Welcome to the Wellbelove family history blog. Intended to supplement the 'Wellbelove Genealogy' website, it will include articles of interest on the Wellbelove surname and variants including, Wellbeloved, Welbelove, Welbeloved, etc.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Frequency & Distribution - Part I 1881

Before I begin this blog entry I need to clarify a point. When we refer to 'the Wellbeloves' it is intended as a collective description, including the various variants, Wellbeloved, Welbelove, Welbeloved, etc. If an entry does refer to a specific variant, say Wellbeloved, only, then this will be made clear in the post.

Frequency and distribution - or how many and where found.

This blog is limited to The 1881 census for England & Wales. Ireland, Scotland & the rest of the world will be covered in future blogs.

In 1881 there were around 250 Wellbeloves living in England and none in Wales. Of these, 94%  could be found in London & the surrounding home counties, with 51% in Surrey alone. Over 90%* of all Wellbeloves could claim London/Middlesex, and/or adjoining Surrey ancestry. The early name bearers from Devon & Worcestershire discussed in the origin of the surname, had either migrated elsewhere, probably the London area, or died out. Note that although there are two recorded Devon inhabitants in 1881, neither were born there.

The census data needs to be further refined so as to show the numbers for each surname variant. This will take time as a number of Wellbeloves were recorded as Wellbeloveds and vice versa. This was primarily due to illiteracy. As many householders could not read or write the census enumerator would record the surname as he heard it and make a guess at the spelling. In the meantime I will include a crude breakdown by surname variant in the second part of this blog when I compare modern figures.

* Applies to individuals born a Wellbelove. Many wives of Wellbeloves were born elsewhere, and their ancestry is often uncertain, and anyhow beyond the scope of this article.

 Click on map to enlarge

Frequency & Distribution - Part II, Modern Day, to follow shortly.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Meaning & Origin of Surname

Meaning of Surname

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines the adjective Wellbeloved as:

"1: Sincerely and deeply loved: 'my wellbeloved wife'
2: Sincerely respected: used in various ceremonial forms of address" (Merriam-Webster, 2010).

Charles Bardsley classified Wellbeloved as of nickname in origin, and favoured the second of the above definitions as its meaning when used as a nickname:

"Wellbeloved - Nick. 'the well-beloved'. A common mode of address by prince or ecclesiastic (clergyman) in formal declarations" (Bardsley, 1901; 800).

Origin of Surname

The earliest known recorded Wellbeloves are John Welebiloved, 1277 & John Welbilovede 1319, both from Devon. Another early reference is  Richard Wellbyloved found in Worcestershire in 1327. There is no evidence that any modern day Wellbeloves are genetically descended from these areas. It is possible that members of their families migrated to London area, but it is just as feasible that the Wellbeloves from what later became the surname heartland for centuries, namely London/Middlesex and especially Surrey evolved separately. To quote Richard McKinley:

"London was already attracting migrants from all parts of England as far back as about 1200. There were also many examples of the wealthier inhabitants of London buying lands in the areas closely adjoining the capital, in Essex, west Kent, north Surrey, and what used to be Middlesex" (McKinley, 1990; 191).

"...some of the rarer surnames from nicknames occur from an early date independently in a number of different regions, indicating that each of them is likely to have originated with a number of separate families" ( McKinley, 1990; 182).


Merriam-Webster's (2010) Webster's-Merriam Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wellbeloved Date accessed 22/01/10

Bardsley, Charles W. (1901) English & Welsh Surname Dictionary, H Frowde.

McKinley, Richard A (1990) A History of British Surnames, Longman