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About the study
The Cumberbatch surname study aims to research all occurrences of the last name Cumberbatch and its variants world-wide. It began during my attempts to research my own family history in Barbados. I am researching all occurences of the surname Cumberbatch, analysing the data to form Cumberbatch family trees and to publish the results along with stories of individual Cumberbatchs on my website. The aim of the study is to tell story of the Cumberbatch surname through the extraordinary family histories of those possessing it.
Find the origin of your surname and you will find your roots.
See: Cumberbatch last name website
Find the origin of your surname and you will find your roots.
See: Cumberbatch last name website
There are a remarkable number of variant spellings of the surname Cumberbatch but the most frequently occurring spelling variants are: COMBERBACH, CUMBERBATCH, CUMBERLEDGE, CUMBERLEGE, CUMBERLIDGE and CUMBERPATCH. See: http://www.cumberbatch.org
George William Marshall, whose mother was a Comberbach, wrote in his 'Collections for a Genealogical Account of the Family of COMBERBACH':
'Like most of our old English surnames, it has undergone various changes of spelling, thus it is written, Comberbach, the most ancient form, Cumberbach, Cumberbatch, and Comberbatch, and I do not doubt but that Comberbirch, Cumperpatch, Comberback, Comberbage, Cumberbeg, and even Cumberlege, together with many more, are only varieties which have crept in at different times, and through individual differences in pronunciation. Here I should remark that one of my reasons for considering the names Comberbach and Cumberlege identical is the similarity of the arms'.
The following surnames I do not consider to be variants:CUMBERLAND - From the old county of the same name. Mills claims it to derive from Cumbra land from the Old English Cumbre + land (Mills 1998 p.106);CUMBERWORTH or COMBERWORTH - From the derivation meaning 'enclosure of a man called Cumbra, or of the Britons'. Possibly derived from an Old English personal name or Old English Cumbre + worth. Cumberworth is mentioned in the Doomsday Book for Lincolnshire and a Lower & Upper Cumberworth is mentioned in Doomsday for West Yorkshire (Mills 1998 p.106);COMBERFORD, CUMERFORD, CUMMERFORD - From the place-name of the same spelling in Staffordshire. From the Old English Cumbre + ford (Mills 1998 p.94);COMBERTON, CUMBERTON - From the place-name of the same spelling in Cambridgeshire. From the Old English Cumbre + tun meaning 'Farmstead of a man called Cumbra' (Mills 1998 p.94). Additionally there are places called Great & Little Comberton in Hereford & Worcester mentioned in the Doomsday Book (Mills 1998 p.94);COMBELLACK, COMBELLES - From the Devon place-name of Coombelake (Association of British Place Names). Alas not covered by Mills but he might have claimed it to be derived from Coombe + lake meaning valley with a lake.
The family name Cumberbatch is the most popular variant spelling of a place called Comberbach; which is a village in Cheshire, England. A Co(o)mbe is old English for a valley; bach(e) is Old English for a stream. So Comberbach, the place, means valley with a stream and this is an accurate description of the place. Comberbach was not mentioned in the Doomsday Book but is mentioned in early Cheshire Charters dating from the late 12th century. See: Cumberbatch family name website The Cumberbatch surname has an additional point of origin; in Barbados. After August 1834 Barbados slaves, previously the property of white Cumberbatch families, were freed and many took the surname. By December 1833 all of the white male Cumberbatchs had either died or relocated to England. So any black Cumberbatch whether in England, Trinidad, Guyana, US or anywhere will have ancestral roots in Barbados.
History of the name
There are a tremendous amount of Cumberbatchs whose stories I am beginning to publish. But here are just some examples. The most famous Cumberbatch is Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor. Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch starred in the film Amazing Grace in which he played William Pitt The Younger. Pitt was elected as Prime Minister at the age of 24, William Pitt the Younger (1759-1806) is credited with encouraging Wilberforce to lead the abolitionist movement through political means. Pitt fell under the abolitionist movement. Wilberforce, however, disagreed and thought it beneficial to attempt peace with France. The pair reconciled within a few months and remained friends until Pitt's death in 1806, just one year before the slave trade was abolished. Benedict's paternal ancestors were sugar plantation owners on Barbados. His ancestors are why all of us with black ancestors called Cumberbatch inherited this surname. See: Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch
Benedict says about his Cumberbatch surname:
''When I started, I just assumed I couldn't be called Benedict Cumberbatch,' says the 30-year-old actor in a pub near the play's rehearsal rooms. His father, an actor, had been persuaded by an agent to become Timothy Carlton, and so the son initially carried on the family stage name. 'But then, one day, I told someone in the business what I was really called and they said, 'That's great, that's something you can use to stand out.'''
Because acquaintances, interviewers and immigration officers tend to ask about it, the artist formerly known as Ben Carlton wishes that he had done more research into the derivation of Cumberbatch. He knows only that the clan was originally German and later became prominent in the Caribbean, where they were slave traders. He drew on this part of his DNA in the BBC adaptation of William Golding's novels To the Ends of the Earth (he played Edmund Talbot, an opportunist sailing to the West Indies to make his fortune); he says, half-jokingly, that his role as William Pitt in the abolitionist film Amazing Grace was a sort of apology.' The Guardian, Tuesday 29 April 2008. [Visited 2008]
Claudia Cumberbatch, aka Claudia Jones, Mother of the Notting Hill Carnival: A black civil rights activist and feminist who died penniless on 24th December 1964 in London, England and was almost forgotten by history. She introduced the Notting Hill Carnival to England. Each year over a million people celebrate the Notting Hill Carnival and very few are aware of Claudia's part in its history. Claudia was born in Trinidad and lived in America until she was deported. See: Claudia Vera Cumberbatch
Greystone Grey Doyle Cumberbatch was killed when his Lancaster bomber crashed whilst attempting to land at an airfield in England during World War II. Grey was born in St Lucy, Barbados on 2 June 1921 and was one of twelve of Barabdos' 'Second Contingent'. He was the only son of Charles Wilkinson Cumberbatch and Octavia Cecily Clementina nee Leacock. See: Greystone Doyle Cumberbatch and Barbados' Second Contingent and St Swithuns War Graves
Alice Beatrice Martha Cumberbatch - A physically small, eccentric woman. Engaged to be married for 20 years and who sued her fiance for breach of promise when he married someone else. She chain smoked, only wore navy blue and made her own clothes. She also wrote for the Middlesex Gazette, she started the Fisherman's Benevolent Fund for Cromer in Norfolk. She raised money for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI). She was Chairman of the West Middlesex Hospital, honorary member of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators and was granted freedom of the City of London on 8 December 1960. She also created The Cumberbatch Trophy which is annually awarded for improvements in the safety of flying. See: Alice B M Cumberbatch and Cumberbatch Trophy
- Rear Admiral Claude Lionel Cumberlege,
- Commander Henry Carlton Cumberbatch,
- Edward Stephen Comberbatch, Watchmaker and Barometer Maker,
- James 'Jimmy' Cumberbatch and his brother Valentine Val Cumberbatch, Rugby Players,
- Dr. Elkin Percy Cumberbatch, Richard Cumberbatch,
- Nellie Cumberbatch, after whom is named Cumberbatch Place, Wigan,
- The Comberbach Spoon,
- Harrington Cumberbatch MBE,
- World War I & II Memorials and many more to come...See: Cumberbatch Surname Website
In 1880 the Cumberbatchs in the USA are too small to be of interest; in 1881 the Cumberbatchs in UK amount to 0.0022% of the population and 0.5% of the population in Barbados were Cumberbatchs. By 2001 the UK frequency has increased to 0.0026% of the population. See: http://www.cumberbatch.org
Distribution of the name
In 1880 there were 122 Cumberbatchs in the USA; in 1881 there were 663 Cumberbatchs in UK and c.862 in Barbados. See: http://www.cumberbatch.org
Only a very small amount of data has been published on my Cumberbatch website, but I do have nearly 100,000 individual records in my database. I have built family trees for some of these records but this work will continue along with family history biographies of individuals. Please ask about any individual you may be searching for.
BARBADOS : Baptisms, marriages and burials on Barbados from the earliest surviving registers through 1930. Extracts from published Barbados published sources: Wills, Journal of the Barbados Museum & Historical Society, Caribbeana. I also have the 1951 Electoral Roll databased but it is sadly lacking entries for St Peter, Barbados.
UK : Births, Marriages and Deaths to 2006; Lots and lots of parish registers containing baptisms, marriages and burials have been databased. BOYD's marriage index, Pallot's indexes, Bertram Merrell's Cheshire Marriage Index, Family Search. Census records: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1901 and 1911 completed.
US: I do have some records, but not much exists before 1880 as most arrived subsequently after then.
Wills: Probate calendars 1858 - 1963; Probate records prior to 1858; Prerogative Court of Canterbury (PCC) wills and administrations; Some Barbados wills.
Other sources: university records, school records, newspaper extracts, military records.