Thompson – Norman name of the church

History of the Irish name Thompson. Image copyright Ireland Calling

Thompson is a popular name throughout all English speaking countries around the world. It is obviously related to the given name Thomas, with Thompson used to refer to ‘Thomas’ son’.

However, the name Thomas was almost exclusively used by priests and men of the church up until the 11th century. It appears in the bible and was considered a religious name. The word itself comes from the Aramaic word for twin.

Back to Irish surnames

That was until the Normans invaded Britain in 1066. Thomas was a common Norman given name and so became hugely popular in Britain. From the first name, many surnames developed such as Thomson, Toms and Thomas as a last name.

Thompson was the name given to the ‘son of Thomas’, with the ‘p’ being added to the name in England for easier pronunciation. Generally, the name Thomson is of Scottish origins, as they didn’t add the ‘p’.

The name travelled to Ireland when the Normans invaded in the 12th century onwards. Many of the Normans settled across Ireland and the name Thompson became a common one across the country.
Thompson and its variations were common throughout Ireland, England and Scotland from then on. As people from these countries began to migrate to America, Canada and Australia in the following centuries, Thompson became a prominent name worldwide.

Famous Thompsons throughout history

There have been literally thousands of people named Thompson that have made their mark in history. There have been Thompsons who have been to space (Anthony “Irish” Thompson, last NASA astronaut to walk on the moon), run countries (David Thompson, 6th Prime Minister of Barbados) and won Superbowls (Ted Thompson, coached Green Bay Packers to the 2010 title).
Emma Thompson. Photo copyright Georges Biard CC3
William Thompson was an Irish landowner in the early 19th century. He created the biggest law case in Irish history when he chose to leave his estate to the farmer’s co-operative movement rather than his family.

He was a forward thinker and his ideas were major influences on the Trade union movement in Ireland.
Emma Thompson is a veteran British actress who has won countless awards for her performances both on the stage and on the big screen. She is possibly best known for her role as Elinor Dashwood in the 1995 film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel Sense and Sensibility. Thompson won both an Academy Award and a BAFTA for her performance.

William Thompson is thought to be the first man to be described as a ‘confidence trickster’. He was well dressed and charming and persuaded New Yorkers to ‘lend’ him their watch or money to help him out of a fictional dilemma. He was arrested in 1849 and was headline news across America.

Whitney Thompson is a model from Florida who won the 10th season of America’s Next Top Model. She is a size 12-14 and is an active campaigner for the fashion industry to stop putting pressure on young women to be too thin. Thompson is an ambassador for the National Eating Disorders Association and a supporter of the Right Fit brand of Fashion Bug.
John Thompson
David Thompson was a 19th century Canadian explorer. He is credited with mapping nearly four million square kilometres of North America. The Native Americans referred to him as ‘Koo-Koo-Sint’ meaning the Stargazer.

John Thompson was an American soldier who invented a new type of submachine gun in 1918. It became known as the Tommy Gun and was the most commonly used firearm in America by the army, police, civilians and criminals for much of the 20th century.

Video histories of popular Irish names

Irish names and their meanings

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