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About the study

After many years of collecting information about the Ebbage and Debbage names I am now pulling this together into a one name study. The main aim of this study is to prove that the Debbage and Ebbage names are linked and are variants of the same name.

Variant names

The spelling of the Ebbage and Debbage names varied widely until the early 1800's but settled down very nicely to just these two names. Before the spelling became more regular the double b was mostly present but vowels drifted all over the place and dg was sometime used instead of g.

Name origin

There are differing origin explanations for Ebbage and Debbage:

According to

Ebbage is of French origin, and is a dialectal variant of the name Hasbbeshaw, itself a metonymic occupational name for a maker of coats of chain mail. The derivation is from the Old French, Middle English 'haubergeon', a diminutive of 'hauberc', a word of Germanic origin, composed of elements meaning 'neck' and 'protection', and having the overall meaning of a coat of mail or a mail jerkin. However, when these garments fell out of use, the name was altered by folk etymology to create many variants, for example, Habbershon, Haversham and Habberjam.

This name origin is widely published however I am yet to find any evidence to support this.

The Dictionary of English Surnames describes Debbage as coming from Debach in Suffolk and is pronounced Debbidge. The evidence for both the Ebbage and Debbage names supports this.

Historical occurrences of the name

I would never describe the Ebbage or Debbage families as being prominent in the affairs of their countries or counties or even towns where they have lived. They are only remarkable in that they are not remarkable at all.

Most prominent found so far is General Hugh Debbieg 1732-1810 who was an engineer in the late 1700's and is depicted in Benjamin West's The Death of Wolfe. A secret mission to France and Spain followed however he ultimately fell foul of the Duke of Richmond and was Court Marshalled.

Name frequency

This is small study as the names do not have a high frequency.

According to FindMyPast a search for Ebbage and Debbage in the British census would find

Ebbage/ Debbage

1841 64/ 59

1851 99/ 52

1861 94/ 90

1871 142/ 116

1881 163/ 140

1891 184/ 193

1901 207/ 217

1911 254/ 244

Distribution of the name

These names are almost exclusively found in Norfolk in 1700's and early 1800's before people became more mobile later in the century. The name is concentrated around just a handful of villages being Upton and Palling for Debbage and Ranworth, South Walsham, Bungay, Pulham St Mary and Guist for Ebbage.


I hold extracts of English births, marriages and deaths 1837 to 2005, English census details for 1841 to 1901, some English probate details, English parish register extracts 1600 to 1900 and 19th century newspaper extracts. I hold a smaller amount of information about those intrepid ancestors who travelled overseas to Australia and North America.