Payne Surname Meaning, History & Origin

Select Payne Meaning
Payne is a name of French origin, but of two possible derivations.  Payne could be locational, from the Payns region in northern
France. In the 12th century a Hugh de Payen was founder of the
Knights Templar in Clermont and a Payen de Montmuse accompanied Richard
the Lionheart during the Third Crusade. These Paynes appeared in
England via Jersey in the Channel Islands.
However, the usual explanation for the surname is that Payne derives
from the Old French paien and
the Latin paganus. Its
original meaning described
someone who lived in the countryside, as opposed to a town dweller (urbanus). The following was
one interpretation of this situation.
“Christianity made its early advances
in the larger towns which often had a monastery or cathedral. The
country folk, without access to these institutions, became known as
pagans and the name came to include both declared non-Christians and
country peasants.”

The name arrived
England with the Normans.
Its original meaning got
somehow and Payn enjoyed some popularity as a
personal name. Payn Roet, for example, was the father-in-law of
Geoffrey Chaucer. But its use here died out in the
16th century.

Both Payne and Paine appear as surname spellings today. Payne is
by far the most common.

Payne Resources on

Payne Ancestry

Jersey in the Channel Islands was in its early days part of the Duchy
of Normandy and it was through these French connections that the Payn
name first appeared. Their pedigree was covered in J.B. Payne’s
1859 book Payne’s Armorial of

Paynes in Jersey.
The Payn presence in Jersey dated from about 1200. John Payn was
Bailly of Jersey in 1446. They were Royalist during the English
Civil War and only reluctantly hauled down the royal standard on
Elizabeth Castle in 1649.

“Stephen Payne was a Colonel of Horse
in the army of Charles I. When all for a time was lost, he
thought of his native island of Jersey where Prince Charles could not
but find a hearty welcome. Colonel Payne escorted Prince Charles and
his brother the Duke of York to the Payne home in Jersey and acted
generously as host to the distinguished visitors.”

Both Stephen and his son Abraham were present at the defeat of the
royal forces at Worcester in 1851. Abraham departed Jersey for
Wiltshire on the English mainland and then fled to St.
Kitts in the West Indies where he and his family prospered. From
this line came
Ralph Payne (Baron Lavington) and his half-brother John (Jack)
Payne. They were both friends of the Duke of Cumberland and his
nephew the Prince of Wales, later George IV.

Captain Jack Payne was at one
comptroller of the Prince’s household. The restless energy that
fueled his military career was spent on dissipation in peacetime.
It was he who negotiated the settlements with the Prince’s
mistresses. Captain Payne was known for his disrespect and foul

The Payns in Jersey had family connections with other Paynes in
England. These included Sir Robert Payne, the MP for
Huntingdonshire, ironically a close associate of Oliver
Cromwell, and his cousin Sir Thomas Payne and the Paynes in Suffolk. The
Paynes would settle nearby in Bedfordshire.

There are still Payns in Jersey. William Stanley Payn who runs
Fauvic Nurseries is the fourth generation of Payn tomato growers on the

Paynes Elsewhere.
Payn or Payne as a surname in England had other starting points as
well. John Payn of Wymondham in Norfolk was the chief butler to
Henry IV in the early 1400’s. Another John Payn was a wealthy
merchant in Southampton and London at around the same time.

The name was also to be found in the southeast, in particular in
Sussex. Paynes had been yeomen in East Grinstead since the
1450’s. Sussex records show the marriage of John Payne and Joanne
Wood in East Grinstead in 1560 and of two Paynes – Edward from East
Grinstead and Anna from Hickstead – in Twineham in 1583. Edward
Payne of East Grinstead was sheriff of Sussex in 1644.

“These ‘Paynes of the Towne,’ as they
were styled in the early registers to distinguish them from other
families in the parish of the same name seem to have risen, by dint of
frugality and industry, to become in the 16th century ironmasters of
note and considerable landowners in the parish.”

Meanwhile the Petworth Payne family in Sussex at this time was
descended from John Payne of Hammersmith in London, a wealthy mercer
who had died in 1573.

The Paine spelling was notable in Norfolk. The death of Peter
Paine was recorded in Norwich in 1509. Joseph Paine was a Norwich
hosier who became its mayor and a public benefactor to the town in the
1660’s. The famous pamphleteer Thomas Paine was born into a
Quaker home in Thetford, Norfolk in 1737.

America. A number of
related Paynes were among the early settlers in America.

  • John Payne of Huntingdonshire who was an immigrant into
    Westmoreland county, Virginia around 1650. His line was featured
    in Brooke Payne’s 1937 book The
    Paynes of Virginia.
  • Ralph and Thomas Payne, two brothers also from Huntingdonshire
    who arrived in 1652. They made their home on the northern rock
    between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers in Virginia.
  • William and Hannah Paine from Suffolk who were settlers in
    Massachusetts. William became proprietor of the Hammersmith
    ironworks at Lynn in 1658.
  • and possibly Thomas Payne who settled in St. Mary’s, Maryland in

New England. Among
the early Paines in
New Emgland were:

  • Moses Paine from Tenterden in Kent who was on the Castle to Braintree, Massachusetts
    in 1638 and Stephen Paine from Hingham, Norfolk on the Diligent to Hingham, Massachusetts
    in the same year.
  • and Thomas Paine who came to Yarmouth on Cape Cod in
    1639. In 1680 Thomas Paine the younger built the windmill at
    Eastham which still stands. Peter Paine was an early settler on
    Long Island.

Virginia. The
Virginia Paynes became part
of the Virginia colonial aristocracy of the 17th and 18th centuries,
with close ties to families such as the Washingtons, Fairfaxes, and
Quesenberrys. Colonel William Payne was one of George
Washington’s honorary pall-bearers.

The Rev. John Payne, a
missionary bishop to Africa, was a 19th century descendant. John
Barton Payne, a Cabinet minister under Woodrow Wilson, was the head of
the American Red Cross from 1922 to 1935.

Canada. Newfoundland has
a long history of Paynes.

William Paine was recorded as owning
property in Harbour Grace in 1765 (and apparently his family were there
further back as well). There is a Payne House in Harbour
today that was built by John and Rachel Payne in 1856.

Thomas Paine arrived from Devon around 1800, working as a boat builder
in St. John’s and then with his three brothers starting a whale factory
in Aquaforte. Charles Payne came from Hampshire in 1805 or so,
married and settled in Cow Head.

Paynes have been recorded at Fogo island in Notre Dame Bay since the
1850’s. A Payne family there were pilots who guided ships through
the treacherous shoals for several generations. Sadly the
piloting came to an end in 1902 when William Payne and three of his
sons went missing and were presumed drowned. But Ambrose Payne
was able to carry on the Payne seafaring tradition.

Today Jim
Payne from Notre Dame Bay is a well-known local folk singer who
performs and records the traditional sea shanties of Newfoundland
culture. Paynes
numerous in Newfoundland

Australia. A number of
Paynes came out to Australia from England in the 1850’s. They

  • The Pain family from Somerset (Payne in Australia) who came to
    Melbourne in batches between 1850 and 1860. George, the first to
    arrive, operated the Bridge Inn in Woodstock, Victoria for many years.
    Others in the family prospered as well, a notable achievement as they
    appear to have arrived in Australia illiterate.
  • George and Elizabeth Payne and their family who came on the Ann Holzberg to Adelaide from
    Leicestershire in 1853. Sadly Elizabeth died in childbirth during
    the voyage. The remaining family settled in Kyneton, South
  • and Martin and Mary Payne and their children who came on the William Hammond to Adelaide from
    Bedfordshire in 1854. A year later they moved onto Beechworth,


Payne Miscellany

Payne as Pagan.  Brooke Payne in his 1996 book The Paynes of Virginia quoted a number of older sources in giving the name Payne Norman and pagan origins:

“The Paynes of England are said to be
of Norman origin and are believed to be descended from men who, at the
time that Rollo became a Christian in 912 AD, refused to be baptized
and hence were distinguished by the name ” paganus” or ” le
payen.”  The name was thus applied as a soubriquet and does not
connote consanquinity.” 

Paynes in Suffolk.  The family of Sir Thomas Payne removed themselves from Market
Bosworth in Leicestershire to Suffolk, near Bury St. Edmunds where they
became the bailiffs of Hengrave for the Duke of Buckingham.

Albert W. Paine in his 1881 book Paine Genealogy –
Ipswich Branch
related the following:

“William Payne was a man of much
note and importance in his day, being in the service of Edward
Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, as bailiff for his manor at Hengrave.  In
1521 the Duke, having been convicted of conspiring against King Henry
VIII, was put to death.  The office thus becoming
vacant by the death of the Duke, Payne lost his place as deputy and was
obliged to retire to private life.  The Duke’s
successor, however, appointed Payne’s son Henry to the office held by
his father.”

Henry Payne profited from Henry VIII’s dissolution of the
monasteries and acquired the manor of Nowton and other properties
belonging to the dissolved monastery of St. Edmund.

Payne’s Armory of Jersey.  Payne’s Armory
of Jersey
was published in 1859 by J. Bertrand Payne.
The book contains many family trees, coats of arms, information
on families’ origins, and the part prominent members have played in the
history of the island.

The genealogical
outfit GENUKI has commented that the work is “not as accurate as it
could have been.  The publisher relied on
submissions from the families represented who paid to appear.”  A
major failing was that Payne adopted a strange policy of anglicizing
virtually all personal names, using John for Jean, Mary for Marie,
Philip for Philippe, etc. at a time when Jersey was a French-speaking
island and virtually every child was baptized with a French name.

Payne Family Linkages Through DNA.  Prior
to 1650, several families bearing the surname Payne settled in the
English colonies.  DNA test results have suggested
that the English Payne families of Suffolk, Huntingdonshire and Jersey
in the Channel Islands, were members of one family.

Members of the Suffolk branch settled in Massachusetts, represented by
William and Hannah Paine.  William was known to have had dealings
on Virginia’s Eastern Shore with friends and kinsmen of the Payne
family of Westmoreland county, Virginia.  Sir Robert Payne,
MP for Huntingdonshire in the early 1600’s, is believed
to have been the father of John Payne the immigrant there.
Members of the Jersey Payn family settled at St. Kitt’s around the year
1654.  Other members of this Jersey family settled
in Virginia and Maryland.  In Virginia, the brothers Ralph
and Thomas Payne settled on the Northern Neck between the Potomac and
Rappahannock rivers where they were also associated with
the family of John Payne.

Captain Jack Payne and Rene Payne.  There was said to have been a family connection
between the Jersey Paynes, then resident in Bedfordshire, and the
Paynes in Northamptonshire.  This connection came to
light when Captain Jack Payne, acting for the Prince of Wales in the
matter of his marriage to Mrs. Fitzherbert, approached Rene Payne, a
banker from Northamptonshire, to intervene in this matter.
Reports at the time suggested a kinship between the two Payne families.

One source has it that George Payne of the Northamptonshire branch
became the guardian of Little George  Payne who was in fact the
illegitimate son of the Prince of Wales and Mrs. Fitzherbert.

Thomas Paine of Thetford.  In the church register of Euston parish near Thetford occurs this entry:

“1734.  Joseph Pain and Frances
Cocke were married June 20th.”:

were the parents of Thomas Paine.  The rector
of Euston church has said that the name written was clearly Pain.
But in the Thetford town records of that time it was officially
entered as Paine.  Both Paine and Cocke were in fact notable name
in Norfolk history at that time.

Paynes and Payne House of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland.  The Payne House in Harbour Grace was built in 1856 by John and Rachel Payne
and, because it survived the fire of 1944 which destroyed much of the
downtown area and because it remained essentially unaltered, it is a
very good representative of its period.  With its
original twelve-pane windows, door and window surrounds, it is the best
preserved of a row of houses all dating from about the same time.

Hutchinson’s Trade Directory
of 1864 showed a number of Paynes living in Harbour Grace at that time:

  • George Payne, revenue boat
  • John Payne, manager of works
  • John Payne, fisherman
  • Nicholas Payne, storekeeper
  • Nicholas Payne, overseer of oil works
  • Robert Payne, fisherman
  • William Payne, fisherman.

Paynes in Newfoundland Today.  Two years ago we spent the summer in the Canadian Maritimes including 22 days in Newfoundland.  I had read the area was settled by Paynes.

stopped in a very small town of Parsons Pond, Newfoundland (about 300
people) and
noticed a Payne’s Grocery and Payne’s Hardware.  At the grocery we
to a pub where we met many Paynes.  We
found everyone in the area was either a Payne or had Payne blood.

Later in Newfoundland we stopped in another
very small town and I looked at their phone directory.   It
was about 20 pages thick and the Payne listing
took four of those pages.  I talked to
the woman who owned the campground where we were staying and she was a
Payne.  She told me to take a boat trip to
the next
town because everyone there was a Payne.

It was an interesting trip.  I have no idea how many Paynes live in Newfoundland, but I’m sure it is in the thousands.


Payne Names

  • John Payn was Bailly of Jersey in 1446.
  • Tom Paine was a radical 18th century political philosopher and pamphleteer in England and America.
  • John Howard Payne was an early
    19th century English playwright.
  • David Lewis Payne was the American soldier and pioneer considered “the father of Oklahoma” for
    opening up the territory for settlement.

Select Payne Numbers Today

  • 48,000 in the UK (most numerous
    in Northamptonshire)
  • 52,000 in America (most numerous in Texas)
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)


Select Payne and Like Surnames.

The Norman Conquest brought new rulers to England and they brought their names and language, a form of French, with them.  Over time their names became less French and more English in character.  Thus Hamo became Hammond, Reinold Reynolds and Thierry Terry and so forth.  The names Allen, Brett, Everett, and Harvey were probably Breton in origin as Bretons also arrived, sometimes as mercenaries.

The new Norman lords often adopted new last names, sometimes from the lands they had acquired and sometimes from places back in Normandy.  Over time the name here also became more English.  Thus Saint Maur into Seymour, Saint Clair into Sinclair, Mohun into Moon, and Warenne into Warren.

Here are some of these Norman and Breton originating names that you can check out.





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