Recorded as Copnar, Copner, Copener and Copiner, this is one of the most interesting English medieval surnames. It is quite rare and not found in any of the more recent dictionaries of surnames, although it is recorded in Lower's Patronynica Brittania of 1843. It originates from the pre 7th century Anglo-Saxon word "copenere" meaning a lover or sweetheart, and it would seem in earlier times was particular to the county of Devonshire. Quite why this county should be its home, and quite what is meant by the name is open to conjecture. In our opinion like the Olde English word "leof", the later Love, it was at first a personal name which later became a surname, although it is equally possible that it was a mocking nickname for a "lover". As the act of being a lover tends to be rather transient it seems unlikely that it would translate into a hereditary surname, but such things are possible. Anything is possible with a surname. The earliest recording that we can find is that of Richard le Copener, in the Hundred Rolls of the county of Devon in 1273, whilst from the surviving church registers we have Henrici Copner, a christening witness at St Martins in the Field, Westminster, on September 25th 1664.
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