Payne Surname Genealogy

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 institurions, 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 l;ater they moved onto Beechworth,

Payne Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for
further stories and accounts:

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 Paynes 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)



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