Surname Saturday: Renfrew

I haven’t done a Surname Saturday in awhile and today seemed a good day to highlight this particular surname after stumbling across an interesting story this week – and possibly a link to my own family history.  The name I actually ran across while working on an ancestry research project was Renfro (Renfrow or Rentfrow).  As it turns out, these are all variations of Renfrew, and as I suspected the name has Scottish origins. The name originates from a town of the same name in Renfrewshire.  Perhaps the earliest instance of the name was seen in the late thirteenth century when the name Adam de Reynfru was recorded in Edeneburk County.  Early in the following century a Scottish prisoner of war by the name of Robert Reynfreu was imprisoned at the Old Sarum Castle between 1304 and 1307. This article was enhanced and published in the June 2018 issue of Digging History Magazine.  Preview the issue here or purchase...

Surname Saturday: Whitebread

A couple of weeks ago the Cakebread surname was featured with an interesting story – this week it’s Whitebread.  These two surnames appear to share similar origins dating back to pre-seventh century Olde English.  The Old English word “hwit” meant white, “hwaete” meant wheat, and as the Internet Surname Database points out, “bread” is one of a few words that has retained its original spelling for at least fifteen centuries. Like Cakebread, the Whitebread surname was an occupational name for a baker of bread.  One name seen in medieval times, Whytbredson, could have been someone who was the son of a baker, or who perhaps was a baker like his father.  A 1221 record, one of the oldest, shows William Witbred on the Suffolk Subsidy Tax Rolls, in 1254 Roger Wythbred was listed in Huntingdonshire church records and Robert Whetbred appeared on the Subsidy Tax Rolls of Sussex in 1327.  Spelling variations include Witbread, Whytebread, Whatebread, Wyteberd, Witberd, Whitberd, Whiteberd and more. This article is no longer available at this site.  However, it will be enhanced and published later in a future issue of Digging History Magazine, our new monthly digital publication available by individual purchase or subscription.  To see what the magazine is all about you can preview issues at our YouTube Channel.  Subscriptions are affordable, safe and easy to purchase and the best deal for getting your “history fix” every...

Surname Saturday: Whale

The Whale surname was derived from a nickname for (no surprise) a person of large girth who “rolled” as they walked, according to the Internet Surname Database.  Charles Bardsley, author of A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, wrote a bit more poetically:  “probably affixed like Oliphant, i.e., the elephant, on account of the ponderous and ungainly build of the bearer.” House of Names links the surname to a family that lived in Berwickshire at Le Whele after migrating to England following the Norman Conquest of 1066.  Interestingly, they link the occurrence of the name as perhaps being derived from someone who lived in Wales. This article is no longer available at this site.  However, it will be enhanced and published later in a future issue of Digging History Magazine, our new monthly digital publication available by individual purchase or subscription.  To see what the magazine is all about you can preview issues at our YouTube Channel.  Subscriptions are affordable, safe and easy to purchase and the best deal for getting your “history fix” every...

Surname Saturday: Cakebread

This unusual name is among the oldest known surnames, possibly of  Norse-Viking and Olde English pre-ninth century origins, according to The Internet Surname Database.  The name may have been derived from a combination of a Norse word, “kaka” (meaning cake) and the English word “brede”. Since many of the early surnames reflected a certain profession, it’s likely Cakebread was an occupational name for someone who was a baker of fancy bread.  These were probably dainty cakes and small flat loaves, made of an especially fine and sweet flour called “cakebread”.  A similar name of French origins, Blanchpain, would also indicate someone who was some sort of specialty baker. In 1109 Canterbury records mention Aedwinus Cacabread during the reign of King Henry I; in 1210 Alred Cake appeared on the pipe rolls of Norfolk; John le Kakier appeared on a1929 London record; Richard Cakebread was listed on the Subsidy Rolls of Suffolk in 1327. Spelling variations include Cakebread, Cacabred, Cakebred, Cacabread, Cakbred and Cakebrede, although since the fourteenth century the spelling has been fairly consistent as “Cakebread.” Among the first Cakebreads to immigrate to America were Thomas and Sarah (Busby) Cakebread.  They are listed on a passenger list of the Winthrop Fleet, a group of eleven ships led by John Winthrop, who brought approximately one thousand Puritans to New England in the summer of 1630.  Thomas died in 1642 and Sarah married John Grout in 1643. Jane Cakebread The most infamous Cakebread who ever lived had to have been an English woman named Jane Cakebread: The Los Angeles Herald published an obituary of sorts for Jane on December 18, 1898:...

Surname Saturday: Fulleylove

Today’s surname, in honor of a day of love, is of English origin and dates back to medieval times. The Fulleylove surname gradually evolved from the early use of nicknames.  Sometimes nicknames were reflective of physical characteristics, peculiarities, even mental and moral attributes, habits of dress or occupation. It’s possible the nickname referred to an amorous person, or even a person of religious fervor and devotion.  The derivation came, most likely, from the Middle English phrase “full of love” which developed out the Old English word “luf”.  According to the Internet Surname Database, the name may have been a direct translation of a pre-existing French name, Pleynamur (or Old French “pleyn d’amour”) which means “full of love”. Records show a William Fuloflove on the 1332 Subsidy Rolls of Cumberland. Reginald (or Roger) Full-of-Love resigned his church position at Tottingham, Norfolk in 1433 and Ralph Full-of-Love was the rector in West Lynn in 1462. In 1649 the wedding of John Fullilove and Anne Reve was recorded in London. It is believed that one of the first records of the name occurred in 1327 when Henry Ffuloflove was on the Subsidy Rolls of Cambridgeshire. Spelling variations of this surname include: Fullalove, Fullerlove, Fulleylove, Fullylove, and Fullilove. Whether or not a family crest was ever established is unclear, and the name appears to be somewhat uncommon. Find-A-Grave lists several with this surname in New Jersey, a few in Arizona, Texas, Michigan and various other places, including England and Canada. Browsing through historical newspapers yielded several results referring to John Fulleylove, a Victorian artist from Leicester, England. After being trained as an architect...

Surname Saturday: Tillinghast

     Tillinghast is an English locational surname meaning “one who came from Tillinghurst”, according to the 4Crests web site, and a place where auctions were held.  While most family heraldry came into wide use during the Middle Ages, it appears that the Tillinghast family crest depicted above, might have been a sort of “hybrid” crest with the “Tilling” and “Hurst” families. One family historian believes that the Tillinghast crest has never been confirmed by family researchers.  Those crests that have been in circulation for years and purported to be the actual family crest, don’t appear to have been officially registered in England.  Thus, the origin of the crest depicted above is cast in doubt. According to House of Names, the name was first found in Norfolk where a family seat was held as Lords of the Manor. Following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William, the Duke of Normandy, granted land to his “victorious Barons.” Barons, Bishops and Lords passed down land to their descendants who were known as “under-tenants”. The Norman system of assigning surnames identified the under-tenant with his land holdings to distinguish them from the senior (barons, bishops, lords) members of the family. House of Names believes that those who descended from the original under-tenants of Didlington or Dillington bear this surname. Spelling variations include: Dillington, Dilinton, Dillenton, Dillonton, Dyllington, Dillyngton, Tillington, Tilington and many more. The Tillinghast Surname DNA Project, focusing on descendants of Pardon Tillinghast who was the “gateway ancestor” and progenitor of all American Tillinghasts, focuses on even more possible connections to other surnames. Besides those names listed above as spelling variations, the...