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Surname Origins

Surnames, for the majority of the British population, were introduced in the 11th century by the Normans for the purposes of tax collection.

British surnames have their origins which can be categorised into four main groups:

  1. Occupational;
  2. Relationship;
  3. Local Place-name;
  4. Nick-name.

Cumberbatch Surname Origin

COMBERBACH - "dweller in a valley with a stream"

COMBERBACH is a surname based upon a local place-name. It is constructed of two compounds, or elements, the first usually qualifies the first.

Comber: 'dweller in a Combe'. A 'Combe' is a small valley, valley in the flank of a hill, short valley running up from the sea in old english. Place name examples from England of co(o)mbe: Ilfracombe or Combe Martin both in Devon for seaside examples; and Combe St. Nicholas or Odcombe in Somerset for an inland examples. Somerset has nine combes, Devon has six, other counties have six (Cottle B. The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames 1978:London).

Comber, Coomber, Coomer, Cumber, Cumbers: Historic examples - 'William le Combere' 1260 Assize Roles Cambridgeshire; 'Roger le Coumber' 1276 Rotuli Hundredorum 2 Vols published London 1812-1818; 'John Comber' 1296 Subsidy Rolls Sussex; 'Walter Cumbar' 1332 Subsidy Rolls Sussex. 'Dweller in a valley' ( P.H. Reaney A Dictionary of British Surnames Second Edition with Corrections and Additions by R.M. Wilson pp.80-81 Routledge & Kegan Paul). If named after an occupation Comber means 'comb-maker'. Comber originated as a local place-name.

Bach(e): 'stream'. The old english was 'bache'. Back: which is another derived ending of the name means 'ridge, hill' (Cottle B. The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames 1978: London). Bach(e) originated as a local place-name.

Cumberbatch is a derivative of Comberbach, the most ancient spelling. Comberbach: Means dweller in a valley with a stream. "Valley or stream of the Britons" (The Place Names of Cheshire Part II - English Place-Name Society XLV 1967-8 Cambridge University Press: 1970).

This surname records a locality or place of origination. Comberbach is a small village in the Parish of Great Budworth, in the Hundred of Bucklow in the Deanery of Frodsham, which is in Cheshire near Chester England. 'The village stands in a hollow beside a small brook running into Budworth Mere' (The Place Names of Cheshire Part II - English Place-Name Society XLV 1967-8 Cambridge University Press: 1970).

It is 3 miles North West of Northwich. A copy of a John Speede map, dated 1610, has the village of Comberbach spelt as Cumberbache. Comberbach was not mentioned in the Doomsday book of 1087.

Occurences of the surname in history: Cambrebech 1172-81 -bek 1178; Combrebeche 1190 -bache 1357 Comberbach(e) c.1230 & 1257; Conberbeche or Conbrebeche 1191-4; Cumberbach c.1200 Cumberbache 1304 (The Place Names of Cheshire Part II - English Place-Name Society XLV 1967-8 Cambridge University Press: 1970).

Mere means 'pool/boundary or lake'. In the south of Cheshire, south west of Nantwich, is a place called Combermere which is set on a lake. Nearby is an abbey called Combermere Abbey. There are a couple of other place-names in Cheshire ending in bach(e): Bache near Chester, Sandbach.

CUMBERLAND is also a place-name based surname. Once a county of its own, it is now known as Cumbria. It means: "Land of the Britons and Cymry (Welsh)" (Old Welsh).

COMBERBACH has also been described as meaning: 'Valley or stream of the Britons or of a man called Cumbra' (Mills A.D., Dictionary of English Place-Names)

For more about the place called Comberbach.

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Occupational Surnames

Occupational surnames are based on the occupation, or office, of the person or of an ancestor:

bullet

Baker, Taylor, Archer; Bridger and of course Smith.

 

Relationship Surnames

Relationship based surnames are referred to as being patronymic. It is common in English for the 'son' to be appended to a name, in Scotland the 'Mac' is prefixed and in Ireland the 'Fitz' is prefixed. The Irish O' means 'grandchild of':

bullet

Peterson, Thompson, Jefferson, Richardson etc.

 

Local Place-Name Surnames

Local place-name names are based on some feature of the locality or landscape of where the person or ancestor lived:

bulletByfield, Atwell, Brooke,  Marsh etc.

 

Nick-name Surnames

Nick-names are based on some feature of appearance of the individual or an ancestor:

bulletLittle, Strong, Armstrong etc.

Note: 'Little' may signify that the individual was very large.

Copyright 2003-2010 Robert Cumberbatch.             Cumberbatch family history site last updated: 10 March, 2010            |  Privacy Policy  |  Site Map  |  Contact Me