Posted by on 1 October 2012 in General, Guest Bloggers, What's in a name?

Authored by Bob Cumberbatch. Bob is the Education Liaison Officer of The Guild of One-Name Studies and can be reached at

Cumberbatch is the most frequently found variant spelling of the surname Comberbach and the Comberbach surname originated from the village of the same name in Cheshire; Comberbach is an Old English description of the place meaning valley with a stream.

The surname has spread across England, and the world. Around 1705 Joshua Cumberbatch and his family migrated from Bristol, England to Barbados and his son Abraham bought the Cleland and Farm Plantations in Barbados. Abraham had three daughters but no male heir and he wanted the surname to live on after his death. Abraham’s grandson Abraham Carleton changed his surname to Cumberbatch, which was a condition in his grandfather’s will, by an Act of Parliament passed in 1753 so that he could inherit his grandfather’s plantations. The descendants of this family owned several sugar plantations in Barbados and when slavery was abolished in 1834 many former slaves took the surname Cumberbatch.

There are some notable holders of the surname:

Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, the actor; no prizes for guessing why his middle-name is Carlton
Claudia Cumberbatch, aka Claudia Jones, originally from Trinidad and deported from the USA to England; she brought the Notting Hill Carnival to England
Alice Beatrice Martha Cumberbatch who created the Cumberbatch Trophy which is awarded annually for contributions to flight safety

There are many different spellings of the surname including Cumberpatch which is most often found in Northamptonshire. On 15 June 1883 Daniel Cumberpatch and his family landed at Christchurch, New Zealand aboard the Ionic and the journey took just over 43 days which was quick by standards of the day. During the entire journey Edith, Daniel’s wife, nursed their new born son William in steerage class. Daniel had lost two daughters within two days to measles and he took his family to New Zealand immediately after the birth of his son William. This family has many descendants in New Zealand and Australia.

Towards the end of the 19th century Cumberbatchs migrated from Barbados to other Caribbean islands and to the USA to help dig the Panama Canal.

Bob Cumberbatch is researching all occurrences of the surname Cumberbatch worldwide with The Guild of One-Name Studies. Studying a surname and identifying its roots and distribution can be particularly helpful in tracking down people who have migrated overseas and finding the right person from multiple candidates.

More information on the surname Cumberbatch and the surname study:

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Earlyn Shuffler 

Hi Bob,

Keep up the good work. Its time for us to start planning another family reunion with the Cumberbatch and Shuffler families.

1 October 2012 at 7:00 pm

Hello and thanks for commenting, Bob has responded with the following;

Hello Cousin, it’s good to hear from you and thanks for the comment.

I was at a memorial service on 22 Sep for the crew of a Lancaster that crashed near the village of Plungar in England during WW2. I filmed the service.

Nan Collins nee Cumberbatch was there she is the sister of one of the crewmen Grey Doyle Cumberbatch who went to Harrison. Beautiful service. She plays Bridge for Barbados and went to the Olympics in China. She was going to look you up when she got home. She knows Muriel Shuffler well.

A reunion would be fantastic. Hard to believe it has been 8 years. I see there are now many new family members.

Thanks Bob

2 October 2012 at 9:56 am