Allenby, a Study in Greatness: The Biography of Field-Marshal Viscount Allenby of Megiddo and Felixstowe, G.C.B., G.C.M.G

By Archibald Wavell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
EARLY LIFE (1861-82)

I
ORIGINS AND CHILDHOOD (1861-71)

THE family of Allenby (or Allanby) originally came from Cumberland. The name is apparently derived from Allonby, a village on the coast of Cumberland, or from Ellonby, a hamlet in Inglewood Forest, also in Cumberland. These two place-names are really identical, as Allonby was Allayneby in 1262 and Ellonby was Alanebi in 1228. They are post- Conquest names, meaning the 'by,' or homestead, of Alain, a Breton name, of Celtic origin and uncertain meaning, which came over with the Conqueror. There is a third possibility-- that the name comes from Aglionby (locally pronounced Allenby), derived from a Norman surname, Aquillon. It is not impossible that all three places may have contributed to the Cumberland surname. It seems, then, that the founder of the Allenby family was some stout warrior from Brittany, who followed the Conqueror's fortunes to England and received a grant of land on the northern marches, in the debatable land between Norman and Scot, where good skirmishing was always to be had, and only strong hand and good watch could keep the roof on the farm and the cattle from the raider.1

The county of Lincoln, to which the most prosperous branch of the family presently moved, and where it is known to have owned land since the middle of the sixteenth century,

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1
Professor Ernest Weekley, the well-known authority on surnames and placenames, has provided most of the information in this paragraph.

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