Great Britain Research
Stephen   Thomas
26 Noel Coward Gardens
Aldington Kent
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01233 720938 07708 079924

Great Britain Research    Stephen Thomas

UK Professional Family History Research

Real Lives:

Church: Did Charlotte Church’s ancestor sing in the choir?

Churchill: Sir Winston Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace in 1875. His forebear John Churchill was 1st Duke of Marlborough and Blenheim was built for him by a grateful nation after his exploits in wars against the French in the 18th century. The family came from Dorset where their original home would have been much humbler!

Monkhouse: The late Bob Monkhouse’s humour may not have been appreciated in the monastery where his ancestor lived or worked!

Prescott: John Prescott may be a political firebrand but his ancestor may have been a Priest!

Did You Know:

How to identify whether you have a name of topographic origin.

Firstly it may well be on the list above so look closely and consider variants that look or sound like those in the list. Do you have a name that is the same as an existing city, town or village? You may also have surname that refers to a building of some type. This too identifies your name a topographic in origin.

If this fails then look closely at your surname and see if it contains elements that reveal its meaning. These will be words and parts of words that are of ancient origin and have been passed down the centuries from the languages first spoken by the inhabitants of these islands. They were used to describe the structures they built or the agricultural features they introduced which formed the medieval landscape they lived in. Many of these are still understood by us today because they form crucial a part of our cultural heritage.

The Old English word tun originally meant a fence and then an enclosure but it went on to describe a settlement, presumably behind a protective fence, and in the Old

English period (500-1000 A.D.) was already used to describe a village and then a town. So if you have the elements tun, ton or town in your surname then it is probably topographical in origin. Examples: Tunstall, Upton, Townsend.

Another common Old English element we all comprehend is the word ham which was our ancestor’s word for homestead and often appears after the name of the original builder and resident. So we find that the homesteads of Gydla, Billa and Beornmund becoming Gillingham, Billingham and Birmingham.

Other elements to look out for are: bold, a dwelling house

bury, a fortified place

hay, hey, an enclosure

park, large enclosed area for hunting

worth, a settlement