Orme in France

Genealogy Index | Orme in Europe

The French Connection

Orme is a French word meaning 'Elm Tree', this has led some people to believe that the surname Orme originated in France, and even that all Ormes came from France. It is much more likely that the few Orme families in France arrived there from England, or even directly from Scandinavia.

The only record of an Orme in France that has come to light so far is the Christening of Noe Orme (or perhaps this should be Noël Orme) at Armentieres on 15th July 1597, his fathers name was Pierre Orme.

'The Memoirs or Chronicle of the The Fourth Crusade and The Conquest of Constantinople' written by Geoffrey de Villehardouin (1160 - 1213), show that Henry D'Orme was in France in the year 1202, though he was from Germany and only passing through.

'......Et après cette aventure, là est venu au centre serveur une compagnie des gens très bonnes et dignes de l'empire de l'Allemagne, laquelle de l'arrivée ils du centre serveur étaient plein trop heureux. Là est venu l'évêque de Halberstadt, compte Berthold de Katzenelenbogen, plus Giboyeux de Borland, Thierri de Loos, Henry d'Orme, Thierri de Diest, Roger de Suitre, Alexander de Villers, Ulric de Tonalité, et de beaucoup d'autres bons gens, dont les noms ne sont pas enregistrés en ce livre.'

The Normans

King Charles of France gave land to the Viking chief 'Rollo' (or Rolfe) in the year 911 in return for a promise that Rollo would stop raiding Paris. Rollo was from Möre, which is near the border between Norway and Sweden. Dudo of St. Quentin's 'Gesta Normannorum' tells us that he raised his army in England from "anglosque florentis iuuentutis milites" - 'the flower of England's youthful warriors'. The 'Gesta Normannorum' is misleading in this respect, because it was not an army of Anglo-Saxons, but rather of Norwegians and Danes who were living in England.

The initial settlement in Normandy was enlarged by the arrival of Hiberno-Norse from Ireland, Norsemen from the Orkney Islands, and more Danes and Norsemen from England. Together they became the 'Northman Duchy', which was soon shortened to Normandy. It would not be surprising if some of them were named Orme. In the course of time French became their usual language, though Norse was kept as a second language and their university taught only in Norse.

In 1066, with the help of friends and neighbours, Normans went to England to put their Duke, William, on the English throne instead of Harold Godwinson. The king of France and his armies were not involved, so it should not be thought of as a French invasion. Non-Saxon sources show that William was the cousin of Edward the Confessor and his closest male relative, so he would have had a valid claim to the throne of England - but that is a story which should be told elsewhere.

After his coronation, King William had a church built in Normandy at Dives-sur-Mer. Carved over the door on the western wall of the nave are the names of those who went to England with him. None of them is an Orme, so if any Orme was with the Normans he had no title and was under the command of one of the men on the list.

The Normans also founded principalities in Italy and Sicily during the 11th century, this might explain the presence of some Ormes in Italy.

Orm, the 4th Baron of Kendall (in England), was the great-grandson of Guillaume Ive Raoul de Taillebois who arrived with the Normans in 1066. This may be where the idea of a Norman origin has come from, but Orm's sons, Gospatric and Robert, were known as Fitz-Orme (Old Norman/French - Fitz = 'son of'), and sometimes as Ormesson, the name Orm was not passed on in its original form.

The Huguenots

Huguenots left France in the 17th and 18th centuries for religious reasons, it has been suggested that this is how Ormes arrived in England, although before the 17th century the name Orme was already well established in England. A search of Huguenot Temple records and passenger lists of emigrating Huguenots has not revealed a single Orme or any similar name amongst them.


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