a chapelry in the parish of Brayton, West Rid. Yorks.
- Johannes de Berlowe, 1379: P.T. Yorks. p.33.
- 1584. Henry Barlow, co. Derby: Reg. Univ. Oxf. vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 139.
- 1600. John Barlow, co. Chester: Ibid. p. 244.
- 1583. George Barlow, of Manchester, baker: Wills at Chester, i. 12.
- 1594. Ottiwell Barlow, of Hreston Norris: ibid.
- 1620. Sir Alex. Barlow, of Barlow: ibid.
- 1656. Married--John Barlow and Mary Tolley: St. Dionis Backchurch, p. 32.
- West Riding Court Dir., 15; Manche

- Additional Information -


There has been a dwelling situated on the site of Barlow Hall for over 800 years now. The earliest dwelling was probably timber-built and was possibly situated near to the river Mersey for protection, fortification and transport purposes.

Roger, or Robert de Barlow, knight living during the reign of Saxon King Edward 1 (1272 - 1307), founded the eminent Catholic Barlow family; and Barlow Hall continued to be the family home of the Barlow family for a further 500 years. 

In 1584, during the reign of King Henry VIII, Barlow Hall was rebuilt by Alexander Barlow.  It is believed that a mile long underground passage to Hough End Hall exists, as well as a priest's hole.  
The last member of the Barlow family to reside at the Hall was Thomas Barlow who died in 1773.  The Hall then fell into the estate of the Egerton family and was leased to various tenants.

Fire ravaged the Hall on March 19th 1879, but the bay window dated 1574 and the first floor oriel window above it still remain.

St Ambrose Barlow

Barlow Hall has special significance for the Catholic community as the birthplace of St Ambrose Barlow.

Sir Edward Barlow was born at Barlow Hall in 1585 and took the name Ambrose when he was ordained as a priest of the Order of St Benedict.  He was hanged for his faith at Lancaster Gaol in 1641.  He was later canonized by Pope Paul VI, as one of the 40 martyrs of England and Wales, on October 25th 1970.  The ghost of St Ambrose is said to haunt the upper floors of the Hall to this day.


Crest and Arms
of Sir Roger Barlow
of Barlow, Lancashire

En foi prest -"Ready in faith"

(Source: Edson Barlow)


Map of 
(circa 1841)
illustrating Barlow Lay &
Barlow Moor Lane

Click Map for Enlarged View


"Barlow Hall"
in Chorlton-cum-Hardy

Barlow Hall
Barlow Hall Road
M21 7JJ