Select Gore Surname Genealogy

The place-name Gore, found at an early date in Kent and Wiltshire, was the origin of the surname Gore.  The word itself derived from the Old English gara meaning a “triangular piece of land,” itself a derivative of gar meaning “spear” and describing the triangular shape of the spearhead.

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England.  Early records of the surname were Alan atte Gore in Essex in 1273 and William de Gora in Wiltshire in 1274.  The surname was particularly well recorded in the church registers of Wiltshire and Kent from the mid-16th century onwards.

  The Gare place-name was to be found in Wiltshire in the Domesday Book and Gore Cross near West Lavington dates from early times.

The Gores of Alderton in northern Wiltshire first made their appearance with William Gore around the year 1330, with a later William Gore acquiring the manor of Alderton in 1382.  The antiquarian Thomas Gore, a descendant of this line, wrote their family history in 1666.

The Gore family of London and Ireland has been traced back to Wiltshire.  It was John Gore who made the move from Wiltshire to London in the mid-1500’s.  His son Gerard prospered as a merchant and was made an alderman of the city. His grandson John prospered even more, was knighted, and was elected Lord Mayor of London in 1624:
  • he was the forebear in England through his son William of the Gore-Langtons in Somerset.  They became in 1890 through maternal connections the Earls Temple of Stowe.
  • he was also the forebear through his son Paul of the mighty Anglo-Irish Gore family.  In 1602 Paul Gore, forsaking commerce for arms, had departed for Ireland as a captain of a troop of horse.
Kent.  The place-name Gore Court near Maidstone dates from the 1500’s or possibly earlier.

But the Gores in Kent were mainly to be found around Thanet in the northeast of the county.  David Gore’s 2006 book On Kentish Chalk: A Farming Family of the North Downs recounted the history of one Gore family, beginning with Thomas Gore and Ann Jeffrey who were married in Canterbury in 1641.  Another family line in Kent began with the marriage of John and Mary Gore at St. Nicholas-at-Wade on the Isle of Thanet in 1675.

.  The largest number of Gores in the 1881 census was surprisingly in Lancashire, and here clustered around the port of Liverpool.

The early spelling in Liverpool and the surrounding area may well have been Goore.  The first sighting of the name was at Lydiate near Ormskirk:
  • Gore House Farm in Lydiate was a brick built house with low mullioned windows and a plaque stating that it was built in 1596.
  • John Goore of Lydiate, on his death in 1669, left a charity for the poor people of the town. The charity has continued to this day.
Charles Goore was a Liverpool merchant who was active in the Virginia tobacco trades from the 1740’s onwards.  His Letter Book at the time of the Revolutionary War (which ruined his business) has been published.

The Gore name became well-known in Liverpool through Gore’s Directory of Liverpool.  This had been begun by John Gore in 1766 and continued under his authorship until 1803 and that of his son Johnson Gore until 1832.  In that year Johnson Gore retired from business, heart-broken at the loss of his only son, and soon died.

  In 1602 Paul Gore had arrived in Ireland as captain of a troop of horse.  There he married a niece of the Strafford family and in 1622 was made a baronet at Manor Gore in Donegal.  The main lines from him went as follows:
  • the senior line, that at Manor Gore, passed to his eldest son Ralph.  A later Sir Ralph Gore served as Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer in 1733.  They were ennobled as the Earls of Ross in 1770.  However, the direct male line died out in 1802.
  • the next in line, Arthur, in 1662 became a baronet at Newtown in Mayo.  His great grandson and namesake was elevated to the peerage as the Earl of Arran in 1762.  They built Belleek castle in 1830 and were large landowners in county Mayo during the 19th century.  Another line, the Ormsby-Gores in the early 1800’s, became Baron Harlech.
A younger son Francis did not become a baronet in his lifetime; but his descendant, Booth Gore of Artarman in Sligo, did in 1760.  This line became known as the Gore-Booth baronets.  They made their home at Lissadell House.  This was a house of much splendor before its decline after World War One.  Two books – Dermot James’s 2004 book The Gore-Booths of Lissadell and Sonja Tiernan’s 2012 book Eva Gore-Booth - traced this family’s history.

.  There was a Thomas Gore, gentleman, reported among the early Jamestown settlers in 1607.  But he probably died the same year.  The three early Gore arrivals with lines of descents were:
  • John Gore and his family who came to Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1638
  • another John Gore who came to Middlesex county, Virginia in 1653.
  • and James Gore who came to Frederick county, Maryland around 1677.
Massachusetts.  John Gore arrived with his family in Roxbury, Massachusetts, from Southampton it is thought, in 1638.  He was the town clerk for many years, as was his son John.  Their homestead in Roxbury was inhabited by Gores until 1876.  His descendants have been covered in two books - in 1943 The John Gore Family by Mary Ferris and in 1975 A Brief Genealogy of the Gore Family by William Whitmore.

One line of these Gores became Boston merchants.  They were divided by the Revolutionary War.  John Gore was a Loyalist who departed Boston in 1776; while his son Christopher remained.  He prospered in business and was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 1809 and later became its Senator.  He died in 1834, leaving no children.  But his palatial Gore Place estate at Waltham survives and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

  John Goare or Gore came to Middlesex county, Virginia in 1653.  His descendant Henry Gore, a farmer, moved to Shenandoah county in the 1770’s.  One line via his first wife Margaret led through John Gore to Tennessee where, after the Revolutionary War, he was granted land in Overton county.  His line led to the later Gore politicians of Tennessee:
  • Albert Gore Sr, born in rural Tennessee, who became its Senator in 1952 and held the post until 1971.
  • and his son Al Gore, who followed in his father’s footsteps as Senator in 1984 and was US Vice President under Clinton in 1992 and 1996.
Other lines via his second wife Anna were to be found primarily in Missouri, Iowa, and Oklahoma.

.  Another early Gore line began with James Gore, possibly from Ireland, who married Mary Burke in Frederick county, Maryland in 1695.  Later Gores from this line were to be found in South Carolina, Alabama, and Mississippi.  Notable among them were:
  • Thomas Gore, born in Mississippi, who was the US Senator for Oklahoma from 1907 to 1921 and from 1931 to 1937, despite the disability of being blind.
  • and his grandson the writer Gore Vidal through his daughter Nina Gore.
Australia and New Zealand.  William Gore arrived from Ireland in 1806 to fill the post of Provost Marshal of New South Wales.  But he was subject to ongoing problems of debt and penal confinement throughout most of his forty years in the colony.

Other Gores from Ireland departed for Australia after the death of their father, an Anglican clergyman, in 1841.  These Gores had a more successful time.  One son William became the rector of All Saints church in Parramatta; while other Gores of the family travelled to the Darling Downs in Queensland and established a sheep ranch in an area that became known as Yandilla.  In 1988 a cairn was unveiled there in commemoration of this family.

An English Gore family came to Melbourne from Liverpool in late 1852.  After trying the life of a Victorian gold-miner for a few months, James joined his father Hugh in Melbourne where they prospered in the building trade.  However, news of a gold strike in New Zealand drew them to Dunedin on South Island in 1861.  James had some gold success.  But it was the building trade that again supported the family.

Select Gore Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Gore Names

Sir Paul Gore was in the early 1600’s the forefather of the Anglo-Irish Gore family in Ireland.
Christopher Gore served as both Governor and Senator for Massachusetts in the early 1800’s.
Thomas Gore
was the blind Senator for Oklahoma for twenty of the thirty years between 1907 and 1937.  His grandson was the writer Gore Vidal.
Bill Gore
founded in 1958 the company that was to become globally known for its waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex fabrics.
Al Gore
was the US Vice President in 1992 and 1996 and Presidential hopeful in 2000 (until the Florida result

Select Gores Today
  • 7,000 in the UK (most numerous in Lancashire)
  • 8,000 in America (most numerous in North Carolina) 
  • 3,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

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