Spellings of the name Tilbury, especially before 1770, vary enormously. For example, the International Genealogical Index (IGI) for the town of London shows the first spelling of TILBURY in 1630. This was preceded by TYLBERY (1550), TILBERIE (1619) and TILBURIE (1629). In the 1600s the spelling was predominantly TILBERY with variants TILBERRIE, TILLBERY and TILBERRY. In the 1700s TILBARY was introduced, along with TILBARRY, TILBURRY and TILBUREY. In the 1800s the spelling was predominantly TILBURY, with one TILBERRY in 1811, one TILBORY in 1828 and two TILBARYs in 1864 and 1865. It is worth noting that the spelling of surnames can vary in the same generation of the same family! The reason for this is explained by P.H. Reaney:

The man who says his name was always spelled as it is today is talking rank nonsense. The modern form of very many of our surnames is due to the spelling of some sixteenth- or seventeenth-century parson or clerk, or even to one of later date. It is not a matter of illiteracy in our sense of the word. These parsons who kept the parish registers were men of some education. Their ability to read cannot be questioned, but they had no guide to the spelling of names. It was the printing-press which gradually established a recognised system of spelling.1

The Church Registers for St.Georges Chapel in Mayfair record the marriage of one Thomas Tilbury to Elizabeth Head in 1753. The London Commercial and Court Directories of 1870 recorded only eight instances of the surname within their lists. James Thompson Tilbury once told his daughter Esther (Ettie) that the Tilbury name was originally de Tilberrie and that a Charles de Tilberrie sailed the Seven Seas in bygone times, perhaps as a pirate, or even a hero with Drake...

Details of the Tilbury lineage have been gathered from numerous sources and grateful thanks are extended to relatives, all of whom are now deceased: Edwin (Ted) Hockings, Nick Vine Hall, Clive Edwin Tilbury and Prof. Ralph Blacket. Special thanks are extended to the Hon. Justice Robert Hope, who offered the eulogy to my father, Lloyd David Tilbury in May 1993 and in so doing made me realise how little we as a family knew of the Tilburys and how much less the next generation would know.

During research of Thomas (1802-1875) & Sophia Rabnett and exploration of Thomas (1777-1857) & Ann Durden in the 1990s, I met three Tilburys online: John and Alan in England and David in Oregon. My focus was primarily Thomas & Sophia; some of the details for the other children of Thomas & Ann were contributed by Alan, and many Thomas Tilbury descendants have provided details and exploratory paths. Many thanks to all.

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[1] "The Origin of English Surnames", P.H. Reaney, 1967

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