Select Payne Surname Genealogy

Payne is a name of French origin, but of two possible derivations.

Payne could be locational, from the Payns region in northern France.  In the 12th century a Hugh de Payen was founder of the Knights Templar in Clermont and a Payen de Montmuse accompanied Richard the Lionheart during the Third Crusade.  These Paynes appeared in England via Jersey in the Channel Islands.

However, the usual explanation for the surname is that Payne derives from the Old French paien and the Latin paganus.  Its original meaning described someone who lived in the countryside, as opposed to a town dweller (urbanus).  The following was one interpretation of this situation.

"Christianity made its early advances in the larger towns which often had a monastery or cathedral.  The country folk, without access to these institurions, became known as pagans and the name came to include both declared non-Christians and country peasants."

The name arrived in England with the Normans.  Its original meaning got forgotten somehow and Payn enjoyed some popularity as a personal name.  Payn Roet, for example, was the father-in-law of Geoffrey Chaucer.  But its use here died out in the 16th century.

Both Payne and Paine appear as surname spellings today.  Payne is by far the most common.

Select Payne Resources on The Internet

Select Payne Ancestry

England.  Jersey in the Channel Islands was in its early days part of the Duchy of Normandy and it was through these French connections that the Payn name first appeared.  Their pedigree was covered in J.B. Payne's 1859 book Payne's Armorial of Jersey.

Paynes in Jersey.  The Payn presence in Jersey dated from about 1200.  John Payn was Bailly of Jersey in 1446.  They were Royalist during the English Civil War and only reluctantly hauled down the royal standard on Elizabeth Castle in 1649.

"Stephen Payne was a Colonel of Horse in the army of Charles I.  When all for a time was lost, he thought of his native island of Jersey where Prince Charles could not but find a hearty welcome. Colonel Payne escorted Prince Charles and his brother the Duke of York to the Payne home in Jersey and acted generously as host to the distinguished visitors."

Both Stephen and his son Abraham were present at the defeat of the royal forces at Worcester in 1851.  Abraham departed Jersey for Wiltshire on the English mainland and then fled to St. Kitts in the West Indies where he and his family prospered.  From this line came Ralph Payne (Baron Lavington) and his half-brother John (Jack) Payne.  They were both friends of the Duke of Cumberland and his nephew the Prince of Wales, later George IV. 

"Captain Jack Payne was at one time comptroller of the Prince's household.  The restless energy that fueled his military career was spent on dissipation in pacetime.  It was he who negotiated the settlements with the Prince's mistresses.  Captain Payne was known for his disrespect and foul mouth."

The Payns in Jersey had family connections with other Paynes in England.  These included Sir Robert Payne, the MP for Huntingdonshire, ironically a close associate of Oliver Cromwell, and his cousin Sir Thomas Payne and the Paynes in Suffolk.  The Jersey Paynes would settle nearby in Bedfordshire.

There are still Payns in Jersey.  William Stanley Payn who runs Fauvic Nurseries is the fourth generation of Payn tomato growers on the island.

Paynes Elsewhere.  Payn or Payne as a surname in England had other starting points as well.  John Payn of Wymondham in Norfolk was the chief butler to Henry IV in the early 1400's.  Another John Payn was a wealthy merchant in Southampton and London at around the same time.

The name was also to be found in the southeast, in particular in Sussex.  Paynes had been yeomen in East Grinstead since the 1450's.  Sussex records show the marriage of John Payne and Joanne Wood in East Grinstead in 1560 and of two Paynes - Edward from East Grinstead and Anna from Hickstead - in Twineham in 1583.  Edward Payne of East Grinstead was sheriff of Sussex in 1644.

"These 'Paynes of the Towne,' as they were styled in the early registers to distinguish them from other families in the parish of the same name seem to have risen, by dint of frugality and industry, to become in the 16th century ironmasters of note and considerable landowners in the parish."

Meanwhile the Petworth Payne family in Sussex at this time was descended from John Payne of Hammersmith in London, a wealthy mercer who had died in 1573.

The Paine spelling was notable in Norfolk.  The death of Peter Paine was recorded in Norwich in 1509.  Joseph Paine was a Norwich hosier who became its mayor and a public benefactor to the town in the 1660's.  The famous pamphleteer Thomas Paine was born into a Quaker home in Thetford, Norfolk in 1737.

America.  A number of related Paynes were among the early settlers in America.  These included:
  • John Payne of Huntingdonshire who was an immigrant into Westmoreland county, Virginia around 1650.  His line was featured in Brooke Payne's 1937 book The Paynes of Virginia.
  • Ralph and Thomas Payne, two brothers also from Huntingdonshire who arrived in 1652.  They made their home on the northern rock between the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers in Virginia.
  • William and Hannah Paine from Suffolk who were settlers in Massachusetts.  William became proprietor of the Hammersmith ironworks at Lynn in 1658.
  • and possibly Thomas Payne who settled in St. Mary's, Maryland in 1664.
New England.  Among the early Paines in New Emgland were:
  • Moses Paine from Tenterden in Kent who was on the Castle to Braintree, Massachusetts in 1638 and Stephen Paine from Hingham, Norfolk on the Diligent to Hingham, Massachusetts in the same year. 
  • and Thomas Paine who came to Yarmouth on Cape Cod in 1639.  In 1680 Thomas Paine the younger built the windmill at Eastham which still stands.  Peter Paine was an early settler on Long Island.
Virginia.  The Virginia Paynes became part of the Virginia colonial aristocracy of the 17th and 18th centuries, with close ties to families such as the Washingtons, Fairfaxes, and Quesenberrys.  Colonel William Payne was one of George Washington's honorary pall-bearers. 

The Rev. John Payne, a missionary bishop to Africa, was a 19th century descendant.  John Barton Payne, a Cabinet minister under Woodrow Wilson, was the head of the American Red Cross from 1922 to 1935.

Canada.  Newfoundland has a long history of Paynes. 

Newfoundland.  William Paine was recorded as owning property in Harbour Grace in 1765 (and apparently his family were there further back as well).  There is a Payne House in Harbour Grace today that was built by John and Rachel Payne in 1856.

Thomas Paine arrived from Devon around 1800, working as a boat builder in St. John's and then with his three brothers starting a whale factory in Aquaforte.  Charles Payne came from Hampshire in 1805 or so, married and settled in Cow Head.

Paynes have been recorded at Fogo island in Notre Dame Bay since the 1850's.  A Payne family there were pilots who guided ships through the treacherous shoals for several generations.  Sadly the piloting came to an end in 1902 when William Payne and three of his sons went missing and were presumed drowned.  But Ambrose Payne was able to carry on the Payne seafaring tradition. 

Today Jim Payne from Notre Dame Bay is a well-known local folk singer who performs and records the traditional sea shanties of Newfoundland culture.  Paynes are numerous in Newfoundland today.

Australia.  A number of Paynes came out to Australia from England in the 1850's.  They included:
  • The Pain family from Somerset (Payne in Australia) who came to Melbourne in batches between 1850 and 1860.  George, the first to arrive, operated the Bridge Inn in Woodstock, Victoria for many years. Others in the family prospered as well, a notable achievement as they appear to have arrived in Australia illiterate.
  • George and Elizabeth Payne and their family who came on the Ann Holzberg to Adelaide from Leicestershire in 1853.  Sadly Elizabeth died in childbirth during the voyage.  The remaining family settled in Kyneton, South Australia.
  • and Martin and Mary Payne and their children who came on the William Hammond to Adelaide from Bedfordshire in 1854.  A year l;ater they moved onto Beechworth, Victoria.
Select Payne Miscellany

If you would like to read more, click on the miscellany page for further stories and accounts:

Select Payne Names

John Payn was Bailly of Jersey in 1446.
Tom Paine was a radical 18th century political philosopher and pamphleteer in England and America.
John Howard Payne was an early 19th century English playwright.
David Lewis Payne was the American soldier and pioneer considered "the father of Oklahoma" for opening up the territory for settlement.

Select Paynes Today
  • 48,000 in the UK (most numerous in Northamptonshire)
  • 52,000 in America (most numerous in Texas) 
  • 33,000 elsewhere (most numerous in Australia)

PS.  You might want to check out the surnames page on this website.  It covers surname genealogy in this and companion websites for more than 800 surnames.

Click here for reader feedback
Click here for return to front page