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Ed. Note: The early Combe ancestors mentioned below are not yet being actively researched (most of us are fortunate if we can document to the 1700s, 1600s or 1500s, let alone earlier). The early records herein, and those in our various English reports, are only a sampling -- although we do plan to eventually add all possible extant records (as is the case for later records as well).

Whether the earliest Combes-Coombes (and all variant spellings) were English or Norman remains unknown (they may have even been both, depending on the area of the country). Pre-Conquest records are very few in number, and post-Conquest records rarely include the pre-conquest English. William, Duke of Normandy (later known as William the Conqueror), led 7,000 men, including over 2,000 mounted knights and squires, into the Battle of Hastings in 1066. No evidence exists of Combs-Coombes &c. (var. sp.) being among their number, but only a small percentage of the total have ever been identified, and based on later records, particularly in reference to Devonshire and Sussex, it is quite possible Combes-Coombes ancestors were among them.

One of the most difficult aspects of researching early England is that surnames as we know them today (hereditary) did not, for the most part, come into use until after the Norman conquest of 1066 (see below), and even then only very gradually. If an individual's surname appeared to be “de Cumbe”, for example, it might signify that he was of a de Cumbe family, but was more likely to be an indication of where he lived, which in the case of the Combes, might not be a place name, but a place description (combe meaning valley) or perhaps the name of his father or possibly even the name of the father of the previous owner of the land. This is borne out time and again by Devonshire and Sussex records (below) and also discussed by Dr. Josiah H. Combs in The Combes Genealogy…, Chapter XXIII, Philology Remote Origins). Two more factors further complicate identification of individuals and families: (1) the spelling of a name was completely insignificant as words were spelled phonetically; i.e., Cumb and Coomb and Comes and Combes, etc. were one and the same; (2) England continued to execute documents in Latin right into the 17th century (and in many cases it was not “real” Latin, but a corrupted form that might be a mixture of Latin and English and might even have some French tossed in here and there.

According to The Comber Family by Geoffrey Barrow, “The records of Sussex inhabitants in the Middle Ages certainly include persons of the name De COMBRE (latin De CUMBA), COMBE, COMBES or COOMBES. They took their surname from Combes [Coombes manor], in the Rape of Bramber, which together with Apelsham, was held at the time of the Domesday inquest by William fitz NORMAN. His descendant in the reign of King Stephen [1135-1154], called himself Hugh Norman de COMBE and in the Testa de Neville [1198-1293] there is mention of a Hughe de COMBE. The name NORMAN seems by then to have been dropped and thereafter the family invariably is known by one or other of the variant spellings of De COMBE.” (Extracted by Coomber researcher Richard Coomber)

The word “fitz” means “son of” (as in William, son of Norman perhaps). The records of Sussex also show a Hugano (Hugo, Hugh) and Normanno (Norman) de CUMB (CUMBIS) who declare they are brothers ca 1135. See also Hugh FITZNORMAN in the 1085-6 Domesday Survey for the West Riding of Yorkshire. The official name of the Testa de Nevill was Liber feodorum (Book of Fees), which consists of a transcription of about 500 records of feudal tenure from 1198 to 1293. (Note: The Sussex Domesday Surveys (1085-6) need to be checked as another report (unsourced) states that VCH Sussex lists Hugh de COMBES as the owner of Applesham and Coombes manors in Domesday and again in 1100.) Also note that it is not only in Sussex that we see a possible change in surname: The Visitations of Devonshire include one John de BIDLAKE who was the son of William de CUMBE (son of Rafe). Despite all this, however, at least two possible de Combe lines are potentially traceable and probably Norman: Rafe of Devonshire and Hugh of Sussex. It is also possible that these two (and Hugh's brother, Norman) were somehow related (not yet researched).

In 1085, almost twenty years after his Conquest, William, King of England and Duke of Normandy, primarily for tax purposes, commissioned the Domesday surveys, a detailed record of all lands held by the king and his tenants, including livestock, plows, mills, etc. The surveys also detail which manors belonged to whom, identifying the tenants in chief (land received from the Crown), and in some cases, the tenants and undertenants of the tenants-in chief (manorial lords). The Domesday surveys also include hundreds of individuals by given names only, and as noted above, when an individual's (apparent) surname is prefaced by “de”, it may have represented a surname (rare), a location, a father's name, or even an allegiance.

Abstracts of possible Combes of Devonshire Domesday Surveys have been extracted (probably incomplete, and definitely including extraneous records). Also available for that county are the 1332 Devonshire Lay Subsidy Rolls. Only a few additional early Devonshire records have been collected (See Earliest Combes &c. of Devonshire), with one of those signifying a possible connection to the de COMBES of Sussex (via the De Braose family).

Hugo and Norman de CUMBE of Sussex appear in records as early as ca 1135; and it appears that it may be possible to trace descendants down through the years, including a Sir John de COMBE of 1278, who held one knight fee; Nigel and Nicholas of 1289; Nigel and Richard of 1336; Richard and daughter, Joan of 1359, etc. (See Earliest Combes of Sussex and Coombes Manor)

Numerous other early Combes appear in various records, including, according to the Hazel M. Kendall manuscript (her sources not given), an Ulnoth CAMBAS, freeman, possessed “land in Stow, southern point, Warwick” before 1086 [Domesday].

What follows is a “semi-chronological” summary of additional early Combes (and “possible” Combes) records collected thus far. Except where the shire is unknown, sources have not been included, the full record, including source, being part of a linked Combs County report.

A Chronology of Early Combes of Olde England

In 1204-5, are Richard and Alicia in early Devonshire, but it is not known if either is descended from Rafe, or if Richard of Devonshire might be the same as the 1214 Ricardum de CUMBE who appear in the Curia Regis Rolls and may have been of Essex (with Gaufridum de MUNFEVILL and Gaufridum de SAY). Also in the 1214 Curia Regis Rolls is found a Willelmi de CUMBA (William COMBE) in Dorset, our only early record for that shire so far.

At some time between 1216 and 1272, there appeared in the records a Sir John COMBE (COUMBE) (no location). Arms: “argent, a chevron engrailed gules between three black birds proper” (Taken from the Ashmole Roll, an Elizabethan copy of the Dering Roll from the time of Henry III, “Some Feudal Coats of Arms,” Joseph Foster, 1902, extracted by Combs Researcher Pete Coombs - See also Combs & English Heraldry)

In the years 1225-6 are Jordan de CUMBE, citizen of London, 2a. land in marsh of Cumbe… demise from Thomas s. of Arnold and Alice d. of John ALKETON to Thomas de CUMBE and w. Anne of messuage [in Cumbe] It is believed by some historians that this land may have been at present-day Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. No record of Jordan de CUMBE in either London or Surrey has been located as yet. (See Surrey for more detail)

In 1241, yet another Richardum, perhaps of Devonshire (not certain and not researched) appears in the Curia Regis Rolls:

Alexander de CALABRE optulit se quarto die versus Bartholomeum archidiaconum Exon' et Willelelmum Officialem ejus de placito quare tenuerunt [placitum] in curia Christianitatis de debitis que non sunt de stestamento etc. contra etc., et versus Ricardum SPECIA[RIUM] et Recardum de CREDITON' quare secunti sunt idem placitum conra etc. Et nullus eorum venit etc.; et v[icecomes] mandavit quod archidiaconus et officialis clerici sunt et non havient laicum feodum per quod possunt distrini. [Et] ideo manatum est spiscopo Esxoniensi quod faciat eos venire in crastino sancti martini etc. Et [Ricardus SPE]CIARIOUS fuit attachiatus per Galfidum Troth' de Ultra Exo et Ricardum DE CUMBE et Recardus de CR[EDITON]' per Reicasrdum de EILESTON' et Ricardum Edmer DE CUMBE. Et ideo ponantur per miliores pelgios qoud sint ad eundem terminum etc,; et primi etc. ( 1241)

(Extracted by Combs Researcher Joe Kendalll from Curia Regis Rolls, PRO, HMSO, London 1922, V.xv p. 202, entry 943)

In 1248, a Hamelin de DEAUDON appears in the records of early Somerset, but may have been alias Hamelin de CUMBE.

In 1273, Gilbert ate CUMBE, John ate CUMBE and Roger de la CUMBE are listed on the Oxfordshire Hundred Rolls, and Henry de la CUMBE on the Somerset Hundred Rolls.

According to the Hazel M. Kendall manuscript, in 1276, a Henry de COMBE was of Wineoband and Shiregreen, Yorkshire (no source).

Between 1278 and 1503, John, Nicholas, Richard, Simon and William COMBE (var.) appear in Parliament petition rolls, shire not known:

John COMB, Publishes a Proclamation, v.V. 420a. and 170 a. Richard and Simon COMB, father and son, v.V 310; v. VI 303a and 499b. William de, v.I 227b, and v. VI 323 b.; Nicholas COMBES alias COMBYS, v. I. 236a. and William COMBES alias COMBYS v. V 208b. (*“Index to the Rolls of Parliament comprising the Petitions, Pleas, and Proceeding of Parliament from Ann. 6 Edw. I. to Ann. 19 Hen. VII. ( A.D. 1278. - A.D. 1503)”, John Strachey, John Pridden and Edward Upham, editors, London , 1832. [ No printer listed], p. 173)

In 1278, one Sir John de COMBE (CUMBES), Knight, is recorded as having one “knight fee” Suss., and “destrained for Knighthood.”

In 1280 is Richard de COMBE of Fittleton, Wilts, with records into the 1300s, identifying him, sons Simon and John, their wives Alice and Joan respectively, and Simon's son, Richard. Also in 1280 is William de CUMBE of Somerset (a William continues to appear in the records of Somerset almost continuously into the 1330s).

In 1288 is found Edmund de la COMB of Norfolk.

In 1289 is a John de las COUMBE, recorded in Gloucester, and Nigel de CUMBE in both Hampshire and Sussex (By 1312, Nigel's interest in the land in Sussex has descended to Nicholas).

In 1289 also, one William de COMBMARTIN was a merchant of London. In 1304/1318, he was an Alderman, his will enrolled 1318-1333, naming 3rd wife Margery and mentioning two manors.

According to the late James Logan Kendall (manuscript of 1943), “William de COMBES of Combe-Martin" was a citizen of London 1302-1307,” (references Sussex records), and the father of a “William de COMBE of London” who died in 1327 with a son, Simon, whom Mr. Kendall states was living in London in 1327 and the father of “William de Combes, an alderman of London during the reign of Henry VI” (1422-1461. 1470-1). The above William was possibly from Combe Martin, Devonshire, but Ms. Thrupp does not include any children for him, and it appears that two William de COMBES may have been somehow confused.

During 1291-93, Richard de CUMBE, Sheriff of Wilts is referenced as father of Simon, as is the manor of Ludgershall, Wilts, and in 1293, a Richard de CUMBE was Sheriff of Kent (see Greenwich).

Circa 1292, Susan de CUMBE is one of a number of grantors of land in Alkham and Hawkinge, Kent (as well as manors of Satmar and Polton), and in 1299, a William de COMBE is a witness at Rochester, Kent (ibid.).

In 1307, Simon de CAMBAS appears in the records of the Duchy of Lancaster granting “tofts” and “selions” in Little Steeping, Lincolnshire.

In 1321, one John de CUMBE, the parson of Stoke by Arundel, Sussex was involved in a suit over manorial lands in both Wilts and Wing, Bucks. Later Arundel records include a John COMBE and his brother, Thomas, also a cleric.

In the 1327 lay subsidy rolls of Early Somerset are found the unique given names: Johanne, Thoma, Gilberto, Willelmo, Galfrido, Richardo, Henrico, Rogero, Waltero, Hugone, Radulfo, Eva, Bissep, Ricardo, Martino, Roberto, Bart and Laurentio.

On 14 Feb 1327, one William de COMBE of London wrote his will, naming wife Darah, sons, Simon and Henry, and daughters Isabella, Marion and Margery. Five years later, on 11 Nov 1333, the will of John de COMBE, woolmonger, also filed in London, mentions a tenement devised to him by his uncle, William de COMBE, who had a wife Petronilla.

In 1327-8, one John in le COUMBE of Somerset is listed in the Exchequer Lay Subsidy (Somerset Record Society 1889) by Dickenson, p 79 (Dictionary of English & Welsh Surnames with Special American Instances, by Charles Wareing Bardsley, 1901)

Sometime between 1327 and 1377, the arms of Richard de COMBE were recorded (no location provided - See Combs &c. English Heraldry).

By 1332, there were over 60 Combs on the Devonshire Lay Subsidy Rolls, with 24 unique given names: Adam, Agnes, Alexander, Andrew, Dionis, Geoffrey (Jeffrey), Guy, Henry, Isabel, Joan, John, Laurence, Nicholas, Ralph, Ranulf (Randolph), Richard, Robert, Roger, Simon, Stephen, Susanna, Thomas, Walter and William. In Wiltshire, there were another eighteen 1332 tax list entries, with nine unique given names: Adam, John, Maud, Nicholas, Ralph, Richard, Robert, Roger and Stephen. In Dorset on the 1332 rolls are found seven uniqute given names: Ricardo (Richard), Roberto (Robert), Alicia (Alice), Henrico (Henry), Rogero (Roger), Johanne (John?), Waltero (Walter), Willelmo (William?) and Edwardo (Edward).

On 10 Aug 1333, a request was made to Edward III to “take into his favour” John de CUMBA, abbot of Combe “of whom the pope has made provision to the see of Cloyne. Gratie divine … Avignon. 4 Id. Aug., 17 John (XXII.) (1333 Aug. 10).” (Combs &c. Extractions from the PRO Catalogue, Records Office (PRO) Catalogue, Records of various departments, arranged artificially according to type, and formerly entitled Special Collections (SC)). This same year, Peter de COMBE was referenced as having held land in Binfield, Berks.

In 1336, Nigel de COUMBES (COMBES) of Sutton and Excete, Seaford and Applesham, Coombes, Sussex, died, Richard de COUMBES his heir. In 1350, Richard died, his daughter, Joan his heir.

According to the Hazel M. Kendall manuscript (no source), in 1339 a Petrus de COMBE was fined in York.

In 1344, a John de COMBE is of Swanscombe, Kent, and in 1352, a Lawrence de COMBE is in the records of Somerset.

In 1355 are found William and Agnes de COUMBE of Taunton, Somererset.

In 1369 again is found a John de COMBE of Swanscombe, Kent, and in 1372, a John COMBE witnesses a deed at Strood near Rochester, Kent.

In 1372 a John COMBE or de COMBE, knight, of Baudrip, Somerset, has died, his widow Margaret and his eldest son and heir John.

In 1376, according to the Hazel M. Kendall manuscript (no source given), a John de COMBE was warden of “Athelstone, Worcestershire, son of Henry of Wineobrand and Shiregreen, Yorkshire”. No Athelstone has been located in Worcestershire as yet, but there is an Atherstone in Warwickshire, which is at the juncture of the counties of Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Leicestershire, and only 4.97 miles north of Astley, Worcestershire.

In 1377, a William COMBES was “master of the Guild of St. Cornelius, Westminster”, and in 1379, the Poll Tax for the West Riding of Yorkshire included Robertus COMBE and Radulphus de COMBE.

In 1382, Master John COUMBE, advocate of London consistory court, is excommunicated by Archbishop of Canterbury (Kent).

About 1383-4 and 1388, one William COMBE was the collector of “tunnage” for the Port of Bristol.

In 1386 are found Johannes, Stephanus and Richardus de COMBE (John, Stephen and Richard) of Hastingleigh, Kent, and in 1389, a Thomas CUMBE and others are granted a manor in Wittersham, Kent.

In 1418, a Simon atte COMBE witnesses a record in Somerset, and in 1429, a Walter COMBE is appointed to deliver seizin in a Somerset record.

In 1448, a John COMBE was admitted at King's College, Cambridge University, a scholar from Eton. He may have been the same who was vicar of Stapleford, Cambridgeshire to 1461. This same year, a Thomas COMBE was “appointed to arrest ships for the passage of Richard, duke of York, to Ireland.”

In 1449 in Crewkerne, Somerset, a “free grammar school was founded… by John de COMBE, Precentor of the cathedral of Exeter, Devonshire”.

In 1449, one John COMBE sat on an enquiry commission which met at both Hackney and Westminster.

In 1452 is found the London will of William COUMBYS, Fishmgr [Fishmonger] (s/o Simon and Agnes), d 1452, survived by wife Katrine. In 1455, William's son, George, age 24, received the property

In 1460, an M. COMBE was also admitted to King's College, Cambridge University ca 1460, also a scholar from Eton. A ___ COMB, was granted his Bachelor of Canon Law degree in 1470-1; and grace for D. Cannon Law 1471-2, and in 1479, a ____ COMBE was admitted as a Fellow-commoner at Corpus Christi College.

Extracted by Combs Researcher Joe Kendalll and transcribed by Combs Researcher Denise Kendall from “Court of Request”. No Author. No Date:

V.7 #1

ARCHDALE (ARCHDALL,ARCHEDALE) p. (cut off at bottom of page)
Martin (Middlesex), lxxv,9.
Thomas (Middlesex), xxvi,14 (1557); lxxii,74; lxxviii,100.

COMBE: p. 111
John (Somerset.), iii,252;v.151.
Katherine (Kent.), lxv,78; lxxii,86; cvii,32.
William (Dorset), xvii,63.

COMBES: p. 111
Edward (Middlesex), lxxi, 53.
John (Gloucester),xxiii, 116.
Thomas (Bedfordshire), xciv, 21.
William (Herts.), xliii, 21.
William and Elizabeth, his wife (Sussex),xxi, 22

V.7 #2

ARCHDALE: p. (cut off at bottom of page)
John (Staffordshire), 168/40.
Martin (Middlesex, Cambridge, Staffordshire), 173/31

COMBE (COOMBE): p.(cut off at bottom of page)
John (Wiltshire), 139/4
John, Mary, his wife and Elizabeth, his daughter (n.c.), 140/28.
William of Milton and Eleanor, his wife (Berks), 190/52.
William (Warwickshire).202/14.

COMBES (COOMBES,COOMES): p.( cut off at bottom of page)
(alias BLOOME), John (Kent), 202/23
Thomas of London, fishmonger (Middlesex, Bedfordshire), [94/21]; 191/54.


V.7 #4

COMBE: p. (cut off at bottom of page)
John (Devon), 299/11.
John of Old Stratford (Warwickshire, Gloucester), 408/88.
Margaret, afterwards wife of Henry BEALE of S. Brent (Somerset), 415/18.
Thomas of Old Stratford (Warwickshire, Gloucester), 408/88.
William of Keyford in Frome, Selwood, tanner (Somerset, Warwickshire),296/71; 393/24.
William of Stratford-on-Avon, late High Sheriff of Warwickshire (Warwickshire), 296/72 [cf. COMBES, William]

COMBES (COOMBES): p. (cut off at bottom of page)
Christopher of Hanworth (Middlesex), 402/22
Thomas (?Middlesex), 404/94
William of Stratford on Avon (Warwickshire, Worcester), 295/29; 402/9 [cf COMBE, William].

DKM Notes: This is a typed manuscript. I am in the process of acquiring some of these cases since there is one that according to Joe Kendalll, if I understood correctly, involves a John COMBE and Matthew and Thomas ARCHDALE. As soon as I get copies of the cases I have requested I will transcribe these and post to the list.

See Also:
Combs &c. English Heraldry
Combs &c. English Visitations
Combs &c. English Shires et al
James Logan Kendall Manuscript