The earliest Tarvin who came to America about 1708, Richard Tarvin, may have originated in the village of Tarvin, in Chestershire or Cheshire, England, near Liverpool. The connection of the surname Tarvin to the village Tarvin is a goal of our current genealogical research efforts. As yet, there has been found no evidence to connect anyone carrying the surname Tarvin with the village of Tarvin.
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During the first century AD, the Romans invaded England and established four legionary fortresses to control the locals. One of these was at a strategic location on the banks of the river Dee and was named by the Romans Deva, meaning 'the goddess', this being the Celtic name for the river. This fortress later became what is now the city of Chester. It was the practice for a legionary fortress to requisition land around the fort on which to supply food, timber etc., for the fort. Recently the remains of a building in a Tarvin field has been identified as a structure associated with roman villa farms, and also that Tarvin (6 miles east of Chester) is located at what would have been the edge, or terminus, of the requisitioned land. From this it has been determined that the name Tarvin, originated from the Latin terminus. Some sources indicate that Tarvin has its origin in the Welsh word tervyn, meaning boundary, but as tervyn itself comes from the Latin terminus this is also correct. There is no trace (or none has so far been found) of the villa itself, and it is thought that the church may have been built on top of it, as is known to have happened to other villas in the area. The main Roman road, Watling Street, from Deva (Chester) to Eboracum (York) runs east/west a few hundred yards north of the main village street. Farming activity occasionally exposes parts of this road.
The Romans left after 300 years, and there are no records of Tarvin until the Domesday book of 1086. This was a survey of the land ordered by William I, known as William the Conqueror, to establish exactly what he had conquered. According to the record in the Domesday Book Tarvin at the time was, compared to many other places, quite large and prosperous. All land was held 'from the king' and Tarvin was held by the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry before 1086, and continued to held by the Bishops until 1550, when it was sold into private hands.
The church itself, dedicated to St Andrew , has stood on its site since the 12th century and was originally a wooden building, replaced with locally quarried red sandstone principally during the 14th century. A bishopric was established in Chester by Henry VIII in the mid 16th century, when the Norman Abbey of St Werburgha, was dissolved and the abbey church renamed the cathedral church of Christ and the blessed virgin Mary. Despite being so close to Chester, the church at Tarvin remained under the control of the Bishop of Lichfield until 1859. As in many old English churches the chuch has undergone various changes, additions and repairs throughout the centuries.
During the English Civil war in the mid-17th century, Chester was a Royalist stronghold, supporting the king. Tarvin supported the Parliamentarians and was strongly garrisoned. There is a report of an attack made on the church - used as headquarters, and according to some sources, for the stabling of horses. There are a number of round 'pit' marks on some of the exterior church walls, said to be the result of the being hit by cannon balls and bullets during this action. Excavation for a pipe line a few years ago exposed a grave containing several bodies that were identified as civil war soldiers, and it has been suggested that these were the victims of the battle around the church.
In 1752 a fire broke out in the village, and almost all the houses were destroyed. A collection was made locally and in Chester to provide relief for those left destitute, and the village centre as it is today dates mostly from this period of rebuilding.
With the abandonment of the original Roman road to the north of the village, a secondary Roman road, branching from this, and now thought to be the 'driveway' to the villa, became the main road through the village. This east/west road - now the High Street - became the main highway between Chester, Wales and all points west, and the city of Manchester, and all points east. This road is joined in the centre of the village by Tarporley Road, which goes southwards to London and anywhere else in that direction. As a result of these two roads, and the three coaching inns built at their junction, Tarvin was on the main coach route from London to Chester. These roads remained important highways in the country until the two Tarvin By-pass roads were constructed recently. Tarvin expanded during the 1960's with new housing estates being constructed, however an imaginary line was drawn around the village, and building is now allowed only within the confines of this line, with the surrounding farmland remaining untouched. Unlike many other villages that have become totally residential, Tarvin still has a small number of shops, and supports several small businesses.
An echo of Tarvin's past exists a short walk from the village at the 'Roman Bridges'. Roman in this context is completely false as the bridges are mediaeval pack horse bridges from the days when goods were transported up and down the country in packs on ponies They cross the river Gowy (another welsh word meaning boundary), as part of on old packhouse track across the river and the marshy ground surrounding it. Today the river has been channelled through the central bridge, one of the others crosses a small pond and the other still crosses marshy ground. Only when the Gowy floods, which is does most winters, do the bridges cross the river now. The area surrounding Roman Bridges is a small nature reserve, and very popular in the summer.
According to Dorothy Sylvester, author of A History of Cheshire, the name Tarvin is derived from the Welsh word "terfyn," which means boundary, and states "the name Tarvin has long been taken to suggest the inclusion of west Cheshire in a Celtic or Welsh province." The Welsh border of today is very near the City of Chester, which is five miles west of Tarvin.
There is another History of Cheshire in the Public Records Office in Chester. This document states that "Tarvin is one of the few Cheshire Manors which experienced no change in its proprietor at the Conquest" (1066 AD), being the property of the Bishop of the diocese, who retained his former possessions after the event." At that time Tarvin was a Manor of 10,000 acres.
The document covers legal events and dates which span the centuries, listing Tarvin as being spelled Tervin in 1551, and Tervine in 1599. In 1305 it lists a Phillip de Tervyn. In 1325 the document records "There can be little doubt that at this period the Tervyns still possessed a manerial interest here, which had been the subject of a partition at an early date."
The name Phiillip de Tervyn gives us a clue to how our Tarvin ancestors got their name. The "de" means he was "of" or "from" the place called Tervyn, which means that our ancestors probably got their name from being associated with the manor. If so, it was a long time ago, for there are no Tarvins buried in the old church yard at St. Andrews Church, and there are no Tarvins in the local phone book.
There are Tarvins living in Frodsham, which was a parish bordering on Tarvin, and a "Richard Tarvin of Temperley married Sibell Travis at Bowdon 5 Nov 1657." A "Richard Tarvin of Baguley married Margaret Skelfox at Bowdon 15 Sep 1635."
A History of Cheshire can probably still be found in bookstores in Chester, and there is another book, Tarvin, which was published by a St. Andrews Church study group. I ordered my copy from:
In addition to the pictures of Tarvin that are now available trough the Tarvin Family Association home page, those of you who plan to visit the village may like to know there is a Roman packhorse bridge two or three miles south of Tarvin. It is an interesting bridge and trail, still in use today, that dates from the first century, and can be located with the help of local villagers.
Return to Tarvin Home Page.