He’s a familiar surname that might just substitute for the dated Tyrone, the wildly popular Tyler and maybe a few other popular picks, too.

Thanks to Summer for suggesting Tryon as Name of the Day.

Tryon is just letter removed from Triton, Poseidon’s merman son. And while we’re in the ocean deep, there’s also trident, the pitchfork-like spear wielded by the Greek God of the Sea. But Tryon has nothing to do with water.

Instead, he’s a surname and place name. You’ll find him on the map in North Carolina, Nebraska, Oklahoma and New York.

That last one is probably the most famous. If you’ve ever visited The Cloisters, home to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s medieval collection, you’ve been in Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park. Before the park welcomed tourists eager to see unicorn tapestries, it was a minor part of an American Revolutionary War battle and later the site of several elaborate private residences. Sir William Tryon was the very last British Governor of New York.

Plenty of people besides the governor have worn it as a surname, including:

  • An early settler of Kent County, Michigan who went by the given name Friend – an oddity inherited from his father;
  • An aristocratic English family, including Brigadier Charles Tryon, 2nd Baron Tryon, from the early 20th century. He married another well-born Brit named Ethelreda and later served as Keeper of the Privy Purse and Treasurer to Queen Elizabeth II;
  • His father, George Tryon, was the 1st Baron Tryon, a title bestowed after he’d served in several royal offices. His wife – Charles’ mom – was named Averil;
  • Dwight Tryon painted landscapes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. You can still see his works on display at the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art;
  • James Rufus Tryon first served as a medical doctor for the US Navy during the Civil War. He’d later become the Surgeon General of the United States. In commemoration, the Navy has christened at least one of their medical transport ships the Tryon;
  • Stretching back into the seventeenth century, Thomas Tryon was an Englishman generations ahead of his time. The merchant and author was an early student of Buddhism and proponent of vegetarianism in the West. He even inspired Ben Franklin to swear off eating meat. He’s also remembered as an early pacifist;
  • Same name, but very different vibe – Tom Tryon played the title character on Walt Disney’s Texas John Slaughter television show from 1958 through 1961;
  • Another Tryon is remembered for his acting – Glenn Tryon appeared in silent movies starting in the 1920s, before moving on to off-camera work as a screenwriter and director;
  • In sports, Ty Tryon is a professional golfer.

While more than a few men named Tryon appear in old Census records, the name has never charted in the US Top 1000. And while it is almost certainly Dutch or Old Irish in origin, the name’s meaning is lost to time.

And yet Tryon has the sound and feel of many a popular pick for boys. Circa 2009, Tryon might appeal to some as an update to Tyrone, or an alternative to popular surname picks like Tyler and Tyson. And, of course, is Tryon can be found on your family tree, then he might be quite the appealing choice.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. This is my last name and I love it. It does get misspelled more often than not though. At my job my computer is still set up with it spelled Tyron. My name only gets annoying then, and when I am clothes shopping with someone. Other than that, I love my name. It is short, simple, and sounds professional to me. It is unique without being too out there.

  2. The name is not common but it is my first name and has done well by me for almost 5 decades

  3. Sorry but just had to comment. I grew up with the last name ‘Tryon’. No kidding when I was young and most people were curious about the name since it is uncommon. Only problem is that my simple 5-character last name gets misspelled all the time. My wife regrets ever taking the name. I agree with the person that talked about the syllable emphasis of the name. That’s how I hear it once the person has been told how to pronounce it. LOL

  4. I came across Tryon when I bought the New Dictionary of Thoughts, a book of quotations complied by Tryon Edwards, from a used bookstore. He was a minister in Connecticut in the middle 1800s. It doesn’t sound like “try on” when I say it; I’m emphasizing the first syllable and softening the