A Study of an Old British Family
Etymology and Origin
The word "lum" anciently had only one general signification, whatever way it was spelled. It is a Saxon word. In Swedish, "lumma" meant to resound. In the Shetland Islands, lum means a rift- an opening in the sky; of the sky; to clear of fog; to disperse. In the County of Norfolk a "lum" was a handle of an oar. "Lum" also meant to rain heavily. In Scotland, Ireland and the northern English counties of Durham and Yorkshire a "lum" meant a chimney, the vent by which the smoke issued, as in Grant's Chronicles of Keckleton-"She heard a voice cryin' doon her ain lum"-hence,very commonly used in those regions of Britain. From this came the term "lumhat"- a chimnery-pot hat. Please note the Lancastrian pronunciation of the word "down" as "doon".
Is it not reasonable to assume that, in Lancastrian English, Lomas was actually pronounced "Loomas"?
Further south and west in Yorkshire, in Derbyshire and in Yorkshire, close to the border of Salford Hundred in Lancaster County "lum" meant:
a small wood or grove
In Lancashire as well as Derby and Oxford, "lum" meant a deep pool in the bend of a river. Thus these ancient usages were descriptive in locality and had direct reference to a certain definite place or places in the natural topography of Lancashire and adjoining counties.
"Haugh" is a Scottish and northern England word particularly written as "halgh" and "haulgh" in Lancashire; other forms being "halche" or "hawch" or "hawgh". It means low lying level ground by the side of a river forming a part of the floor of a river valley. In the original sense it also was particular to a corner or nook of land at or within the bend or angle of a river.
In Northumberland and Durham Counties "haulgh" or "haugh" denoted low lying spreads of loam, sand or gravel that formed the lowest ground of the river valleys which were flooded from time to time. "Haulgh-ground" was this low-lying, fertile river bottomland. This word as applied and meant is very old- dating back as early as 814. Halliwell's Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words states, in Lancastrian pronunciation, the "h" and "g" are silent and the "al" is changed to "au" and the "gh" in "halghs" is pronounced in Lancashire today as though it was "sh". The old English pronunciation of "Lumhalgh" in Lancashire was thus probably "Lumhaush". Therefore, Lumhalgh became Lumau and sometimes Lumaul, in the singular form and Lumhalghes or Lumhalghus in the plural or Latin form (Latin being the official language of the Church at the time). The dialects of different regions resulted in various pronunciations, as recorded phonetically by clerks in old records as: "Lumaus", "Lummas", "Lomas", "Lumhales", "Lumhalx", "Lomax", "Lummys", "Loomys" and "Loomis". "Lomax" has only been in use since shortly before 1600, though it is the most prevalent spelling of the name in the England of today.
There can be little argument about the origin of Lomax from Lumhalghs in Lancashire. There are plenty of records that enable the origin to be traced. There is also little doubt that variations include such names as Lomas, Loomalls, Loomas, Lummas.
A "Lumhals" appeared in Surlingham, Norfolk in 1496 and a family of the same name in South Elmham about the same time. But by 1523 the line died out. In 1561 a Laurence Lomax came to Eye as a schoolmaster after graduating at Cambridge. His family flourished there for at least another century (some were recorded as papish recusants about 1650). Laurence Lomax undoubtedly came from Lancashire as probably did the Lumhals but there is nothing to connect any of them with the various families with those who bore the name Lummis or its variants in Suffolk and neighbouring counties.
"Loomis" is a Johnny-Come-Lately spelling of the name and is found in England only in the family which lived at Braintree, Essex with it's first occurrence being the Will of John Loomis, father of the immigrant Joseph Loomis. The Loomis Families of America believes that the location of origin is a particular spot known as Lumhaulgh which lies between the rivers Croal, Tonge and Bradshaw near the town of Bolton in Bolton parish, Lancashire and that here was the family that would adopt the place as their surname. Further, The LFoA believes the reason that none of the name then in Bolton are mentioned is because no man would have been taxed who was not then a landholder or a merchant having a stock of goods of fair value. Adding to the fact that some of the earliest tax rolls no longer exist, the LFoA understands as the reason that the first persons to bare the name were found at Pendleton and Wigan.
"Lummis" - Is there a Connection to "Lomax"? (published in 'Suffolk Roots') There is no clear origin of this name. There are a number of possibilities. One is that it is a derivative of LOMAX which appears to have its source in a place called Lumhalghs near Bolton in Lancashire (earliest reference in charter dated 1210 and earliest name of person in 1324). Another is that it has no connection with Lancashire with the possibility that it derives from the Anglo-Saxon suffix -ness, a promontory or headland preceded by 'lof' or luf'. One branch of the family firmly believed that its origin lay in Switzerland from the place near Zurich called Lommis. Another possible continental origin is that In 1436 one John Lowenesse from Cirice (today Zierikzee) in Zeeland living In Carlton Colville was naturalized in this country. There is also the possibility that it derives from the place name Lammas in Norfolk or Lamarsh in Essex. All these and others are further discussed below.
The thought that the name "Lummis" has its origin in the Anglo-Saxon 'Lof' or 'Luf' plus 'ness' arises from the fact that there are several well authenticated examples in the 16th and 17th century of the name "Loveness" and variations and Lummis referring to the same person. (Charles Partridge FSA, letter 1931). The name appears relatively widespread in Suffolk in the 16th century. The 1524 Subsidy list shows Rob Loveness at Brockford and John Loueness at Bruiseyard. The Mendlesham registers show that there was a family named Loveness from 1560 to 1600 and also one at Stonham Aspal with the name Lowfness (Lousnes, Lumas). At Lavenham there were two brothers named "Lummys" in 1560 and later. The Bruiseyard Lounes of 1524 appear to belong to a family who held lands from Yoxford to Swefling in the 15th and 16th centuries. Wills and other depositions document their existence from at least 1458 with spellings varying widely from Lomas and Lumys to Lunnys. Most of these spellings incline towards including an 'n' or 'nn'.
The name "Lunnis" is thought by some to be derived from Londonensis (i.e. from London). Other places in Suffolk where examples have been found dating from the second half of the 16th century, include Cockfield (1574), Great Saxham (1589), Mildenhall (1560), Bury St. Edmunds (1600), Woodbridge (1549), Bradfield Combust (1579), Wetheringsett (1563), Redgrave (1593). Ounwich, Aldeburgh and Butley were other places where the name can be found and in 1618 in another corner of the county, Haverbill, Oliver Lunnis got married. Just over the border in Essex at the same time there were families at Thaxted, Bocking and Braintree and the name was not unknown in Norfolk.
The Zeelander who came to Carlton Colville and became naturalized in 1436 and whose name was spelt "Lowenesse" raises the possibility that those who spelt their name Loveness a century later were descendants. If so, it is likely that John Lowesnesse's original name was spelt Lauwens (or Lawrence's son). However, in default of more positive evidence one can only conjecture that there was such a link.
The same applies to the idea that the name comes from "Lommis" in Switzerland. It is certainly possible that a Swiss from that village displaced by the civil war in the middle of the fifteenth century found his way across the North Sea to Harwich (and later Yarmouth) but there is no evidence and on the face of it this origin seems less likely than the Zeelander just mentioned for which there is some proof.
Place names have often given rise to surnames and it is therefore possible that both Lamarsh and Lammas could have become surnames. In the Horsham St. Faith's Manor Rolls (Blickling Papers) Benedicto de Lammesse and Radulpho de Lammesse appear as witnesses to grant of property dated 1250-1260. The village of Lammas (Lamas) is only about six miles from St.Faith's. There was certainly a family named Lammas and it has been established to the satisfaction of one researcher (see 'Loomis Family of America") that there was no connection with those bearing the name Lummis (Loomis etc.). This researcher listed a number of examples of the name "Lammesse" in various rolls dating from 1272 to 1550 including Cambridge, Scottow near Lamas in Norfolk and Ipswich. Though there are a number of examples of the name appearing in Norfolk in the 16th and 17th centuries they are relatively few compared with Suffolk, and somewhat scattered. So it is not possible to draw any particular conclusions on the basis of the knowledge available.
Lamarsh in Essex provides even less substantial evidence. The registers of Thaxted list between 1570 and 1605, various members of a family whose names are often spelt "Lamas" or "Lamarshe" but as frequent are the spellings Lummys and Lummis and similar. The Lamarsh spelling appears to have died out by about 1630 and there is nothing more to connect the family with the village of Lamarsh.
The possible connection with Lamas, Lamarch and Lumhals (Lomax) does not explain the various spellings incorporating the letter 'v' and 'n'. As late as 1770, at Stowlongtoft. there are duplicate burial entries in the Register referring to the same person spelt "Loveless" and "Lummis". At Bildeston, early lords of the Manor were "Loveneys"; in 1277 Sir Matthew de Loveneys was summoned for service against Lewellen Prince of Wales; there is an earlier reference of the year 1230 and a connection with Rattlesden in the year 1236 and Assington in 1413. Other examples of the name can be found from the time of Henry IV, V and VI (1440-1438). About 1660 to 1675 there was a family by the name of "Louenes" (Lovenes, Lumnis) in Bildeston; but no direct connection can be made.
Going back to the time of the Domesday Book (1086) Ralph de Limesy (from Limesy, Seine Inf.) was one of the 70-odd landholders listed in Suffolk. His lands were in Cavendish and area, Newton, Cornard, Bedingfield, Occold and near Bacton and Eye. Lands at Newton were held until 1223. It is not impossible that his name was passed on in Suffolk and became a form of Lummis but this can only be conjecture.
The various books on names place Lummis in with Lomax and give examples from Lancashire. They are thus not much help. It is also worth recording that examples of Lummis can be found in Northamptonshire, Essex (Rainham and elsewhere), Kent (Ashford) and Clerkenwell.
It is not possible to draw any firm conclusions on the basis of the knowledge set out above.
The significance of the letters 'v' and 'n' on the spelling of names also spelt as 'Lummis' or variations with 'm' predominating seem significant. For this reason a Lumhals (Lomax) origin for names in Suffolk seems unlikely. It also seems unlikely that with so many examples of forms of Lummis all over Suffolk and in neighbouring counties in the sixteenth century that the name had its origin in Lancashire. The 'v' and 'n' spelling also would mean that looking to origins based on places such as Lamas and Lamarsh would find little support. For the same reason looking to Limesy in France as an origin would seem unlikely. This argument would not apply to Loveneys but there is nothing to connect that name with later recorded occurrences of Lumys, Lovenesse and other similar. The Zeelander Loweness is certainly a possible origin but again there is no certain connection. There may well be more than one origin, but Charles Partridge's view that we should be looking for an Anglo-Saxon origin based on 'Lof' or 'Luf' plus 'ness' seems as sound as any.
Finally, coming up to the present time, it is significant that in a recent study of those bearing the name Lummis in Great Britain, out of 165 Households 51 were to be found in Suffolk and many of those shown as living outside the county are known to have a Suffolk origin.
Variations met in Suffolk:
The remarkable research of Dr. Elias Loomis (1875) later revised by Dr. Elisha S. Loomis (1908)-
"Nearly all of those persons in the United States who are known by the name of Loomis are descended from Joseph Loomis, who settled in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1639. This name, in the lapse of time has undergone various changes of orthography. For somewhat more than a century it has, with few exceptions, been spelled Loomis. Previous to that time, the more common spelling was Lomis. On the oldest gravestones at Colchester the name is spelled Lomis. On the early town records at Windsor the name is generally Lomys, but on the oldest grave-stone of any member of this family now known to exist anywhere in America, the name is spelled Lomas. This is the grave-stone of Deac. John Lomas, who died at Windsor, Sept. 1, 1688.
In England, for more than a century past, the name has uniformly been spelled Lomas, but two or three centuries ago the name was sometimes spelled Lummas, Lommas, or Lomes. All these names are considered to be variations in the spelling of one original name, and the spelling now well established in England is Lomas, while the spelling adopted in the United States is Loomis.
The name Lomas in Great Britain.--
In order to determine in what part of Great Britain the Lomas family first appeared, or has been longest established, I have consulted with great care the Directories of Great Britain and Ireland.
I have searched through Slater's Directory of Ireland for 1856 without finding Lomas or Lomax in a single instance. I have also searched through Slater's Directory of Scotland for 1860 without finding either Lomas or Lomax in a single instance.
In Slater's Directory of Wales for 1850 the names Lomas and Lomax occur only once each, viz., Thomas Lomas, tinman, in Crickhowell, and John Lomax, bootmaker, in Bangor.
In order to discover, if possible, the home of this family in England at a remote antiquity, I have selected as the basis of comparison that class of persons which is presumed to be the least migratory. Merchants and bankers, from the very nature of their business, form a migratory class, and we find an occasional merchant of the name Lomas in nearly every one of the large cities of England. Mechanics are less migratory; but with the exception of the nobility, the persons who are thought to be most closely attached to the soil are the farmers.
With only one exception these places are all near Manchester, and are included within a circle of 30 miles radius, whose centre is 25 miles S. S. E. of Manchester. This point is near the boundary of the three counties of Chester, Derby, and Stafford, and this circle has without doubt been the home of the Lomas family for several centuries.
The resemblance between the Christian names occurring in England and those found at Windsor, Connecticut, is quite remarkable. Thus in the small town of Stockport, Cheshire, the Post Office Directory gives eight persons (only) of the name Lomas, and their Christian names are John, Joseph, James, Isaac, Matthew, Jacob, Charles, and William. Each of these names is found in the first three generations of the Lomas family at Windsor, and the first four names occur in the aggregate 26 times.
From the preceding examination it is inferred that for a long period the principal home of the Lomas family in Great Britain has been in the vicinity of Derbyshire.
It appears that the name Lomas in England can be traced back a little more than four centuries, but I have been unable to trace it further. Surnames were first introduced into England about the time of the Conquest (A. D. 1066), but the custom came slowly into use during the eleventh and three following centuries. Hereditary surnames were not permanently settled among the lower and middle classes in England before the era of the Reformation (A. D. 1517). But Laurent Lomax, born about 1427, was a person of some distinction, and either he or his son was authorized to have a coat of arms.
The absence of any earlier mention in English annals of the name Lomax or Lomas is therefore thought to be somewhat remarkable, and may be explained if we suppose the family to have been natives of some other country, and that they had recently settled in England. The reasons for this last supposition will be stated hereafter.
The pronunciation of the name Lomas four centuries ago was probably well represented by the spelling Lomatz. Subsequently one branch of the family adopted the spelling Lomax and another the spelling Lomas, and these two modes of spelling have been pretty consistently adhered to in England down to the present time.
It is the common impression in England that the names Lomax and Lomas have the same origin. A surgeon of some eminence residing in Manchester, Eng., married a Miss Lomas. I visited the family in 1857, and was told that the lady's grandfather was named Lomax, but that her father (believing that the name was originally Lomas) adopted the spelling Lomas.
The change of the name Lomatz to Lomax and Lomas is no greater than the changes which have taken place in many other English names whose history can be traced back several centuries. We have an example of the facility with which the letter x is exchanged for the letter s or soft c, in the word index, whose plural is either indexes or indices.
Can the Lomas family be traced to the continent of Europe?--
(A.) The following is a brief summary of the results obtained respecting the names of persons:
(B.) The following is a summary of the places bearing the name Lomas, or a name somewhat resembling it.
Lommatsch, a town in Saxony, 22 miles from Dresden. Population 2,275.
Do the preceding facts afford a basis for any conjecture respecting the early history of the Lomas family?
Is the name Lomas derived from any word or combination of words in the English language? No one has ever suggested any such derivation which could be considered as in any degree plausible. The conclusion seems to follow of necessity that the name Lomas is not of English origin. The same considerations lead to the conclusion that it is not of French, or German, or Italian origin. The case is, however, different with Spain. Loma in Spanish signifies a little hill, and lomas is the plural of loma, signifying hills. It is probable, therefore, that the names Loma and Lomas were early introduced as surnames in Spain, and we can understand why these names were applied to places which were inhabited by Spaniards, or of which the Spaniards were the first explorers. The conclusion naturally follows that the Lomas family in England came from Spain about the year 1400, or perhaps earlier. The names Lomis and Lomisville, applied to villages in Switzerland, render it probable that persons of the same name from Spain, or perhaps from the Lomas family established in England, migrated to Switzerland.
The names Lomazzi and Lomazzo in Northern Italy are also thought to have originated from the same stock. These names differ from Lomax or Lomatz only in substituting an Italian termination. This will appear from the following examples:
**See hereinafter, what Prof. C. A. Hoppin, Jr., says on this very interesting point. It is possible that the name Lommatsch in Saxony is simply the name Lomatz modified by a change of termination, so as better to express the peculiar German pronunciation.
It seems, therefore, probable that the Lomas family originated in Spain; that four or five centuries ago, and perhaps earlier, one or more members of this family became established in England, while others of the family found their way into Northern Italy.
It may appear strange that when the facilities for travel were so restricted, as they were in Europe during the middle ages, the Lomas family should have become so widely scattered. But we know that during the Crusades (from A. D. 1096 to 1270), adventurers from England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy, were united in a common cause; and those crusaders who returned from Palestine instead of returning to their native homes, were frequently dispersed into foreign countries. The result must have been a considerable mingling together of the people of the different nations of Europe.
It may be objected that the fact that Laurent Lomax had a coat of arms proves that he was not of foreign origin. Such an objection is not well founded. Many English families that have a coat of arms are of French origin, while others are of German, Italian, or Spanish origin. Among families of this description having a German origin occur the names Deycheler, Kramer, Lauginger, Mazzinghi, and Weber; among those families having an Italian origin occur the names Castillon, Corsellis, De Moline, and Sileto; while among the families admitted to be of Spanish origin occur the names Ayala, Florio, Gambow, and Ilbery.
Other families of the Loomis name.-- Besides the descendants of Joseph Loomis of Windsor, there are in the United States other families known by the name of Loomis, Lummis, or Lomas. Edward Lomas, born about 1606, came from London in 1635, and settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts, as early as 1648. He had six children: John resided in Salem, Massachusetts; Samuel settled in Hamilton, Massachusetts; Nathaniel settled in Dover, N. H.; Jonathan settled in Ipswich, Massachusetts; Edward settled in Cohanzy, N. J.; and there was a daughter, who married John Sherring. The descendants of Edward Lomas generally spell their name Lummis, and this circumstance is usually sufficient to distinguish them from the Windsor family; but some of them have adopted the spelling Loomis, and a few have adopted the anomalous spelling Lamos. I have undertaken to make out the genealogy of this family, and have made considerable progress, but my manuscript is not yet ready for publication.
There was also a Joseph Lomas born in England about 1761, who was a soldier in Burgoyne's army, who remained in this country after the war, settled in Andover, Massachusetts, and died in Erie Co., N. Y., about 1830. He had ten children, among whom were six sons, who married and had children. They generally claim that the proper spelling of their name is Lomas, but it is sometimes spelled Loomis. I have also undertaken to make out a complete genealogy of this family.
Besides the three families above referred to, in most of the larger cities we find persons of the name Lomas who were born in England, or whose parents came from England since the peace of 1783. Such persons uniformly claim that the proper spelling of their name is Lomas, but in the city directories it is frequently spelled Loomis. I have not yet found a person in the United States bearing the name Lomas, Loomis, or Lummis who does not probably belong to one of the preceding classes; in other words, there are believed to be in the United States but two Lomas families whose ancestors came to this country before the Revolution of 1776; the members of one (being descended from Joseph Loomis (Lomas) of Windsor -a copy of this and much additional data is now in the possession of Elisha S. Loomis, of Berca, O. Windsor) almost without exception spelling their name Loomis, and those of the other family (descended from Edward of Ipswich) generally spelling their name Lummis. If the work which I have commenced should be ever completed, it will show the genealogy of every person in the United States bearing the name Loomis, Lummis, or Lomas, and whose ancestors came to this country before the commencement of the present century."
Some variations of the Lomas name.--
Investigation reveals that:--
At present, in England, the spelling Lomas is well established. In the U. S. of America and Canada, the spelling Loomis is generally found."
The most modern research of the origin of the Lomas/Lomax name is the extensive research of John B. Lomax. It is based partly on the works of Loomis, Hoppin and Ekwall and conclusively indicates the Lomax name originated at Lummehalenges (which was pronounced something like "Lum-auls"). The location is in Lancastershire County about midway between Bury and Heywood, and lies within a large bend in the River Roch. It was upon this ancient site that the "hamlet" of Lummehalenges/Lumhalgh/Lomax was once located, though it no longer exists. In later years the northern part of this property, which had the lowest elevation and was closest to the river, came to be called Lower Lomax, and the more southerly portion, several hundred feet higher in elevation, became known as Higher Lomax. According to an 1875 map of the area the property contained about 75 acres. It is unknown whether there is a deep pool in this part of the river, but with the bottom of the gorge covered in shrubs and trees, a portion of Old Lomax existing within a sharp bend of the river, and with the low-lying meadows adjacent to the river, the descriptive term 'Lumhalghs' is certainly satisfied.
This piece of property, or portions thereof, is today a dairy farm and is called Lower Lomax. Thus, the surname Lomax is believed to be locational in origin and is believed to be associated with the English meaning "one who came from or lived near Lomax (flat alluvial land by a pool)."
Regardless of various origin theories and the relationships between the Lomas, Lomax and Loomis names, most researchers have concluded the Lomas name is rooted at the end of the Roman Empire in 476 A.D. -the beginning of the Middle Ages or better known specifically as the "Dark Ages".
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