Recorded in several spelling forms including Travers, Traves, Travis and Traviss, this is an English medieval surname, but of French origins. Probably introduced into England after the 1066 Norman-French Invasion, it derives from either of the two French male and female nouns "travers" and "traverse", meaning "to cross". The literal meaning was to cross a particular point such as the gate of a city, or a ford, where a toll or tax might be charged. In effect the surname describes one who collected the money at such a crossing point.The late Professor Reaney reported that "in 1285 the Bishop of Norwich claimed that he and his predecessors were accustomed to take "travers" at South Elmham, in Suffolk".... for the upkeep of the bridge. This would seem to clearly establish the meaning of the name, although the earliest of all known recordings is some hundred years before that date. Early examples of the surname recordings include Margareta Travas in the 1433 Gildersome Rolls of Yorkshire, and Ann Travis of Burtonwood in Lancashire, in 1578. The first known recording of the surname in any spelling is that of Walter Travers, in the 1172 register of the Gilbertine monastery in Lincoln. This was during the reign of King Henry 11nd of England, 1154 - 1189.
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