THE 'HISTORY' OF TOMES

[These Notes essentially refer to TOMES families of England or with English origins.

Some comments on TOMESs from other countries are at the end]

                Some families, especially those with more unusual surnames, are able to trace their origins back to one place or particular part of the country.  This is not so with TOMES and this is perhaps primarily due to the quite wide spelling variations of the surname that have appeared in the past.  In addition the further one goes back, records become scarcer and scarcer and knitting together found facts becomes more and more difficult.  Add to this, the fact that most of the population was illiterate until around the mid/late 19th Century.  Names were also seldom recorded, except for example in instances by the parish priests for baptisms, marriages and burials, or for tax rolls, militia muster rolls etc.  Finally, until the late middle ages, surnames did just not exist.

                As regards the TOMES family though, there are perhaps two basic queries, but it seems to me a quite different approach must be taken in an attempt to answer each of these.

 

WHERE DID THE NAME COME FROM?

                Where did the name, now spelt TOMES, come from?  The answer is that I just don’t know.  If you have a name like BLACKSMITH or SHEPHERD the answer would seem rather obvious.  But TOMES?  Perhaps just something very simple like “whose that over there?’ answer “that’s Tom’s son” (ie Tom’s’) or “that’s Tom’s boy” (ie Tom’b).   My grandfather once told me that my own family uses to be tombstone makers, but I have never found a shred of evidence to support this - nor for any other early TOMES family.   Someone once told me that we were named after Thomas a’ Beckett (who was ‘done in’ in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170) but I can’t see a connection here.  [As a curious aside though, some TOMES families have ‘adopted’ a ‘crest’ that includes cornish choughs (birds) - and the official Coat of Arms for Canterbury also  includes these]. Illiteracy of course does not help. On the odd occasions when our ancestor's names were actually written down, the writer would record them in the way he thought was correct and the possessor of the name would not know if it was recorded rightly or wrongly. Even if one could write, different spellings would be used; thus an Aimy in her signatures to legal papers signed as TOMES (1654), TOMBS (1658) and TOMES (1663).


WHERE DID THE FAMILY COME FROM?

                Perhaps a quite separate query.  Early spellings of the name in England that has now become TOMES, commonly included the letters ‘h’ and/or ‘y’ and a second ‘m’ and later often a ‘b.’  Up to around the mid 19th Century, within the same TOMES family, the name was often especially spelt as TOMS & TOMBS as well as TOMES. Thus a number of families that now use the spelling TOMS or TOMBES may well be related to those of us who now use TOMES; and indeed this has been proved in a couple of cases.

                The earliest mentions of the name in England, then spelt in different ways, seem to start to appear in the general NE Gloucestershire, SW Warwickshire, SE Worcestershire area in the 14th Century.  In the ‘Subsidy Role of Edward III 1327-8,’ when a Dionysius THOMMEN was then living in Weston Subedge; a John THOMMES and a Walter THOMMES were living in Stoke, a John THOMMES in Aston Summerville, a William and a John THOMMEN in Clopton, a Peter THOMMEN in Pebworth; a Richd THOMME in Ebrington; a John THOMMES in Ford, nr Guiting & a Richard THOMMEN in Ullington. Again in the ‘Subsidy of the 15th of Edward III, 1341-2’ can be found Robert TOMMES in Slaughter, John THOMMES in Turksdeane and Robert TOMMES in Swell.

                Over the next century and a half there are further scattered mentions.  Agnes TOMMES was renting land in Long Marston in 1355, William THOMMES was appointed Rector of Whichford in 1414; a ‘catalogue of Gentry’ of Oxfordshire in the reign of Henry VI (1422-60) lists a William TOMMYS; a William TOMMES (aka THOMMYS) was Rector of Binton in June 1460; William THOMMES was Rector of Whitchurch in Jun 1462; in 1504 a Nicholas TOMMYS was Rector of Arrow and on 1 Jun 1532 a William TOMYS resigned the Vicarage of Stow on the Wold receiving an annual pension of £4.

                The earliest Parish Registers date back to 1538, when they were ordered by Thomas Cromwell, Vicar General to Henry VIII and from that year onwards, a family spelt variously as TOMMYS/TOMIS/TOMS/TOMES is recorded in the church registers of Bengworth.  Many registers though started considerably later and that for Long Marston (where the writer’s family originates) only in 1680 with the earliest TOMES entry being ‘Thomas TOMBS buried June ye 15th in the year of our Lord God 1694.’


TOMES FAMILIES

                Generally though, the earliest English families that can be 'pedigreed' up to today, seem to have come from the above region of the country although there are a cluster in northern Buckinghamshire and a later one in Swanage, Dorset. It should though be mentioned that the spelling TOMS goes back several centuries in Cornwall, but no TOMS family from that county has been traced to one that has now become TOMES - although there is an oral tradition in the Swanage family that they might originate from TOMS Cornwall tin workers, who migrated east along the south coast. The name though does not seem to appear to have any Welsh, Scottish or Irish origins.

                Families are also found abroad, especially in the former colonies, ie North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand and a number of these can trace their origins back to the United Kingdom. The name though can also be found elsewhere today and the writer has been in contact with present day TOMESs in Hungary, the Ukraine, Germany and the Philippines.

                The name apparently though is not just one with English origins. For example, listings of arrivals at Ellis Island in the USA in the late 18th / Early 19th Centuries, show many with the name TOMES comimg from Italy, Austria, Bohemia, Hungary, Moravia etc. [It is also understood that many immigrants to North America then 'anglicised' their surnames on arrival, eg TOMAZ becoming TOMES].         

RECORDED TOMES WORLD BIRTH TOTALS (As at 4 October 2012)


Country

Total

Earliest Year

England

3949

1525

USA

1913

c1640

Canada

289

1844

Australia

111

1846

New Zealand

102

1850

Philippines

85

1838

South Africa

57

1886

Jersey

44

1868

Czechoslovakia

30

1662

Hungary

20

1907

Scotland

20

1835

Ireland (pre Eire)

9

c1839

Guernsey

7

c1817

Hong Kong

4

1891

India

4

1878

Northern Ireland

4

c1839

France

3

c1823

Germany

3

1720

Isle of Man

3

1859

Austria

2

2000

Argentina

1

1998

Denmark

2

1915

Equador

1

1999

Jamaica

1

1800

Kenya

1

2007

Malawi

1

1985

Malta

1

1953

Singapore

1

1964

Spain

1

1967

Eire (post 1922)

0

 

Wales

0

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

6669

 

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