More Cornish surname puzzles

Actually, two of the following are not too puzzling. Their point of origin seems clear enough even if their later geography is less so.

Keskeys is the most straightforward. It clearly originated in the place of the same name in St Erth parish. That was spelt Caerskes in 1363, which takes us closer to the Cornish meaning of a shady or sheltered fort (caer = fort, skes = shade or shadow). The surname itself made a relatively late appearance in the records in 1641. There were a handful of Keskes, Keskeys and Keskeas, one venturing as far as Padstow, but the majority remained in the St Hilary/Ludgvan district neighbouring St Erth.

Lambrick is another surname derived from a place. But which place? There are two places now called Lambourne, one at Ruanlanihorne and the other at Perranzabuloe. This originally meant either a holy site on a hill (lanbron) or a pool by rushes (lynbron). The Lanbron at Perrranzabuloe was split into two settlements as population grew in the 1200s or early 1300s. One was called Lanbronmur (great Lanbron) and the other Lanbronwegha or Lanbronwigen (from Lanbronvean or little Lanbron?) The development of the name Lanbronwegha to Lambriggan by 1584 provides a model for the Lambrick surname.

Lambourne and Lambriggan at Perranzabuloe in 1879

Sir William Lambron, who owned the Lambourne manor in the 1390s, shows this was an early family name. But the earliest example of Lambrike in 1525 was not found at Perranzabuloe but at Tregony, near the other Lambourne at Ruanlanihorne. There we also find Pascoe Lambourne in 1543. In the seventeenth century Lambricks moved west, to Truro, and then on to Constantine. They didn’t stop there; in the mid-eighteenth century marriage registers the name was most frequent on the Lizard.

There are speculative suggestions that the surname Kinver had an origin in the Cornish language, possibly involving the element keyn (ridge). However, its historical geography suggests another story. The surname Kenver was indeed found early, and in the west. Thomas and Blanch Kenver at Sithney in 1524 and 1543 could be evidence for a Cornish language derivation. Later, in the 1570s Kenvers popped up at Bodmin. And then there was a 200-year gap.

No Kenvers or Kinvers were recorded in the registers until the 1760s. They then appeared well to the east, at Jacobstow in the north and Treneglos and South Petherwin near Launceston. While there were no Kinvers earlier in 1641, there were Kinners and Kenners at South Petherwin and around Launceston. It looks as if the name Kinver evolved from Kinner, which was originally Kenner. There is a place called Kennerleigh in Devon, based on the Old English personal name Cyneweard. Is this a more likely source?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.