Research on Surnames for D Michael Worley
Research on “Surnames”
D. Michael Worley
The surname was recorded in Staffordshire where they were seated as Lords of the Manor. The complete history not only includes in full colour the most ancient family name coat of arms but traces the surname origin back to the 11th or 12th century, including any nobility, titles, castles, branches in Europe, settler's around the world and many other recorded events pertaining to the family surname if available. Copyright 2000 Camelot International. [ Talk to other
Messages for the name 'Worley'
|05 11 1998|| Patty Oyola |
Bayville, NJ 08721
|Researching Worley's from Roxbury, Mass in the 1800's. George Workey married Katherine Curley in 1800's had many, many, many children.|
|25 07 1999|| marko anthony robinson |
savannah, georgia, usa
|I'm seeking info on Williah Jane Worley 1 Jan. 1881- 17 Feb. 1947 bonded(married) to William Carter Thacker 8 Nov. 1880- Jan. 1933|
|10 09 1999|| HOPKINS, SHERRY |
CHARLOTTE, NC, USA
|WORLEY ANCESTORS TRACED BACK TO 1700'S IN NC, WOULD LIKE TO KNOW WHEN THEY IMMIGRATED TO US AND WHERE THEY LIVED IN BRITAIN. THEY WERE CALLED "BLACK DUTCH" WERE THEY DUTCH? THANK YOU|
|28 01 2001|| John Wayne Worley |
Groton, MA USA
|I am looking for information on William Henry Harrison Worley Born June 08, 1843,Died June 16, 1912, Point Pleasant, Mason Co., WV. He had a father whose name was John Peter Worley born about 1812 in Virginia (Possibly Ireland). His wife was Elizabeth Francis DERWIN born somewhere in Virginia or (Possibly France). WHHW had two brothers; John P. and Monroe and one sister Nancy or Mary Jane. Also am trying to locate information on the "Worley's" from England. Any help appreciated. Thanks, God Bless You.|
Full line of products available for the WORLEY family name
|Search Results -Click on the corresponding images to the left.|
| The history of worley begins in England |
- excerpts from this family's ancient history and origin, from our superior "Family History Scroll"
| The worley family Coat of Arms (England) |
- a complete description of the coat of arms, family crest and motto. Full color reproductions are available!
| The worley Tartan & Clan connections (England) |
- the answers to which clan and what tartan, with unique supporting products
| Genealogical Records re: worley (England) |
- references to the manuscripts held in the British Museum, a reference tool in addition to your "Family History Scroll"
| worley Family Castles and Estates (England) |
- listing of genealogically linked family castles & estates, in addition to those listed on your "Family History Scroll"
The following databases
- Family History
- Name Origin
- Coat of Arms
- Family Crests
- Gen. Records
- Family Tartan
- Clan Status
- Family Castles
WORLEY was not referenced in the Scottish Tartan and Clan Index
|We have also cross referenced WORLEY for you in our |
Family History Database the results are below...
(The term UK in this index includes origins from Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Wales)
WORLEY is also available in British and/or Irish origin
worley Family References in the Harleian Manuscripts
Briefly, the manuscripts are the records of the "Visitations" (the investigation of heralds) of
English and Welsh families. The manuscripts were complied from about 1530 to the close of the 17th century. Over 30,000 families registered their lineage which are now housed in the British Museum in London.
The worley family name was recorded in the following counties, which can be used as a starting point for further investigation into these records held in the British Museum.
|Main County||Branched to||Branched to|
The meticulous work that went into this research has also been carried through to the complete surname history for worley
Order the worley Family History Now
The origin of surnames 1000 to 1110 AD
Before you settle down, if you want to check your surname in the world's largest surname history database, go to our master Index then back page here for a discussion on surnames and their origins.
A popular song once declared "The world belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free". Bottom line, that "free" reduces itself to only two elements in this life, our body particular, and our surname. Everything subsequently is a transaction with life and the environment, and transactions, by their very nature, are not free. From here to eternity, some sacrifices, concessions, are mandatory to all life transactions. And from here on in, both of these two start up "free offers" in life, perhaps the only genuine freebies you'll ever get, are frequently taken as inalienable rights, they came with the territory. Why question them, already?
Nobody can claim to have all the answers. The historic records are too flimsy, whimsy even. The subject of surname origins, our very beginnings, where it all started, is so daunting most have avoided it, and like Popeye, they shrug their shoulders and assume the "I am what I yam" posture, which is very akin to the philosopher Sartre proposal of "I think, therefore I am( or exist, if you wish)" and a whole flock of other platitudes. But in this world of growing awareness of the profound and complex DNA controls within our body function, that simple rationale may not be enough to carry the day. Much preferred is Ralph Waldo Emerson's "we are the sum total of our ancestors" and I would add "and will continue to be. What else?
Since man arrived here at this place, our body particular has been the subject of intense scrutiny, philosophizing, probing and introspection, and we still don't understand it. Perhaps the same is true of our surname, yet this very intimate tag is our only traceable historical link to the unique performance of our most cherished possession, our body particular, no matter which way you go. Fact is, this name tag is far more important to you than computer records, social security numbers, credit cards or pin numbers. Your surname is where it all starts, and where it all ends. Have a nice day!
In this time of our evolution, the dawning of our enlightenment, our quest has led us to look back over our shoulders, to contemplate the genetic blueprint, our DNA, our heritage, a track record that cannot be ignored in the trail ahead, and to your descendants. Our DNA is the lifeline from the past to the future and we are the custodians. First we had, phrenology, palm reading, then vaccines, then antibiotics, copious drugs with a million side effects, alternative medicine, and now it's the Brave New World of Genetic Engineering. The causes of many of man's ailments are being identified in the DNA profile along with your survival mode. Gene therapy, in its infancy, is being viewed with "cautious optimism", as they say, but effective gene manipulation may be a century away. Our genetic blueprint affects the survival of our body particular more profoundly now than at any time in history. Evolutionary wise, the DNA's been there all the time, lurking about, getting bruised, doing its thing, but now we know about it, awakening our very primitive alerts. And what's the only link to your DNA and its vagaries, our surname, of course.
This vital link to the past, our surname, has been gridlocked, not much we can do about that, either. Our heritage has to be tied up with our surname. It is up to us to acquire a better understanding of this murky subject of how we arrived at this place, using the only key, a name tag which sometimes may promote man's puffery, or alternatively, his modesty, false or otherwise, but always with sketchy assumptions adapted to his best needs and comfort.
While many have treated the subject of our origins more or less flippantly in the past, the subject has now taken on new meaning and significance as the tide of genetics sweeps us into the future, and into the unknown. Nor is this "need to know" just an occupational hazard of the aging anymore, as it used to be. As a microcosm reference of modern concern, and there are many, it is now suggested that adoptees, little kid type adoptees, be provided with a lock of hair so that the DNA can be traced at some time in the future, should a vital health need arise. Similarly, one of the first questions a doctor will ask in this day and age is, "Was there any of this or that in your family history?" In Norman Rockwell's time he caricaturized surgery as "Stick out your tongue, and say 'Ah" or "Where does it hurt?" Now, they like to go back at least three generations to find the lurkers. But these human conflicts with the environment just didn't happen in the last three generations. One genealogical medical practitioner traced a medical trait, Alzheimers, back to 1650.
From the very first "Hey, you" grunts in the cave of man's dwelling, proudly admiring in a flickering half light his tribal symbols on the cave wall, the name tag has been the prime candidate in support of man's posterity, his entitlements, his security, his sexual relationships, his future, his greed. On the other hand, it has also been the source of his pride, his life posture, and his legacy. And he will use it to generate, and to venerate his 'being here', his existence in this place in this time and for the future. That's a heck of a big responsibility for a little old surname. Better get on your bicycle and figure it all out.
Interestingly, Oxford University researchers have just claimed the most ancient genealogy in history in Britain. Confucius "He Say"supposedly has the oldest. By DNA sequencing, they've linked the Cheddar Man, a full skeleton of a 23 year old, 5'11" caveman dating back to the 7th century B.C with a living person, a 43 year AdrianTarget who lives less than a mile from Gough's Cave where the skeleton was found. Neat Jurassic Park stuff, as the kids would say. It could change the whole face, the methodology and the form of genealogy. Huge databases are being developed, mostly for criminal traces at this time, and future bases are being planned, particularly by insurance companies. A TV series is planned in Britain, the whole nine yards. The link came through Adrian's female side. We figure that the male side of Adrian's house would have been from the Target family of Bourbonais in France and may have been a transplanted Norman. And that could be the subject of a whole book all by itself.
On the other hand, whole cultures of man never made it. The Mayans copped out. They're still trying to figure out why the Neanderthals didn't arrive here at this time. A whole continent of humanity in Europe bit the dust 40,000 years ago. Some figure that his nose was too big, some the angle of his hip bone. But all that is left is his scratchings of archaeological remains and they're not saying much, yet that is.
There are, were, always have been, significant divisions of humanity, and that's not a new idea. Even in WWII, Stalin was hammering Roosevelt and Churchill to get the Nazi horde off his back with a second front western diversion. They came up with the invasion of North Africa at Yalta, I believe. Roosevelt bought the idea, but with only a few seasoned troops available there were many risks. Recruitment included the selection of blood group "O" only. It had been discovered they were more hardy and had better physical endurance. Can you imagine? A whole army of "O's" landing at Oran, North Africa. If this selection had been known in Congress all hell would have broken loose. Eugenics, and the super race, is what the war was all about. An impassioned and inflamed Congress wouldn't have been influenced that other blood groups might have carried other desirable characteristics such as the aesthetics, philosophy, business or the sciences. The Capitol would have been agog and skew with indignation. Anyway, the operation was a success, and so also must have been the original premise. This force with Generals Patton and Montgomery crashed on up into Sicily, Italy and more. It took 50 years for the screening selection to leak out from the archives. You can figure out the rest, let's get back to the main theme.
Generally, it is agreed and conceded that the organization of the surname, as we know it today, can be ascribed to the Norman race about 1120. The inspiration for this monumental event was not a whimsical cultural or spiritual happening, is was an economic necessity. And if you're going to consider "surnames" THIS IS WHERE IT ALL BEGAN throughout most of Europe. This is not an attempt to justify, excuse, criticize, praise or condemn the Norman race. It is a study of surname origins.
The Normans were primarily of Viking origin, descended from Duke Rollo and his Viking pirates, Rollo being a one time Jarl or Earl of Orkney who had been kicked out of northern Norway by the King. Rollo landed in northern France and claimed a chunk. From the mid 10th century, this new and ambitious race ravaged all Europe down to the tip of Sicily, quickly. thoroughly and effectively, despite (or because of) having been converted to Christianity. The powerful land hungry Normans spread themselves thinly but with great determination and ruthlessness. This was a feudal society. Family possessions, land acquisitions, required and acquired an urgently needed identity tag for posterity, a little more sophisticated than Tyson the Terrible, an actual Norman name of great renown, as we shall see. Heritable family ownership and dynasty continuity was paramount, and became the prime motivation for the surname, a tag which followed its own set of crude rules from its inception, and the protocols changed, became more refined, adapted on the fly. These emerging social, quasi legal rules were vital to domain ownership in this exploding feudal empire.
The Normans started seeding the British Isles about 1002, way before the Battle of Hastings, but the Anglo records are scanty. They're busy justifying a rather ordinary Saxon race with it's chronicles. A much more comfortable, albeit wimpy ancestry. Norman chronicles reveal much more. The islands to the north had already been devastated by the invading ripples of Danish and Norwegian Vikings who now held much of the land, particularly in the north of England. The Orkneys, Hebrides and the Isle of Man which had been well settled by the Vikings. Weak Saxon kings had found it more convenient to pay bounties and to demand hostages from the Viking marauders, buying short lived peace for the islands. But King Cnut was smart, in his own way. He also had Denmark and Norway to look after, and the Swedes were pounding on his back door. This King of Denmark and Norway left government in England to the Saxon Witan, the ruling body. suitably seeded with Danish Earls from the north. He milked the Saxons with kindness, and left them and the Witan, more or less, to their own devices, but very, very poor.
Now, the Normans of mainland France also cast their beady eyes on this island paradise so full of promise, an island base often envied and sullied by the Vikings. But, not wanting a direct confrontation with Cnut, a fellow Viking, they bided their time, and infiltrated with friendly implants. The surnaming system was already under way in Normandy. For instance, Robert Guiscard, the Norman who had conquered practically all of Italy, used the simple surname of Guiscard in 1045, this in addition to all his many other later titles, including Duke of Sicily. Other Norman houses followed suit in this simple identification of their patrimony, and though the prefix "de" frequently preceded the locative domain name, it would be eventually and attritionally be dropped as clumsy by most families. Some few even retained it until the 14th and 15th centuries but mostly for affectation and distinction. Some just blended the 'de' or 'd'' into the surname, as in Defoe.
The table was set for the Norman invasion of England. The justifications, sometimes hotly argued, are not as important to surnames as the fact of it. One must wonder whether the Battle of Hastings was just a formality, a showcase of power. The Pope, recently having been saved from almost extinction by Norman Robert Guiscard in Rome, heartily favoured a re-statement of the extension of the Holy Roman Empire northward and gave Duke William his blessing, and his papal ring. The Pope owed the Normans one.
The compact relationship between the Normans to the north and the Normans to the south in Italy has never really been fully explored. We do know that Duke William made several visits to Rome. Whether he met Guiscard, this dynamic Lord of all southern Italy, whose status was almost equal to that of Duke William, is not known but all signs point to a very close and friendly liaison. Guiscard actively recruited Barons from the north with very generous offers of land to help him control southern Italy and individual family relationships were strong. Amongst others, Roger Bigod's brother went south with the Riddels to Apulia and fought alongside Guiscard. Another Norman, Ansold de Maule of the Vexin, the seignor of Maul outside Paris and a rich Parisian magnate, also fought with Guiscard in Greece in 1081, possibly along with his two brothers, Theobald and William. The close relationship continued when Prince Tarentum ( Guiscard/s son, known as Mark Bohemond in the 1st Crusade) left his nephew Tancred in charge of Jeruselam, in 1100, under King Baldwin. Trancred, in turn, delegated command of Jerusalem to Bigod d'Ige, nephew of Roger Bigod, the great northern Earl who was at the Conquest and received grants of 123 lordships in Essex and whose descendants played such a prominent role in the later Magna Carta at Runnemede. Similarly, some of the knights at the Conquest undoubtedly moved up from Italy to seize the opportunity for the land grab in England during or after the Conquest at Hastings although it must be admitted that Guiscard was creating lots of opportunities to the south.
Anyway, the presence of Innocent's papal banner at Hastings must have given King Harold a partial seizure. There can be no other excuse for he and his brother's inept and apathetic generalship at Hastings. Claims that he was surprised are nonsense, he was simply out maneuvered, probably by Norman treachery. He'd been waiting on the south coast through the long hot summer.
The timing of the invasion was impeccable. The long summer defense of the south coast by the shire fyrd (militia), was such that they had to depart their defensive positions to return to reap their autumn harvest. Strangely, the Norman monks of Fecamp had been parked on the cliffs near Hastings for some time. Nobody seemed to notice them. And significantly, Harold was otherwise preoccupied in a major action to the north at Stamford Bridge. Whether there was any grand Viking scheme, was anybody's guess. Handshakes are not usually recorded in history.
In essence, the Normans took over from Cnut, and the later King Edward the Confessor, himself half Norman, was a 26 year product of the Norman court at Rouen, carefully schooled in the Norman culture (son of Emma daughter of Duke Richard 1st Duke of Normandy). In the overall scheme of things, in the post-Conquest period, this intrusion left the Normans with almost as big an empire as the Romans 1000 years before, not controlled by insular, non fraternizing legions of well trained and disciplined warriors and walled cities, but by a system of 'hands on' feudal domain ownership, and, since King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland finally declared himself to be Duke William the Conqueror's man in 1072 after the Duke had ravaged as far north as the Forth, the Norman empire would stretch from the Orkneys to the tip of Sicily, later to Greece and Jerusalem.
This explosive Norman race, little more than a century old, was very unlike Cnut, who had just milked the land, and whose head was administratively elsewhere. The Normans, on the other hand, jealously ensured clear title and occupation of all it's conquered feudal domains. It found no joy in sharing government with the reigning Saxon Witan as Cnut did. Hence, the urgency of surnames, and hereditary entitlement of domains. This particular phase of history found the Saxon influence considerably diminished, virtually landless, and many returned to the land as agricultural slaves, or camped around the walls of the great Norman castles for protection, small services and trade, and survival. The government and ownership of domains was, for all intents and purposes, Norman. The Witan was in abeyance, gone forever. In 1172, the same Norman conquest and ownership would also be so of Ireland when Strongbow, the Earl of Pemroke engineered the occupation of Leinster for Henry II. The seeding of lowland Scotland followed the same pre-Conquest Norman pattern. It would be 150 years after the Conquest before England would experience its first resident Norman King, the unfortunate King John, who lost his castle home and his rule over Normandy to the French and departed to England. So, during this crucial period which coincided with surname development, the Norman influence on surnames, ownership and title in Britain and throughout Europe ( by 1072 they'd also beaten up the Fresians, the Germans (Emperor Otto of Germany was a nephew of the Norman King John in 1215) and even their friends and kin the Flemings) and surname became an organizational necessity in an emerging world of domain possessions, posterities and their hard fought physical and legal entitlements.
History then pursued its complex course. The Anglo/French rivalry still predominated. The Plantagenets took over from the Angevins and subsequent Kings of England gradually faded their Norman identity. After victories at Agincourt and Brecy the memory of Norman heritage gradually became misty, more proudly anglicized, an insular island outpost of independence. Edward III became King of France by marriage but ruled from his base in England. There was a growing compulsion in England to find a past less connected with their deadly adversaries across the Channel, the French, even though France frequently became a refuge for royalty in trouble. The legends of domestic history now came to the fore, as England sought its own historic heroes. King Arthur burst out of the closet of knightly chivalry in his shining armour, but strangely, a Briton not a Saxon. The Order of the Garter regained the dignity of knighthood and became the shining image of chivalry and honour. Henry VII even named his first born, Arthur, supporting his claimed relationship to this legendary ancestor. Mallory in Newgate prison, wove even more fantastic tales of Arthur's castles and his exploits in Mort d'Arthur, one of the first printed books that became a best seller. And Ireland dug up its own hero, Niall of the Nine Hostages with far more historic justification. Scotland, adopted Kenneth MacAlpine. Then came the empire builders, incited by Elizabeth's Spanish Armada victory, and the outreach to the world and great riches. But England found its own inner turmoil. The monarchy lost it's grip, and Cromwell became Lord Protector and took over in the name of the people. Recovering, the Crown became Dutch, then German, and with Queen Victoria, reached its heyday. Meanwhile, the great adventure to the colonies, freedom from tyranny and search for opportunity, began to take shape.
For most surname research we are "indebted" to the many overly simplistic books written in the 19th century when the British class society reached its zenith. Even some of the Scottish chiefs abandoned their castles and built town residences in London, joining the galas and festivities of the worldly rich and famous. This was an era of great pomp and prestige. Britannia ruled the waves. The class society prevailed, and was pursued to almost absurd and ridiculous extremes. The search for surname identity followed class lines which perpetuated the establishment, the aristocracy, rank and position. Commoners were Saxons and Boozers, literally, which, of course, the latter surname had nothing to do with the Norman name Beuzie. Not wishing to follow the example of France, Britain almost idolized the Victorian monarchy, and wars were fought valiantly on her behalf, even, some say, WWI, long after she was dead. Meanwhile, the German aristocracy, the Russian, Hungarian, Spanish and Polish monarchies were a network of royal intermarriage. Even Italy, hitherto a conglomerate of city states, doges and nations, became unified under one King around 1870. France was an island republic enjoying a less stratified, but bloodied democratic administration after the revolution along with her very distant neighbour, the United States of America.
In this European environment, then, small wonder that authors and researchers of surname origins set out to be self serving and Saxon. It was difficult to explain that the Duke of Norfolk might have the surname Howard, along with his chauffeur in the same car and no discernible relationship at all. Not only difficult to explain, because probably both had a common Norman heritage from D'Acres, they didn't even look alike, mostly because observers preferred the differences rather than the similarities. So, except for the aristocracy and the titled, many of whom ironically claimed 800 year Norman pedigrees, surnames were more or less rationalized as a random gift to the commoner, a coincidence, an assumption, or a wild misinterpretation of some ancient ritualistic activity, many of which were explained with some very imaginative creations. The major anomaly of course, was the aristocracy's great delight in proving a Norman heritage.
It was more important during this Victorian period to keep the rank and file guessing, or to be misleading, than to examine historic reasons for surname development, whether they be racial, demographic, linguistic, economic or social. The upper class, and anyone who aspired thereto, needed to distance themselves from the cannon fodder. The playing field(s of Eton and Harrow) was/were not very level/ They were tilted in favour of the ennobled, and the wannabees, whoever they were, and, Lord knows, there are a lot of us. Additional to the class thing, other factors entered into the algorithm of surname analysis and research. National psyche played a big role. Continuing this denial of early Norman influence, what right minded commoner Brit would be proud to have a surname in England that was anything but WASP, Scot or Irish in origin. After 800 years feuding with those dastardly Frenchman across the Channel, including a 'hundred year war', who wanted to have a surname which could be remotely considered as being of Norman origin. Yet the best assumption is that so many are.
For instance, the surname Cartwright. On the surface, this name seems to be as basic Anglo trade-type-person as you could get. Yet at least two, possibly up to seven of the invaders of Britain in 1066 and later, were Norman nobles of the house of Carteret, Lords of Carteret in Normandy. Read it quickly, and it's not very far away, even now. Despite the fact that, then, it was probably pronounced Carterai. On paper, on a deed or charter, however, it could be read as Cartwright, or very close thereto. Coming full circle, descendants of early Boston settlers of the name around the turn of this century still pronounced the name Carteret, and some still do. What goes around comes around. From the ridiculous to the sublime, we have the name Twopenny, and lots of other pennies, including Moneypenny. Twopenny was ascribed to a trade name for a money changer, rather than the Norman Tupigne, and so also Magnapeigne, Norman surnames which settled in England and Scotland. And who could associate Taylor as a big Norman name, a hero at Hastings, Taillefer, instead of the obvious Saxon tradesperson? While a Norman origin is arguable, up to this point in time the Norman side of the argument has not been fully presented because of the fixation on a need for a Saxon origin, somehow remotely connected by distant mind-set to "King Arthur?", a person who receives scant mention in the Saxon Chronicle, (not that this many versioned document can be commended for its impeccable accuracy) and who found fame with early historian Geoffrey of Monmouth, and the Welsh Triads, legends of the Welsh race.
Unthinkable that a commoner name such as Cartwright or Carter could be associated with Norman nobility. Perish the thought. It was obviously a trade name, and Saxon to boot. However, if it was a trade name there are a few arguments "au contrair". We are reasonably agreed that surnames took shape progressively between 1020 and 1300. In England, trade occupations such as carters and cartwrights, were largely associated with the delivery of stone and other materials for the erection of Norman castles during that period. These castles were being demolished almost as fast as they were erected. This was by far the biggest 'industry' of the time if we remove agriculture and ship building. Wales is known for the highest saturation of castles (and their ruins) per square mile in the world. And the re-construction exercise provided the Normans with advanced architectural skills, in a big hurry. These many minor Saxon entrepreneurs, carters, etc., were mostly one man, one ox or, (unusually) horse operators, and generally landless, usually penniless, little above a slave. The Saxons of this time had a long way to go before any real recovery of lands was effected. Taxation caused a need for surname identification, but land rights, fishing rights, and their produce were much more tangible as taxable assets to the King. Taxation on services was much more complex and entrepreneurial, and an administrative problem which crossed many boundaries. The tax collector had not yet learned to effectively deal with the complexities of profit and loss. The Domesday Book of 1086, the prime basis for taxation, was solely domain oriented and very focused on which Norman (90%) noble held English lands and other rights other than the King himself, or the Church.
Other goods being hauled by carters (under escort) at the time were the luxuries demanded by the wealthy Norman settlers, thus creating a new society in London, the importer/businessman, many of them Jewish, people who would scour the world for anything from spices to swords, tapestries to fexcotic wines, furnishings for the fine new Norman domains and arms for their personnel. Some say this expanding trade was the real inspiration for the first Crusade, largely a Norman effort. It is most likely that most of these 'carting' operators in this distribution network throughout England were still on a 'font' (first) name basis, and also most likely for them to have been lost in history as a genealogical chain. The larger businesses of haulage contractors did not arrive until centuries later. Perhaps, the only exception might be that when a cartage operator was brought before the courts, he might be described by his trade, but this was not usually the custom, since a trade was a poor identification, easily forged. In the absence of a surname, far better to describe the person as being from a town or village, but this identification would most usually only be used for court purposes. It would not have any relationship to a domain name, a jealously guarded entitlement of the Norman settler and his blood line, and any unauthorized use of that name may diminish his entitlement, both to himself and his successors, and result in putting the offender to the gallows. And in 1170, according to the Justicair of England, 'every little knight in England had his seal" which protected those domain rights. See Heraldry Today, this web site, and back page.
In reality, it is difficult to accept the simplistic explanation that services or trades played a very important role in the creation of surnames, if surnames went hand in glove with domain ownership for the King's taxation purposes. Of course, we cannot discount the later copy-cat evolution of surnames as a social custom but the acid test at this time was ownership of land, largely Norman, including a sizable contingent of Breton, Flemish and French. The very few nominal Saxons who retained their lands, usually had a strong Viking or Danish heritage, and had become allied to the Norman way of life in one way or another.
However, it should be remembered the seeding of England by Normans since the year 1000 could give many records a distortion by describing Domesday(1086) holdings as being held by the 'the pre-Conquest holder" and actually still be Norman, or even Danish, rather than Saxon. But some of this carefully planned, what is now believed to be extensive pre-Conquest Norman recruitment backfired. For instance, before the Conquest, Edward the Confessor recruited Gilbert Tesson(Tyson) (note the use of the pre-Conquest family surname) one of the most powerful Barons of Normandy, and offered him the great barony of Alnwick in northern England which he accepted and brought with him many knights. It may be suspected that this was King Edward's method of neutralizing the influence of the two northern Earls, Edwin and Morcar. Ironically, by the time Hastings rolled around, Gilbert had switched allegiances, and fought alongside King Harold and his Saxons. He, Gilbert, and many of his knights were killed by his fellow Normans. This, however, did not prevent Gilbert's son William from later becoming the Lord of Alnwick and Malton, such was the power of this family who were distant kin of Duke William. Meanwhile, in Normandy, the head of the family, Ralph Tesson, aging scion of the family, which is said to have at one time held 1/3rd of the Duchy of Normandy, was represented at Hastings by his son Ralph Tesson II, with his large company of knights, and the latter may not have survived the battle either. Brother against brother. His, Ralph Tesson's, considerable English domains in York, Lincoln and Nottingham granted by Duke William, eventually went to Ralph Tesson's young grandson, Gilbert, through his son, Ralph Tesson II. His grandson became known as Ralph Tesson III despite whatever surname he had used in the meantime.
Here we find the beginning of a crude Norman surnaming protocol. This protocol, by a quantum space/time leap, would be adopted by upper class North Americans in the 19th century. The immediate descendent was never allowed to use the scion's surname during his life time. This might jeopardize the old man's rights to his crown jewels and estates. So, Ralph Tesson must have been alive at the Conquest and shortly thereafter, but he must have been a very old man. His son added the numeric II. The grandson, the III. All with the continuity of the same surname but distinguishable one from another. This was a far better procedure than the Fitz protocol which we will discuss later, and which was also used by some Norman families of the time. The Normans even introduced the Sr. and Jr. suffix to distinguish father and son but it was not popular.
Many have questioned the disproportionate distribution of surnames. So how, you might ask, and why, did there get to be so many Carters or Cartwrights in this present day world of ours? Why shouldn't the Plunks, and many other 'one-off surnames' be right up there with them? Why the disproportionate representation? And this is the 64K question everybody wants to avoid. We can call it inexplicable, accidental human evolution, and leave it at that. In the interests of the equality of the human race, and the complete anonymity of humanity, perhaps we should leave it right there. On the other hand, the differentials might be important to our genetic composition. Theoretically, one person living at the time of the Conquest, over thirty generations, could produce millions of descendants of the same surname and, although we are not suggesting this happened in any ordered fashion, the possibility exists. Robert the Bruce of Scotland (Norman heritage ) was a good example of the latter. He is said to have had 28 children on the right side of the blanket, as they say, and an equal number 'outside the blanket'. His descendants are said to number over two million but, obviously, not necessarily all of the surname Bruce.
On the other hand, it is equally preposterous to claim a single source origin for all surnames. Even O'God, (maybe Irish) George Burns, changed his Jewish name to Burns. But let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater with this and other glaring, well publicized examples. Two of the first identifiable relics of surname association was the family seal (the knight's legal bank card) and the Coat of Arms. The latter was recorded for posterity much more than the former. For the sake of simplicity, let's consider the surviving Coat of Arms for the family name Stapleton, for instance, a reasonably common surname which reveals over 30 Coat of Arms registered to different people of that surname, different branches of the family name throughout history. All but two carry the main theme device, a silver field charged with a black lion rampant. This 800 year historical time span of the surname records would have been a huge demographic phenomena of random coincidence if purely accidental. Foreign intruders into the surname over this 800 year period would surely have been expected to have a been strongly represented by "foreigners", Burns-like renegades who changed their name to Stapleton. So let's consider this surname Stapleton. Nowadays it seems like a very ordinary surname which thousands enjoy. It was big in the 14th and 15th centuries, Barons, Lords, knights, and the like, but all that's passed into history. Few remember, or care to. Nevertheless, maybe there is a much stronger augument for kinship within a family surname than we care to acknowledge.
As mentioned previously, modern research is proving we have more identifiable differentials in the genetic blueprint in general than we have similarities, or equalities. In fact, one of the prime objectives in genetic research and the DNA is to isolate these differences. The larger question is "Are these differentials governed more closely with "family name" relationships, history and origins than we care to admit?". Even in the 19th century, one author, perhaps more of a maverick than the rest, did become curious about the obvious population differences in surnames. He ran a check with the Public Records Office and found the top fifty most populous surnames. He found that from the earliest records, a century before, these surnames had a growth rate that far exceeded the average for the population growth for the whole country. This growth rate was carried consistently from year to year by family surnames. The narrow time frame, the number in the sample, mostly eliminated the possibility of the assumption of a surname for any particular or peculiar reason.
How do we explain the gross variations in the populations of different surnames? Leaving Smith and Schmidt out of the discussion for a moment, other surnames have growth rates far in excess of national averages. Incidentally, even the Smiths, who have been clocked with a 38% annual growth rate, doesn't make sense. In those olden days the Farmer outnumbered the Smiths about ten to one. With apologies, what happened to those Farmer guys? Here was a trade name which bit the dust. Many other surnames die on the vine, and have been doing so for centuries, ever since surnames came into being. And there are other people who, when on vacation, open the hotel phone book in a compulsive search to find another of the same name. Or, we could close our eyes, chalk it down to accidental marital relationships, and leave it at that. Possibly we could suggest that there may be more to this genetic blueprint than meets the eye. Maybe it carries an innate compulsion to procreate which is a variable within each surname. Once we admit this, however, we get beyond the mere physical composition of the genetic blueprint, genetic codes and the DNA as a one dimensional flat profile. We now have to admit that the surname carries with it many more intangibles than the straight physical blueprint of the human body, and we open a can of worms which would not be socially acceptable, not even for a sly peek at this point in time. Perhaps, some time in the not too distant future, there'll no such thing as a generic drug, and that each will be tailor-made to one's own genetic line and eliminate many of the sometimes dangerous side effects of the generic prescription drug.
The "family name" commonality suggestion becomes almost imponderable. It deals with genetic survival rates baked into the genetic blueprint, and the impact of the environment. The plagues, the pox, cholera, and bunch of other deadlies, including the soldier's deadly enemy, dysentery, have hammered away at the human race. Pandemics from the first known big plague in Athens in 400 B.C, to the English historian Bede's reported plague of England about 440 A.D when he states *There were not enough living to bury the dead", to the Justinian plagues of the 542 which started in Constaninople and took 5 years to reach England in 547, killing fields all the way, to the 9th century devastation in England and Europe, and to the Black Death of 1348, the sweating disease of the early 1500's, the 1665 plague which devastated London, and thousands of other lesser ripples barely recorded in history, plagues which caused 1000 villages in the midlands of England to be ploughed over, and which have pruned and refined the human race. Lesser waves of the pestilences eroded perhaps many more of the human race. Some of these pandemics killed as much as one third of the world's population at the time, particularly the Justinian event. The 1918 flu bug was no slouch either, it killed well over 20 million in the U.S. But these ancient pestilences hit the poor the hardest. They had no place to run, no place to hide. The wealthy, even moderately well heeled, moved ahead of the pestilences. They let the castle portcullis down, and nobody entered. They built barges on the rivers, and took the gang plank away. They moved to 'clean villages' and quarantined, a practice started in Italy in the 15th century. Some of the pestilences had different blends, grew stronger, endemics which returned with even more power, and survival almost became synonymous with the strength of their immunity and the degree of a person's wealth. Antonia Fraser's well written and excellently researched "The Weaker Vessel" is recommended and gives a clearer, more detailed picture of 15th, 16th and 17th century hysteria. It describes the desperate drive to produce heirs at all costs, and, one suspects, even to the implied murder of an infertile wife, not just by Henry VIII, but by lesser lights. The fertile woman became a baby factory from the age of 15 through 38 or so 'enjoying' an annual pregnancy ritual. Very few landowners relished the idea of their estates reverting back to the King. Survival, then, was to slip through the mini-mesh screen of life pestilential hazards, and produce a line of winners. And there, we'll leave you with that thought. You piece it together. Those of you who are still amongst us can stand up and salute the innate strengths of your ancestors. We made it here at this time. Millions, billions, didn't, exponentially.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. If these Normans handed us the surnaming protocols and played such a prominent role in our surviving Anglo and European races, we'd better understand a bit more about them, the Normans, that is, even at the risk of repetition. Unlike the previous Viking bounty hungry marauders who flitted around the oceans with fleets of up to one hundred ships, stinging here, ravaging there, wintering, gathering treasures which would help them gain power in their home domains, the Normans had achieved a new territory, converted Vikings who had firmly planted their roots in northern France. They became skilled military commanders who did not confine themselves to naval warfare and allied strategies, although these basic skills never left them. On land they were as dangerous as they were on the sea. They developed a hierarchical network of top down intermarriage, betrothals and cross pollination which always seemed to work to their advantage.
As we have said, the Norman seeding of Britain took place over 50 years or more from about 1000 A.D. Elaborating, perhaps one of the most significant early seeds was Emma. Emma was the daughter of Richard 1st, Duke of Normandy, born 986. When fellow Viking and ex-pirate, King Of England, Denmark and Norway, Cnut (Canute) ascended the throne he was 'persuaded' to take Emma as his wife and Queen of England in 1017. He was only 21, she a 31 year old 'veteran', and already had three children by her first husband, Aethelred of England, a weak King, probably totally dominated by Emma, and who had died the previous year. One of those children was the future King of England, Edward the Confessor. Both he and Alfred went off to Normandy, an investment in futures.
Emma had commenced the seeding of England with Normans in 1002, by inviting Hugh, a Norman adventurer, and endowed him with the city and castle of Exeter. There followed many more examples which can be found in the Norman chronicles. At this time Emma must only have been a young girl of 16, but she was a Norman who knew where she was going. Although Cnut, her new husband was a tyrant ( he extracted the huge sum of 80,000 pounds from the Saxon people in his first year of reign) his new wife was even more ruthless.
Emma continued her Norman ways. During the reign of Cnut, and her son Harthacnut, she had amassed many estates and domains and held a fair chunk of the English treasury. When Harthacnut was having difficulty establishing his claim to the throne, her youngest son Alfred suddenly appeared on a visit from Rouen, Normandy. This didn't work out so well. Earl Godwin the leading Saxon Earl, decided enough Normans were enough. He trapped Alfred and his 600 mercenaries at Guildford, and that was the end of Alfy. Alfred had tried once before with the help of Robert, Duke of Normandy when they had gathered a fleet to invade England but got caught in a storm which washed them up in the Channel Islands. When Hathacnut was eventually crowned, Edward (the Confessor), Emma's other son, arrived from 26 years exile in Normandy but probably not with Emma's approval. Not all Normans got along with each other, either. Edward must have been Emma's least favoured son. Harthacnut died. Following year Edward was crowned. 10 days after he received his "hallowing" of the English throne in Easter 1043, after Harthacnut's sudden and unaccountable death in June the previous year, marched from Gloucester to Winchester with his earls and relieved Emma of her and England's accumulated treasury and her lands. Not a very gracious act from one who was to be sanctified as England's only Saint/King. But Emma was allowed to live on in peace. Later, Edward, in an act repentance, restored some of her estates and a small pension. One of the last recruitments Emma made before her death in 1052, was one Adam de Brus (Bruce) in 1050 of the Castle of Brix in Normandy. His successor would eventually become King of Scotland. Although he officially and ostensibly 'attended' the Queen, he went to Scotland almost immediately. Nevertheless, he managed to get back to the Conquest and join his Norman father and elder brother, William, at Hastings, 16 years later. But the Bruce had already acquired estates and a significant presence in Scotland before the Conquest. And Emma, a Norman, had played a dominant role in English and Scottish history almost continuously for 50 years from the turn of the millennia, but receives scant mention in that history except as the mother and wife of Kings. Concomitantly, Margaret, King Malcolm Canmore of Scotland's queen, was of the same ilk and also recruited her Norman friends to Scotland.
Similarly, Edward the Confessor himself felt more comfortable with the Norman side of his house. As previously mentioned he had recruited Gilbert Tesson amongst others, including the Earl of Hereford. He recruited fellow Norman William of Jumieges as Bishop of London, one of the most influential clerical positions in all England and it should be noted that Stigand, Emma's man, became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1052, the year of Emma's death, against the wishes of the pope. The extent of this pre-Conquest Norman infiltration has been contested by historians. Some claim it to be minimal, others claim that Edward was active in recruitment but was careful not to offend the Saxon Witan, the governing council. Obviously, some infiltration took place but nobody can be sure of the extent except from isolated and representative references in the Norman chronicles. From the growing body of evidence the implantation was more than enough.
So now the banquet was set, the menu set in print to receive in England this massive invasion of Norman magnates, knights, freemen, and men-at-arms from Normandy who would receive domains granted by Duke William for their participation at the invasion of England and join the Battle of Hastings. Many of these Norman families and their followers had provided ships, horses, and all the military accoutrements necessary for the success of the venture, and they carried their greed with them in huge expectations of their domain rewards. At this point in time there is very little evidence of the existence of any surnaming procedures in Saxon or Danish England.
The Battle of Hastings is dealt with elsewhere on this web site. Our interest in this event in this context is only one of numbers. Modern students of history, calculating the size of the promontory which Harold and the Saxons chose to defend, shoulder to shoulder, and the depth of the available support platoons, the Saxon horde maxes out at about 10-12,000. The Normans, probably at something less, 8-10,000, including only about 20-25 house banners. After the victory, and with Harold suitably consigned to his place in history, Duke William and his fellow Normans, after wasting the Pevensay and Hastings area, moved eastward along the coast to Romney and Dover within the week, dismantled the castles and began to consolidate their bridgehead. Here he hesitates, calls for re-enforcements from over the channel (the numbers of reinforcements are questionable, but may be very significant in estimating the influence of Norman domain surnames in English(and Scottish) history). Let's face it, if Duke William amassed an army of 40,000, a reasonable number, in his devastation of the north 3 years later it would mean that this force was 4 times larger than his Hastings army, unless, of course, the pre-seeding of pre-Conquest England had been larger than even the Norman chronicles claim. To mobilize reinforcements Duke William could repair his fleet to the west at Pevensay and return it to Rouen or St.Valery. This seems more likely, rather than start building a whole new fleet at Rouen which would have taken months, perhaps a year.
In the meantime, Duke William moved his army north to Canterbury, then settled into a holding pattern for a month before London, more than likely to await the reinforcements. Some say he was sick (may have been dysentry which caught up with him in 1087 in a horrible death which caused his mourners to depart the Abbey at Caen because of the stench) but that's less likely than merely waiting to size up the situation in London and his reinforcements to arrive. Two or three parties were jockeying for power in London, including the northern Earls Edwin and Morcar, even the mayor of London, and Edgar Atheling who'd already been nominated the new King by the London element.
Duke William made his move from Canterbury at the beginning of November. He wheeled his army to the west in a wide circling movement of London to Wallingford, north west of London then to the east, north of London, to Little Beckhamstead. Surrounded, the citizenry of London capitulated without resistance. Edwin and Morcar, however, had slipped away to the east and the coastal north. The Atheling also escaped north to York.
The bridgehead now included most of the home counties. William was crowned King of England and began the huge political task of measuring and negotiating rewards to the magnates of his invasion army, using Edward the Confessor's tax rolls as a base for the then current land values. His first cut at the division of spoils was a greedy one, which did not rest well with many Norman magnates who had made huge investments of ships and knights to the invasion fleet. He gave almost all of the land south of London to the coast, and as far west as Winchester, to Bishop Odo, his half brother, who became Earl of Kent, and his #2, head honcho of all England. His other half brother, the Count of Mortain, got most of the western counties of Cornwall, Somerset and Devon, after some loitering in front of Exeter castle with the pesky Welsh. The eastern counties held many of the Norman nobles who were champing at the bit for more lands to the north. Most of the treasures in the London archives went back to Normandy along with important hostages To buy peace and loyalty amongst his followers, Duke William began to realize he had to make many compromises to his own greed, vis-a-vis that of his Norman magnates. But he still had the whole of the north to dole out to his waiting barons in Suffolk, Norfolk and Lincolnshire.
William's plan of containment for England was very unlike that which grew attritionally in the Duchy of Normandy where principalities had emerged geographicallyand attritionally, enclaves which would become very powerful, and a constant challenge to central government. His new distribution plan for the occupation of England gave certain trusted magnates large territories but not absolute control. Each territory was seeded with lordships, either by chief-tenancy or under-tenancy, which were crossweaved by Earls, Barons or knights from distant territories, thus achieving a complex network of dispersed and diversified interests. Much land was given to the Church in the same fashion. The King himself held many of the strategic and valuable domains which were operated by trusted stewards, freemen or even men-at-arms. He had introduced a spy network, which, in the event of disloyalty, the incumbent had to consider allegiances which might be very unfavorable to him if his treasonable activities became known. In this mad scramble for turf, it is inconceivable that William, burdened with jealous Norman magnates still under arms, would give much long term consideration to Saxons, who were about as low in the pecking order as they could be, unless of course, they had been adopted in marriage to the Norman element.
In the ensuing five years, Duke William set about implementing his plan. He gradually removed most of the remaining Saxon interests and by 1068 he had marched north from the home counties with his huge army as far as Wocestershire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, Derbyshire and Cheshire. In each county he installed his own Norman Earldoms, Sheriffs and Reeves. He was relatively kind to Chester, where, in a city of 400 houses, he reduced 200 to rubble and installed Hugh Lupus( Norman house of Avranches and his nephew) as Earl of Chester. Hugh Lupus brought with him from Lincolnshire many of his knights. They presumably brought with them some of their newly adopted domain names. Hence, we find villages renamed in Cheshire with villages in Lincolnshire such as Irby, Croxton, etc. He also installed Roger de Montgomery as Earl of Shropshire and established many other Earldoms. After his wastage he planted the border of Scotland with trusted Norman families who gave us many notable reiver surnames today such as Cummings, Bruce, Nixon, Armstrong, Elliot, Graham, etc.
Duke William wasted the north it is said with an army of 40,000, mostly Norman and some few converted Saxon and Breton mercenaries. These were the reinforcements which swarmed over the channel in the post-Conquest period. He then built his own castles. From 1069 to 1070 he burned, raped and pillaged Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria, leaving little of value standing, with some strategic exceptions which were garrisoned by Normans, Bretons and mercenaries. To Count Alan of Brittany he gave much of Yorkshire. In 1072, he marched north into Scotland to the Forth and pillaged. He was given fealty by King Malcolm and took hostages. The whole campaign had not been without some small resistance and casualties had been high amongst the still land holding Saxons of the north, and some of his rebellious Norman Barons. Again, significant hostages were taken back to Normandy. William, in 1071, was now undisputed King of England. In 1075, a minor uprising of Roger, Earl of Hereford was quelled.
From 1071 to 1086 there was relative peace in the land administratively. Attempts by the Danes to regain their foothold on the island were thwarted. The Norman magnates jockeyed for power, even the King's own half brother, Bishop Odo, was imprisoned for life after making a play for the throne of England. He was released only when William Rufus, William's third son became King of England after his father's death in 1087.
William spent much of his time in Normandy dealing with his Norman affairs. In each country, England and Normandy, he had installed governing bodies, Regents, constantly changing personalities who eventually outlived their loyalties. The traffic between Normandy and England was reasonably heavy, Normans returned briefly to their own or family domains with their war chests, greeted their wives and families, usually leaving their eldest sons to run the family domains in England or sometimes reversing the procedure, depending on the size of the spoils acquired in England.
In 1086, the Domesday Book came into being. William in one of his visits to England in the autumn of '85 took his travelling court to Gloucester. For a month he sat and listened to the claims and counter claims of rightful Norman ownership of English domains. Enough was too much. He instructed commissioners to organize teams to go forth and record every domain in England, its taxable value, and who was adjudged to be the holder of those domains. He gave them one year to complete the mamoth project. He declared that these records would confirm those rights 'in perpetuity', till the end of time, hence this huge survey was called The Domesday Book, now in the U.S spelt Doomsday. Whichever way it's spelt, this final penultimate act of Duke William, a year and half before his death, caused major legal land claim headaches, power struggles, minor rebellions, even wars, for centuries to come. But the Domesday Survey at least went on record for the greater part of England in establishing the encumbents at that time in the year 1086. England and much of lowland Scotland was jealously Norman owned and settled by domain entitlement and would be for centuries to come. See Domesday Book on this web site.
In Normandy, well before the Conquest of England, the surnaming protocol had been born of the feudal system. In Saxon England, surnames had not entered the social scheme of ownership and title and first (font) names only were used, with some very rare exceptions. In Normandy, the scion of the family generally adopted his domain name as his own surname. The de (of) prefix was being dropped by attrition, although, by exception, some notable families would retain the prefix through until the 14th and 15th centuries.
There could only ever be one person identifying himself (sometimes, but rarely, herself) with entitlement to the Norman domain. Along with that entitlement of domain, he was also the custodian of the family seal, the banner which represented the family in battle, the Coat of Arms, and any other family heirlooms which were carried with his dynasty. None of his progeny were ever allowed to use or copy those family relics during his lifetime. However, this created a problem, perhaps more of a problem than it was worth. If the old man lived to a ripe old age, and many did, there might be sons, even grandsons, requiring to be identified with their posterity and probable hereditary rights of their own new domains at some time in the future. What name would they use? The first answer was Fitz, meaning the 'son of'. This did not mean, as was commonly supposed in earlier times, an illegitimate son. The Viking society rarely made any distinction between descendants in or out of wedlock. And if this argument held, why didn't the Duke call himself FitzWilliam. Duke William himself was a bastard who had achieved the Duchy of Normandy. And already the Danish Vikings were adopting the tag 'son' on the end of font names for distinction such as Ericson, Estrithson and others to overcome the problem of the continuity of the posterity. Hence, 'son' names are to be found mostly in northern England. Similarly, at this time or later, the prefix Mac was adopted by the Scottish, the "O" by the Irish, and the Ap or Ab by the Welsh. But no such prefix or suffix was adopted in the Saxon naming protocol as far as can be determined.
Curiously, in the Norman culture, it meant that a man, Robert de Mortimer, for instance, might have two names during his own lifetime, a confusing headache no historian should need. If the eldest son, by primogeniture, the beneficiary of his father's estates, hung around for his inheritance he might assume the name, say, Robert FitzHugh, if his father's name was Hugh de Mortimer. On his father's death Robert would then revert to and inherit the old domain name Robert de Mortimer, and all its entitlements. In other words, Robert FitzHugh and Robert de Mortimer were one and the same person. This was very confusing to the record books. And most Fitz names were of a temporary nature until such time as they were changed to a new heritable domain name, or one was acquired from the main hereditary family estates. Younger sons might be given a place name, a domain within the father's domain, which in turn would become their own lifetime domain/surnames. This made the establishment of a genealogical link from the younger sons to their father very difficult, and each of the younger sons grew within their own orbit with a different surname from the father. If they moved, to say, Norman settlements in England, tracing back, linking the younger son relationship to the main stem became an assumption, or was almost impossible. However, it shouldn't be assumed that this was a rigid procedure by any means. It was the beginning of a naming custom, and subject to personal interpretation or family convenience. Sometimes the suffix I, II, or III was used and the eldest son's name could be the same as that of the father, so long as the suffix followed. But it was still domain driven, particularly for the younger sons, of which there were usually many.
There were many loopholes in this early system, nor was the procedure followed assiduously. For instance, the son of Robert Guiscard, whom we mentioned previously in his Italian campaigns, was Mark Bohemond, Prince Tarentum, an inconsistency. Similarly, the Norman ranking of titles, was not as clearly defined as it was in the late middle ages, or is today. William generally assumed the heritable title of Duke, most likely in deference to the French King, to whom there was a vague suzerainty relationship. But there was no question of his absolute monarchical rule. Lesser nobles could be styled counts, countesses, bishops, seigniors, sires, lords, masters, constables, sheriffs, even princes, and the laws of precedence seemed to evolve more on the size of a noble's estates, and his influence in the royal court, rather than any precise ranking protocol. Duke William made an attempt to straighten this mess out in England when he elected just one controlling and administrative head, an Earl, to each county. Other lesser officers such as Sheriffs, tax men, the King' stewards and Reeves administered the King's (very ill-defined) Law. Lordships were granted for domains, large or small, and each carried variable rights and powers in his local court and justice system, powers which were often meted out in abstentia, since the magnate's domains were usually widely scattered through several distant counties, or he might even be back in Normandy. This was a first crude attempt at administrative organization, by no means perfect, but at least it changed the complexion of the land and was not a replication of the loose structures in Normandy. Nor was it inherited from the Saxon system in which there was an earldom consisting of many counties strung together, such as Wessex, thus making the Earls what amounted to petty kings. But the new system would inherit its own problems.
Meanwhile, younger sons were a problem in the emerging surnaming protocol and record keeping. Sometimes landless, these budding knights or even men at arms, had little to call their own, or if they had, the size of their holdings did not support their ambitions. Restless at being indented to knight's service to his distant lord, perhaps an elder brother or father, they honed their skills and many became mercenaries, finding the highest bidder for their services, as they had done in Normandy before the Conquest. The whole world out there was free for the taking. This in preference to sitting in a small manor house little better than a multi-roomed shack, twiddling his thumbs and becoming poorer as the days went by. Many pillaged the local countryside. Jousts, lists, fairs, melees were planned and they became footloose, moving from event to event, battle to battle. And between 1066 and the first crusade in 1096 the ravages, plunder and rapine of the far from gallant and chivalrous knight was continued ferociously. Since they fought for hostages, possessions, riches, rank, and their own form of honour, there developed a crude code. In combat or skirmishes the objective was to obtain hostages, not to kill. A dead opponent was worthless. In one melee in Normandy before the Conquest, 500 knights skirmished in planned combat. Only three died. Many were unhorsed. And under the rules of combat, to the victor went the spoils. The more important and richer the family relationship of the loser, the more bountiful the rewards. The victor could claim not only ransom in coin, but the knight's domain name, his Coat of Arms, his banner, his sword and armour, and his horse, even his wife and squire. Troubadours adhered as camp followers, and twanged their knights exploits with songs of their courage. To many they became the heroes of their time. To many others they were the major scourge of any land on which they visited their very doubtful charms.
On the continent in particular, there had been and was more alarm about an emerging way of life which was leading to absolute and unchecked pillage, or anarchy, so much so that the Church had pronounced the Truce of God at the Council of Nice in 1041. This, in effect, protected the public at large by prohibiting plunder, murder and rapine by Barons and their knights from Thursday to Sunday inclusive. However, even if those same laws had been effective, which they weren't, they tacitly allowed, maybe approved, said uncontrolled plunder on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. It was from this source of restless, rapacious knights, squires and men at arms, mostly Norman, Flemish and Frankish, that many of the rank and file of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 and their subsequent reinforcements was drawn. Fathers recalled recalcitrant sons from all over Europe.
Later, it was also of this lawless source that many of the European knights of all nations were recruited by Pope Urban II at Clermont in France in his well advertised appeal for the first crusade in 1095. It is not clear why this was called the first Crusade, there'd been many before. Anyway, Urban, Duke Robert of Normandy and his kinsman Robert Count of Flanders had received a very urgent appeal in 1093 from the Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comenus for help in quelling the Seljuk Turks and "retrieving the holy relics from Jerusalem" the latter an obvious appeal to the Pope. However, Alexius' main enticement in his letter was the beautiful women of the East, a magnetic attraction to our lustful, footloose knights. Alexius made several more appeals. Finally, after much deliberation, perhaps even consultations with the Normans to the south, Prince Tarentum, Guiscard's son, the green light was given.
Pope Urban had promised his assembly in 1095 complete redemption for their previous sins. His opening address to the multitude at Clermont "You, girt about your badge of knighthood, are arrogant with great pride, you rage against your brothers and cut each other to pieces" was one version. Another "You oppressors of orphans, robbers of widows, you homicides, blasphemers and plunderers". The assembly of knights replete with their surnames and their house Coat of Arms from all over Europe were more impressed with the offer of pardons for their past sins, and the prospect of untold riches and the good life in the "Holy Land'.
Cash-rich Duke Robert of Normandy in August 1096, left his young brother King William Rufus of England in charge and collected Normans Stephen of Blois, Eustace III, Count of Bolgne, Godfrey (Geoffrey) Duke of Lorraine, and Count of Vermandois, and knights from England, including the Percy's of the north, from Normandy, Germany, France, and proceeded to southern Italy and jumped off from the Italian south eastern coastal cities of Brindisi and Bari. Here he met the main contingent, "25,000?" Vikings who miraculously arrived on the scene from Scandinavia and who stopped off at Sicily for a visit with Prince Tarentum. This event is not even reported in popular history, only in the Norwegian Sagas. And the Viking ties were upheld. Once a Viking, always a Viking.
However, this organized, and well equipped battle force had been pre-empted the previous April by an over-anxious monk who was anything but a general. Peter the Hermit preached to the poor, the faithful and fearful masses and started from the Rhine Valley overland, a rag and bob-tailed mass, estimates ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 man women and children supported by a few knights. They needed money so they murdered local rich Jews in what has been called the first Holacaust. This huge band of footloose coversions and opportunists would play little part in the battles of the 1st Crusade and would suffer badly at the hands of the decadent tribesmen of Hungary, the Byzantines and eastern Euopean tribes who strangely got the notion that this mob was invading their turf. Finally arriving on the southern side of the Bospherous with a remnant force of less than 15,000 they were anhilated at Civetot and never reached the Holy Land. Peter escaped however. So there were really two, separate, quite independent Crusades, one starting in April, the other in August of '96, both under the banner of the 1st Crusade.
After a successful "pilgrimage"to the Holy Land, the main Norman contingent of knights returned to Europe with their domains much richer than before. Baldwin of Boulogne was crowned King of Jerusalem in 1100. They set up a Norman system of counties and fiefs. As previously mentioned they left Norman Bigot d'Ilger of the Bigod or Wigot dynasty and Tancred in support of Norman King Baldwin of Jerusalem with 200 knights. The crusader "Princes" returned home minus a few casualties, notably Stephen Henry Count de Blois, father of Stephen de Blois who would beome King. Stephen of England. The father was "son-in-law" of William the Conqueror by his daughter Adela but this relationship is not acknowledged in history. Stephen Henry de Blois' third son, Stephen de Blois, would become King of England renouncing all of the Blois fortunes, but for his surname.
In Europe, the knightly ravages continued unabated well into the late 12th century when Eleanor of Aquitane and Marie of Champagne took a hand in the defense of feminity, restoring some order to the chaos. This episode produced the Cretien romances in 1070 elevating knighthood to a King Aurthur and Lancelot status, and creating a new code of chivalry. But that's another story.
So, in post Conquest England, in Europe, the Anglo domain name created new surname identities for younger Norman sons in particular, taking all the trappings of this vicious art form into their pastoral settings. The Normans overran Europe like a plague unto themselves. The domain surname became more firmly established as a protocol. Undoubtedly, their ancient Coat of Arms also found new roots. But this did not prevent them from tripping off to the fairs and jousts, particularly at Bruges, in addition to plundering the English countryside. They continued the Norman practice of contributing to Abbeys, monastries and churches to atone for their sins.
It was in this environment that the surname was born, a symbol of ownership, possessions, pride and greed. It would carry the posterity of the family name down though the centuries from the Orkneys to the Holy Land. The Norman surnames would have more opportunity for growth since they represented wealth, ownership and title, and were more motivated to establish posterities which would continue well into the distant future, for their dynasties and their descendants. They would fare better through the pestilences simply because they would be better equipped to resist. And the Norman strain bred like rabbits. They were accustomed to breed sons for the battle, and a little on the side for their own posterity. Many of these warriors died young, but suprisingly, many lived to be very old. Nevertheless, the spirit of the ancient family names prevailed. To quote noted anthropologist ErikTrinkaus of the University of New Mexico "It takes only a very subtle difference in life style to make a big difference in terms of evolutionary success".
For those interested in some of the thousands of Domesday holdings, Norman domains, and biographies of the Norman tenants in chief, and the many domain sites which could have been adopted as surnames by Norman settlers in England, please go to:
Surname Index / Homepage
The following are Domesday links:
Cheshire and the Domsday Book
- Lancashire and the Domesday Book
- Oxfordshire and the Domesday Book
- Somerset and the Domesday Book
- Warwickshire and the Domesday Book
- Lady Godiva and the Domesday Book
- Derbyshire and the Domesday Book
- Devonshire and the Domesday Book
- Shropshire and the Domesday Book
! Your Surname, Your Genealogy
and Your DNA
Your DNA is the blueprint of your creation.
Your genetic codes propelled you and yours to this place at this time.
Is the DNA the secret of life, the driving force, that elusive key for which man has beam searching since the beginning of time. Is it the fountain of life itself? Have we found it right here, lurking on our own door step. It's not out there amongst the twinkles in outer space, after all, it's deep down inside every vibrant and mysterious fibre of our being. Locked away are the secrets of history, the present, and quite probably the future. And eventually, some day, the DNA will reveal all of its infinitely microscopic and profound secrets.
Since everyone's DNA is different, it follows that we are all different. Not alone, but different. Each ancestral generation, each building block throughout history, has added its own two cents worth to this great presence called you, and your DNA. Through the vast networks of your ancestral history you've arrived. Now, we might achieve a deeper understanding of the essence of life, and that's the way life is, and always has been.
Flash! Here's the dramatic results of the most recent DNA research. Two competing research teams, one American and one French, discovered that 20% of millions of Jewish, Arab and other Middle East neighbor races have a genetically flawed gene, Pyrin, which produces less immunology to a fever known as Familial Mediterranean Fever.
Don't worry, you're not likely to walk into the boss and say "I had FMF yesterday" but you might mistakenly say you had a heavy bout of flu. Pyrin is a gene which regulates white cells. It is estimated this genetic syndrome carries back 1000 years or more, maybe to the Pharoes. That was the nub of this DNA research. Of great concern, doctors have been treating these cases as normal, low to medium grade fever without much success. They have been mystified by lack of clinical response to symptoms. When and if diagnosed, a drug, Colchicine, is available. This ancient drug comprises much of the mysticism of the Nile, the Pyramids, snake charmers and communal hooka smoking. Emerging from the petals of the autumn Crocus, the drug was discovered about 500 B.C, curiously, about the same time as the mutation seems to have emerged. Up to about 30 years ago Colchicine had only been useful in the treatment of gout. But don't mess with it, it's a dangerous one. Check it out on the Internet, later.
So where does this leave us? Does this mean that if you're of Anglo Saxon, Teutonic, Gaelic, Spanish. Italian, Greek, Chinese or Japanese origin you could carry other hidden racially mutant genes, a unique characteristic of your race? Other studies have suggested this. Who could isolate such a racial database, and how? Have we sufficient data, for instance, to make tests and differential diagnoses between say, the similar physical profiles of Anglo Saxon, Saxon, Teutonic, Gallic and Norman races. Here we encounter few reliable physical characteristic differentials such as hair, skin tone, color, facial contour, or physical size. Not much which we can 'scientifically' eyeball and identify. In this group there are few unique social custom distinctions, comparable to that which the two research teams might have had to work with. Yet, most certainly there must be hundreds of other mutations anciently and secretly inbred in every race which, for instance, not only sets the Armenian, the Turkish, the Jewish, and the Arab race quite apart from their neighbours, the Afghans, Kurds, Iraqis, Iranians or the Greeks or any other races who seem not to be included, but who may have their own mutant inbred genes causing a multitude of hidden ailments, serious or otherwise.
Or, reversing our whole field, if, after examining the evidence presented, for instance, we discover that a mutant gene 3243 seems to have a strong influence in previously untreatable degenerative, diabetic neuropathy, an apparent aging condition which deteriorates the nervous system, can we reverse our predilections by tracking to a predominant racial strain, even a family history proclivity rather than waiting for the inevitable manifestation of the condition itself, thus avoiding irreversible damage to an unsuspecting, otherwise normal human being? This type of research is now going on, as we shall see later with Alzheimers.
Would the medical community be equipped to handle the patient who walks in and announces there is a reasonable possibility that he is among the 20-30-40% of his race who is susceptible to an ancient genetic deficiency? What does that do to the organization of the medical profession and their approach to pre-treatment of a condition or disease which has not yet arrived on the scene? It's not exactly a universal vaccine that is required because it doesn't apply to most of the population. Not even to most of the isolated race. Yet, would it not seem reasonable, safer and less costly to treat the mutation rather than the inevitable, sometimes fatal condition? Or, we could the patient at least wear a life name-tag? Or, whoever thought of a surname?
In certain ancient middle and far eastern races and countries there is reasonable certainty of confining a racial study to identifiable ghettoes, the social and geographic phenomena which groups together religious and other unique racial customs, hence the ability of these two research teams to isolate and conduct these two studies in the first place, both arriving at the same conclusion. On the other hand, in the general western European conglomerate there are diminished identifiable racial distinctions. In what we may now call the generic Anglo race, how do we tell the differences? How do we eyeball the Basque from the Spaniard, a Scot from a Cornishman? Particularly after they've arrived in the vast melting pot we call North America. This makes isolation of other racial genetic inheritance even more complex and out of focus.
Unfortunately, the results of the American and French research were relegated to the back pages of the media. Politically and socially, we are still squabbling over the desperate needs of equality, affirmative action and similar activist pressures related to the human social success or otherwise. On the other hand, we are medically very different from one another, as the geneticists have proved and continued to prove. Over 4000 human maladies have been proved to be hereditary, and perhaps that's only the tip of an open umbrella. Our political postures surely cannot be allowed to inhibit our survival. How do we learn to wear the two hats of this dichotomy with equal force?
Where do we begin? If mutations can be 1000's of years old, and, at the same time, only three or four generations old, or even be interconnected, one with the other, the research cannot be limited to just the recent genealogy of five or ten historic generations that Aunt Mamie put onto her family tree, as the results of the two FMF test groups have just concluded. Nor is the human body limited to just one single mutation.
Geneticists have proved genetic links in families many centuries ago. The only continuity is your surname, the only genetic connection, no matter which direction your search may take you. That is the name of the game, the name of the gene. Game over.
For the last twenty or thirty years or so there's been a groundswell, a profound, uneasy apprehension that it may be survival time, for each of us, and our race. Fifty years ago the great fear was the nuclear holocaust. Today its genetics. To reveal what the future holds you may need to look over your shoulder to the past, and, in light of these recent developments perhaps the far distant past of your race. The genetic code, the DNA, now looms large in all our lives, and not just for our own well being, but those who will follow. And, if your reprieve lies in history, you will need signposts.
There isn't a universal central forum of genealogical exchange. All except one, maybe. The WWW Internet. Like it or not, the Internet is the only mass information media exchange which is not pre-conditioned, pre-packaged, editorialized or screened. It is totally accessible. It is free expression. But it is also very random, and equally disorganized. It isn't necessarily controlled and prepared for your instant consumption, either. It may also carry its own inaccuracies. Many don't like or are afraid of Cyberspace for that very same reason. Nevertheless, it is a spontaneous interactive dialogue, untreated, a forum that more truly reflects public interest. On the other hand, it is not pristine. It allows frank, sometimes too frank public expression which can be analyzed all the way down to the grass roots of mankind. The search for identity and survival claims a mega interest on the spawning www.internet.
Not surprisingly, then, emerging in this incessant chatter of exchange is a hitherto dormant but now wildfire, explosion of interest in our personal past, our ancestors, our own personal drive engines, and our genetic profiles. This is a subject which gets very little attention in the conventional media, mostly because nobody seems to know where it's going and how it's going to get there. On the Internet, there are many thousands of genealogical societies of all nationalities, millions of individuals in a world wide quest for their past, family or clan association, or just straight communi-cavorting with their own kind. Their uninhibited driving force is variable and personal. Some are merely curious bystanders, some hobbyists, some desperate pathologists. But, deep down, they're each searching for all those elusive but common ancestors who had a hand in the unique profile.
If all searches are based on surnames (and nothing else exists) then some know-how is required. The purpose of this article and this web site is an attempt to set straight some of the old wives tales relating to the origin of surnames. Your name is the only key to the past, your birth surname, no matter which way you go, no matter which method you use. And for those unsure of their own identity, there are adoption web sites to help in the quest.
Sure, you can change your surname, but it really doesn't go away. Without it you're in deep, extra-terrestial space, without a compass, not even an astrolabe. We will at least open a forum of thought about a subject which has escaped the attention of modern analysis techniques and derives its frequently absurd conclusions from a Victorian melting pot of superficial conjecture, romance, snobbery, class distinction and exaggeration, all embroiled into a variety of self-serving motives and needs. Frequently these authors are our only popular and quick reference to the your enquiries. They are a very lazy man's one-line reference, which is oft repeated by word of mouth. Or, as some people do, you can simply create your own history. 'I came from a bunch of sheep stealers or horse/cattle thieves' is a very popular apology for one's ancestral past.
To digress for a moment. Does anybody know from what source this popular "sheep stealers and horse thieves" derives? Well .... after all the wisecracks have subsided .... there is a common source .... the English/Scottish borders. This area included thousands of clans and families who were a unique community commencing in the 11th century, having their own laws (of which cattle thieving was common practice), their own society, their own 'ruling body'. Collectively, the whole enclave, a buffer zone, was only about 200,000 strong in the 13th century. It was never labeled as a kingdom, but it might well have been in its own peculiar way. After 5 or 6 centuries of infighting, in the 17th century this community was dispersed, it had served it's rather vague purpose in the history of man. Their trails led to Ireland, south into England proper, north into the Scottish highlands, to the U.S and Canada. From Pennsylvania, they went westward through the Cumberland Gap, then to the Wild West. Their brethren from Ireland joined them, particularly after the famine. Some went to Australia. Banishment, slavery and indenture was common practice in those days. In the U.S.A they were known then as the Scotch/Irish and their strange dialects followed them. Their names were mangled, chewed up, misspelled. Their descendants now number in the tens, possibly hundreds of millions. Maybe you recognize basic names such as Elliot, Armstrong, Nixon, Johnston, Stewart, Douglas, Scott, Maxwell and thousands of others which still form the nucleus of our North American society today. If you want to find a surname, you'd better know historically where to look for its source. Those descending trails became widely dispersed, branching as a river to its estuary. The Library of Congress has many thousands of their genealogies.
Getting back .... We are embarking on an age of profound understanding of the genetic impact on our lives. Since the 60's and 70's new professions are emerging. Enter the professional geneticist, the medical genealogist and others. The need to bring the past closer is becoming abundantly clear, and most urgent. There are over 100,000 sites on the Internet dealing with this kind of survival in one form or another.
Highlight. The recent rejection of the Anastasia claim to be descended from the Nicholas, Czar of Russia was disproved by DNA comparison with England's Prince Philip who has a provable connection to that source. The pretender's DNA was not compatible to the Czar's but was traced to a factory worker in Poland about the turn of this century. Even Bethoven is being unearthed. From locks of his hair, (he died almost bald because so many had taken this keepsake, a common locket practice at the time) geneticists are trying to determine whether he really died of syphilis or not. They are also trying to determine the cause of his deafness which may have been the same neuropathy referred above. The next imponderable question 'Are all the Romanovs, Romanoffs, and Romanofs, Romanaks, Romanows, etc, both royals and commoners alike, all related to the same basic DNA blueprint?' The odds have to be at least 90% in their favour. If the odd's are so great with a royal family, why not with not with a lesser family? Is this the common key that made the Romanovs rulers of Russia, and other important positions in life? Haemophelia also runs in this royal line. Aren't we lucky?
So far, in its short life, we've only thought of the DNA as a physical, one dimensional relationship to our body and its physical functions, and our unique DNA identification mostly for criminal detection purposes. There may be much more depth to a particular heritable line than just the one-dimensional superficial blueprint. How far do these unique characteristics go back in time? How many did not arrive here at this time, such as Neanderthal man, a whole slice of humanity which didn't survive. Why? How many survived more than just adequately, they blossomed, exploded. Is this trend traceable to family surnames? Modestly, many of us disclaim aspirations to grandeur. Yet, fifty years ago, it was claimed, for instance, there were two million living descendants of the Norman King Robert the Bruce, a rather energetic and virile King of Scotland, who, is claimed, had 26 legitimate children and another 28 of the little tikes outside the blanket, as the saying goes. His DNA must have been a procreative blueprint driven by rocket thrusters, a real powerhouse. Is the drive to survive part of the DNA, too? There have been many allegations of racial characteristics prevailing in groups but I'm not going to touch that one with the proverbial ten-footer.
Digressing again, I will, however, relate something which you might find amusing. Getting back to those "horse thieves", or the Unruly or Reiver Clans as they we were sometimes known, each clan usually had a nick name. Consider some of the following mostly Scottish Clan nick Names; The sturdy Armstrongs: the jingling Jardines: the gentle Johnstones (and Neilsons): the fiery MacIntoshes: the proud McNeills (and Seatons): the manly Morrisons: the worthy Watsons: the pudding Somervilles: the saucy Scotts: the huaghty Hamiltons (and Humes): the gay Gordons: the lucky Duffs: the trusty Boyds: the wild McGraws (McGraths): the brave McDonalds: and so on. Or, consider the English clan war cry: A Fenwick, a Fenwick, a Fenwick; 500 Fenwicks came over the lea. Are these to be considered not only racial, but even family characteristics which prevail within those races?
There are now family groupings which take a very active interest in their surname medical history. One such, on the Internet, report their well organized re-unions more or less dedicated to investigating the excessive intrusion into the line by Alzheimers disease. Thousands attend the family re-unions. Every room in town is booked. The family have documented the incidence of this condition from the late 19th century when they emigrated to the U.S of A from the Ukraine. In their continuing investigations they have even charted their ancestors passage from 16th century Germany, then by a grant of lands in the 17th century from Katherine the Great of Russia. The migrants from Germany settled in the Ukraine in two small villages, Frank and Walter, near Odessa. The present inhabitants of these villages also reveal the same gene, the same statistically excessive trait. While there is much to be discovered by medical genealogists this is a but one of thousands of examples of a growing apprehension about this DNA connection and its historic trail of potent misery. Such cases have been documented since the early part of this century, without even the benefit of the DNA.
The DNA is not only a blueprint of the living, for crime and other identification purposes, it is also a trail to the past, perhaps our only legitimate trail. It is the profound heritage which makes us different and can only be traced by the surname. It also seals the network relationship of family ties. How meaningful this new tracing facility will become depends on our future needs for survival, how fast can we get it up and running as a viable and reliable tool. However, if we suggest that this modern, 'instant snap shot' of the DNA, as we know it from the O.J trial, etc., is a quick understanding of all the contributors from the past, we may stagger into a minefield of complete misunderstanding. If it has been proved, or at least indicated, the DNA is as effective and unique an historic tool as it is for those presently living, it opens a new and formidable world of research which only the modern computer can accommodate and support because of the size of the complex networks and databases involved. Our database has been in continual development since 1971 on one of the first microcomputers ever produced. This immense work has been recognized as Research and Development, allowable by Revenue Canada.
Digressing again .... The DNA can also be of immense commercial value. Picture this. Let's say that the Norman race lives 4 years longer than the average, or vice versa. It was proposed that applicants for life insurance be given spit bags, to be mailed back in. If Norman (or any other identifiable heritable racial DNA division) revealed an actuarial longevity longer than average, then he might get a break on his premiums. Or he/she might only identify a preferred (competitively) customer, which is the inevitable reverse side of this coin. Can you imagine, not only non smokers but Normans maybe offered a break some time in the future. This is merely one of many commercial applications.
Nevertheless, to get at the truth of history we have to question it, corroborate it as far as possible. There is much legend in history. For instance, we could believe implicitly in King Arthur of Camelot, the Round Table, and the Holy Grail fame, Charlemagne, the murderous Prince John who cruelly victimized Robin Hood and the lovely Maid Marion, St.Patrick and the snakes, McBeth, Dracula, Rasputin, Frankenstein and a thousand others, not to mention the jingle bells of St. Nicholas. It's not that some of these people didn't exist, its what we've created them to be. Perhaps, hundreds of years from now, Snow White, Pinochio, Tom Sawyer, Marshall Dillon (even Arness, together with film documentaries) will all become real people in the minds of some. Every decade in history has been distorted by self-serving reporters, the paparazzi, as we know them today. Romances have been written, fantasies have flourished and each generation embellishes on the previous one.
You can surf around this web site free of charge. You may get an inkling of the depth of profound professional analysis which has produced many hundreds of thousands of world surname histories in many languages researched over the last 25 years by over 50 historians, (our Honor Roll Call, we call them) from professors and undergrads alike. The original premise 25 years ago was based on the emerging RNA, then DNA differentials. Perhaps with some insight, we have tried to link and focus on the surname with emphasis on in-depth analysis of racial origin and type.
Feel free to use our ever growing Master search engine. It will pin-point the racial origin and first historic mention of the surname, sometimes going back to the 10th century. There is absolutely no charge for this information. The index contains 76% of the surnames presently recorded in North America (enquiries statistically recorded over the last two years on the Internet, and 12 years previously from displays all over the world, (including a display at the great Westminster Abbey of recent Princess Diana memorial). All this data has been computerized. It includes U.K and Irish surnames 82%, French 74% (with French translation), Spanish 70% (with Spanish translation), German 71%, Italian 67%, Slavik 59%, Polish 64%, Dutch and Belgium 59%, Baltic States 44%, Australian 80%, etc.
The full history of the surname is also available to you. This is not free. However, it is a nominal cost only. The original investment of research has already been paid off. You will probably want to get your own surname history, the Heritage Classic, which has been critically acclaimed by scholars world wide.
Before you zip off to check your surname(s) there are some other interesting pages you may want to check out before you leave our web site.
|Article Links:||The Origin of Surnames||Heraldry Today||The Domesday Book|
|Stately Homes and Castles||Magna Carta Barons||Scottish Clan Tartans|
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The earliest (1050 BC) doucment I have found using “surnames” is 2 Samuel Chapter 23 in versus 8 – 39. (See paragraph 3 below)
Biblical References on Surnames
2 Samuel 23: 8-39 (1050 BC)
I. The catalogue which the historian has here left upon record of the great soldiers that were in David’s time is intended, 1. For the honour of David, who trained them up in the arts of exercises of war, and set them an example of conduct and courage. It is the reputation as well as the advantage of a prince to be attended and served by such brave men as are here described. 2. For the honour of those worthies themselves, who were instrumental to bring David to the crown, settle and protect him in the throne, and enlarge his conquests. Note, Those that in public stations venture themselves, and lay out themselves, to serve the interests of their country, are worthy of double honour, both to be respected by those of their own age and to be remembered by posterity. 3. To excite those that come after to a generous emulation. 4. To show how much religion contributes to the inspiring of men with true courage. David, both by his psalms and by his offerings for the service of the temple, greatly promoted piety among the grandees of the kingdom (1 Chr. 29:6), and, when they became famous for piety, they became famous for bravery.
II. Now these mighty men are here divided into three ranks:
1. The first three, who had done the greatest exploits and thereby gained the greatest reputation—Adino (v. 8), Eleazar (v. 9, 10), and Shammah, v. 11, 12. I do not remember that we read of any of these, or of their actions, any where in all the story of David but here and in the parallel place, 1 Chr. 11. Many great and remarkable events are passed by in the annals, which relate rather the blemishes than the glories of David’s reign, especially after his sin in the matter Uriah; so that we may conclude his reign to have been really more illustrious than it has appeared to us while reading the records of it. The exploits of this brave triumvirate are here recorded. They signalized themselves in the wars of Israel against their enemies, especially the Philistines. (1.) Adino slew 800 at once with his spear. (2.) Eleazar defied the Philistines, as they by Goliath, had defied Israel, but with better success and greater bravery; for when the men of Israel had gone away, he not only kept his ground, but arose, and smote the Philistines, on whom God struck a terror equal to the courage with which this great hero was inspired. His hand was weary, and yet it clave to his sword; as long as he had any strength remaining he held his weapon and followed his blow. Thus, in the service of God, we should keep up the willingness and resolution of the spirit, notwithstanding the weakness and weariness of the flesh—faint, yet pursuing (Jdg. 8:4), the hand weary, yet not quitting the sword. Now that Eleazar had beaten the enemy, the men of Israel, who had gone away from the battle (v. 9), returned to spoil, v. 10. It is common for those who quit the field, when any thing is to be done to hasten to it when any thing is to be gotten. (3.) Shammah met with a party of the enemy, that were foraging, and routed them, v. 11, 12. But observe, both concerning this exploit and the former, it is here said, The Lord wrought a great victory. Note, How great soever the bravery of the instruments is, the praise of the achievement must be given to God. These fought the battles, but God wrought the victory. Let not the strong man then glory in his strength, nor in any of his military operations, but let him that glories glory in the Lord.
2. The next three were distinguished from, and dignified above, the thirty, but attained not to the first three, v. 23. All great men are not of the same size. Many a bright and benign star there is which is not of the first magnitude, and many a good ship not of the first rate. Of this second triumvirate two only are named, Abishai and Benaiah, whom we have often met with in the story of David, and who seem to have been not inferior in serviceableness, though they were in dignity, to the first three. Here is,
(1.) A brave action of these three in conjunction. They attended David in his troubles, when he absconded, in the cave of Adullam (v. 13), suffered with him, and therefore were afterwards preferred by him. When David and his brave men who attended him, who had acted so vigorously against the Philistines, were, by the iniquity of the times, in Saul’s reign, driven to shelter themselves from his rage in caves and strong holds, no marvel that the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim, and put a garrison even in Bethlehem itself, v. 13, 14. If the church’s guides are so misled as to persecute some of her best friends and champions, the common enemy will, no doubt, get advantage by it. If David had had his liberty, Bethlehem would not have been now in the Philistines’ hands. But, being so, we are here told, [1.] How earnestly David longed for the water of the well of Bethlehem. Some make it a public-spirited wish, and that he meant, "O that we could drive the garrison of the Philistines out of Bethlehem, and make that beloved city of mine our own again!’’ the well being put for the city, as the river often signifies the country it passes through. But if he meant so, those about him did not understand him; therefore it seems rather to be an instance of his weakness. It was harvest-time; the weather was hot; he was thirsty; perhaps good water was scarce, and therefore he earnestly wished, "O that I could but have one draught of the water of the well of Bethlehem!’’ With the water of that well he had often refreshed himself when he was a youth, and nothing now will serve him but that, though it is almost impossible to come at it. He strangely indulged a humour which he could give no reason for. Other water might quench his thirst as well, but he had a fancy for that above any. It is folly to entertain such fancies and greater folly to insist upon the gratification of them. We ought to check our appetites when they go out inordinately towards those things that really are more pleasant and grateful than other things (Be not desirous of dainties), much more when they are thus set upon such things as only please a humour. [2.] How bravely his three mighty men, Abishai, Benaiah, and another not named, ventured through the camp of the Philistines, upon the very mouth of danger, and fetched water from the well of Bethlehem, without David’s knowledge, v. 16. When he wished for it he was far from desiring that any of his men should venture their lives for it; but those three did, to show, First, How much they valued their prince, and with what pleasure they could run the greatest hardships in his service. David, though anointed king, was as yet an exile, a poor prince that had no external advantages to recommend him to the affection and esteem of his attendants, nor was he in any capacity to prefer or reward them; yet those three were thus zealous for his satisfaction, firmly believing the time of recompence would come. Let us be willing to venture in the cause of Christ, even when it is a suffering cause, as those who are assured that it will prevail and that we shall not lose by it at last. Were they so forward to expose themselves upon the least hint of their prince’s mind and so ambitious to please him? And shall not we covet to approve ourselves to our Lord Jesus by a ready compliance with every intimation of his will given us by his word, Spirit and providence? Secondly, How little they feared the Philistines. They were glad of an occasion to defy them. Whether they broke through the host clandestinely, and with such art that the Philistines did not discover them, or openly, and with such terror in their looks that the Philistines durst not oppose them, is not certain; it should seem, they forced their way, sword in hand. But see, [3.] How self-denyingly David, when he had this far-fetched dear-bought water, poured it out before the Lord, v. 17. First, Thus he would show the tender regard he had to the lives of his soldiers, and how far he was from being prodigal of their blood, Ps. 72:14. In God’s sight the death of his saints is precious. Secondly, Thus he would testify his sorrow for speaking that foolish word which occasioned those men to put their lives in their hands. Great men should take heed what they say, lest any bad use be made of it by those about them. Thirdly, Thus he would prevent the like rashness in any of his men for the future. Fourthly, Thus he would cross his own foolish fancy, and punish himself for entertaining and indulging it, and show that he had sober thoughts to correct his rash ones, and knew how to deny himself even in that which he was most fond of. Such generous mortifications become the wise, the great, and the good. Fifthly, Thus he would honour God and give glory to him. The water purchased at this rate he thought too precious for his own drinking and fit only to be poured out to God as a drink-offering. If it was the blood of these men, it was God’s due, for the blood was always his. Sixthly, Bishop Patrick speaks of some who think that David hereby showed that it was not material water he longed for, but the Messiah, who had the water of life, who, he knew, should be born at Bethlehem, which the Philistines therefore should not be able to destroy. Seventhly, Did David look upon that water as very precious which was got at the hazard of these men’s blood, and shall not we much more value those benefits for the purchasing of which our blessed Saviour shed his blood? Let us not undervalue the blood of the covenant, as those do that undervalue the blessings of the covenant.
(2.) The brave actions of two of them on other occasions. Abishai slew 300 men at once, v. 18, 19. Benaiah did many great things. [1.] He slew two Moabites that were lion-like men, so bold and strong, so fierce and furious. [2.] He slew an Egyptian, on what occasion it is not said; he was well armed but Benaiah attacked him with no other weapon than a walking staff, dexterously wrested his spear out of his hand, and slew him with it, v. 21. For these and similar exploits David preferred him to be captain of the life-guard or standing forces, v. 23.
3. Inferior to the second three, but of great note, were the thirty-one here mentioned by name, v. 24, etc. Asahel is the first, who was slain by Abner in the beginning of David’s reign, but lost not his place in this catalogue. Elhanan is the next, brother to Eleazar, one of the first three, v. 9. The surnames here given them are taken, as it should seem, from the places of their birth or habitation, as many surnames with us originally were. From all parts of the nation, the most wise and valiant were picked up to serve the king. Several of those who are named we find captains of the twelve courses which David appointed, one for each month in the year, 1 Chr. 27. Those that did worthily were preferred according to their merits. One of them was the son of Ahithophel (v. 34), the son famous in the camp as the father at the council-board. But to find Uriah the Hittite bringing up the rear of these worthies, as it revives the remembrance of David’s sin, so it aggravates it, that a man who deserved so well of his king and country should be so ill treated. Joab is not mentioned among all these, either, (1.) to be mentioned; the first, of the first three sat chief among the captains, but Joab was over them as general. Or, (2.) Because he was so bad that he did not deserve to be mentioned; for though he was confessedly a great soldier, and one that had so much religion in him as to dedicate of his spoils to the house of God (1 Chr. 26:28), yet he lost as much honour by slaying two of David’s friends as ever he got by slaying his enemies.
Christ, the Son of David, has his worthies too, who like David’s, are influenced by his example, fight his battles against the spiritual enemies of his kingdom, and in his strength are more than conquerors. Christ’s apostles were his immediate attendants, did and suffered great things for him, and at length came to reign with him. They are mentioned with honour in the New Testament, as these in the Old, especially, Rev. 21:14. Nay, all the good soldiers of Jesus Christ have their names better preserved than even these worthies have; for they are written in heaven. This honour have all his saints.
1 Kings 4:1-19 (931 BC)
Here we have,
I. Solomon upon his throne (v. 1): So king Solomon was king, that is, he was confirmed and established king over all Israel, and not, as his successors, only over two tribes. He was a king, that is, he did the work and duty of a king, with the wisdom God had given him. Those preserve the name and honour of their place that mind the business of it and make conscience of it.
II. The great officers of his court, in the choice of whom, no doubt, his wisdom much appeared. It is observable, 1. That several of them are the same that were in his father’s time. Zadok and Abiathar were then priests (2 Sa. 20:25), so they were now; only then Abiathar had the precedency, now Zadok. Jehoshaphat was then recorder, or keeper of the great seal, so he was now. Benaiah, in his father’s time, was a principal man in military affairs, and so he was now. Shisha was his father’s scribe, and his sons were his, v. 3. Solomon, though a wise man, would not affect to be wiser than his father in this matter. When sons come to inherit their father’s wealth, honour, and power, it is a piece of respect to their memory, caeteris paribus—where it can properly be done, to employ those whom they employed, and trust those whom they trusted. Many pride themselves in being the reverse of their good parents. 2. The rest were priests’ sons. His prime-minister of state was Azariah the son of Zadok the priest. Two others of the first rank were the sons of Nathan the prophet, v. 5. In preferring them he testified the grateful respect he had for their good father, whom he loved in the name of a prophet.
III. The purveyors for his household, whose business it was to send in provisions from several parts of the country, for the king’s tables and cellars (v. 7) and for his stables (v. 27, 28), that thus, 1. His house might always be well furnished at the best hand. Let great men learn hence good house-keeping, to be generous in spending according to their ability, but prudent in providing. It is the character of the virtuous woman that she bringeth her food from afar (Prov. 31:14), not far-fetched and dear-bought, but the contrary, every thing bought where it is cheapest. 2. That thus he himself, and those who immediately attended him, might be eased of a great deal of care, and the more closely apply themselves to the business of the state, not troubled about much serving, provision for that being got ready to their hand. 3. That thus all the parts of the kingdom might be equally benefited by the taking off of the commodities that were the productions of their country and the circulating of the coin. Industry would hereby be encouraged, and consequently wealth increased, even in those tribes that lay most remote from the court. The providence of God extends itself to all places of his dominions (Ps. 103:22); so should the prudence and care of princes. 4. The dividing of this trust into so many hands was prudent, that no man might be continually burdened with the care of it nor grow exorbitantly rich with the profit of it, but that Solomon might have those, in every district, who, having a dependence upon the court, would be serviceable to him and his interest as there was occasion. These commissioners of the victualling-office, not for the army or navy (Solomon was engaged in no war), but for the household, are here named, several of them only by their surnames, as great men commonly call their servants: Ben-hur, Ben-dekar, etc., though several of them have also their proper names prefixed. Two of them married Solomon’s daughters, Ben-Abinadab (v. 11) and Ahimaaz (v. 15), and no disparagement to them to marry men of business. Better match with the officers of their father’s court that were Israelites than with the sons of princes that were strangers to the covenant of promise. The son of Geber was in Ramoth-Gilead (v. 19), and Geber himself was in the country of Sihon and Og, which included that and Mahanaim, v. 14. He is therefore said to be the only officer in that land, because the other two, mentioned v. 13, 14, depended on him, and were subordinate to him.
Ezra 2:1-35 (539 BC)
We may observe here, 1. That an account was kept in writing of the families that came up out of captivity, and the numbers of each family. This was done for their honour, as part of their recompence for their faith and courage, their confidence in God and their affection to their own land, and to stir up others to follow their good example. Those that honour God he will thus honour. The names of all those Israelites indeed that accept the offer of deliverance by Christ shall be found, to their honour, in a more sacred record than this, even in the Lamb’s book of life. The account that was kept of the families that came up from the captivity was intended also for the benefit of posterity, that they might know from whom they descended and to whom they were allied. 2. That they are called children of the province. Judah, which had been an illustrious kingdom, to which other kingdoms had been made provinces, subject to it and dependent on it, was now itself made a province, to receive laws and commissions from the king of Persia and to be accountable to him. See how sin diminishes and debases a nation, which righteousness would exalt. But by thus being made servants (as the patriarchs by being sojourners in a country which was theirs by promise) they were reminded of the better country, that is, the heavenly (Heb. 11:16), a kingdom which cannot be moved, or changed into a province. 3. That they are said to come every one to his city, that is, the city appointed them, in which appointment an eye, no doubt, was had to their former settlement by Joshua; and to that, as near as might be, they returned: for it does not appear that any others, at least any that were able to oppose them, had possessed them in their absence. 4. That the leaders are first mentioned, v. 2. Zerubbabel and Jeshua were their Moses and Aaron, the former their chief prince, the latter their chief priest. Nehemiah and Mordecai are mentioned here; some think not the same with the famous men we afterwards meet with of those names: probably they were the same, but afterwards returned to court for the service of their country. 5. Some of these several families are named from the persons that were their ancestors, others from the places in which they had formerly resided; as with us many surnames are the proper names of persons, others of places. 6. Some little difference there is between the numbers of some of the families here and in Neh. 7, where this catalogue is repeated, which might arise from this, that some who had given in their names at first to come afterwards drew back—said, I go, Sir, but went not, which would lessen the number of the families they belonged to; others that declined, at first, afterwards repented and went, and so increased the number. 7. Here are two families that are called the children of Elam (one v. 7, another v. 31), and, which is strange, the number of both is the same, 1254. 8. The children of Adonikam, which signifies a high lord, were 666, just the number of the beast (Rev. 13:18), which is there said to be the number of a man, which, Mr. Hugh Broughton thinks, has reference to this man. 9. The children of Bethlehem (v. 21) were but 123, though it was David’s city; for Bethlehem was little among the thousands of Judah, yet there must the Messiah arise, Mic. 5:2. 10. Anathoth had been a famous place in the tribe of Benjamin and yet here it numbered but 128 (v. 23), which is to be imputed to the divine curse which the men of Anathoth brought upon themselves by persecuting Jeremiah, who was of their city. Jer. 11:21, 23, There shall be no remnant of them, for I will bring evil upon the men of Anathoth. And see Isa. 10:30, O poor Anathoth! Nothing brings ruin on a people sooner than persecution.
Psalm 130:5-8 (800 BC)
Here, I. The psalmist engages himself to trust in God and to wait for him, v. 5, 6. Observe, 1. His dependence upon God, expressed in a climax, it being a a song of degrees, or ascents: "I wait for the Lord; from him I expect relief and comfort, believing it will come, longing till it does come, but patiently bearing the delay of it, and resolving to look for it from no other hand. My soul doth wait; I wait for him in sincerity, and not in profession only. I am an expectant, and it is for the Lord that my soul waits, for the gifts of his grace and the operations of his power.’’ 2. The ground of that dependence: In his word do I hope. We must hope for that only which he has promised in his word, and not for the creatures of our own fancy and imagination; we must hope for it because he has promised it, and not from any opinion of our own merit. 3. The degree of that dependence—"more than those that watch for the morning, who are, (1.) Well-assured that the morning will come; and so am I that God will return in mercy to me, according to his promise; for God’s covenant is more firm than the ordinances of day and night, for they shall come to an end, but that is everlasting.’’ (2.) Very desirous that it would come. Sentinels that keep guard upon the walls, those that watch with sick people, and travellers that are abroad upon their journey, long before day wish to see the dawning of the day; but more earnestly does this good man long for the tokens of God’s favour and the visits of his grace, and more readily will he be aware of his first appearances than they are of day. Dr. Hammond reads it thus, My soul hastens to the Lord, from the guards in the morning, the guards in the morning, and gives this sense of it, "To thee I daily betake myself, early in the morning, addressing my prayers, and my very soul, before thee, at the time that the priests offer their morning sacrifice.’’
II. He encourages all the people of God in like manner to depend upon him and trust in him: Let Israel hope in the Lord and wait for him; not only the body of the people, but every good man, who surnames himself by the name of Israel, Isa. 44:5. Let all that devote themselves to God cheerfully stay themselves upon him (v. 7, 8), for two reasons:-1. Because the light of nature discovers to us that there is mercy with him, that the God of Israel is a merciful God and the Father of mercies. Mercy is with him; not only inherent in his nature, but it is his delight, it is his darling attribute; it is with him in all his works, in all his counsels. 2. Because the light of the gospel discovers to us that there is redemption with him, contrived by him, and to be wrought out in the fulness of time; it was in the beginning hidden in God. See here, (1.) The nature of this redemption; it is redemption from sin, from all sin, and therefore can be no other than that eternal redemption which Jesus Christ became the author of; for it is he that saves his people from their sins (Mt. 1:21), that redeems them from all iniquity (Tit. 2:14), and turns away ungodliness from Jacob, Rom. 11:26. It is he that redeems us both from the condemning and from the commanding power of sin. (2.) The riches of this redemption; it is plenteous redemption; there is an all-sufficient fulness of merit and grace in the Redeemer, enough for all, enough for each; enough for me, says the believer. Redemption from sin includes redemption from all other evils, and therefore is a plenteous redemption. (3.) The persons to whom the benefits of this redemption belong: He shall redeem Israel, Israel according to the spirit, all those who are in covenant with God, as Israel was, and who are Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile.
Isaiah 29:1-8 (791 BC)
That it is Jerusalem which is here called Ariel is agreed, for that was the city where David dwelt; that part of it which was called Zion was in a particular manner the city of David, in which both the temple and the palace were. But why it is so called is very uncertain: probably the name and the reason were then well known. Cities, as well as persons, get surnames and nicknames. Ariel signifies the lion of God, or the strong lion: as the lion is king among beasts, so was Jerusalem among the cities, giving law to all about her; it was the city of the great King (Ps. 48:1, 2); it was the head-city of Judah, who is called a lion’s whelp (Gen. 49:9) and whose ensign was a lion; and he that is the lion of the tribe of Judah was the glory of it. Jerusalem was a terror sometimes to the neighbouring nations, and, while she was a righteous city, was bold as a lion. Some make Ariel to signify the altar of burnt-offerings, which devoured the beasts offered in sacrifice as the lion does his prey. Woe to that altar in the city where David dwelt; that was destroyed with the temple by the Chaldeans. I rather take it as a woe to Jerusalem, Jerusalem; it is repeated here, as it is Mt. 23:37, that it might be the more awakening. Here is,
I. The distress of Jerusalem foretold. Though Jerusalem be a strong city, as a lion, though a holy city, as a lion of God, yet, if iniquity be found there, woe be to it. It was the city where David dwelt; it was he that brought that to it which was its glory, and which made it a type of the gospel church, and his dwelling in it was typical of Christ’s residence in his church. This mentioned as an aggravation of Jerusalem’s sin, that in it were set both the testimony of Israel and the thrones of the house of David. 1. Let Jerusalem know that her external performance of religious services will not serve as an exemption from the judgments of God (v. 1): "Add year to year; go on in the road of your annual feasts, let all your males appear there three times a year before the Lord, and none empty, according to the law and custom, and let them never miss any of these solemnities: let them kill the sacrifices, as they used to do; but, as long as their lives are unreformed and their hearts unhumbled, let them not think thus to pacify an offended God and to turn away his wrath.’’ Note, Hypocrites may be found in a constant track of devout exercises, and treading around in them, and with these they may flatter themselves, but can never please God nor make their peace with him. 2. Let her know that God is coming forth against her in displeasure, that she shall be visited of the Lord of hosts (v. 6); her sins shall be enquired into and punished: God will reckon for them with terrible judgments, with the frightful alarms and rueful desolations of war, which shall be like thunder and earthquakes, storms and tempests, and devouring fire, especially upon the account of the great noise. When a foreign enemy was not in the borders, but in the bowels of their country, roaring and ravaging, and laying all waste (especially such an army as that of the Assyrians, whose commanders being so very insolent, as appears by the conduct of Rabshakeh, the common soldiers, no doubt, were much more rude), they might see the Lord of those hosts visiting them with thunder and storm. Yet, this being here said to be a great noise, perhaps it is intimated that they shall be worse frightened than hurt. Particularly, (1.) Jerusalem shall be besieged, straitly besieged. He does not say, I will destroy Ariel, but I will distress Ariel; and she is therefore brought into distress, that, being thereby awakened to repent and reform, she may not be brought to destruction. I will (v. 3) encamp against thee round about. It was the enemy’s army that encamped against it; but God says that he will do it, for they are his hand, he does it by them. God had often and long, by a host of angels, encamped for them round about them for their protection and deliverance; but now he was turned to be their enemy and fought against them. The siege laid against them was of his laying, and the forts raised against them were of his raising. Note, When men fight against us we must, in them, see God contending with us. (2.) She shall be in grief to see the country laid waste and all the fenced cities of Judah in the enemies’ hand: There shall be heaviness and sorrow (v. 2), mourning and lamentation—so these two words are sometimes rendered. Those that are most merry and jovial are commonly, when they come to be in distress, most overwhelmed with heaviness and sorrow; their laughter is then turned into mourning. "All Jerusalem shall then be unto me as Ariel, as the altar, with fire upon it and slain victims about it:’’ so it was when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Chaldeans; and many, no doubt, were slain when it was besieged by the Assyrians. "the whole city shall be an altar, in which sinners, falling by the judgments that are abroad, shall be as victims to divine justice.’’ Or thus:—"There shall be heaviness and sorrow; they shall repent, and reform, and return to God, and then it shall be to me as Ariel. Jerusalem shall be like itself, shall become to me a Jerusalem again, a holy city,’’ ch. 1:26. (3.) She shall be humbled, and mortified, and made submissive (v. 4): "Thou shalt be brought down from the height of arrogancy and insolence to which thou hast arrived: the proud looks and the proud language shall be brought down by one humbling providence after another.’’ Those that despise God’s judgments shall be humbled by them; for the proudest sinners shall either bend or break before him. They had talked big, had lifted up the horn on high, and had spoken with a stiff neck (Ps. 75:5); but now thou shalt speak out of the ground, out of the dust, as one that has a familiar spirit, whispering out of the dust. This intimates, [1.] That they should be faint and feeble, not able to speak up, nor to say all they would say; but as those who are sick, or whose spirits are ready to fail, their speech shall be low and interrupted. [2.] That they should be fearful, and in consternation, forced to speak low as being afraid lest their enemies should overhear them and take advantage against them. [3.] That they should be tame, and obliged to submit to the conquerors. When Hezekiah submitted to the king of Assyria, saying, I have offended, that which thou puttest on me I will bear (2 Ki. 18:14), then his speech was low, out of the dust. God can make those to crouch that have been most daring, and quite dispirit them.
II. The destruction of Jerusalem’s enemies is foretold, for the comfort of all that were her friends and well-wishers in this distress (v. 5, 7): "Thou shalt be brought down (v. 4), to speak out of the dust; so low thou shalt be reduced. But’’ (so it may be rendered) "the multitude of thy strangers and thy terrible ones, the numerous armies of the enemy, shall themselves be like small dust, not able to speak at all, or as much as whisper, but as chaff that passes away. Thou shalt be abased, but they shall be quite dispersed, smitten and slain after another manner (ch. 27:7); they shall pass away, yea it shall be in an instant, suddenly: the enemy shall be surprised with the destruction, and you with the salvation.’’ The army of the Assyrians was by an angel laid dead upon the spot, in an instant, suddenly. Such will be the destruction of the enemies of the gospel Jerusalem. In one hour shall their judgment come, Rev. 18:10. Again (v. 6), "Thou shalt be visited, or (as it used to be rendered) She shall be visited with thunder and a great noise. Thou shalt be put into a fright which thou shalt soon recover. But (v. 7) the multitude of the nations that fight against her shall be as a dream of a night-vision; they and their prosperity and success shall soon vanish past recall.’’ The multitude of the nations that fight against Zion shall be as a hungry man who dreams that he eats, but still is hungry; that is, 1. Whereas they hoped to make a prey of Jerusalem, and to enrich themselves with the plunder of that opulent city, their hopes shall prove vain dreams, with which their fancies may please and sport themselves for a while, but they shall be disappointed. They fancied themselves masters of Jerusalem, but shall never be so. 2. They themselves, and all their pomp, and power, and prosperity, shall vanish like a dream when one awakes, shall be of as little value and as short continuance. Ps. 73:20. He shall fly away as a dream Job 20:8. The army of Sennacherib vanished and was gone quickly, though it had filled the country as a dream fills a man’s head, especially as a dream of meat fills the head of him that went to bed hungry. Many understand these verses as part of the threatening of wrath, when God comes to distress Jerusalem, and lay siege to her. (1.) The multitude of her friends, whom she relies upon for help shall do her no good; for, though they are terrible ones, they shall be like the small dust, and shall pass away. (2.) The multitude of her enemies shall never think they can do her mischief enough; but, when they have devoured her much, still they shall be but like a man who dreams he eats, hungry, and greedy to devour her more.