Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.
Today’s name is a super exciting mystery, because we came across our first instance of it only a week or two ago, and since then we’ve found numerous other examples, all in the same immediate context. The name is Jeys or Jeyes, and it appears a number of times in the marriage and baptismal registers of Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire.
We’ve not found this name in any other context, and the first example we found, the temptation was strong to say “it’s a misreading of/variant of Joys“, a name which was never popular but never entirely absent in 16th C England. But swapping e for o is very strange.
The parish registers are a mixture of English and Latin, but Jey(e)s only occurs in English contexts. This gives us a route of inquiry because we can compare the given names found in the Latin to see if there is a similarly obscure name that Jeys could be the vernacular of. The Latin names give us an immediate clue, in that the both registers also includes examples of the name Jodoca — the very name which is the Latin root of Joys. So, here we have a vernacular name that is one letter off from Joys, a vernacular form of Latin Jodoca, which is also found in the register.
The temptation to say that Jey(e)s is a Warwickshire vernacular of Jodoca is now even stronger…but gut feelings and temptations do not good scholarship make. We would love to have some clear evidence, either within Warwickshire or elsewhere, that Jey(e)s is a vernacular of Jodoca, and hence a variant of Joys. Do you have any evidence? Or other data that would support this hypothesis? Please share in the comments!