What came first ? The place name or the surname ?

My girlfriend and I have been wondering about this for a little while, she noticed while we were driving through the North East and Yorkshire that some of the place names are the same as some of her family’s surnames.

So what do you think came first ? and why ?
We can think that some places came first and people adopted the name, something like ‘Brian of Rippon’ became Brain Rippon, or perhaps a village or town was named after someone I remember that Nottingham was named after a viking guy, and was originally Snottingham before they dropped the ‘S’ . These got me thinking, if people adopted the surname from the place they live, why have I never met Mr and Mrs Manchester, or London, Newcastle or Edinburgh for that matter.

Another side question is, does this happen globally ?

It’s a bit of both, really. Placenames can come from people’s names just as much as the other way round (one example I can think of in Yorkshire, England is Killerby, from Kilvert’s farm, but the placename is the origin of the Killerby surname).

Dunno about global, but certainly English-speaking countries, yes.

Oh, and meet Mrs. Manchester. :wink:

Hvae you met their son, Jack? :wink:

I’m glad I wasn’t born in Lahore.

It depends on the location. In the US, the town/city is nearly always named for a person, since surnames were well established when the towns were named.

You have to remember that surnames were used to distinguish between people who had the same given name. In a big city like London, a “John of London” would not stand out - there would have been lots of Johns in London, many of them born there. If a John moved from London to a provincial town, then calling him “John of London” would be useful for distinguishing him from the local Johns, but this was rare - historically people tended to move *to * London rather than away, so “London” never became a common surname.

Not just surnames either, of course. For example, the forename “Beverley” is derived from the town of the same name in East Yorkshire, which itself is derived from (OE? Norse?) “Beaverlak”, or “Beaver Lake”.

Next time someone names their daughter Beverley (or, frequently Beverly), remind them of the name’s ultimate origins. :slight_smile:

Or of, for that matter.

You might note that all of those names have meanings that give clues to their history. London and Newcastle, for instance, are derived from their latin names (Londinium and the latin for “New Castle”). A burgh was a walled group of buildings (Edin was though to be an old king), while anything with chester has adopted the old Anglo-Saxon for town.

Thanks for your responses, it all seems quite logical that it would be daft to take the name of a big place as you would share it with hundreds of other like named folk.
However, how does someone come to have the name “Derbyshire”? Like Matt Derbyshire the football player. I cant imagine it was ever sensible for his ancestors to take the name of a whole county. So are there any special circumstances where (I dont know, just guessing) noble men or such like can take the name of a whole county. Of course maybe the county was named after a bloke called derby.

A cunning piece of google-fu (going for ‘Darbyshire’ instead) turns up this and this both stating that it does indeed describe a man of that county. Both links indicate that it was more common outside of the county, referring to “John from that other place, rather than John from down the road”.

There’s other surnames derived from counties, too. OK, Clark Kent is fictitious, but random searches on Wikipedia turn up a murderer called Essex, several Somersets, a Dorset, and Sarah Lancashire.

I think it really is complex for most names and maybe “all of the above”.

Take the case of “Washington”.

Many African Americans took the name after a person: George Washington.

One of George’s male Ancestors probably took his name from a parish in Durham or in Sussex.

These parishes might have gotten their name after a person “Wassa” who had a homestead in the area. link

It would be great if we could identify a place named after one of the African Americans in the first sentence.

Or Julie?

And don’t forget Melissa Manchester.

*Charles *Kent played centre for England in the 1970s. Respectfully known as “Kent the Dent” even though on the whole the England rugby team in those days was quite mediocre (much as it is now, alas).

Banham, in Norfolk, is a surname I’ve seen several instances of - obviously the village started out as someone’s “-ham” and later became known as the origin of several other people.

A few county names have turned up as forenames: Kent Walton, Devon Malcolm, Rutland Barrington to name but three.

Banham seems to be a unique placename. You nicely and accidentally picked the opposite here, a very common one which according to my book of Suffolk placename origins comes from:

My surname is another one which crops up in dozens of places all over the southern half of the country, but simply derives from something along the lines of ‘south-facing farm’, and so it’s hard to say that people were named after actual villages of the same name.

Not exactly a city, but how about Harold Washington College?

That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m thinking of. And then if somebody named their kid after the place…