Lummis Family History

History of the Name

Origin of the name Lummis
(first published in 'Suffolk Roots')

There is no clear origin of this name. There are a number of possibilities. One is that it is a derivative of LOMAX which appears to have its source in a place called Lumhalghs near Bolton in Lancashire (earliest reference in charter dated 1210 and earliest name of person in 1324). Another is that it has no connection with Lancashire with the possibility that it derives from the Anglo-Saxon suffix -ness, a promontory or headland preceded by 'lof' or luf'. One branch of the family firmly believed that its origin lay in Switzerland from the place near Zurich called Lommis. Another possible continental origin is that In 1436 one John Lowenesse from Cirice (today Zierikzee) in Zeeland living In Carlton Colville was naturalized in this country. There is also the possibility that it derives from the place name Lammas in Norfolk or Lamarsh in Essex. All these and others are further discussed below.

There can be little argument about the origin of Lomax from Lumhaolghs in Lancashire. There are plenty of records which enable the origin to be traced. There is also little doubt that variations include such names as Lomas, Loomalls, Loomas, Lummas. A Lumhals appeared in Surlingham, Norfolk in 1496 and a family of the same name in South Elmham about the same time. But by 1523 the line died out. In 1561 a Laurence Lomax came to Eye as a schoolmaster after graduating at Cambridge. His family flourished there for at least another century (some were recorded as papish recusants about 1650). Laurence Lomax undoubtedly came from Lancashire as probably did the Lumhals but there is nothing to connect any of them with the various families with those who bore the name Lummis or its variants in Suffolk and neighbouring counties.

The thought that the name Lummis has its origin in the Anglo-Saxon 'Lof' or 'Luf' plus 'ness' arises from the fact that there are several well authenticated examples in the 16th and 17th century of the name LOVENESS and variations and Lummis referring to the same person. (Charles Partridge FSA, letter 1931). The name appears relatively widespread in Suffolk in the 16th century. The 1524 Subsidy list shows Rob Loveness at Brockford and John Loueness at Bruiseyard. The Mendlesham registers show that there was a family named Loveness from 1560 to 1600 and also one at Stonham Aspal with the name Lowfness (Lousnes, Lumas). At Lavenham there were two brothers named Lummys in 1560 and later. The Bruiseyard Lounes of 1524 appear to belong to a family who held lands from Yoxford to Swefling in the 15th and 16th centuries. Wills and other depositions document their existence from at least 1458 with spellings varying widely from Lomas and Lumys to Lunnys. Most of these spellings incline towards including an 'n' or 'nn'. The name Lunnis is thought by some to be derived from Londonensis (i.e. from London). Other places in Suffolk where examples have been found dating from the second half of the 16th century, include Cockfield (1574), Great Saxham (1589), Mildenhall (1560), Bury St. Edmunds (1600), Woodbridge (1549), Bradfield Combust (1579), Wetheringsett (1563), Redgrave (1593).

Dunwich, Aldeburgh and Butley were other places where the name can be found and in 1618 in another corner of the county, Haverhill, Oliver Lummis got married. Just over the border in Essex at the same time there were families at Thaxted, Bocking and Braintree and the name was not unknown in Norfolk.

The Zeelander who came to Carlton Colville and became naturalized in 1436 and whose name was spelt Lowenesse raises the possibility that those who spelt their name Loveness a century later were descendants. If so, it is likely that John Lowesnesse's original name was spelt Lauwens (or Lawrence's son). However, in default of more positive evidence one can only conjecture that there was such a link.

The same applies to the idea that the name comes from Lommis in Switzerland. It is certainly possible that a Swiss from that village displaced by the civil war in the middle of the fifteenth century found his way across the North Sea to Harwich (and later Yarmouth) but there is no evidence and on the face of it this origin seems less likely than the Zeelander just mentioned for which there is some proof.

Place names have often given rise to surnames and it is therefore possible that both Lamarsh and Lammas could have become surnames. In the Horsham St.Faith's Manor Rolls (Blickling Papers) Benedicto de Lammesse and Radulpho de Lammesse appear as witnesses to grant of property dated 1250-1260. The village of Lammas (Lamas) is only about six miles from St.Faith's. There was certainly a family named Lammas and it has been established to the satisfaction of one researcher (see 'Loomis Family of America") that there was no connection with those bearing the name Lummis (Loomis etc.). This researcher listed a number of examples of the name Lammesse in various rolls dating from 1272 to 1550 including Cambridge, Scottow near Lamas in Norfolk and Ipswich. Though there are a number of examples of the name appearing in Norfolk in the 16th and 17th centuries they are relatively few compared with Suffolk, and somewhat scattered. So it is not possible to draw any particular conclusions on the basis of the knowledge available.

Lamarsh in Essex provides even less substantial evidence. The registers of Thaxted list between 1570 and 1605, various members of a family whose names are often spelt Lamas or Lamarshe but as frequent are the spellings Lummys and Lummis and similar. The Lamarsh spelling appears to have died out by about 1630 and there is nothing more to connect the family with the village of Lamarsh.

The possible connection with Lamas, Lamarch and Lumhals (Lomax) does not explain the various spellings incorporating the letter 'v' and 'n'. As late as 1770 at Stowlangtoft there are duplicate burial entries in the Register referring to the same person spelt 'Loveless' and 'Lummis' . At Bildeston early lords of the Manor were Loveneys; in 1277 Sir Matthew de Loveneys was summoned for service against Lewellen Prince of Wales; there is an earlier reference of the year 1230 and a connection with Rattlesden in the year 1236 and Assington in 1413. Other examples of the name can be found from the time of Henry IV, V and VI (1440-1438). About 1660 to 1675 there was a family by the name of Louenes (Lovenes, Lumnis) in Bildeston but no direct connection can be made.

Going back to the time of the Domesday Book (1086) Ralph de Limesy (from Limesy, Seine Inf.) was one of the 70-odd landholders listed in Suffolk. His lands were In Cavendish and area, Newton, Cornard, Bedingfield, Occold and near Bacton and Eye. Lands at Newton were held until 1223. It is not impossible that his name was passed on in Suffolk and became a form of Lummis but this can only be conjecture.

The various books on names (e.g. 'A Dictionary of British Surnames' by P.H.Reaney) place Lummis in with Lomax and give examples from Lancashire. They are thus not much help. It is also worth recording that examples of Lummis can be found in Northamptonshire, Essex (Rainham and elsewhere), Kent (Ashford) and Clerkenwell.

It is not possible to draw any firm conclusions on the basis of the knowledge set out above. The significance of the letters 'v' and 'n' on the spelling of names also spelt as 'Lummis' or variations with 'm' predominating seem significant. For this reason a Lumhals (Lomax) origin for names in Suffolk seems unlikely. It also seems unlikely that with so many examples of forms of Lummis all over Suffolk and in neighbouring counties in the sixteenth century that the name had its origin in Lancashire. The 'v' and 'n' spelling also would mean that looking to origins based on places such as Lamas and Lamarsh would find little support. For the same reason looking to Limesy in France as an origin would seem unlikely. This argument would not apply to Loveneys but there is nothing to connect that name with later recorded occurrences of Lumys, Lovenesse and other similar. The Zeelander Loweness is certainly a possible origin but again there is no certain connection. There may well be more than one origin but Charles Partridge's view that we should be looking for an Anglo_-Saxon origin based on 'Lof' or 'Luf' plus 'ness' seems as sound as any.

Finally coming up to the present time it is significant that in a recent study of those bearing the name Lummis in Gt. Britain, out of 165 Households 51 were to be found in Suffolk and many of those shown as living outside the county are known to have a Suffolk origin.

Variations met in Suffolk:

Limesy - Domesday Book; Loveneys - Manors of Suffolk 1 19, 11 & 13 Hy III: Lowenesse - Patent Rolls 1436; Wills and Registers.

© Suffolk Family History Society and Lt. Col. Eric T. Lummis.

Suffolk Roots is the quarterly journal of the Suffolk Family History Society