Origins and Meaning of the Bancroft Name
It occured to me recently that the one think that has not been explained on this blog is how or where the "Bancroft" family name originates from....there may be many explanations, but here is mine:
The surname BANCROFT is English in origin, being one of those names derived from the name of a dwelling place or locality where a bearer of the name lived.
The name can be traced to the Old English term "of the Bank Croft", denoting an enclosure, sometimes know as a "croft" on a slope or bank.
During the Middle Ages it was common practice to identify a man with the area from which he lived, and to then refer to him in this manner. Therefore if a person lived at or near, a single geographical feature such as a slope, this would become their name, and to which they would become known as.
Surnames were also occasionally derived from townships, and it is possible that the name was also originally used by residents of Bencroft in the county of Cambridge, and that the name then became corrupted to Bancroft.
Very early instances of the name were generally prefixed with 'de' meaning 'of ', a preposition used to denote surnames of local origin.
The first recorded instance of the name occurred in the Hundred Rolls, a document drawn up in London in 1273, where one Johannes de Bank-Croft is listed.
The modern form of the name began to appear during the 16th century.
The Yorkshire areas that supported the name from the beginning of the 17th century in any numbers, seem to be the parishes of Kildwick, Halifax, and the ancient chapelry of Heptonstall, gradually then working its way across the moors to Oxenhope, Haworth and Keighley later.There also appears to be two more quite separate Bancroft lines living in the Sheffield area of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire from the 18th century. In fact the early US settlers seem to all originate from the Derbyshire line, rather than Yorkshire.
There are variations of the name listed throughout Yorkshire, such as Bankcroft, Bankroft, Barcroft and Beecroft.
A clue to the origins of the name are clear when you look at the population listed on 1881 census.
The only counties in England, where significant numbers of Bancroft individuals are listed in 1881 are as follows:
Yorkshire - 984
Cheshire - 347
Derbyshire - 281
Middlesex - 120
Staffordshire - 77
Leicestershire - 66
Nottinghamshire - 55
All other counties in England, list numbers less than 50 individuals, and many counties show no individuals at all. There are also very few individuals listed in either Scotland or Wales
It therefore seems clear from this, that the name must have originated in Northern England, in the Yorkshire/Lancashire area.