Dorrens Family

It is often assumed that Dorrens is a simple variation of Torrens. Indeed my father at one time believed that Torrens was a contraction of Torrance and Dorrens, for my GGG Grandfather, James Torrance (1768-1852) married Anne Dorrens. It was one of his sons, John Torrance (1804-1864) married Martha Morrison, who changed the spelling of the family's name to Torrens and had a son James Dorrens Torrens.

However closer examination of the name Dorrens in the Bann Valley shows the same variations in spelling that occur in the Torrens name, so there is no evidence for my father's belief.

However they do not appear to be variations of the same name but have different roots. This may seem unlikely, but no connections have been found other than by marriage.I quote a footnote from RMT's book:

'Since many are, seemingly, under the impression that the name Torrance and Dorrance are the same. the following from Frederick A Godcharles' Pennsylvania - Political, Governmental, Military and Civil Biographical Volume, printed by the American Historical Society Inc., New York, is relevant: "The name Dorrance, variously spelled Durand, Durrant, Durrans, D'Orrance and Durance is of baptismal derivation, meaning the son of Durand. Assuredly the name was originally French."'.

Whether RMT is correct - I know not. Dorrens was present in the Bann valley - there is a George Dorrance listed in the 1663 hearth money rolls, of Ballury, parish of Desertoghill.

There is only one marriage in my own family betweeen the two names so I have so far had little cause to investigate further, but the Dorrence and Torrence families were quite close because James and Ann (Dorrens) Torrence are listed in the 1821 census but one on their sons, John Torrens b. 1805?? was not listed with his family in the census - he seems to have been with Anne Dorrence of Mullaghinch, presumably his aunt, and another son, Hugh Torrens b. 1800 (married Nancy Millar of Dernacross) seems to have been with his grandfather Hugh Torrence in Mayoghil.

Robert M Torrence's book 'Torrence and Allied Families' also quotes (in a footnote) Frederick A Godcharles' Pennsylvania - Political, Governmental, Military and Civil Biographical Volume, printed by the American Historical Society Inc., New York:

'...this same book says that George Dorrance, the founder of the family name in America, was born in Ireland in 1675 and died September 22, 1754; that he came with his wife Marjory, who was born in 1673, died April 24, 1754, and his brothers John and Samuel; settled in Connecticut, where he died. The history of this family is quite fully given and includes his great-great-great grandson, Dr John Thompson Dorrace, of Philadelphia, who was the president of the Campbell Soup Company and a director of many important banks and corporations.

It is believed that this Dorrance family, which came from the north of Ireland, and especially the Reverend Samuel Dorrance, influenced Thomas and Samuel Torrance to go to Connecticut where they became closely associated.'

Thomas and Samuel are listed by in in the book Torrance and allied Families as being sons of Albert Torrance, descended from Sgt Hugh Terence. However this is clearly not true as Albert has no connection with Bann Valley! See The Case Against Sergeant Hugh for a detailed explanation of our misgivings.


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Page's Author: Richard Torrens
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