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While surnames were well-known during the English medieval period, Cornish People originally used only a single name. The way in which hereditary surnames came into common use is interesting. Under the Feudal System of government, surnames evolved and they often reflected life on the manor and in the field. Patronymic surnames were derived from given names and were the predominant type of surname among the Celtic peoples of Britain. However, the people of Cornwall provide a surprising exception to this rule, and patronymic surnames are less common among them than other people of Celtic stock, such as their Welsh neighbors. This type of surname blended perfectly with the prevailing Feudal System. One feature that is occasionally found in Cornish surnames of this type is the suffix -oe or -ow; this is derived from the Cornish plural suffix -ow. is a patronymic surname that came from the Welsh personal name Guinivere, which is composed of the elements gwen, which means fair, wyf, which means smooth or yielding, and fawr, which means large.
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 Jenifer, Jennifer, Jenefer, Genever, Genhaver and others.
This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Jennifer research. Another 116 words (8 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Jennifer History in all our PDF Extended History products.
More information is included under the topic Early Jennifer Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.
A search of the immigration and passenger lists has shown a number of people bearing the name Jennifer: Margaret Jenifer, who sailed to Maryland in 1663; Daniel Jenifer in 1667; Sarah Jenifer in 1670; Jacob and Elizabeth Jenifer, also to Maryland, in 1673..
The Jennifer Family Crest was acquired from the Houseofnames.com archives. The Jennifer Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.
This page was last modified on 27 October 2010 at 13:42.