Leofcild is a masculine Old English name formed from the elements lēof (‘dear’) and cild (‘child’) (von Feilitzen 1937: 311). Lēof as a first element was exceptionally productive in late Anglo-Saxon England, being found in DB in 30 different names (22 male and 8 female), several of which appear to have been relatively recent coinages which incorporated a non-traditional second element. Although cild was widely used as a byname in its particular meaning of ‘young nobleman’ (Tengvik 1938: 243–5), it does not seem to have been combined with any other first element apart from Lēof (e.g. von Feilitzen 1937: 215; Seltén 1972–9: 191).
No one bearing the name Leofcild is documented before c. 1040, and the evidence suggests that the name was novel in the earlier eleventh century; it was of course charmingly meaningful (‘beloved child’).
Before DB the name occurs in seven documents, all dating from the period 1035–53 (three wills, one diploma, and three writs). There are grounds for thinking that they all referred to the same man, who served for a period as sheriff of Essex, and that he also occurs in DB, but most probably only at one manor also in Essex (Leofcild 3). There have been suggestions that all the DB instances were to Leofcild the sheriff (von Feilitzen 1937: 311 note 1), but in fact the most likely identifications point to six persons TRE.
Remarkably enough all the DB Leofcilds were in Essex or the southern reaches of Suffolk. Such a concentrated pattern raises the possibility that the name was a genuinely new coinage which had not yet spread beyond its region of origin. Evidence from the following century or so tends to support that view. The only additional Leofcild in 1086 (Leofcild 10) was a free man with just ½ acre in Bury St Edmunds’ manor of Huntefelde (probably Whatfield in the far south of Suffolk) (FBB: 43). By the early twelfth century the name had spread north to the Norfolk estates of the abbey of St Benet at Holme, and later in the century it was reasonably well recorded across the whole of East Anglia (Seltén 1972–9: II, 107). At present the earliest known holder outside the three eastern counties was Lescild [for Lefcild] de Ranam, suspected of receiving stolen goods at Bodmin (Cornw.) in 1201 (Pleas, 1198–1212: II, no. 347). Ranam does not look like any obvious place-name in Devon or Cornwall, and Leofcild may well have been an incomer. It is not entirely out of the question that his byname stood for Rainham (Essex), though the spelling Ranam is not currently on record (PN Essex: 127–8).
More speculatively, a Leofcild of sufficient seniority to be appointed sheriff at the start of Edward the Confessor’s reign (and perhaps to be dead by 1052–3) may well have transmitted his name by godparentage or other socially emulative means to a younger generation who would still have been old enough to own land in 1066.
FBB: ‘The Feudal Book of Baldwin, abbot of Bury St. Edmunds, 1065–1098, contained in the Black Book of the abbey, MS. Mm. iv. 19, fols. 124–43b. (Cambridge University Library)’, in Feudal Documents from the Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds, ed. D. C. Douglas, British Academy Records of the Social and Economic History of England and Wales, 8 (London: Oxford University Press for the British Academy, 1932), 1–44
Pleas, 1198–1212: Pleas before the King or his Justices, 1198–1212, ed. Doris Mary Stenton, 4 vols, Selden Society 67–8 and 83–4 (for 1948, 1949, 1966, and 1967)
PN Essex: P. H. Reaney, The Place-Names of Essex, English Place-Name Society 12 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1935)
Seltén 1972–9: Bo Seltén, The Anglo-Saxon Heritage in Middle English Personal Names: East Anglia, 1100–1399, 2 vols, I = Lund Studies in English 43; II = Acta Regiæ Societatis Humanorum Litterarum Lundensis 73 (Lund: CWK Gleerup, 1972–9)
Tengvik 1938: Gösta Tengvik, Old English Bynames, Nomina Germanica 4 (Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells, 1938)
von Feilitzen 1937: Olof von Feilitzen, The Pre-Conquest Personal Names of Domesday Book, Nomina Germanica 3 (Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells, 1937)
Spellings in Domesday Book: Lefcildus; Lefcilt; Leffcilt; Lefficilt; Leofcild; Leuecildus; Leuecilt
Forms in modern scholarship:
von Feilitzen head forms: OE Lēofcild
Phillimore edition: Leofcild
Alecto edition: Leofcild
|Shire||Phil. ref.||Vill||Holder 1066 DB Spelling||Holder 1066||Lord 1066||Tenant-in-Chief 1086||1086 subtenant||Fiscal value||1066 value||1086 value||Holder 1066 ID conf.||Show on map|
|Essex||23,36||West Bergholt||Lefcildus||Leofcild 'of West Bergholt'||-||Richard fitzGilbert||Goding 'of West Bergholt'||0.26||0.50||0.50||D||Map|
|Essex||24,15||Wheatley||Leuecilt||Leofcild, sheriff of Essex||-||Swein of Essex||-||5.00||3.00||4.00||D||Map|
|Essex||36,10||Loughton||Leofcild||Leofcild 'of Loughton'||-||Peter de Valognes||-||1.00||1.00||1.00||B||Map|
|Essex||57,2||Notley||Leuecildus||Leofcild 'of Notley'||-||Sasselin||-||0.68||0.50||0.50||C||Map|
|Essex||90,59||Pebmarsh||Leuecilt||Leofcild 'of Pebmarsh'||Wihtgar son of Ælfric||Richard fitzGilbert||Leofcild||0.03||0.07||0.11||C||Map|
|Suffolk||7,60||Offton||Lefficilt||Leofcild 'of Offton'||Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury||Roger Bigod||Hugh de Houdain||2.00||3.00||3.00||B||Map|
|Suffolk||29,2||Somersham||Leffcilt||Leofcild 'of Offton'||-||Roger d'Auberville||-||1.00||1.50||1.50||B||Map|
|Shire||Phil. ref.||Vill||Lord 1066 DB Spelling||Holder 1066||Lord 1066||Tenant-in-Chief 1086||1086 subtenant||Fiscal value||1066 value||1086 value||Lord 1066 ID conf.||Show on map|
|Suffolk||7,62||Flowton||Lefcilt||Brungar 'of Burstall'||Leofcild||Roger Bigod||Hugh de Houdain||0.08||0.10||0.10||B||Map|
|Shire||Phil. ref.||Vill||Subtenant DB Spelling||Holder 1066||Lord 1066||Tenant-in-Chief 1086||1086 subtenant||Fiscal value||1066 value||1086 value||Subtenant ID conf.||Show on map|
|Essex||90,59||Pebmarsh||Leuecilt||Leofcild 'of Pebmarsh'||Wihtgar son of Ælfric||Richard fitzGilbert||Leofcild||0.03||0.07||0.11||A||Map|