Surname Meaning & Origin

Meaning

Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary defines the adjective Wellbeloved as:

"1: Sincerely and deeply loved: 'my wellbeloved wife'
 2: Sincerely respected: used in various ceremonial forms of address" (Merriam-Webster, 2010).

Charles Bardsley classified the surname Wellbeloved as of nickname in origin, and defined its meaning as:

"Wellbeloved - Nick. 'the well-beloved'. A common mode of address by prince or ecclesiastic (clergyman) in formal declarations" (Bardsley, 1901; 800).
Origin of Surname

The earliest known recorded Wellbeloves are John Welebiloved, 1277, John Welbyloved, 1315 & John Welbilovede 1319, all from Devon. Another early reference is Richard Wellbyloved found in Worcestershire in 1327. There is no evidence that any modern day Wellbeloves are genetically descended from these areas. It is possible that members of their families migrated to London area, but it is just as feasible that the Wellbeloves from what later became the surname heartland for centuries, namely London/Middlesex and especially neighbouring Surrey evolved separately. To quote Richard McKinley:

"London was already attracting migrants from all parts of England as far back as about 1200. There were also many examples of the wealthier inhabitants of London buying lands in the areas closely adjoining the capital, in Essex, west Kent, north Surrey, and what used to be Middlesex" (McKinley, 1990; 191).
"...some of the rarer surnames from nicknames occur from an early date independently in a number of different regions, indicating that each of them is likely to have originated with a number of separate families" (McKinley, 1990; 182).

Earliest Wellbeloves

References:

Merriam-Webster's (2010) Webster's-Merriam Online Dictionary, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wellbeloved Date accessed 22/01/10

Bardsley, Charles W. (1901) English & Welsh Surname Dictionary, H Frowde.

McKinley, Richard A (1990) A History of British Surnames, Longman


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