Mystery Monday: Jey(e)s

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!

1 Comment

Filed under crowd-sourcing, dictionary entries, mystery monday

One response to “Mystery Monday: Jey(e)s

  1. Brian M. Scott

    The same source records the 4 November 1600 marriage of Edward Tamson to Jayes Be; Jayes seems likely to be the same name. The Rocester (Staffordshire) Parish Register records the 1 January 1652/3 baptism of John, s. of Thomas & Jees Pakeman, and the Shropshire Parish Records for the Diocese of Lichfield record the 4 March 1594 marriage of Franncis Lambe & Jeyse Steventon, the 14 April 1595 burial of Jeyse Jewson, the 24 October 1675 baptism of Margaret, d. George Chyrm & Jees, the 19 February 1678 baptism of Robert, s. Richard Fenne & Jees, the 17 March 1678 baptism of George & Jees, twin son & dau. of George Chyrm & Jees, and the 18 October 1680 baptism of Mary, d. Richard Fenne & Jees. (The dates appear to be Old Style, and some may be off by a year even after taking that into account.). The Ellastone (Staffs.) Parish Register has the 4 March 1628/9 baptism of Susanna, d. of Thomas & Jeese Foster, the 24 June 1637 baptism of Edward, s. of Thomas & Jees Foster, and the 25 March 1639 baptism of Marie, d. of Thomas & Jees Foster. The St. Winnow (Cornwall) Parish Register records the 22 January 1634 (OS) marriage of John Spiller & Jees Mynarde. The The Prestbury (Chester) Parish Records record the 30 October 1560 wedding of William Wilkynson and Jeese</strong Heath and the 30 September 1560 burial of Jees Sunter.

    I’ve found nothing to suggest that this is a derivative of the Breton name: no cases of what could be the same person identified both by one of these names and by one of the Jodoca ~ Joyce names. It seems to be pretty well differentiated. As yet I’ve no good alternative to offer, however.

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