This is an English medieval surname, but one of French origins. Introduced by the conquering Normans of 1066, it has been claimed to be an occupational surname for the chief of the clerics who attended upon a bishop at religious ceremonies. The derivation is from the French pre 9th century word 'arcediaene'. However as until the time of King Henry V111th (1510 - 1547), all members of the church were celibate and banned by law from marriage, it seems very unlikely that this name was occupational. It is much more likely to have been a nickname. If so it was probably given to the actors who played the part of archdeacons in the religious festivals and travelling theatres which criss-crossed England, visiting most of the major towns and cities such as they were, in those ancient times. Another possibility for the origin but one also a nickname, is that it was given to somebody of excessive religious zeal, a person who was not a member of the church as such, but who was a regular church attender, or possibly given the robust humour of those times, the absolute reverse! What we do know is that this was one of the first 'names' to be recorded anywhere. These recordings include Walter le Ercedekene in the Assize Rolls for the county of Somerset between the years 1267 and 1271, whilst Roger le Archdekne appears in the collected registers of the Duchy of Cornwall in 1297.
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