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* &c. is old-style for et cetera (etc.), Latin for “and others”
whether associated families or variant spellings.

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Surname Origins & Variant Spellings


Richard de COMBE, Knight (c. 1120) mentioned in an indenture re: Wilts “Indenture between Thomas, parson of the church of Odestoke, and John Gouteby, parson of the church of Aysshemere, of the one part, and Sir Richard de Combe, knight, and Sir Patrick de Frene. parson of the church of Batesbury, of the other part, concerning the partition of the manor of Fytelton, and the advowson of the church there. Sunday after St. Peter in Cathedra, 35 Edward III. French.” Source: British History On-Line 'Deeds: C.1101 — C.1200', A Descriptive Catalogue of Ancient Deeds: Volume 1 (1890), pp. 495-505.

Alice de CUMBE (c.1304) mentioned in a Deed re: the Manor of Elmington in Hanbury, Gloucestershire. Sources: Bristol Archives, England displayed on A2A Access 2 Archives (old website). (TBD if there is an earlier record in the Close Rolls or other medieval documents)

  1. “(Anglo-Celtic) Dweller at a Hollow, Valley, or Hill-Recess [Old English cumb, from the Celtic: Welsh cwm = Cornish cum = Irish cum, a hollow]. (English) (occasionally) Dweller at a Ridge or Hill-Crest [Dialect English comb, a ridge; Old English camb]” Source: Surnames of the United Kingdom, A Concise Etymological Dictionary. Henry Harrison, 2 Vols. The Eaton Press: London, England, 1912.
  2. “cumb” is considered by authoritative sources in the field of linguistics as a borrowed word by the English of a “functioning Brittonic place-name element”. This became Old English OE from early Brittonic. “cumb” is treated as ‘valley’ and was reborrowed in the 2nd millennium by the Welsh as “Cwm”. Sources: Invisible Britons: the view from linguistics; citations also note A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE by Baugh, Albert C. and Cable, Thomas. 5th ed. London: Routledge. 2002:76; Förster, Max. ‘Keltisches Wortgut im Englischen: eine sprachliche Untersucheng’ in Förster, M. and Wildehagen, K. (eds.) Texte und Forschungen zur englischen Kultergeschichte. Festgabe für Felix Liebermann. Halle an der Salle: Niemeyer. Pp.119.242 (also published separately); PLACE-NAMES IN THE LANDSCAPE. Gelling, Margaret. 1984. pp.88-94, 97-99; THE LANDSCAPE OF PLACE-NAMES. Gelling, Margaret and Cole, Ann. Stamford: Shaun Tyas.103-109, 113-122.
  3. “… that COMBS looks back to Sanscrit kumb'a, and to a similar Celtic form, as its prototype; also, that, as far as the present day cognomen or family name is concerned, the meaning is “little valley” or “hollow”.” Source: Combs, A Study in Comparative Philology and Genealogy, by Josiah H. Combs, Ph.D., University of Paris, c.1976.
  4. “A derivative of OE, camb, comb ‘comb’, a maker of combs.” Source: A Dictionary of English Surnames. Percy Hide Reaney, Richard Middlewood Wilson. Routledge: London, England. c.1967.
  5. Scot COMBS origins are with the Clan MAC THOMAS which takes its name from a Gaelic-speaking highlander known as TOMAIDH MOR who lived in the 15th century. Tomaidh or Thomas, descended from the Clan Chattan Mackintoshes, his own grandfather being a son of William, the eighth chief of the Clan Chattan. The Clan Chattan, primarily with the Clan Mackintosh and others including Clan MacThomas, formed a Confederation consisting of several tribes or small clans who were united as a community of about 13-15 known clans dating back to the 13th century. Source: SCOTTISH CLAN & FAMILY ENCYCLOPEDIA by George Way of Plean and Romilly Squire, Foreward endorsement by The Rt.Hon. The Earl of Elgin and Kincardine KT, Convenor, The Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs. Harper Collins Publishers. Glasgow. c.1994.

The term Variants is applied to mean most common forms of the surname highlighted in bold and optional spellings found in records.

While not viewed among the surnames above which are the object of this Study, researchers should be aware that, at times, COLMBS COMBER COMER COMAR COOMER CUMER CUMBER CUMBERS KOMBER KUMER CONE CONES COONS have been mistranscribed for Combs-Coombs &c.
If you have come across other spellings related to COMBS-COOMBS or surnames that have been found as mistranscriptions, please advise us. Thank you.

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