Middle Names

This is a follow-up to a post yesterday that I wrote on the middle name of one of my ancestors. The name? Darwin.

So his name likely comes from a surname, I’m assuming somehow connected to the family tree, perhaps the surname of a grandparent or even his mother.

Family records list his mother as Axie English, but I’ve never confirmed that she even existed. I can’t find a record of her.

I am hoping the name Darwin could help yield some clues. It may be an avenue to pursue in branching out the story.

So I have been researching the background of the name.

Recorded in several spelling forms including Darwin, Derwin, Darwen and Darwent, this English surname has two possible origins.The first is from the pre-7th century personal name Deorwine, a compound of the elements deor, meaning dear, and wine, meaning friend, hence composing the term Dear Friend. This was probably used as both a baptismal name of endearment for a child, but also as a nickname for a close kinsman or partner.The given name Deorwine was first recorded in England in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Essex in 1070, and in the Latinized form as Derewinus in the tax register known as the Feet of Fines in the year 1176 in the county of Buckinghamshire. The surname from this source was first recorded in the early 13th century…

The second origin is locational from the town of Darwen. This place is named after the river Darwent in Lancashire, derived from the word derva, meaning oak. So this spot of the river was where oaks were common. It was recorded as Derewent in the year 1208.

Early examples of the name taken from surviving post medieval church registers include Elizabeth Darwin who was christened at the church of Saint Martin’s in the Fields, Westminster, on March 30th, 1636, while in Victorian times Charles Darwin became famous for his theory on the origins of mankind.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Derewin. This was dated 1219, in the county of Essex, during the reign of King Henry the Third, 1216-1272.Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as the Poll Tax.

Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to evolve often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.


Note that I have made some minor changes to the quote from the Name Origin site, which had some spelling and gramatical errors.


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