Where Does The Kingshott Family Come From?
The family did not always have the Kingshott surname. There are many variations on the spelling, even through the 19th century when general literacy levels increased greatly, however the earlier spellings were all variants of Kingett. Quite how you get Kingshott from Kingett is not easily explained but I have several examples from various old documents where families who were recorded formally as Kingett were actually signing their name Kingshott (or variations thereof). Similarly, I have instances of Kingshotts signing their name Kingett. So, on this site, when I refer to Kingshott in general terms, I include all variant spellings of the name, unless I say otherwise.
In previous centuries literacy among the poorer classes was almost non-existant. To read or write for the rural population did not lead to food being placed on their tables. It was not essential, so, for the most part, the poor working classes did not learn to do it.
The Kingshott family were almost exclusively agricultural labourers. There were a few farmers in there, some shoemakers and so on, but almost all were poor. The only literate people in regular contact with these families were the local clergy. So, at important events like baptisms, marriages and burials, the names of those involved were spoken to the clergyman (in a broad, local accent) and they had no option but to write the names down as they heard them. The name was recorded phonetically. This is why there are so many spelling variations found throughout the parish registers, even with children of the same family.
An example of this is the family of William & Dinah Kingshott of Petworth, Sussex, England. They were married, under the name of Kingshott, at Wisborough Green, Sussex, on 11th June 1816. They had ten children and the spellings of the surname in order of their bapism were:-
William Kinshot, James Kinchet, Charles Kinchett, Lucy Kinchett, Eliza Kinchett, Jane Kingshot, Henry Kingshott, George Kingshott and Elizabeth & Ellen Kinchett.
Another example can be seen in the parish registers of Haslemere in Surrey. Looking just at the 18th century there were twelve different spellings of the surname for the same family. These were:-
Kingshott, Kinchat, Kingshet, Kingshot, Kingshut, Kinchet, Kincheet, Kingeet, Kinget, Kingett, Kinggett and Kingit.
This sort of pattern is repeated throughout the various other branches of the Kingshott family and provides irrefutable proof of the links between various surname derivations, especially when cross-referenced with other primary source documents. Luckily, I have only once found a Kingshitt (!) and I am certainly glad that this did not become the accepted spelling!
So, examination of the various spellings found demonstrates how it is possible to get from one name to another, but it is not proof that that is how it actually happened. I have already touched on some spelling variations that I have found including Kinshott, Kinshot, Kingshot, Kinchett, Kinsett, Kingett, Kinggett, Kingshotte, Kingsholt, Kingschott, Kingchatt, Kingchott, Kenshott, Kenshett, Kingshut and so on, and this is just for the Kingshott sounding names. There are even some more unlikely variations, such as Kinsett and Kincett. This sometimes makes it difficult to follow these families around. There are also clear regional variations. For example, those families from Hampshire often dropped the "g" and became Kinshott.
My own direct line can be traced back through Shackleford in Surrey, to the village of Bramshott, in Hampshire and then to the village of Fernhurst in Sussex. Fernhurst, or Farnhurst as it then was, seems to be the origin of all current Kingshott families. This map shows the location of Fernhurst, in relation to the rest of the United Kingdom.
It is interesting to note that this area of the country has many villages and towns that end with the word "shot" or "shott" and I imagine that it is no coincidence that we come from this area. Examples of place names in that area are Grayshott, Hempshott, Bramshott, Oxshott, Aldershot and many others. Quite how this may have affected our surname is not clear. Any occurrence of Kingshott on a map tends to be because the feature is named after a particular person or family, and not vice versa. For a discussion on the supposed village of Kingshott, please click here.
I have recently found a newspaper article from the Reading Mercury, dated 19th November 1864, in which an unnamed correspondent discusses the village names in this area.
"In the counties of Surrey and Hampshire there are several places ending in "shot", including Aldershot, Badshot, Bagshot, Bramshot, Evshot, Empshot, Grayshot, Kingshot, Ockshot and Okeshot.. ...My own supposition is that it is derived from the Saxon "Holt" (a wood or a grove) which is strengthened by the fact that in some of the instances above-mentioned the prefix gives the name of a tree, probably by which most of the wood was composed.....Holt is still used to express a wood or forest of trees. A short distance from Farnham is an extensive forest called Alice Holt."
It is interesting that he mentions the place name Kingshot isn't it? Especially since this pre-dates the supposed Kingshott village that I have found. (See here.) This leads me to believe that there was probably another village of that name. Interestingly another newspaper article, this time from the Manchester Courier of May 20th 1914, talks about the King visiting Aldershot camp and visiting "the field ambulance,and afterwards Kingshott." I will be looking into this further.
WW Capes, a former Rector of Bramshott, in his book "Scenes of Rural Life in Hampshire Among the Manors of Bramshott" wrote:-
"A stranger from the “Kingsgate” at Winchester settles in later days at Bramshott, and brings his surname with him, which becomes, however, changed by Hampshire mouths to “Kingshott”."
Whilst this is obviously a possibility it is problematic in that the family did not arrive in Bramshott from Winchester, but from Fernhurst. In addition, they did not (as far as I have found) inhabit Winchester prior to this at all. This explanation then, whilst neat, does not actually fit the available evidence.
My 10th cousin once removed, Terry Smithers, has another take on the origin of the name. He points out that the earliest known name for Bramshott is in the Domesday book of 1086 where it is listed as Brenbresete. The first recorded mention of Grayshott is "Gravesetta", Oxshott is "Occesete", Aldershot is "Alreshete" and Empshott has been "Hibesete", "Imbesete" and "Yleshate". Terry states:-
So, should I be looking for Kingsete or similar as a potential earlier ancestor to John Kingett? It is easier to see an obvious transition between Kingsete and Kingett, than it is to see a transition from Kingett to Kingshott. The bottom line is that I just don't know where the name came from, or why it changed, but I will continue to look into it.
There are even some branches of the family, who were certainly born Kingshotts, who reverted back to calling themselves Kinggett or Kingett!
My earliest direct Kingshott ancestor was John Kingett, who seems to appear in the Fernhurst area in the late 1500’s. He married, still in Fernhurst, in 1600 where he was described as "of this parish". He was my 9th Great Grandfather. I have not been able to find his baptism, or where he came from, and his sudden appearance does make me wonder if he was perhaps fleeing religious persecution on the continent. There is no direct evidence for this yet, other than faint rumours to that effect. There are, however, earlier van Kinschot's in Holland, and I do wonder if we originate there. Work is continuing here, and my current research on the Dutch family can be found here. Conversely, there are odd snippetts of Kingett's in and around Sussex before my ancestors. Some are on the Isle of Wight, others are in various other parts of the country, but I cannot link them in to my family. The earliest local reference that I am aware of occurs in the Sussex Subsidy Rolls of 1296, which records a Robro Kynget, of Baldslow, East Sussex.
An old postcard view of Fernhurst
So, what we can say for certain is that the area of origin for the Kingshott family (so far) is in and around the village of Fernhurst, Sussex, England. The area around the borders with Sussex, Hampshire and Surrey is Kingshott "ground-zero" and even as late as 1881, the vast majority of Kingshotts' were to be found there. Those that had gone further afield, can all be traced back to this area, and I will look at many of these branches in the coming pages.
The Fernhurst Society have an interesting website, which can be viewed here.
The signpost below is situated in the village of Lurgashall and has a number of Kingshott-rich villages written on it, including Fernhurst. It shows how close these villages were to each other. I took it when my dad, son and I visited the area in 2012. Lurgashall church is situated behind the screen of trees to the top right. A large number of Kingshotts were baptised, married and buried there (or hatched, matched and dispatched!), but there is only one single Kingshott buried there with a marked gravestone.