Surname Origins

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One question that I am very often asked with connection to the Twyman surname is that of the origin of the name.  Naturally there is interest in the initial roots of the line, and ultimately when going back the question of origins is going to come up in everyone's mind sooner or later.  Over the years there has been considerable debate over the origins of the name, with theories ranging from the surname being due to a spelling mutation through to the surname having European connections through to the surname deriving from Anglo-Saxon terminology.

The most recent and likely theory is that given in the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland published in 2016, which gives the Twyman name as being a mutation of an earlier variation of Twymere.  This is then given as a toponymic surname, derived from the name of a now lost settlement of Twymere - which from sources at The National Archives in Kew would appear to have been in the Medway-area of Kent.

The earliest note of the archaic form of the surname is in the person of one Walter de Twymere, who is known purely from a writ of 1263 concerning lands owned by one Hamo de Crevecuer.  The surname can be traced through scant records up until the mid-16th Century, at which point the final syllable mutated into man to give the modern spelling of the surname.

There are also branches of the surname (particularly and most notable in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight) who likely existed as a mutation of the similar surname of Twynam (itself a derivate of Twynham and similar variants), as in the era before widespread literacy there is evidence of the two being interchangeable - and it is difficult to look at either surname without considering the other.  The Twynham surname itself is, likewise, one with a toponymic origin, being derived from the ancient name for the town of Christchurch in Hampshire.

S. J. Golding, BA (Hons)

Last Updated: 2nd September 2017