Recorded in many spelling forms including Conibeer, Coneybeer, Coneybeare, Connibear, Conybear, Conibear, Collibear, Colliber, and Colliver, this is an ancient English locational surname. It is said to originate either from a now 'lost' medieval village in the county of Devonshire, or from the existing hamlet of Collabear, near Tavistock, in Devon. According to the famous Victorian etymologist Canon Charles Bardsley writing in 1880 'This is a familiar Devonshire surname', and referring to the spelling "The change from the 'l' (of Collabear) to the 'n' of (Conibeer etc) is common as shown in bannister to baluster".This may well be so, but it is equally true to say that at least one thousand British surnames are proved to originate from now 'lost' medieval sites, of which the only reminder in the 20th century, is the surname. Furthermore with 'lost' village names, it is often as with this one, found spelt in many different ways. In our opinion the placename and hence the later surname originate from the pre 7th century Olde English 'bearu' meaning a wood with the prefix 'cynin' meaning 'king', to give the Kings Wood. Collabear probably means something quite different and may mean Cool Wood, from the Olde English 'colli', or 'Cola's wood' the prefix being a populkar personal name of the period. Early examples of the surname recording include: John Conybeare of Exeter, Devon, in 1690, and Richard Colliber, who married Anny Vitty at St George's Chapel, Hanover Square, London, in 1806.
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