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Surname Earnshaw - Meaning and Origin

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Earnshaw: What does the surname Earnshaw mean?

The surname Earnshaw is of English origin and is derived from a place name. It's made up of two Old English elements: ‘earn’, which means ‘eagle’, and ‘sceaga’, which translates to ‘wood’ or ‘grove’. Thus, Earnshaw may mean 'eagle wood' or 'grove of eagles'. It is believed to be a locational surname, indicating that the person hailed from a place called Earnshaw, but this place is now unidentified.

The name Earnshaw gained popularity because of Emily Brontë's novel "Wuthering Heights" where it was used for one of the main families. However, it was already fairly common in the region of England where Brontë lived, possibly inflencing her choice of name. It is worth noting that the exact interpretation of the surname can differ depending on the regional dialects and changes in language over centuries.

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Earnshaw: Where does the name Earnshaw come from?

The surname Earnshaw is English in origin. It is most common in Yorkshire and Lancashire in north-west England, as well as in the counties of Durham and Northumberland, and elsewhere in northern Britain. The last name is also found among European emigrants to North America, Australia, and Africa.

It is thought to be derived from an old personal name, a combination of two Old English elements: eorn (‘boar’), and sceaga (‘wood’). Thus, it could be a topographic name for someone who lived by boar’s wood, or a habitational name for someone from a place called Earnshaw.

As of the 2018 UK census, the Earnshaw surname was the 5,309th most common surname in England and Wales. English-born Earnshaws were most common in the city of Bradford, Great Britain’s third-largest metropolitan area in Yorkshire. According to the World Names Profiler, the most common countries for the surname Earnshaw were England, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Scotland, and South Africa.

Given its low popularity today, it is likely Earnshaw is a rarity worldwide. Nonetheless, the surname is still in use by people across the English-speaking world, a testament to the legacy of our past.

Variations of the surname Earnshaw

Earnshaw is a surname dating back to around the 12th century. It is thought to have originated from the English town of Earnshaws, near Carlisle in the North West of England. The name Earnshaw is thought to have been derived from the old English ‘Earan-, meaning an eagle’s nest.

Variants of the surname include Earnshow, Eanshough, Earnssha, and Earnshoug.

The various spellings of Earnshaw include Earnshawe, Ernshaw, Earnesshaw, Enneshaw, Eameshaw, Ainshaw, Eynshaw, and Arnshaw. More modern spellings include Earniss, Earnishaw, and Arneson.

The surname Earnshaw is also known by other surnames of the same origin. These include Arnshaw, Ennow, Hernshaw, Ernoe, and Eardley.

The Earnshaw family have a reputation of being successful businessmen. Thomas Edward Earnshaw, born in 1749, was a successful watchmaker and inventor. He was the first to make inexpensive watches that were accurate enough for everyday use. His work influenced the beginnings of the railway industry in England. Many of his watches are now on display in museums around the world.

The Earnshaw name is still very much alive in the United Kingdom and remains one of the most common surnames in the North West of England.

Famous people with the name Earnshaw

  • Robert Earnshaw: Retired Welsh professional footballer who most recently competed for Macclesfield Town in the English Football League.
  • John Earnshaw: British novelist and screenwriter, best known for his work on two historical fiction series: The Order of the Cross and The Monsoon Sea.
  • Roger Earnshaw: American mathematician, specializing in algebra, who joined the faculty of Binghamton University in 1982.
  • Joe Earnshaw: English professional football referee active in the Football League from 1991 until 1998.
  • Haven Earnshaw: American fashion blogger and model who has been featured in several international campaigns.
  • Estelle Earnshaw: British actress best known for her role as Mrs. Honey in the BBC adaptation of the children's book Matilda.
  • Edith Earnshaw: British composer, conductor and professor of music at the Royal Northern College of Music from 1972.
  • Frankie Earnshaw: British recording artist, songwriter and vocalist, first known for her work in the trip hop duo called Snow Monkeys.
  • John Earnshaw Jr.: British award-winning actor best known for his role as Tony in the BAFTA nominated film Glue.
  • Kathy Earnshaw: Canadian jazz singer and pianist, working with many renowned groups like the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Montreal jazz ensemble.

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