Cumberbatch Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Cumberbatch Surname Meaning

The surname Cumberbatch derives from the place-name Comberbach, a small village in Cheshire.  Combe is Old English for “valley” and bach is Old English for “stream.”  So Comberbach describes a valley by a stream. Comberbach was first mentioned in early Cheshire charters in the late 12th century.  Early spellings of the surname were various.

Cumberbatch Surname Resources on

Cumberbatch Surname Ancestry

EnglandThe Cumberbatch surname started in Cheshire.  By the 16th century it had reached Lancashire. Thomas Comberbach was recorded in Congleton, about 20 miles away from Comberbach, in the Tudor tax returns of 1546; and Comberbach in various spellings appeared in its parish records from 1593.  The name had spread elsewhere in Cheshire by the 17th century.

However, by the time of the 1881 census, the largest number (42) was to be found to the south – in the village of Wolstanton in north Staffordshire.  Many there were working in the nearby coal mines.  I.W. Cumberbatch was director of the Sneyd Collieries in 1942 when 57 men were killed by an underground explosion.

Abraham Cumberbatch seems to have been a Bristol man.  He married Ann Lord there in 1675.  He was not in Barbados, but his children were by the early 1700’s.  His daughter Ann married Edward Carleton and their son Abraham, born in 1726, was in 1753 – according to his grandfather’s will and by an Act of Parliament – granted the surname of Cumberbatch.  Some descendants of this line joined the British consular service.  A modern-day descendant is the actor Benedict Cumberbatch.

Caribbean.  Abraham Cumberbatch owned sugar plantations in St. Peter’s parish and elsewhere in Barbados.  That parish became the origin of the Cumberbatch name in Barbados. 

After 1834 the slaves, previously the property of white Cumberbatch families, were freed and many took that surname.  By that time, all of the white male Cumberbatchs had either died or, having received compensation from the British Government, relocated themselves back to England.  By a strange twist of fate, by the 1880’s there were more Cumberbatches in Barbados than there were in England.  Ren Cumberbatch, born just before emancipation at the St. Nicholas plantation, died in 1927 at the age of ninety-four.

Many Cumberbatches dispersed elsewhere in the Caribbean and to America and England.  Because of hard times Charles and Sybil Cumberbatch and their daughter Claudia left Trinidad for New York in 1923.  Claudia subsequently moved to the UK and, as Claudia Jones, helped found the Notting Hill carnival in 1959. 

But a number of Cumberbatches have remained in Barbados.  Seibert Cumberbatch, who was born in St. Andrew parish in 1912, was able to celebrate his hundredth birthday on the island; while Mark Cumberbatch, born in 1945, was witness to Barbados becoming a republic in 2021. 


Cumberbatch Names
  • Claudia Cumberbatch, also known as Claudia Jones, helped start the Notting Hill carnival in London in 1959.  
  • Benedict Cumberbatch is a well-known British actor, most recently seen on TV as Sherlock Holmes.
Cumberbatch Numbers Today
  • 1,000 in the UK (most numerous in Staffordshire)
  • 1,000 elsewhere (most numerous in the Caribbean)
Cumberbatch and Like Surnames.

These are surnames which have a small number of people bearing that name but are included here – for the curiosity of the name, its history, or because of some famous person who bears that name.


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