|Appendix 1 to The Family of William and Elizabeth Everingham (1786-1820)|
(appendix added in Revision of July 2012)
The Change of the Family Name from Everingham to Everngam
It appears certain that the family name of the William Everingham who settled near Hunting Creek on the Eastern Shore of Maryland about 1782 was spelled Everingham. It is equally certain that by 1795 the spelling of the family name by family members was changed to Everngam, except for one family line which began spelling it Everngham sometime after 1890. What isn’t certain is when and why this change was made.
The following table depicts the spellings of the family name I have found between 1783 and 1820, listed in chronological order:
Spelling Year Source
Efferingham, William 1783 1783 Caroline County, MD Tax Rolls.
Note that some writers of that era
used “ff” to represent the “v” sound.
Everingham, William 1786 Caroline County, MD Marriage Records
Everingam, William 1788 Land purchase, Dorchester County, MD
Everingim, William 1790 US Census - Dorchester County, MD
Everngam, William 1795 Land sale, Dorchester County, MD.
The record of the deed shows
that William and Elizabeth signed
their name as “Everngam”. This is
the first verifiable use of this
spelling. Note that both could write.
Everngam, William 1797 Newspaper notice by William offering
reward for return of “lost”
apprentice. The image of this notice
shows the name spelled “Everngam”,
likely placed By William.
Evengame, William 1800 US Census - Dorchester County, MD
Everingham, William 1805 Willis land patent -
Caroline County, MD
Everingham, William 1807 Bill of sale, Caroline County,
MD land records
Everingham, William 1807 Commissioned Lieutenant in 19th Regt,
Evangam, William 1809 Mail at post office notice
Everingham, William 1809 Bill of sale, Caroline County,
MD land records
Everingham, Nancy 1810 Marriage to Stephan Dawley
Everingham, William 1810 US Census - Caroline County, MD
Everngam, William 1810 Legislative Appointment as Bridge
Commissioner in Legislative Report.
Spelling most likely to have been
provided by William.
Evringham, William 1811 Newspaper report of above Bridge
Everingam, William 1812 Newspaper report of William's death,
appointment of executors.
Everingam, Willis 1812 Above newspaper report, Willis
Everingham, Elizabeth 1814 Guardianship processes (4),
Caroline County, MD
Everingham, Elizabeth (Eliza) 1819 Marriage to Michael Todd
Everngam, Mary 1820 Caroline County, MD Marriage Records
Mary's Marriage 27 Jan 1820
Everngam, Elizabeth 1820 US Census - Caroline County, MD
Everngam, Elizabeth 1820 Elizabeth Everngam's will.
Everngam, Willis 1821 Named executor of Elizabeth's will
Everngam 1821- Almost always Everngam, unless
misspelled or part of Everngham
Obviously some care has to be exercised with this data since I can’t have been fortunate enough to have found all the mentions of the name in all existing documents of the period. However, given the generally consistent spelling of the name as Everingham in the legal records cited above, and variant spellings in the more informal documents cited above, I feel sure that the original legal spelling of William’s name was Everingham. It also seems to me that the data strongly indicate that a decision was made by the William in 1795 to change the spelling to Everngam. Elizabeth must have concurred because she uses that spelling in her will. And all of the children of William and Elizabeth use that spelling from her death in 1820 onward.
At today’s distance from 1795 it appears doubtful that any direct evidence will be uncovered which will explain why the family chose to change the spelling of the family name. Nonetheless, there is some very convincing indirect evidence which supports a believable explanation of why they changed the spelling. Essentially, they changed the spelling to reflect, as closely as possible, how the name was pronounced. How can we know today how the name was pronounced then?
The first evidence comes from my personal experience. When I was a child (in the 1940s), my father often took me with him on rides into the countryside to oversee farm land he owned, including the farm he called “the home farm”, on which his grandfather (Joseph H. Everngam) and grandmother (Martha Horsey Everngam) were buried. The people we met on those trips pronounced our family name Ev'-rn-gum, with the second and third syllables spoken quickly together and more in the throat than in the mouth. In my recollection, my family said the name Ev'-ern-gam, pronounced much more in the mouth, and with the last syllable having a small nasal intonation. I can recall asking my father why the people we met said our name differently, and he told me that they were saying the name the way it used to be said by the people who lived in the area around the home farm (that is, near Concord, MD). He also said that the pronunciation of the name had changed to better reflect how it was spelled – a sort of ironic, unintended consequence of the spelling change. I also asked my sister, who was somewhat older than me, if she recalled the older pronunciation and she affirmed that in her childhood the pronunciation of our name in that area had been similar to the first pronunciation listed above.
The second bit of evidence also comes from my personal experience. While on a work-related trip to Indianapolis, IN about 1974, I met Mr. John Finucane, who it turned out studied English language dialects as an avocation. In response to his interest in the origin of my name I told him that family tradition had it that the name had been Everingham but had been changed at some point for unknown reasons. He told me that he believed that the name Everingham came from the North Umberland region of England, and that the pronunciation of the name in the dialect of that region would have placed emphasis on the first syllable and that the second and third syllables would have been said slurred together and said in the throat and not in the mouth. This explanation is similar to the pronunciation noted above. He then indicated that he thought it was possible that my ancestors changed the spelling to more closely represent the pronunciation. I hadn’t thought about this conversation for years, until I came across some notes from that 1974 trip and was reminded.
The third bits of information which support my belief that the name’s pronunciation was responsible for the spelling change comes from browsing the web for explorations of the Yorkshire dialect. I chose this dialect because the family history notes found on Kevin Everingham’s excellent web site at http://www.everingham.com point to Yorkshire as the origin of the family. There is an extensive discussion on Yorkshire dialect on the web at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yorkshire_dialect_and_accent .
This site has numerous links to supporting information and should serve as an excellent start point for anyone who wishes to study the speech related ideas I have suggested here. I am more convinced by two web sites which offer audio examples of how similar names are pronounced “properly” in the Yorkshire dialect: the town of Gillingham: http://forvo.com/search/Gillingham/ and the town of Sheringham: http://www.howjsay.com/. Following the links to these sites offers one the chance to hear the pronunciation of two names close to Everingham in the dialect. While these spoken examples are not in any way proof of my thesis, for me they provide convincing evidence with which to go forward in my genealogical efforts.
In sum, I believe that the change in spelling from Everingham to Everngam was made deliberately, by William Everingham, before 1795, to reconcile the spelling of the name with its pronunciation.
Mike Everngam, February, 2014