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Unexpected surname prefix

Discussion in 'General Genealogical Queries' started by Pauline, Jun 18, 2020.

  1. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    I have been looking at some of my early DOVE ancestors in the parish registers for Buckland Surrey, and am puzzled that a few entries have the prefix 'le' added before the surname.

    Between about 1600-1625 the registers are written in Latin, and there are 3 burials and one baptism where the prefix has been used, eg
    1605 baptism: Willus filius Cantivi le Dove .....
    1614 burial: Cantivus le Dove senex pauper .....
    1624 burial: Cantivus le Dove filius Cantivi Dove olim de Buckland ....

    I have browsed through the register from its start in 1560 through to about 1640 and these events are the only instances I have seen the prefix 'le' before a surname.

    The father's name in English was Cantick Dove and there are other examples written in Latin where his surname is just Dove without the 'le'.

    Does anyone have any ideas why the prefix might have been used, please?
  2. Heather

    Heather LostCousins Member

    Hi Pauline, as you probably know "le" is masculine "the" in French. "Le" is not listed in my Latin dictionary, so no help there. If the father listed had an occupational surname eg Mason that could make some sense as it could be Cantick the Mason, but I can't see that being the case here, hopefully someone will come up with a suitable answer to your query.
  3. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    As I don't want to provide an answer that is incorrect or misleading, I'd like to suggest you look at this in the Wiktionary, it appears le is a shortened form of illea and there is a link to that too.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  4. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    As ever my advice would be to look at other entries in the register.
  5. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    Many thanks, folks!

    Yes, as you say, classical Latin did not use articles and the nearest approximation to 'the' would be ille - hence the Latin version of A A Milne's classic book has the title Winnie ille Pu.

    This perhaps makes the prefix 'le' even more odd. It seems to have been one particular clergyman who used Latin in the register (and he seemed to be competent in Latin), so since he only used the prefix with this particular surname, and not always then, I wondered if he may have thought that the surname was actually 'le Dove'. The 1624 burial puzzles me somewhat - why use 'le Dove' for the son and just Dove for the father?

    Apart from the marriage of an Ellen Dove in 1572, Cantick Dove seems to have been the first of the line to arrive in Buckland, and the surname appears in the registers from 1593 onwards. So far I have no idea where the family came from - maybe from a nearby parish where the records don't survive that early or maybe from further afield. And while Dove is a reasonably common surname, Cantick as a forename seems unique to this family at that time, and I have no idea where it comes from. So I haven't found anything to explain the prefix.
  6. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    Thanks, Peter - you will see from what I wrote initially that I have already browsed through about 80 years of this register, checking every surname, and no others have the prefix 'le' - or any other prefix, for that matter - and there are only the 4 instances for the surname Dove.
  7. At home in NZ

    At home in NZ LostCousins Star

    It should be noted that many clergymen were educated at university, Oxford and Cambridge. It is highly likely they would have studied the Classics, in which case fluency in Latin is no surprise.
    There is an excellent Wiki page here about clergy through the ages which has a section on University Graduates.
  8. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    I have found one family amongst my relatives that is similarly afflicted a couple of centuries later. Initially I found references to a surname of Lepetit but later instances appear as Le Petit including the E&W 1881 census. Since that then appears for several individuals with no immediate connection to France, I assume that it was not a reference to the height of that person. I thought at one point that it might have been some form of affectation, as with some names like 'de Wxyz' or 'De Wxyz' for no apparent reason other than perhaps just sounding grander. However, with Pauline's finding of 'le Dove' so much earlier, there may be something more to it.

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