Last name: Twelvetrees
Recorded as Twelve, Twelves, the rare Twelver, Twelvetree and Twelvetrees, this is a very interesting English surname. It would appear to be habitational and describe somebody who lived by a group of twelve "somethings." There is a hamlet called Twelve Heads near Truro in Cornwall, and there is a location and probably the site of a village called Twelve Oaks near Battle in Sussex. Either could be a source of the surname. Another possibility is that it did originate from a now "lost" village called Twelvetrees, but if so no such place has been found in any gazetter of the past three centuries. There is another suggestion that the derivation of the name is from 'Atte-well', which over the centuries became Twelve. Anything is possible with names, but this seems too far fetched without further proof. Early examples of the surname recordings include Richard Twelves at St Dunstans in the East, Stepney, on January 5th 1622, and John Twelftree who married Elizabeth Deacon at St Andrews by the Wardrobe, in the city of London, On December 30th 1752. Patrick Twelve who may have been from Ireland, embarked on the ship 'Columbia' from Liverpool to America on 19th November 1846, and thereafter the names as Twell and Twelve appear in the records of Philadelphia. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was sometimes known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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There is a small area (of trees) known as 'Twelvetrees'. This can be seen in the hills viewed from the village of Hayfield and is well known to walkers in the area (usually climbing Kinder Scout).
I believe the surname originates from the occupation of 'tool tree maker' someone who made wooden handles for tools as the males in the family in the 17th and 18th Centuries were mainly carpenters and were only resident in Huntingdonshire and Northamptonshire.
The surnames Twelftree and Twelvetree(s) were interchangeable throughout the parish records for the same family, as I found for my maternal grandmother's line.
Northamptonshire favoured Tweltricke, the earliest found being in 1527.
At Irchester Tweltricks lived there for the whole of the 17th Century being contemporary with my own ancestor NICHOLAS TWELTRICK.
In 1593 Twelvetrick, and in 1626 Twelvetrix were found in Lincolnshire.
In Leicestershire villages around Melton Mowbray in 1572-1600 the name as Tweltrigg, 1600-1678 Tweltrick, 1711 Tweltridge, and in 1719 Twelvetridge.
(No proof has been found that these people should have had, at one time, ‘tree’ as their name ending.)
Consequently, it seems unlikely that the original name has anything to do with 12 trees.