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ADEY Family Origins

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ADEY Name Studies

The surname ADEY (and its variants) is thought to be derived from a diminutive form of the given name ADAM. Parents name a baby, and then often use a shorter form in childhood as a mark of affection, or to distinguish the child from others with the same given name. The continued use of these diminutive names as a family name appears to have developed in the 14th century (and later), in a similar way to patronymic names (like ADAMS & ADAMSON).

Phonetic Spelling

It might seem that such a short surname would have only one pronunciation, but there are more phonemes (44) than letters (26) available in English. Also, English is not a simple phonetic language to read or write, and for a long time the literate personally chose how to spell any name they heard. Also, there were multiple diminutives of Adam in existence, when surnames were being established, so multiple independent sources of similar surnames. This caused similarly pronounced surnames to be spelt differently, and differently pronounced ones to be written similarly. During the 19th century, the state took over from the church in registration of births, marriages and deaths. At the same time, there was growth in literacy combined with a gradual movement to standardise spellings. All this was enough to produce a range of pronunciations of related and unrelated surnames, especially when exacerbated by different regional accents.

My family pronounce our surname in an identical way to how we pronounce the abbreviation for Anno Domini (i.e. A.D.). Today, one good option to avoid mistakes in pronunciation is to use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to write down the phonemes of the surname. Then a computer program or an Internet website (e.g. can be easily used to reproduce its pronunciation. This is close to my personal pronunciation: Adey = /eɪdiː/

The Meaning etc.

Different genealogical websites give more or less information about the variants, but they are generally agreed on the origin of the English surname variants:

  • English: from the personal name Adey, a medieval pet form of Adam ( [1]
  • Adey is a surname of English origin ( At the time of the British Census of 1881, its relative frequency was highest in Berkshire (10.1 times the British average), followed by Staffordshire, Wiltshire, Cardiganshire, Hampshire, Warwickshire, the Channel Islands, Dorset, County Durham and Gloucestershire.
  • ADEY. ADIE. ADY. See Addy (
  • ADDICE. ADDIS. Addy's son, the son of Adam.
  • ADDY. A "nursename" of Adam; "little Adam." Hence Addis or Addy's, Addiscott, Addiscock, and Addison. [2]

Relative Frequency of Surname Variants

  • Note 1: The shorter a surname, the more others seem to be deemed similar by genealogical researchers. This doesn't seem to take into account known variations of written surname for the same individual.
  • Note 2: This summary table is based on data from (original source presumably English Census data 2021), but is reorganised alphabetically by surname. It also shows the Soundex code, which was developed by genealogists to group similar surnames.

Table of Relatively Common Variants

Current BritishSurnames frequencies
Soundex Surname UK Total Re. Freq. Millionth
A300 Addie 276 13,341 4
A300 Addis 2,085 4,354 33
A300 Adey 2,110 4,315 33
E300 Eddy 2,686 3,578 43
List of Rarer Variants (no statistics)
A300 Aday Addey Addi Addice Adie Ade Adee Ades Adeye Adi Ady Adye Adys
E300 Ede Edes Eddie Eddis Edie
See also 1881 & 2021 UK censuses ADEY distribution maps]

Surnames DataBase (SDB)

Adey Popularity ranking: 4686
This early surname is of medieval English and Scottish origin. It is one of the diminutive forms of surname that was developed from the male given name "Adam", a name introduced by the 12th century Crusaders and pilgrims returning from the Holy Land. The name Adam is Hebrew and derives from the word for earth. The name rarely appears in Britain before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and then always as the name of a monk. The popularity of the name [Adam] increased rapidly in the middle ages, and (by the 14th Century) it was one of the three commonest names in use in Northern England and Scotland. The extent of its popularity is well borne out by the number of surnames that it generated, and these include Adams, Adhams and Adamson, all patronymics, to the diminutives Adnett, Ade, Addkin, Atkin, Adcock, Addie, Adie, Adey, and no doubt others as well!

Early examples of the surname records include Matilda Addy, listed in the Yorkshire Poll Tax Returns of 1379, Donald Ade of Dunblane, Scotland in 1465, William Adee in the Suffolk Subsidy Rolls of 1524, and James Adie, the MP for Perth in 1595. Other records from church Registers include the christening of Jane Adey, daughter of John Adey, on September 29th 1584, at St. Dunstan's in the East, Stepney, and the marriage of John Addie and Marye Coale at St. Bride's church, Fleet Street, London, on January 23rd 1620. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Thomas Ady, which was dated 1327, in the "Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire", during the reign of King Edward II 1307-1327 (known as "Edward of Caernafon").

Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as a Poll Tax (or head tax). Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop", often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling. © Copyright: Name Origin Research 1980-2017 [3]

Research notes

In addition to the generic notes (above), on the surname ADEY, this one name study includes three "ADEY research notes" analysis pages of ADEY familes based in different locations (Gloucestershire, Hampshire & Newfoundland). There are also WikiTree free-space pages based on analysing the ADEY specific content of three separate family tree websites:

  1. The ADEYs of Painswick family website lists 109 Adeys (including 15 still living) analysed on this free-space page.[4] and also on this free-space page for the Gloucestershire area.[5]
  2. ADEYs on Ward Green's family website lists 81 Adeys (and 1 Addy) analysed on this free-space page.[6] and also in part on these free-space pages for the Hampshire area,[7] and for the Newfoundland area.[8]
  3. ADEYs on Brian Turnbull's family website analysed on this free-space page,[9] and also the free-space page for the Newfoundland area.[8]

Analysis of ADEYs records

  • An analysis of the Will of Jehovah (10 generations of gg-parents chart) and other family sites could be based on a simple Genealogical Numbering System [10] [11] [12] of descendants from the earliest proposed ADEY ancestor, to avoid trying to cram all ancestors and their descendants onto the same graphical chart.
  • An alternative anaysis strategy, that I developed to analyse the Newfoundland ADEYs (and propose to extend to the Hamshire/Dorset ADEYs), was to create a timeline analysis based on the birth date of each ADEY male & each (LNAB) ADEY female. It should also contain the date of all ADEY marriages, as they mark the potential creation of a 'new' ADEY female.
  • It is also possible to do an analysis of all the ADEY families in an area, based on the census records. This helps to retain the important family structures and to spot when new families form.
  • An additional option for each UK county in the 19th and 20th century is to analyse the death records for each registration district and surname variant. Most of these index records give the age at death (and hence an estimate for the date of birth), while some also give the date of birth. Using both the birth and death years a timeline for most members of the 'ADEY' family living in an area can be generated.

ADEY Surname Study Pages

Many Genealogy and Family History websites maintain a page for individual surnames, which may provide addition information on that surname. This is an incomplete list of pages related to the surname ADEY and similar surnames (derived from a Google search):

Generic Surname Study

Generic Surname Sites & Pages

The Internet provides access to a number of sites (or area of a site) that specialise on giving advice on one-name/surname studies. These include the following:

Generic Surname Books

  • Kennett, Debbie. (2012) The Surnames handbook: a guide to family name research in the 21st century. Stroud: The History Press Ltd.
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland (Oxford University Press) was published on 17 November 2016.
    • The Family Names in Britain and Ireland (FaNBI) database was submitted by the Bristol Centre for Linguistics, Family Names of the United Kingdom (FaNUK) Project for publication by the Oxford University Press. An explanation was given for all names with 100 current bearers or more in Britain and Ireland, along with many rarer names. This Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland was published both in book form and online; the online version is accessible via educational institutions and public libraries.

Generic Articles on Names

Research Questions

I never really got a satisfactory answer to this question that I asked on G2G: How best to track possible relationships between same surname families? (I.E. On WikiTree, what is the best way to track possible relationships between families with the same LNAB (Last Name At Birth)?).

  • This is a list of some possible WikiTree specific techniques that I have considered:
    • Categories
    • Genealogy page (WikiTree automatically maintains an index of all profiles with that surname. SEE: WikiTree's ADEY Genealogy page
      • It also includes information (with links to other Genealogy pages) about possibly related surname profiles. It is not clear what is the source of these variant surnames (possibly Soundex), nor whether it is possible to extend this list to contain other surnames known to be related. However, it is normally better not to treat each 'deviant' spelling as a unique surname, but to use the primary surname and explain about the deviant spelling in the research notes. Separate LNAB Genealogy pages:
      • NOTE (at time of writing): About 408 ADEYs.
        • Related surnames: EDDY (5882) ODEA (1596) EDE (799) ATHEY (792) EADIE (668) ADDY (578) ADAY (529) EADY (444) ODDIE (347) UDY (350) EDIE (328) ODDY (307) ATYEO (286) ODY (271) ADIE (204).
      • SEE ALSO G2G Q&As:
    • Stickers
    • Timeline by place (e.g. county). This is currently my preferred method, as it is easy to copy and paste the required information


  1. Hanks, Patrick (2003) Dictionary of American Family Names. 1st edn. Oxford University Press, New York.
  2. Lower, Mark A (1860) Patronymica Britannica: a dictionary of the family names of the United Kingdom. London: J.R. Smith. Public Domain.
  3. Source:
  4. Space:Steve Adey analysis of The Adey Family from Painswick website
  5. Research notes on ADEYs from Gloucestershire, England
  6. Space:Steve Adey analysis of Adey Family Tree on Will of Jehovah website
  7. Research notes on ADEYs from Hampshire, England
  8. 8.0 8.1 Research notes on ADEYs from the Newfoundland Colony
  9. Space:Steve Adey analysis of Adey Family on Turnbull Clan website
  10. Pence, Richard A (1995) Numbering Systems in Genealogy
  11. Family Tree Magazine genealogy numbering systems'
  12. Wikipedia genealogical numbering systems

Comments: 1

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This is a holding page, as I have not yet been a member on WikiTree long enough to meet the 90 day or 1000 contributions minimums required for a One Name Study coordinator. In addition, I am not sure that a name study that could potentially cover Soundex A400, E400 and more is feasible or desirable. However, the concept of a very limited list of surname variants doesn't seem appropriate for a surname with multiple origins. I would rather study the instances of the surname variants that can be plausibly connected by geography and migration.
posted by Stephen Adey