Guild of One-Name Studies
One-name studies, Genealogy
I began researching my Caunce family tree in 2001. I was interested in tracking my family line as far back as possible to try to find the origin and meaning of the Caunce name ; I was told as a child that it was a French name. I found that before 1900 my ancestors were mainly based in and around the West Lancashire village of Rufford. I was fortunate that the Lancashire Parish Register Society had transcribed and published the early Parish Registers of Rufford and Croston. I recorded all the Caunce entries (and variants/deviants) from these publications and attempted to build up an early family tree thus starting me off on a one-name study which I registered with the Guild in 2003.
In addition to collecting Caunce records world wide, my aim is to find the origin of the name and to complete as much family reconstruction as possible.
The registered variants are Cance, Canse, and Conce.
Before 1700 Conce, Canse and Cance were more common in the records than Caunce but after 1700 most family lines used Caunce. In the 1881 census for England and Wales there were 445 Caunce entries and 14 Conce/Canse/Cance entries.
In France and the USA Cance is a much more common name than in England ; Cance may be a variant of Caunce or an unrelated French name.
The 1881 census shows the Caunce name to be concentrated around the West Lancashire village of Rufford. Records show a close link with the Hesketh family, Lords of the Manor of Rufford, with many Caunces yeoman farmers leasing land from the Heskeths. The earliest reference I have found is Rob Cauns in a listing of subscribers for a priest for Ormskirk in 1366.
Few surname dictionaries include Caunce. The Internet Surname Dictionary makes a link to the name CHANCE : either old French or middle English origin, nickname meaning 'lucky'. This seems unlikely, early Caunce variants/deviants show no link and geographic distributions are quite different. Reaney, in A Dictionary of British Surnames, has an entry for CAUSEY, middle English CAUCE meaning 'dweller by a causeway'.
Interested Caunce family members give the following possible origins:
DNA analysis could be used to check for links between Caunce, Cance, Chance and Cansfield family lines.
No occurrences have been found in biographical dictionaries.
Amongst those of note are:
John William Caunce (1900-1993), Captain of Atlantic Liners including the Mauritania and the Queen Elizabeth.
Jim Caunce, Elder Statesman of St. Helens, Councillor for Haydock for more than 50 years and Mayor in 1980 and 1992, died September 2012, aged 92.
The Office of National Statistics database indicated that Caunce was the 7409th most common name in England and Wales in September 2002 with 866 occurrences.
Figures from Ancestry census data (at15/03/2011) and Lancashire Archives show the following changes in frequency for Caunce:
England and Wales - from 400 in 1851 to 640 in 1901.
United States- from 0 in 1840 to 7 in 1900.
Canada- from 0 in 1861 to 5 in 1901.
A distribution plot using Archer software with 1881 census data showed the name to be concentrated in West Lancashire with 95% in Lancashire.
A distribution plot based on 2002 electoral register data (from 192.com) showed there had been some migration but still over 75% in Lancashire.
The website Public Profiler of World Names showed there had been migration to Canada, New Zealand, Australia and USA but they were at a low concentration.
My core records are :
You may find our other Guild websites of interest: