The top 10 Essex surnames

By Rosemary Collins, 14 November 2018 - 3:02pm

If you want to find out if you have Essex family history, the clue could be in your ancestors' surnames

Charles Spurgeon Baptist preacher Essex surnames
Baptist preacher and philanthropist Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) had a surname reflecting his Essex ancestry (Credit: De Agostini/ Icas94/ Getty)

Your ancestors' surnames could be the key to discovering your family history.

Before the Industrial Revolution, many families lived and died in the same village for hundreds of years.

This led to many surnames developing that are unique to certain areas.

Essex is first mentioned in Anglo-Saxon chronicles and is now the seventh most populous county in England.

Therefore, your ancestors may well have lived in the area at some point.

In the latest issue of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, our experts give their advice on researching Essex family history.

We're also offering a discount code to download free Essex resources worth £23.38, and a cut-out-and-keep directory of archives and local history organisations.

If you or your ancestors have one of these surnames, you could have Essex roots yourself.

 

Find out how to trace your Essex ancestors - including how to download our free bonus content - in Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine November 2018 

 

 

1. BYFORD

This name is particularly common in the borough of Colchester.

2. DOWSETT

Essex, and specifically Ilford, is a Dowsett hotspot.

3. GENTRY

This surname is derived from the Old French word 'genterie'.

4. MUNSON

The highest concentration of this Munn patronymic is in Colchester.

5. OWERS

This name is common in Durham, Chelmsford, North-East London and Colchester.

6. PLAYLE

Essex once boasted about half of all of the Playles found in the UK.

7. POLLEY

According to the 1881 census, Polleys were usually agricultural labourers.

8. ROOT

The name has many derivations, such as the Middle English rote meaning 'cheerful'.

9. SMEE

This name is a variant of 'Smead'.

10. SPURGEON

One Essex namesake was Charles Spurgeon, a Baptist preacher and writer who founded the children's charity Spurgeons.
 

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