Micklethwaites - The Name
|The Name, The Places, The Branches|
Micklethwaite is a locative surname - derived from a place name.
According to my copy of "Dictionary of English Place Names" (by A.D.Mills pub. OUP) Mikill or Micel means Large in Old Scandanavian, and Thveit means clearing, meadow or paddock, again Old Scandanavian - whether this is Old East Norse or Old West Norse, I'm not sure (see Wiki on Old Norse). However Ross Arthur's Dictionary of Old Norse suggest Sveit means settlement or community. Either way, it is fairly certainly of Viking Origin (see the Viking Answer Lady for Viking things) and there are people called Mykkeltveit in Norway and the USA. Keith Briggs has some fascinating maps of place name distribution - that for thwaite is worth a look.
Research has shown that almost all of the Micklethwait(e) trees that can be traced back originate in South West Yorkshire - strongly suggesting a link with Banks Hall in Cawthorne. There is no evidence yet of any link with Bingley although Micklethwaites do occasionally surface in records for Cumbria. It appears that William (son of William de Micklethwaite) from near Wetherby changed his name to Hallesire sometime around 1170 - thus any Micklethwaites from that line became Hallesires - and even they appear to have died out
There are many variants and deviants* of the name, several hundred if mis-transcriptions are included The main ones in the UK are Micklethwaite and Micklethwait, Michaelwaite and Micklewhite. Elsewhere (USA and Germany) Mickelthwate and Mickelwait are more common. Someone asked me if the name Musselwhite was connected. I checked Steven Archer's Surname Atlas programme - Musselwhite seems rooted in Wiltshire and Hampshire, a long way from the Viking settlements, so I think there is no connection other than both Musselwhites and Micklewhites lived in South London.
It is interesting to look at the use of Micklethwaite (etc) as a forename. I have found about 60 such examples, including a Micklethwaite Ellis born 1856 when I also have an Ellis Micklethwaite born 1878! There appear to be several strands to this naming pattern - there was a trend which started during the mid 1800s to give a child a middle name which was the maiden name of the child's mother, or sometimes their grandmother. During the later 1800s, this use of a surname extended to be used as the sole forename. This use of a surname is not restricted to family - sometimes godparents or family friends "give" their name. The other strand, of course, is that sometimes a woman gives her illegitimate child the name of the father. I think I have found a good variety of all of these strands.
* The Guild of One Name Studies define a variant as a spelling commonly used by a family, a deviant is a mis-spelling.
Thanks to Muriel Wells of Blenheim NZ for this