Select Petrie Surname Genealogy

Petrie is a pet form of the first name Peter.  As a surname it originated in the northeast of Scotland.  Some think that the name was brought by Flemish artisans who arrived in the 12th and 13th centuries.  The Petrie name is pronounced Paitrie in Aberdeen.

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Scotland.   Early Petrie records suggest that the name moved in the northeast of Scotland from Morayshire through Banff into Aberdeen and Kincardine (part of present-day Angus).

Hendrie Petrie was a prominent businessman in Aberdeen in the early 1600’s.  His large house there, known as the Miscellany of the Spalding Club in Aberdeen, was used for public entertainment.  Robert Petrie, a burgess in Dundee, died there in 1616. 
George Petrie was the Provost of Montrose in 1625 (and the Petrie name remained prominent in Montrose).

Petries from the northeast of Scotland included: 
  • James Petrie, a wool weaver who was born in 1755 at Coleburn in Morayshire.  
  • Alexander Petrie and Janet Spence who were married at Premnay in Aberdeenshire in 1765.  They were the forebears of the Petries of Kennethmont in Aberdeenshire.  
  • Arthur Petrie from Aberdeenshire who was Bishop of Moray from 1778 to 1787.
  • while David Petrie married Helen Cock at Lerwick in the Shetland Isles in 1710.  
The largest Petrie numbers in the 1881 census were in Forfarshire (now Angus) – in Dundee, Forfar and St. Vigeans (near Arbroath).

.  Robert Petrie, son of George Petrie the provost of Montrose, came to Sweden with his brother George soon after his father’s death in 1628.  There he founded the Brattfors steel works at Ockelbo.  His descendants continued to own the steel works until well into the 19th century.

.  One early family had definite English origins. 
The Petres were yeoman farmers at Torbryan in Devon, going back to the late 1300’s.  John Petre was “a rich tanner of Torbryan” in the early 1500’s.  His son John was a founder member of the Exeter merchant adventurers in the 1560’s.

Another son Sir William made it to London and the Tudor court, serving as Secretary of State for four monarchs from Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth.  He acquired Ingatestone Hall in Essex at the time of the dissolution of the monasteries.  He established it as a Catholic refuge which it has remained under the Petre family until the present day. 

The Petries of Lewisham in Surrey had Scottish origins, however.  The Rev. Robert Petrie grew up on the Scottish borders and had previously been a minister in Dumfries.  He died in Lewisham in 1791. 

“In Lewisham church there is a monument to his widow Margaret, showing her dying in the arms of Religion supported by Faith and Hope.” 

Two of their sons prospered in India, John in Bengal and William in Madras: 
  • John returned the richer.  He became an MP and a slave owner with plantations in the new colony of Tobago.
  • but William had the more distinguished descendants, most notably Flinders Petrie the father of Egyptian archaeology.  When Flinders died in 1942, he donated his head - and hence his brain - to the Royal College of Surgeons in London where it is now stored.
Most Scottish Petries, however, were to be found closer to Scotland, in northern England.  Charles Petrie from Fife, for instance, developed his family fisheries business in Liverpool where he served as its mayor in 1901 and was made a baronet in 1918.  His son Charles was a historian, his grandson Peter a British diplomat.

.  The Petries of Herkimer county, New York were German immigrants from the Palatinate who had made their home at German Flats in the Mohawk valley in the early 1700’s.   Catherine Petrie married Johan Herkimer around 1720.  William Petrie was a surgeon in Nicholas Herkimer’s brigade during the Revolutionary War.  The family history was traced in Hazel Patrick’s 1979 book The Mohawk Valley Petrie and Allied Families.

The origins of Alexander Petrie of South Carolina are uncertain.  Some suspect that he came from French Huguenot roots.  He was the premier silversmith of Charleston from the 1740’s until his death in 1768.  His son Edmund was a suspected Loyalist during the Revolutionary War

Milton Petrie’s origins were Jewish.  His parents had arrived from Russia and were running a pawn shop in Salt Lake City when he was born in 1902.  He made a fortune from a chain of retail stores in New Jersey, which he supplemented through canny investments in real estate and stocks.

  Two Petrie British officers settled in Canada.

Nova Scotia.
  George Petrie was a British soldier in Canada in the 1780’s, probably Scottish, who was entitled to a land grant because of his service.  He took up this land grant in 1789 with his wife Isabel at Sydney in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  Fort Petrie, named after them, exists there today.

Petrie descendants on Cape Breton are sizeable, including the mid-19th century descendants of James Petrie at Glace Bay.  Sergeant John Petrie of Glace Bay died on the Western front during World War One in 1916.

Daniel Petrie, born in Glace Bay in 1920, came to New York in the 1960’s where he made his name as a movie and TV director.  His family expanded there to include two directors (Daniel Petrie and his son Donald), a television movie producer (Dorothea Petrie), a screenwriter (Dan Petrie Jr.), a movie studio executive (June Petrie), and an actress (Mary Petrie).

.  Another British officer who had received a Canadian land grant was the Scotsman Captain Archibald Petrie.  He was a purser on ships patrolling Lake Ontario during the War of 1812.  His grant was in Cumberland township, Ontario where he became a prominent merchant and politician.   He gave his name to Petrie Island on the Ottawa river

AustraliaAndrew Petrie from Fife came out with his family to Australia in 1831, first staying in NSW and then moving, some ten years later, to the emerging town of Brisbane in Queensland.  There he started up his own construction company.  He was the pioneer architect and builder of the town.  His name continues in Petrie, a suburb and electoral division.  His son John was the first mayor of Brisbane.  Another son Thomas was an explorer, grazier and friend to Aborigines.

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

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Sir William Petre was an English Secretary of State in Tudor times, from Henry VIII to Queen Elizabeth. 
Andrew Petrie
 was a pioneer, architect and builder in Brisbane, Queensland in the mid-1800’s.
Flinders Petrie
was an English Egyptologist of the early 1900's and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and the preservation of artifacts

Select Petries Today
  • 6,000 in the UK (most numerous in Angus)
  • 4,000 in America (most numerous in New York) 
  • 5,000 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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