Show ContentsCombes History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

The roots of the Anglo-Saxon name Combes come from when the family resided in a small valley; the surname Combes is often derived from the Old English word cumb, which means valley. In this case, it belongs to the class of topographic surnames, which were given to people who resided near physical features such as hills, streams, churches, or types of trees. Alternately, the surname Combes may be derived from residence in one of the many places called Comb, Combe, or Coombe. In this case, it belongs to the large category of Anglo-Saxon habitation names, which are derived from pre-existing names for towns, villages, parishes, or farmsteads.

Early Origins of the Combes family

The surname Combes was first found in Devon where Richard de la Coombe held estates in that county in the year 1194. The name also found in the Feet of Fines of Somerset in 1269 where the entry Alan in la Cumbe was found. Robert atte Cumbe was listed in the Subsidy Rolls of Sussex in 1296, and Thomas de Combe was listed in the Assize Rolls of Kent in the year 1317. John atte Combe was also listed in the same source. [1] Today Combs is a small village in Derbyshire and a parish, in the union and hundred of Stow, Suffolk. [2]

An early record of the family was found in Somerset: John in le Coumbe, l Edward III (in the first year of King Edward III's reign.) [3] The Hundredorum Rolls of 1273 listed: Gilbert ate Cumbe, Oxfordshire; John ate Cumbe, Oxfordshire; Roger de la Cumbe, Oxfordshire; and Henry de la Cumbe, Somerset. [4]

Later the Yorkshire Poll Tax Rolls of 1379 included: Robertas Combe; and Radulphus de Combe; while in Norfolk, Edmund de la Comb was listed there 16 Edward I. [5]

Early History of the Combes family

This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Combes research. Another 91 words (6 lines of text) covering the years 1460, 1522, 1573, 1651, 1586, 1667, 1616, 1640 and 1786 are included under the topic Early Combes History in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Combes Spelling Variations

The English language only became standardized in the last few centuries; therefore,spelling variations are common among early Anglo-Saxon names. As the form of the English language changed, even the spelling of literate people's names evolved. Combes has been recorded under many different variations, including Coombe, Combs, Coombs, Comes, Combes, Combe, Coombes, Cumbe, Coumbes, Coames, Coambes, Cumbes, Cumes, Cummes, Cume, Coomes, Coames, Cooms, Coumes, Coume, Cooms, Coom, Coomb, Comb and many more.

Early Notables of the Combes family (pre 1700)

Distinguished members of the family include William Combe (1586-1667), an English High Sheriff of Warwickshire in 1616 and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1640. William Francis Coombe was the son of a singing-master at Plymouth, was born there in 1786. At fourteen years of...
Another 47 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Combes Notables in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.

Combes Ranking

In France, the name Combes is the 426th most popular surname with an estimated 10,019 people with that name. [6]

United States Combes migration to the United States +

For many English families, the political and religious disarray that shrouded England made the far away New World an attractive prospect. On cramped disease-ridden ships, thousands migrated to those British colonies that would eventually become Canada and the United States. Those hardy settlers that survived the journey often went on to make important contributions to the emerging nations in which they landed. Analysis of immigration records indicates that some of the first North American immigrants bore the name Combes or a variant listed above:

Combes Settlers in United States in the 17th Century
  • Austin Combes, who settled in Virginia in 1623
  • Austen Combes, who arrived in Jamestown, Va in 1624 [7]
  • Rich Combes, who landed in Virginia in 1635 [7]
  • Richard Combes, who arrived in America in 1654-1679 [7]
  • William Combes, who settled in Virginia in 1654
  • ... (More are available in all our PDF Extended History products and printed products wherever possible.)

New Zealand Combes migration to New Zealand +

Emigration to New Zealand followed in the footsteps of the European explorers, such as Captain Cook (1769-70): first came sealers, whalers, missionaries, and traders. By 1838, the British New Zealand Company had begun buying land from the Maori tribes, and selling it to settlers, and, after the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840, many British families set out on the arduous six month journey from Britain to Aotearoa to start a new life. Early immigrants include:

Combes Settlers in New Zealand in the 19th Century
  • Mrs. Combes, British settler travelling from London with 2 children aboard the ship "Josephine Willis" arriving in Auckland, New Zealand on 5th February 1855 [8]

Contemporary Notables of the name Combes (post 1700) +

  • Frank Charles Combes MD., Professor Emeritus of Dermatology, University of New York
  • Brigadier Bertrand Combes (b. 1894), Australian Chief Instructor at the Command & Staff School from 1942 to 1945 [9]

HMS Hood
  • Mr. Richard A L Combes (b. 1920), English Ordinary Seaman serving for the Royal Navy from Canford Cliffs, Bournemouth, England, who sailed into battle and died in the HMS Hood sinking [10]
HMS Royal Oak
  • Frederick S. Combes, British Lieutenant with the Royal Navy Reserve aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [11]
  • Philip C.W. Combes, British Musician with the Royal Marine aboard the HMS Royal Oak (1939) when she was torpedoed by U-47 and sunk; he survived the sinking [11]
RMS Titanic
  • Mr. George Combes (1877-1916), aged 21, English Fireman/Stoker from Southampton, Hampshire who worked aboard the RMS Titanic and survived the sinking escaping on life boat 3 [12]

  1. Reaney, P.H and R.M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. London: Routledge, 1991. Print. (ISBN 0-415-05737-X)
  2. Lewis, Samuel, A Topographical Dictionary of England. Institute of Historical Research, 1848, Print.
  3. Dickinson, F.H., Kirby's Quest for Somerset of 16th of Edward the 3rd London: Harrison and Sons, Printers in Ordinary to Her Majesty, St, Martin's Lane, 1889. Print.
  4. Bardsley, C.W, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames: With Special American Instances. Wiltshire: Heraldry Today, 1901. Print. (ISBN 0-900455-44-6)
  5. Rye, Walter, A History of Norfolk. London: Elliot Stock, 62, Paternoster Row, 1885. Print
  7. Filby, P. William, Meyer, Mary K., Passenger and immigration lists index : a guide to published arrival records of about 500,000 passengers who came to the United States and Canada in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. 1982-1985 Cumulated Supplements in Four Volumes Detroit, Mich. : Gale Research Co., 1985, Print (ISBN 0-8103-1795-8)
  8. New Zealand Yesteryears Passenger Lists 1800 to 1900 (Retrieved 17th October 2018). Retrieved from
  9. Generals of World War II. (Retrieved 2011, August 30) Bertrand Combes. Retrieved from
  10. H.M.S. Hood Association-Battle Cruiser Hood: Crew Information - H.M.S. Hood Rolls of Honour, Men Lost in the Sinking of H.M.S. Hood, 24th May 1941. (Retrieved 2016, July 15) . Retrieved from
  11. Ships hit by U-boats crew list HMS Royal Oak (08) - (Retrieved 2018 February, 9th) - retrieved from
  12. Titanic Passenger List - Titanic Facts. (Retrieved 2016, July 13) . Retrieved from on Facebook