Newport or Neuport

Wed. 13 Mar 2013. 4:00 pm

Roman Britain in 400 AD

Roman Britain in 400 AD (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So where did the Newport family name come from? A simple question – or so I thought! Trying to find the answer to this question has taken me back through history to before the Roman occupation of Britain and even to learn some Latin among other things.

Well this started with a couple of fellows with the surname but each were spelled differently as ‘Newport’ and ‘Neuport’.

The first is a Roger de Neuport who was an attorney in 1303 representing a Ralph Pyppard’s claim against one Ralph de Lathebury at a proceeding in Derbyshire.

Jan. 13 — 20. York. Within the octaves of S. Hilary, 31 Edward I. Between Ralph de Lathebury, Plmniiff, by John de Sewell, his attorney, and Ralph Pyppard, Deforciant, by Roger de Neuport, his attorney. Grant, on a plea of covenant and in consideration of loo/r. sterling, by the Deforciant to the Plaintiff and his heirs for ever of one messuage, 360 acres of land, 40 acres of meadow, 43^. rent, and the fourth part of one mill, in EGYNGTON, AMBOLDESTON, ETEWELL, PETLOK, FYNDERNE, HOLEBROKES, and HETHOUSES. To hold of the chief lords of the fee. ~Source

The second is a fellow named Richard de Newport.

de (d. 1318), bishop of London, was perhaps a member of a Hertfordshire family. His name first occurs in Bishop Richard de Gravesend‘s will, dated 12 Sept. 1302, where he is described as archdeacon of Colchester and the bishop’s official. At the time of Gravesend’s death (9 Dec. 1303) Newport had become archdeacon of Middlesex. He was one of Gravesend’s executors, and had custody of the spiritualities during the vacancy of the see. In 1304 Newport is mentioned as holding the prebend of Islington. Next year he was the bishop’s commissary for the purgation of one John Heron, and on 5 June 1306 was one of those who excommunicated at St. Paul’s Robert Bruce and the murderers of Comyn. He became dean of St. Paul’s in 1314, and on the death of Gilbert de Segrave was elected bishop of London on 27 Jan. 1317. The royal assent was given on 11 Feb., the election was confirmed on 26 March, and on 15 May Newport was consecrated by Walter Reynolds [q. v.] at Canterbury. Newport died suddenly at Ilford on 24 Aug. 1318, and was buried in St. Paul’s four days later. His tomb was defaced at the Reformation. He made provision for two priests to pray for his soul, and left 40s. annually for the keeping of his obit (Dugdale, St. Paul’s, p. 20); an abstract of his will is given in Sharpe’s ‘Calendar of Wills in the Court of Husting,’ i. 281). In the ‘Flores Historiarum’ (iii. 177) Newport is described as ‘Doctor in Decretis.’ Bishop Gravesend bequeathed him a copy of ‘Decretals,’ worth 6l. 13s. 4d. There are a few unimportant references to Newport in the ‘Close Rolls of Edward II.’ He may be the Richard de Newport, a lawyer, whose name occurs in 1302–3 (Cal. Documents relating to Ireland, 1302–7, p. 149).

[Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II in Rolls Ser.; Wharton, De Episcopis Londiniensibus, pp. 118–19; Le Neve’s Fasti Eccl. Angl. ii. 290, 311, 326, 339, 400; Accounts of executors of R. de Gravesend and T. de Burton, Camd. Soc.; Documents illustrating the History of St. Paul’s, Camd. Soc.]   ~Source

So here are two fellows with different surname spellings. What’s up with that? Are they from the same place called ‘Newport’ or ‘Neuport’ or different places? We do know that the “de” means “from” so that’s easy. But what is “de”? French? Norman? Then where could the place named ‘Newport/Neuport’ be?  Another simple question? Not a chance. Turns out there are at least eleven places in England and Wales named ‘Newport’; and none of them are currently spelled as ‘Neuport’ – where did ‘Neuport’ go?

But I think I’ll begin with trying to figure out where these two guys may have come from; And then why they have different surname spellings. As we go along one of the things I uncovered was, it appears to me, that almost every English dictionary seems to give the wrong definition for ‘Newport’. That’s a pretty bold statement but hopefully I’ll be able to show how this is.



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