This is an English medieval locational name which has undergone many changes in its long history. It derives from the now "lost" hamlet of Northcombe or Northacombe, believed to have been in Devon, a county which remains the epicentre for the surname in a variety of spellings. Locational surnames were usually created when residents moved, often involuntarily, and in their new homes were identified by the name of their former village. Given that education was at best perfunctory for the vast majority of citizens, even well into the 19th Century, it was not surprising that name spellings were often phonetic. As a result of the 15th Century Enclosure Acts which ran on into the 18th Century, whole villages were often demolished to aid sheep farming, and this was probably the case with Northcombe. The name means "the north valley", or possibly in earlier times "the valley of the North men" (i.e. Vikings). Examples of the name recordings include: Hannah Nerocombe of Widworthy, Devon, in 1654; Robert Norcom of Exeter in 1768; and Jane Nurcombe, who was christened at St. Sidwell's Church, Exeter, the daughter of William Nurcombe, on August 5th 1827. William Nurcombe was originally William Norcombe. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Galfridi Northacombe, which was dated July 1st 1541, a witness at Bovey Tracey Church, South Devon, during the reign of King Henry V111, known as "Bluff King Hal", 1509 - 1547. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was 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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