Show ContentsChampernom History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The birthplace of the surname Champernom is Cornwall, a rugged peninsula in southwestern England that is noted for its strong Gaelic traditions. Though surnames became common during medieval times, English people were formerly known only by a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames were adopted in medieval England is fascinating. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Despite the fact that occupational surnames are rare among the Cornish People, they nevertheless sometimes adopted surnames derived from the type of work they did. The surname Champernom was an occupational name for a person in charge of the household of a nobleman. Interestingly, the name Champernom was originally derived from the title chamberlain, a word that originated as a name for the person in charge of a nobleman's sleeping quarters, and later came to encompass the role of running the household business.

"The parish of Cambernun, in the canton of Coutances in Normandy, gave name to this family, who in their turn gave designation to Clist-Champemowne, co. Devon. De Gerville in Mem. Soc. Ant. Normandie, 1825. In the XIII. cent. the name was Latinized ' De Campo Arnulphi.' " 1

Early Origins of the Champernom family

The surname Champernom was first found in Devon at Modbury, a market-town and parish, in the union of Kingsbridge, hundred of Ermington. "This place, called in Latin records Motberia, was in the possession of Wado in the time of the Confessor, and subsequently became the property of the Champernownes, of whom Richard Champernowne, in 1334, obtained permission to fortify his manorial residence here." 2

The family of Chambernowne, originally Campo Arnulphi, yields in splendour of descent to few in the west of England, and was, at a period approximating very closely to the time of William of Normandy, seated at Clist Chambernon in Devon. Prince, in his quaint language, narrates that "there have been many eminent persons of this family, the history of whose ancestors and exploits, for the greatest part, is devoured by time, although their names occur in the chronicles of England, amongst those worthies who with their lives and fortunes were ready to serve their king and country." 3

Over in Cornwall, another branch of the family was found in the parish of St. Germans. "The Champernowne family retained the priory estate until the year 1565, when they conveyed it to Richard Eliot, Esq." 4

Records from Halwyn House in St. Issey, Cornwall points an earlier Latin form of the name. "This place was the seat of the old family of De Campo Arnulphi, now Champernowne. Here they had a great and magnificent house, as appears by the ruins thereof, as also their chapel and burying-place, before the endowed church of St. Issey was erected. Halwyn, now frequently called Old Town, was acquired by the Champernownes about the time of Henry VI. in marriage with an heiress of Hamely; and in the Champernowne family it continued until the reign of Elizabeth, when it again passed into other families with female heirs." 4

"The manor of Otterham, [Cornwall] if it be the same that in Doomsday Survey is called Othram, belonged at that time to the Earl of Moreton, and was one of his 288 manors. In the reign of Edward III. this manor belonged to the Champernownes." 4

In nearby Devon, "Orcherton, at the time of the Survey, was held from the Earl by Reginald de Valletort. The Valletorts soon became the dominant race, and from them Modbury came to the Champernownes, who held it as the seat of the family from the reign of Edward II. until 1700. There were several distinguished members of this race, and one of them, Arthur Champernowne, was knighted in 1599 for his eminent services under the Earl of Essex in Ireland. There is a curious story that Queen Elizabeth was so exasperated by the refusal of the Champernowne of her time to lend her a fine band of musicians, that she found occasion to compel him to part with nineteen manors. A Priory was founded at Modbury, in the reign of Stephen, by an ancestor of the Champernownes, as a cell to the Abbey of St. Peter sur Dive, Normandy. " 5

Early History of the Champernom family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Champernom research. Another 90 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1280 and 1300 are included under the topic Early Champernom History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Champernom Spelling Variations

Cornish surnames are characterized by a multitude of spelling variations. The frequent changes in surnames are due to the fact that the Old and Middle English languages lacked definite spelling rules. The official court languages, which were Latin and French, were also influential on the spelling of a surname. Since the spelling of surnames was rarely consistent in medieval times, and scribes and church officials recorded names as they sounded rather than adhering to any specific spelling rules, it was common to find the same individual referred to with different spellings of their surname in the ancient chronicles. Moreover, a large number of foreign names were brought into England, which accelerated and accentuated the alterations to the spelling of various surnames. Lastly, spelling variations often resulted from the linguistic differences between the people of Cornwall and the rest of England. The Cornish spoke a unique Brythonic Celtic language which was first recorded in written documents during the 10th century. However, they became increasingly Anglicized, and Cornish became extinct as a spoken language in 1777, although it has been revived by Cornish patriots in the modern era. The name has been spelled Champernon, Champernoon, Champernown, Champernowne, Campernon, Campernoon, Campernown, Champernoun, Champernoune, Chambernon and many more.

Early Notables of the Champernom family

More information is included under the topic Early Champernom Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Migration of the Champernom family

Early North American records indicate many people bearing the name Champernom were among those contributors: Arthur Champernoone who settled in Maine in 1622; Francis Champernowne settled in Maine in 1630.

  1. Lower, Mark Anthony, Patronymica Britannica, A Dictionary of Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russel Smith, 1860. Print.
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Burke, John Bernard, The Roll of Battle Abbey. London: Edward Churton, 26, Holles Street, 1848, Print.
  4. Hutchins, Fortescue, The History of Cornwall, from the Earliest Records and Traditions to the Present Time. London: William Penaluna, 1824. Print
  5. Worth, R.N., A History of Devonshire London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, E.G., 1895. Digital on Facebook