If you aren’t a Lavender yourself, you may have heard of one of a number of famous Lavender’s. For example there is actor Ian Lavender, best known for his role in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army as Private Frank Pike (“don’t tell him your name Pike!”), or a number of American sportsmen such as Drew Lavender or Jantel Lavender (professional basketball players) or NASCAR driver Jody Lavender. But where did the surname Lavender come from?
It is believed that the name Lavender is Anglo-Saxon in origin, introduced by the Normans after the famous occupation of William the Conqueror in 1066. It derives from the word ‘lavandier’, and was applied to workers in the wool industry, who were employed to wash raw wool or rinse the cloth after fulling. It is possible that this is linked to the use of lavender in the washing process. This type of job-descriptive surname originally denoted the actual occupation of the name-bearer, and only later became hereditary when a son followed a father into the same line of work.
The family name Lavender has been recorded in British history from as early as the mid 13th Century, when Peter and his wife Cecilia la Lavender are recorded on the Hundred Rolls of Cambridgeshire in 1273. In later history, records show that Richard Harris and Ann Lavender were married in St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, London in 1752, and obviously further research would show numerous other instances of the name appearing throughout the historical record.
We must also bear in mind that until the introduction of the official English Dictionary in 1806 by Noah Webster, there was no definitive spelling of most names and words, so the surname Lavender also appears throughout the historical record in a number of other guises. For example, Ysabelle la Lauendere was recorded in 1253, in the Pipe Rolls of Oxfordshire.
The surname Lavender is also prevalent in a number of foreign countries especially those to which there was a large scale immigration. For example there are a number of Lavender’s that appear in early North American records, as a result of the great migration from England to the New World of America in the 18th Century. Thousands of English families boarded ships and emigrated to escape the civil unrest that was seething in the country at that time. Names appear in early passenger ship manifestos such as Wm Lavender who landed in Virginia in 1714; Captain Lavender who settled in Boston in 1768; Robert Lavender who sailed to Charles Town in 1772 and John Lavender who arrived in Maryland in 1774.
So it seems that if you are a Lavender you’re part of a long line of history. But we think that just loving lavender as much we do, will also suffice just fine!