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About the study
I started on this study on 12 September 2017 and will be adding to this page as information is collected.
My interest in this name stems from my paternal great-great grandfather Henry COOPER (1830- 1875) who married Mary WINSPER(1834-1873) on 2nd November 1853 at St Lawrence Church in Darlaston, Staffordshire.
I have tracked the WINSPER/WINSPUR name through some parish registers from Staffordshire back to the mid 17th century.
I am interested in hearing from anyone with an interest in the name and it's variations.
At the present time I consider WINSPUR and WINSPER to be the major variants of the name WINSPEAR.
However I have also seen WINSPORE, WINSPIRE, WINSPE(A)R(E) on occasions; analysis is required to determine if these are variants or just deviations. Alternatives are also WINSPARE and WINSPURR and probably other similar endings after WINSP*
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland suggests, referencing Weekley [Weekley, E (1916),Surnames, London, J.Murray], that WINSPER is a variant of WINSPEAR and is a nickname for a person who has won a race and was awarded the spear which was used as a winning post. The Middle English verb 'winnen' to win and 'spere' spear, lance combined form the name. This it says is supported by a known use of the Middle English 'glaive' a lance set up as a winning-post in race (sometimes given as a prize to the winner) also the prize so won.
Reference: The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland, Hanks, Coates and McClure et al, Oxford University Press 2016.
History of the name
The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland reports the following:
John Winspeare, 1558–1603 in TNA (Duncote, Northants); Elisabeth Winspear, 1562 in IGI (Exhall near Coventry, Warwicks); John Winspear, 1564 in IGI (Exhall near Coventry, Warwicks); Robert Sherebrook alias Winsper of Walton on Thames (Surrey), bargeman, 1581 in London Met Archives; Ricardi Winspeare, 1588 in IGI (Burneston, NR Yorks); Juline Winsper, 1603 in IGI (Stoke, Warwicks); Juline Winsper, 1603 in IGI (Stoke, Warwicks); Elizabethia Winsper, 1670 in IGI (Darlaston, Staffs); Robert Winspur, 1683 in IGI (Saint Sepulchre, London); Ann Winspear, 1690 in IGI (Great Ayton, NR Yorks); Jane Windspear, 1750 in IGI (Lastingham, NR Yorks); John Winespear, 1788 in IGI (Helmsley, NR Yorks); Robert Winspear, 1838 in IGI (Kingston upon Hull, ER Yorks)."
Of early interest interest are the wills of Nicholas Winspar or Wynspeare of Sowe or Stone, Warwickshire proved at Lichfield 1560 and of Agnes Wynspur or Winspur or Wynsper or Alveley, Shropshire and/or Exhall Warwichshire proved at Lichfield in 1595.
Frequencies reported by The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland are:
WINSPEAR 1881 GB 301 (main location ER Yorks), Current GB 676 Ireland 0
WINSPER 1881 GB 134 (main location Staffs), Current GB 280 Ireland 0
Simple searches in The 1939 Register published Find My Past, made on 13 September 2017 found:
43 results for WINSPUR predominantly in Warwickshire, one each in Lancashire, Leicestershire, Oxfordshire and Yorkshire and three in London
225 results for WINSPER mostly in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Distribution of the name
Winsper/Winspur in Staffordshire and Warwickshire
Winspear in North Yorkshire