Category Archives: One-Name Study

Aveyard One-Name-Study: Update

As it’s a while since I announced the start of my Aveyard One-Name-Study it’s about time I gave a progress update. 

In late spring I undertook an online “Introduction to One-Name Studies” course with Pharos Tutors. I wanted to start my study off on the right track. This course was designed with input from the Guild of One-Name Studies so it seemed ideal. And so it proved to be. The five weeks confirmed I’d chosen a theoretically manageable surname. It also gave me lots of ideas for running my study, from data collection, analysis and software tools, to publication and preservation.  

I didn’t jump straight in to my study at the end of the course. I’m not rushing to get it all done in one go. It’s a long-term commitment. I wanted to assimilate all I’d learned. I also had holidays booked!  

But I’m pleased to say I’m finally cracking on with data collection. I did consider doing a big data-scraping exercise, but in the end I’ve decided to go down the slow, methodical, manual route for some core datasets.  

I’ve finished my FreeBMD and Commonwealth War Graves Commission collections. These were straightforward Excel downloads, then tidying up the data. Now I’m in the census phase of data collecting. And the relaxed pace is proving the right one for me here. I’m getting a real “feel” for my Aveyard families by going through the census with a critical eye. And transcribing the data myself from the censuses is hopefully overcoming some of those errors which occur when relying solely on Ancestry or FindMyPast transcriptions. 

I’ve opted to use Excel for my data input in the first instance. The time spent on the manual data collection process has helped here too, by giving my chance to properly consider layout and key field names. But as a result of the course and subsequent research I’m also going to invest in Custodian. I do like a paper option and love my family history index cards. However I’m rapidly running out of house-room and I don’t want my daughter to leave home so I can have her bedroom……..Real family comes first. 


I’m aiming to break the back of data-collection and entry by next spring-time. But as I said I’m in no rush. This is a hobby. It’s fun. I don’t want it to be like work or become some awful “oh no, not that today” chore. I won’t lose sleep over missing a self-imposed deadline. I’m fitting this one around me and my family. So there may be periods of intense activity. But there may be longer ones when I don’t get anything done. If so that’s OK.

But already I’m getting hooked on this new, broader family history angle. And hopefully I may gain more Aveyard ancestors and an insight into their origins and wider inter-connections along the way.  

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The Start of my Aveyard One-Name Study

I mentioned in my WDYTYA? Live 2016 write-up that I had registered a one-name study with the Guild of One-Name Studies. My chosen name is Aveyard, the maiden name of my great grandmother (maternal).

It is a predominantly Yorkshire surname. According to the British Surnames Database there were 343 occurrences of the surname in the 1881 census. The overwhelming majority of these were in Yorkshire (293), with a smattering in Cheshire, Leicestershire and Lancashire. So Yorkshire had a tad over 85% of the total.

Looking purely at total numbers of the surname, the main census districts were Gildersome, Gomersal, West Ardsley, Manningham and East Ardsley (the location of my direct line ancestors in 1881). In terms of frequency (the percentage of people with that surname) Middleton in Hunslet came top, followed by Gildersome, East Ardsley, West Ardsley and Lofthouse cum Carlton.

The top forenames for the Aveyard surname in the 1881 census were – William, John and George (male) and Sarah, Mary and Elizabeth (for female): So nothing startling there.

The top occupations, excluding scholar, were those typically Yorkshire ones of coal miner and woollen weaver.

The Database has approximate 21st century statistics for the surname. In the UK there are 138 surname-bearers (still mainly Yorkshire), USA has 107 and Australia 40.

So in theory a perfectly manageable number for a study.

The Internet Surname Database indicates it is a locational surname, believed to originate from “some minor place believed to be in Yorkshire”. The meaning is said to derive from the personal name “Afa” plus the word for an enclosure “geard”. The surname first made its appearance in the latter half of the 16th century. This was John Aveyeard, a witness at a 29 September 1587 Mirfield christening. Other early Yorkshire parish record occurrences of the surname cited by the Database are:

  • Robert Aveyard’s 18 June 1592 marriage to Anne Arandell at Mirfield;
  • Nycholas Aveyard’s 27  August 1621 Dewsbury marriage to Mary Bothe;
  • Ann, daughter of Richard Aveyard, was christened on 1 January 1624, at Thornhill;
  • Nicholas Aveyard married Debora Westerman on 29 November 1641, at Rothwell;

George Redmonds’ impressive book “A Dictionary of Yorkshire Surnames” has a slightly different take. The Huddersfield historian and local surnames expert states the interpretation of the surname is difficult. The earliest reference he discovered is in 1540 in the Dewsbury Parish Register. The register refers to Robert Janyn alias Hayvyerd. Redmonds theorises as Janyn was a diminutive of John frequently used by French immigrants, the surname may be linked to Robert Janyn’s French ancestry. He discovered a reference Robert Janyn of Soothill in 1524, so believes there may be examples of the surname earlier than 1540. He also makes reference to the interpretation by Peter McClure that the name might be a form of Halfyard, a predominantly Somerset and Devon surname, but he seems to discount this: Aveyard is occasionally spelled as Haveyard and Halfyard, but not until the 1800s.

The enormity of the task facing me is now sinking in. I’ve read the Guild of One Name-Studies book’ “Seven Pillars of Wisdom: The Art of One –Name Studies”. Tomorrow I begin a Pharos Tutors “Introduction to One-Name Studies” course. I hope this sets me on the right track in terms of collection, analysis and presentation of data for this new genealogy journey. And on 10 May 2016 I hope to attend the Huddersfield and District Family History Society talk at Dewsbury Town Hall by the Guild’s Yorkshire Regional Representative, David Burgess.

It’s very early days so will take a while for me to get up to speed and collect, collate and analyse data. In the meantime, the email address for my study is aveyard@one-name.org

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