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About the study
To those of us researching the Emptage family, it seemed that it is an uncommon name but we needed proof.
Searching the database at http://www.taliesin-arlein.net/names/search.php offers the opportunity to enter a name and discover how it ranks according to an extract of the Office of National Statistics containing names in use in England, Wales and the Isle of Man in September 2002. The list contains 270,000 surnames, shared by 54.4 million people and excludes those names which are shared by fewer than five people.
Entering the name Emptage resulted in a count of 508 people who shared the name and a ranking of 11,239 in the list of 270,000 names. Just 508 people, give or take any level of duplication on the list. 508 people out of 54.4 million people. That seemed to indicate that Emptage is indeed an uncommon name.
At the time of the 1841 census in England, there were 122 people in England named Emptage:
Kent: 98 lived in Thanet, 13 on the Isle of Sheppey, and 6 others elsewhere in Kent.
Hampshire: 2 lived in Portsea,
Yorkshire: a widowed woman who was born in Greenwich, Kent and her two children.
There were also 10 people named Emtage, 5 in Thanet and 5 in Grimsby. We know that the Emtage/Emptage branch arrived in Grimsby from the Isle of Sheppey.
There were two people named Hemptage who were living in London, born out of county. The 1851 census shows the couple as Emptage, born in Margate. At various times Hemptage rather than Emptage has appeared in the parish registers in Thanet but it seems likely that the vicar mis-heard the name rather than there being two different families named Emptage and Hemptage.
Variations of the origins of our name could also include Empton and Empty.
Parish registers show that, although there were only 2 Empton in the country in 1841, both in Margate, Thanet, there were other Emptons around the country before 1841 and since then. And there were also 11 people with the surname Empty in England in 1841.
From the census and from subsequent research, it seems to us that not only is the name an uncommon one but also there is a very strong possibility that the name and the Emptage/Emtage/Hemptage family originated in Kent, specifically in the Isle of Thanet.
And so the idea of conducting a worldwide one-name study began to take root (if you pardon the pun).
The six founding members of our website, www.emptageofthanet.co.uk, are descended from the same ancestor in the Isle of Thanet, Kent but, through a tree on ancestry.com, we are in touch with a great many more family historians with Emptage ancestors somewhere in their tree.
Evidently we would like to be able to prove our theory and connect everybody back to Thanet but that does not mean that we will exclude anybody who does not fit the profile. So we would like to hear from anybody with the Emptage surname.
Whilst spelling similarities between Emptage, Emtage and Hemptage may indicate possible errors in noting the names in parish registers or censuses, it is possible that Empton and Empty may also be variants of the name, though originating from other parts of the country.
Our current theory is that the name originates from Anglo-Saxon times. The Anglo-Saxon dictionary, published in 1921, gives the words:
"æmettig, æmetig, æmtig: of space, empty, void, vacant"
'æmettig' appears to be pronounced in the way we pronounce our name and from æmitig to Emtige or Emptage is not a great leap, especially when considering Norman influences on the language.
Indeed, we are currently transcribing 39 Emptage wills and probate accounts and 11 inventories, held by the Kent History and Library Centre at Maidstone. They are dated between 1489 and 1732, all from Kent, most from Thanet including the earliest, with names varying from Emptrach, Emptiach, Empthyach and Emptiage before settling down as Emptage in 1557.
To discover the origins of all those with the surname Emptage and its variants, worldwide.
To establish how many of those people can claim their origins in a small part of England called the Isle of Thanet.
To build and maintain a database of all those we come across. Ultimately, we aim to have it available on our website but that will take time to produce.