De is for… A Genealogy Study (in Errors)

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So I’ve been happily skipping along with these genealogy posts until I hit D and realized that I have made a mistake. Here’s the remedy to that, a short post on the ‘de’ family names that hit A–D.

See the other iterations of this post: A | B | C | D |

De Annand/ De Annandio: This interesting name derives from either of two possible origins. Firstly the name may come from the Old Danish and Swedish personal name “Anund”, of unknown origin. It’s more likely source or origin lies in Scotland where it may be of locational origin from Annan in Dumfriesshire, or from the lands of Inyaney or Aneny, now called Ananias.

De Atwood: This is a very old topographical surname, of Anglo-Saxon origin, for someone who lived by a wood. The name derives from the Olde English pre 7th Century “aet”, Middle English “atte”, at, with the Olde English “wudu”, Middle English “wood”, wood. Other similar formations from a large group of such surnames include Atfield (at the field); Atherden (at the valley); Athoke (at the bend); and Attwater (at the water). The surname was first recorded in the mid 13th Century.

De Audley: This interesting name is of Anglo-Saxon origin, and is a locational surname deriving from the place called “Audley” near Lichfield in Staffordshire. The placename is recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as “Aldidelege”, and in the Staffordshire Pipe Rolls of 1182 as “Aldithelega”. The name means “Ealdgith’s glade”, derived from the Old English pre 7th Century female personal name “Ealdgith”, composed of the elements “eald”, old, and “gyth”, battle, with “leah”, this wood, galde, clearing.

De Beresford: Recorded in many forms as shown below, this is a famous English surname of great antiquity and nobility. It is locational from the village of Beresford in the parish of Alstonfield, North Staffordshire, or perhaps in some cases from Burford (originally Berford), in the county of Oxfordshire. The placenames are derived from the Olde English pre 7th Century words “beofor”, meaning beaver, plus “forda”, a shallow river crossing. The surname had clearly emerged by the 13th Century. The coat of arms has the blazon of a silver field, charged with a bear proper collared and chained gold. However, it is claimed that all name bearers are descended from Thomas Beresford, who fought at the battle of Agincourt, in France in 1415. This is a romantic story, but not one that can be treated with any seriousness.

De Berkely: This surname is locational, from Berkeley a parish and market town in Gloucestershire or Berkeley in Somerset, both so called from the Old English pre 7th Century “be(o)rc” meaning “birch” plus “leah” “wood” or “clearing” hence “birch wood”. The name is particularly prominent in Scotland which suggests that it was brought in by a Berkeley from Gloucestershire in the 12th Century.

De Boston: This is an English locational surname. It originates from the town of Boston, in the county of Lincolnshire, an area famous for the number of settlers which it contributed to the establishment of the colonies of New England from about the year 1607. The placename is first recorded in the year 1130 in the spelling of Botulestan, although the precise meaning is uncertain.

De Braci: This interesting surname is of Old French origin, introduced into England after the Norman Conquest of 1066. The name is French locational from Brecy in Aisne or Ardennes. The placename is believed to derive from the Old French “brace”, arm, and may have been used here in a transferred topographical sense to mean “arm of land” or “stretch of land”. A Coat of Arms granted to the Bracey family depicts a silver bend between two silver dexter hands on a black shield, the Crest being a unicorn sejant resting the dexter paw against an oak tree proper.

De Camville: This surname was first found in Northamptonshire where Gerald de Camvile, the grandson of the Norman Adventurer held a family seat. The Coat of arms depicts three silver lions rampant on a  blue shield.

De Clare: This most interesting and ancient surname, with its long association with the British nobility, has three possible origins. It may be Olde English and derive from the pre 8th-century word ‘cleare’ which translates as ‘bright or clear’ and as such was applied to various rivers and a Manor in the county of Suffolk. A second possibility is French, from a place called Clere in Normandy and first recorded in the 1086 Domesday Book of England, whilst the third is baptismal from the French ‘Claire’ or the Latin ‘Clara’ which themselves translate as ‘bright of fair’. The original spelling forms were Clere, Clarae, Clara, Clare, and Clair(e), however, there is some confusion in that in the early days the surnames were almost always proceeded by the French preposition ‘de’, although by the 16th century its use had almost died out.

De Clermont: French: habitational name from any of the various places named Clermont, from Old French clair, cler ‘bright’, ‘clear’ + mont ‘hill’, i.e. a hill that could be seen a long way off.

De Corbet: Recorded in several forms including Corbet, Corbett, Corbitt, Carbert, Corbert, and Corburt, this interesting Anglo-Scottish surname is of Norman – French origins. Derived from the French word “corbet”, it is translated as “Little raven”, in heraldry a highly respected bird known for its ferocity.

De Dinan: This interesting and rare surname is an occasional variant of “Dinneen”, which is the Anglicized form of the Gaelic “O’Duinnin”, from the Gaelic personal name “Donn” which comes from “donn”, brown. Denning with Diana and Diane was found on the list of synonyms equated with Dineen (a name which means the same or nearly the same as another) used by emigrants which was compiled by the Cunard company. The great majority of Dineens are found in County Cork, especially in the southwestern part anciently known as Corca Laoidhe. The family was famous as poets and historians, providing a succession of hereditary poets and historians to the Mac Carthys and occasionally to the O’Sullivans.

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3 thoughts on “De is for… A Genealogy Study (in Errors)

  1. I ran into the same quandary when trying to determine just what to do with all my de, d’, and di surnames. I decided that since these prefaces mean “of” that I would just discuss these surnames under the corresponding first letter of the second part of the surname.

    It looks as if we share most of the surnames listed above, specifically Atwood, Audley, Berkeley, Braci, Camville, Claire, Clermont, Corbet, and Dinan.

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