The very ancient family of Trowbridge derives its name from its ancient inheritance, Trowbridge, in the Parish of Crediton, in Devonshire, where it resided for many centuries, and which was the property of Peter de Trobrigge (c.1272) in the reign of Edward the First. This Barton was sold by the Trowbridge family, about the year 1720, to Samuel Strode, Esq., whose son conveyed it to Giles Yard, Esq. It now (1853) belongs to Miss Elizabeth Yard, one of his daughters and co-heiresses. Trowbridge House is occupied by her uncle, John Yard, Esq.
-- The Trowbridge Family, Rev. F.W. Chapman, New Haven: 1872
The first syllable of the name Trowbridge is probably derived from the old English word "trough" or "trou" and the Anglo-Saxon "trog" or "troh", a natural trough or channel in a stream, and the second syllable from the Old English word "brigge" or "bregge" and the Anglo-Saxon "brycg".
It is reasonable to suppose that the first individual who bore the name of Trowbridge was one who lived near a stream running swiftly in a well-worn channel through the arches of a bridge. He may have got his name for some feat of daring at or near the bridge, or taken part in its defense. He may have received his coat of arms for valor while in command of the defense of the bridge in some engagement, and if so, the color of the bridge in the arms would indicate that the conflict was a sanguinary one.
Bardsley in his "Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames" states that the name was first given an individual on account of his residence at Trowbridge in Wiltshire. It may be that this was its origin, and that a member of the family removed to Devon and gave the same name to his seat in that county, and it is also quite possible that some individuals in later times may have assumed the name of Trowbridge on account of a residence there.
The following sketch of Trowbridge states that it was an insignificant town in 1168, but in 1158 (4 Henry II) in the Devon Feet of Fines there is mention of John Troubrugge in Westrode. It would therefore seem not unlikely that the name had an origin independent of the town of Trowbridge.
-- The Trowbridge Genealogy, Francis Bacon Trowbridge, New Haven: 1908
In A.D. 1100, just thirteen years after the completion of the Domesday record (where it is called "Straburg"), Trobrege and Staverton are recorded as being in the possession of Edward of Salisbury, a great Norman noble, who was Vice Comes, or sheriff of Wiltshire, and had no less than 38 manors in this county. In a document of the date A.D. 1120-1130 it is enumerated amongst those estates which were of his own acquisition in contra-distinction to those which he enjoyed by inheritance, and this looks rather as though he had purchased it. The descent of the manor from that time to the present can be easily traced.
But though Trowbridge had its castle, in these early days it was but a small and unimportant place. It was not mentioned among the towns in Wiltshire on which rates were levied in 1168 (14 Henry II) "to marry the king's daughter" to the Duke of Saxony, nor among those from which "aid" was taken in 1187 (33 Henry II) by the king's justices.
-- Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine, "Early Annals of Trowbridge," Rev. W.H. Jones, June 1875