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  • Surname Variations

    I've been researching Medieval docs concerning northern England & southern Scotland for many years & have recently found a geographical connection between an R-P312** poster & my own surname's place of origin.
    The poster has an ancestor with connections to Hatfield, Yorkshire. I have found that a William de Redness (from Reedness, near Hull) was living close to areas inhabited by my surname, in Cumberland. Reedness is a mere 10 miles from Hatfield.
    Although I don't believe my R-P312** results are close enough to the Hatfield chap's ancestors to claim close ties, I do believe that both familes may well have had earlier links to Flanders. I say that as I have found numerous links to Flemings during my research.
    I have also found that one famous northern family adopted 4 or 5 different surnames during the 12th-13th centuries, and that the majority of the old lineages had 'daughtered out' by the 16th C.
    Finally, another of our tiny R-P312** group claims an ancestor in the mid-1600s who was a Flemish silk trader.
    Cheers,
    Bob
    Last edited by bob armstrong; 25th April 2013, 10:32 AM.

  • #2
    I just completed a 15 year research project on my family in which I compiled 121 variant spellings of the surname. Welcome to medieval genealogy!

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    • #3
      Thanks. That's a lot of variations! I think I got to 35 for my actual surname. My main interest wasn't so much in variations of the same surname, more that several people from the same family adopted totally different surnames.
      Most took the name of the village they later lived in as adults, while later generations sometimes kept their father's surname while others took their mother's surname. Not helpful for genealogists!
      Bob

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      • #4
        Hello Bob....My Y ancestors were Grahams from southern Scotland and I find it interesting that you said some of your people took their mother's name. I have some Johnsons, some Irvings and an Armstrong or two as 67 matches. All these clans were grouped near each other along the Scotish/English borders during Border Reiver days. Your research has given me some new ideas on how we all came to have the same DNA....I had been thinking they had all just been very good friends. Ha.

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        • #5
          There was a tradition on the Borders called 'hand-fasting', Thormalen. This involved a trial marriage of a year. After that year was over, either party could leave the union if unsatisfied. I dare say many children may have arrived after the split!
          Also, the Borders was one of the world's most violent regions, what with inter-clan feuding, plus numerous Anglo-Scottish wars. The result was a plethora of orphaned children, presumably taken in by their neighbours.
          Finally, there's scarcely a Border family who doesn't have Armstrong, Elliot, Graham, Johnson, Irving or Little relatives!
          My line & Y-DNA is solid Armstrong , numerous close matches, but I do have a handful of Graham, Johnson & Elliot matches (approx 3%) amongst my ancestors.
          Cheers,
          Bob

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          • #6
            Originally posted by bob armstrong View Post
            There was a tradition on the Borders called 'hand-fasting', Thormalen. This involved a trial marriage of a year. After that year was over, either party could leave the union if unsatisfied. I dare say many children may have arrived after the split!
            Also, the Borders was one of the world's most violent regions, what with inter-clan feuding, plus numerous Anglo-Scottish wars. The result was a plethora of orphaned children, presumably taken in by their neighbours.
            Finally, there's scarcely a Border family who doesn't have Armstrong, Elliot, Graham, Johnson, Irving or Little relatives!
            My line & Y-DNA is solid Armstrong , numerous close matches, but I do have a handful of Graham, Johnson & Elliot matches (approx 3%) amongst my ancestors.
            Cheers,
            Bob
            In Scotland, at least during the 1600's, a wife generally kept her maiden name even after marriage, as there are many Scottish court records which refer to female defendants as "Bessie Wilson spouse of Alexander Cumming" or "Isobel Napier spouse of Robert Douglas", as examples.

            In some cases, it is possible that a child's father may have died before the child was born, in which case the child may have gone by the mother's maiden name.

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            • #7
              This is interesting. I just looked on my old records from the early 1600s in Hawick and Edinburgh and have found that all the wife's have seemed to have kept their maiden names; Heslope,Eliott, Bell, etc. I am a J1c3d L1253. Claude

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              • #8
                Steve, you're probably aware that a Victorian work claimed that Aiken was a surname reputedly via the same progenitor as the Armstrongs? I appreciate that the spelling is slightly different to yours (Akins). My own research doesn't substantiate that claim, but it is of interest.
                Many graves I've seen on the Scottish side of the border conveniently mention the wives' maiden names - very helpful to researchers!
                Bob

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by bob armstrong View Post
                  Steve, you're probably aware that a Victorian work claimed that Aiken was a surname reputedly via the same progenitor as the Armstrongs? I appreciate that the spelling is slightly different to yours (Akins). My own research doesn't substantiate that claim, but it is of interest.
                  Many graves I've seen on the Scottish side of the border conveniently mention the wives' maiden names - very helpful to researchers!
                  Bob
                  Hi Bob,

                  That is a new one on me. I had always heard that the Armstrongs were descended from a man whose last name was Fairbairn IIRC.

                  My surname likely is a variation of Aiken, spelling in previous centuries was always somewhat arbitrary. In early records here in the United States it is rendered variously as Aiken(s), Aikin(s), Akin(s), and Eakin(s), but at least as far back as my 4th great grandfather who was born in 1756, it has been Akins in my line of the family; although I have distant cousins who spell it without the -s.

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                  • #10
                    Sadly, most of the Victorian's theories were erroneous, Steve. The Siward & Fairbairn conjectures fell into that trap. Unfortunately, once info is put on the internet it is taken as gospel. Luckily the Medieval cartularies, pipe rolls etc have enough clues in them to allow a more sensible assesment to be made.
                    Bob

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by bob armstrong View Post
                      Sadly, most of the Victorian's theories were erroneous, Steve. The Siward & Fairbairn conjectures fell into that trap. Unfortunately, once info is put on the internet it is taken as gospel. Luckily the Medieval cartularies, pipe rolls etc have enough clues in them to allow a more sensible assesment to be made.
                      Bob
                      Yes, I strongly suspect that Black's conjecture that my surname and it's variant spellings are variants of Aitken (visa vi: Adkin, Atkin) is incorrect, as my own family line and those of other Akinses, Aikens, etc. never spelled their surname with a -t- or a -d- in it, unless it was dropped so long ago that they have no evidence of it ever having been included in the spelling of the surname. What we do find is that very often the name was spelled as Eakin, and I suspect that may be an Anglicization of the Gaelic name Eachin. Eakins and Akins are both pronounced the same ("A-kinz") with a hard-A.

                      Of course if George F. Black put it in his book, everyone thinks it is gospel, even though the man was not infallible and is bound to have made mistakes occassionally.

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                      • #12
                        The 'kin' ending on some names can be a sign of Flemish origins, Steve. One classic example is Freskin, a Fleming, noted in many Scottish Medieval docs as 'Freskin the Fleming'.
                        Jenkins is another name that is a member of the R-P312** group. To most of us in Britain, it would seem to indicate a Welsh/Brythonic Celt origin, but the 'kin' ending was brought to Wales by Flemish settlers. Most Jenkins may well be of Welsh stock, but had their original Welsh-spelt surname corrupted into the form we now are familiar with. From memory, I think the Welsh had a similar name called 'Siencyn', similar to Jenkin.
                        Bob
                        Last edited by bob armstrong; 26th April 2013, 09:36 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by bob armstrong View Post
                          The 'kin' ending on some names can be a sign of Flemish origins, Steve. One classic example is Freskin, a Fleming, noted in many Scottish Medieval docs as 'Freskin the Fleming'.
                          Jenkins is another name that is a member of the R-P312** group. To most of us in Britain, it would seem to indicate a Welsh/Brythonic Celt origin, but the 'kin' ending was brought to Wales by Flemish settlers. Most Jenkins may well be of Welsh stock, but had their original Welsh-spelt surname corrupted into the form we now are familiar with. From memory, I think the Welsh had a similar name called 'Siencyn', similar to Jenkin.
                          Bob
                          My recent DNA results confirming my haplotype are R-U106 have me wondering if my Akins ancestors might have been of Flemish origin, and if the surname might actually be derived from the name of the town of Aachen, which lies just inside Germany near the Flemish border. R-U106 appears to be most heavily concentrated in the Low Countries (Belgium and the Netherlands).

                          An early Scottish record which contains the first known appearance of my surname in Scotland is found in A Calendar of Documents Relating to Scotland preserved in Her Majesty's Public Record Office, London, which entry bears the date November 20, 1405, and reads:

                          "Warrant to the Chancellor, - On the petition of John Hadyngton and John of Akyne, Scottish merchants, showing how they during the late truce were on their voyage to Scotland when a barge and a balyngere of war with Laurence Tuttebury of Hulle and his people made them prisoners on 5th September last, with goods worth 500 marks, and kept them in Hull for eight weeks"
                          Black mentions this entry in his Surnames of Scotland, but dismisses the "of" indication of the name being geographical in origin as a clerical error, since he knew of no place in Scotland by that name; although there is a strait called Kyle Akin that separates the Isle of Skye from the mainland and is the location of Dun Akin castle, both of which are said to have been named after King Hakon of Norway who invaded in 1263 AD.
                          Last edited by Steven Akins; 26th April 2013, 10:04 PM.

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                          • #14
                            It's unfortunate that many overlook Flemings as being potential progenitors for their surname, Steve. Many who claim Norman ancestry are unaware that Normandy was home to many Flemings following numerous floods in Flanders. Also, William the Conqueror & some of his family wed Flemish girls which also encouraged Flemings into Normandy.
                            Places like the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy were difficult for the Normans/French to cultivate, but the Flemings were skilled at 'scrabble farming', & were often encouraged to farm the region.
                            Many of the Scottish nobles had Flemish roots: Douglas & Bruce being prime examples.
                            You rightly pointed out place names in Belgium. It is important as I've found several Norman towns & villages had similarly-written equivalents in Flanders.
                            Bob
                            PS Another Scottish 'kin' name is Erskine

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                            • #15
                              I should also mention that Flemings were utilised in the Scottish wool trade. Thousands of sheep were exported from the Border counties via Berwick to Bruges.
                              Bob

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