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About the study
Update 24 November 2014. Sadly Michael Debenham passed away in May 2014. His Debenham One Name Study website is being maintained by his widow (Margaret Debenham) and family, but no new material will now be added.
The information on the study given below is that provided by Michael.
As often happens when tracing one's own ancestry, I encountered a 'brick wall' in the 18th Century, being unable to find a birth. A possible solution appeared to be looking for all recorded Debenhams at or about that time, wherever in the UK they might be located, and so the Study took a more formal course and was registered with the Guild in 2004. It has since expanded to embrace Debenhams worldwide.
History of the name
The lines of descent following the various Gilberts are obscure, and likely to remain so. However, three areas are now apparent as centres of population for Debenhams of the 16th Century and later. One of these includes Sapiston and Ixworth Thorpe, a few miles north-east of Bury St Edmunds, another is centred on Redgrave, some 12 miles to the east and including the villages of Botesdale and Rickinghall, while the third is south of Bury and includes the villages of Thorpe Morieux, Alpheton and the Bradfield group. It is presently thought that there are three main lines of descent that originate from these areas.
The General Registration lists 2823 Debenham Births from July 1837 to December 2005 inclusive, with 2067 Marriages and 1808 Deaths in this time, these figures relating to England and Wales only. The corresponding figures for Debnams are 1658 Births, 1180 Marriages and 1095 Deaths. There are very few records of either name in Scotland, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.
Distribution of the name
Debenhams are also found in significant numbers in Australia and the United States. The Australian records include Births, Marriages and Deaths from the mid-19th century until the early 20th century; the United States records are primarily Census Returns, with Debenhams appearing from 1820 onwards. There are also Debenhams in the US Immigration records.
The available data can be accessed via my family history website at the link below.