What’s in a name? An unoriginal blog title

This post will shed light on the origin of the Macey/Macy name. The difference between the two spellings will be discussed in a later blog post.

Where is it from?

The Oxford Dictionary of English Surnames 3rd edition classifies the origin of surnames into four categories: Relationship, occupation or office, nicknames and local.

Relationship: Gibson > son of Gibb
Occupation: Homer > A maker of helmets
Nickname: Campbell > from the Gaelic for wry or crooked smile.
Location: Thorne > Dweller by the Thorn/e bushes

Macey/Macy is a location name and is thought to be derived from ‘the place near Countances and Avranches, Normandy’. It was until recently a commune of France. There is also Macey town, West of the city Troyes, France. I hope to make a trip to theses areas in the near future.




Who were the first Maceys in England?

In 1066 the Battle of Hastings took place in southern England where two opposing forces, one led by King Harold and the other William, fought for the throne of England. William was the Duke of Normandy (the area in which the commune Macey is found) and accompanying him were commanders, knights, archers, soldiers, servants and other supporters. After a day of battle, William prevailed and was crowned King of England two months later.

King William I wanted to reward the people who supplied ships, horses, men and other supplies for the battle by granting Lordships, land and other rewards. A list was drawn up called the Battle Abbey Roll. The original roll disappeared from history and was not mentioned again until the 1600s.  The Duchess of Cleveland wrote in  1889, “it is at least certain that it does not exist now: nor it precisely known what has become of it” and there were known to be three copies and many other versions. There are discrepancies between the number and the names between the lists. It is also thought that the monks who held the original item were more than happy to add a name to the end for someone to prove they were an ancestor of a knight.

Only 25 or so of the names on the rolls have been deemed by scholars to have actually been in Hastings for the battle.

Huge de Maci appears on Church of Dives (Normandy) roll. The Church was the location where William and his troops amassed before sailing to England. The book The Norman People published in 1874 states that in 1068 ‘Hugo de Maci held land in Hunts [Huntingdonshire] (Domesday) and Hamo/Haimo/Hamund de Macy/Massey/Mascy held nine lordships in barony from Hugh Lupis in Cheshire’.


Domesday Book

Doomsday_Book_-_1086_-_English_Counties_-_Circuit_(Huntingdonshire) Screen Shot 2018-09-09 at 18.02.47

Location of Huntingdonshire during the Domesday book era and Bickton in Hampshire. 

There are a three Mascy and Macis that I found that are mentioned in the Domesday book. I have taken this information from the Open Domesday Book site.

A Lord was the landowner of a place and a Tenant in Chief was The King’s principal baron or churchman who held land directly from him.

Hugo de Maci: The Norman People puts Hugo de Maci in Huntingdonshire 20 years before the Domesday book was written, presumably for the 1066 entry. The 1086 entry has him as the Lord [landowner] for Bickton, Hampshire and interestingly the tenant in chief was Earl Hugh of (Chester), which may have been a link to Mascy in Cheshire.

Haimo of Mascy (1): Lord and tenant-in-chief for 10 Cheshire places in 1086, Lord only for two and tenant for one.

Haimo of Mascy (2): Lord for three places in Wiltshire during 1086. One of these places, Fisherton Anger, is near Chilmark, the village that the Macey line of my family came from and was the home of Thomas Macy before he went to America.



Maceys of Chilmark

My direct family line of Maceys originate from the village of Chilmark in Wiltshire, England. It is a village approximately 13 miles to the West of Salisbury and not far from Stonehenge.

Before I started on this genealogical journey, Chilmark was a place I had not heard of and had never come up in conversation with my grandparents. It has turned out to be a goldmine for Macey/Macy history as Thomas Macy of the village went to America in the 1630s. His history will be covered in another blog.


The information from the censuses, baptisms, burial and marriage records suggest that Maceys stayed in Chilmark for centuries until the early part of the 1900’s. My family moved to Dorset in the early 1900’s then on to Sussex and finally coming to a rest in London.

1841-1911 censuses and 1939 register

The censuses provide a good starting place to look at the history of Maceys in Chilmark. I’m an analyst in my day job and charts and tables are my happy place for sharing information.

The Numbers


The number of Maceys in Chilmark peaked at 83 for the 1851 census, spread across 18 households. The average number of Maceys per household over the years ranged from 2.7 to 5.5 (including those who were servants in part of a larger non-Macey household).

Interestingly the 1861 census 54 people had their surname recorded as Macy and 12 as Macey. This I think this is an error as some are written as Maceys from the 1851 census.

By the time of the start of World War II there were just eight Maceys remaining in Chilmark in three households.

The Maceys made up between 8% and 13% of the population of Chilmark and Ridge over the censuses.

Age and Gender

The split between male and female is quite even, males made up between 46.6% to 54.5% of Maceys over the censuses. The average age of the Maceys is also quite steady ranging between 23 in 1851 to 27 in 1861.

Three Maceys were recorded over the age of 80

  • Samuel Macey (b.1821), aged 80 in 1901, a widower living with his unmarried children Benjamin (b. 1862) and Elizabeth (b. 1857)
  • James Macey (b. 1808), 83 in 1891, a married retired gamekeeper
  • Also in 1891 Emma Macey (b. 1805), 85, a widow originally from Baverstock, Wiltshire, living by herself but visited by Sarah Noke on the day of the census.


The most common profession was a labourer, either agricultural or general and , was the most common profession followed by scholar.

Some of the more notable professions were
Lydia Macey – Infant school mistress in 1861.
Martha Macey – Nursery maid for the Reverend Charles Tower in 1851 and 1861 at the Vicarage.
Edward Macey – A road labourer and a pig butcher during 1871.
Quarry workers – 1891 saw a few men working in the local stone quarry.


The largest household of Maceys in 1851 was made up of  ten people. This was the family of Harry (born Henry ) and Phoebe Macey and their eight children, ranging from 15 years old to 2 months old. The children were born between 1836 and 1851. From looking at the baptism records Henry and Phoebe had another two children, one who died at the age of one and another born after 1851.


Further blogs will look at each census year in more detail.