The top 10 Essex surnames

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

Charles Spurgeon image

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

Advertisement

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.

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

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

Advertisement

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