Monday, February 28, 2011

The Domesday Book and John

Understanding the JONES surname, begins with the understanding of the use of the Christian name JOHN. The earliest written records of the Norman Conquest, give a resource to explore this name among the culture of the day.

In 1086, William I ordered a survey of his conquered lands. This was carried out by seven or eight panels of commissioners, each working a separate group of counties. Each commissioner compiled elaborate accounts of the estates of the King and of his "tenants in chief", those who held their land by direct services to him. The survey covered all the counties of England (not Wales) except Northumberland, Durham, Westmorland, Cumberland, and northern Lancashire. It does not include London. It does provide historical and geographical materials collected by shires, hundreds, and villages. This survey represented the new Norman concept of a feudal society based on the honour or barony, a network of estates that were treated as a unit even if not adjacent.

For genealogist it also provides a rich history of names and the use of names. For JONES tree climbers it clearly shows that the use of the surname JONES did not exist in Norman England. The name JOHN appears, but it is not the most common name utilized in this survery. The first figure (show as page -4-) documents the use of the name JOHN in the Domesday records. Its use is recorded approximately 31 times. For comparison, William is recorded 494 times, Richard 114, Edward 69, and Henry 27 times. Other commonly used names were Robert > 600 listings, Roger > 400 listings, and Hugh > 400 listings. It is also of interest to note that the surname (first name followed by a second was being used during this period. However, the use of only one name (i.e., Richard), followed by the use of a name with some title (i.e., Richard of Warwick) was more widely employed. The Welsh spellings of John of the use of "ap John" was not found in the Domesday listings.

The second figure, listed as page -5-, shows a summary for the name JOHN, and how it was used at the taking of the Domesday Book. Twelve times the name JOHN was used without characterization. Eighteen times, the name JOHN was characterized by an additional term, or series of terms, i.e., "John the chamberlain". It also gives the counties in which the name JOHN appears.

The first number shown in each reference is the chapter number, followed by the entry number. The reference is: "Domesday Book: A Survey of the Counties of England." Winchester, England, 1086. In, Domesday Book, #37, Index of Persons. Edited, Dodgson & Palmer, Phillimore, 1992. Known as "The Phillimore Domesday Series", the series of books are arranged by counties.

From: The Jones Genealogist, Vol.IV, No.,5, March/April, 1993.

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