Ennever Enever Enefer

History of the Ennever, Enever, Enefer name

In 1993 I started to trace the history of my Ennever ancestors, I now have more than 35,000 references dating from the middle ages, and from around the world.

I am descended from John Enyver born circa 1490. who is first recorded leasing the house and lands called 'Burges' at Great Easton in Essex, from John I have traced more than 1500 descendants. The earliest Enyvers were all land workers, yeoman who farmed small areas of land producing enough for their family needs and selling the surplus. Agriculture continued to be the main occupation until this century.

Although some books state the name Enever originated in the west country, I have been unable to find any references to substantiate this. The name Enever is similar to the word Genever the Flemish word for gin and Jenever the Dutch word, neither of these words are used for surnames in the Low Countries and research indicates it is unlikely that the Enevers arrived in Essex with other Flemish immigrants including wool workers who flocked to East Anglia, and particularly cutlers who came to the village of Thaxted which was a large centre for immigrants in the 14th century and the adjacent parish to Great Easton with its earliest Essex recording of Enyver. The Enevers were not Huguenots, the earliest known references in England predates the Huguenot persecution in France and the first appearance of this word.

There was also a branch of Enyvers in Kent recorded as early as 1528, but there appears to be no connection between them and the Essex Enevers, the Kent branch died out there in the 1700s. The Juniper family is possibly another branch of the Enever family, the name gradually changing from Jennifer in the late 16th century, to Jenniper, Jeniper through to Juniper in the Bocking area of Essex over a period of nearly a hundred years.

Ethel Ennever 1892-1966

The most common sixteenth century spelling was Enyver , but many variants have been found including Enefer, Enever, Enfer, Ennefer, Ennever, Ennevor, Enniveer, Eniver, Ennivere, Ennivor, Ennyver, Enifer, Envere, Enyver, Inefer, Inepher, Inhavor, Inifer, Iniver, Innever, Innyver, Inover, Hennefer, Hennifer, Jenever, Jennifer, Junever, Juniver, Onever, Yenever

During the 17th century the family name stabilized to En(n)ever or In(n)ever as more people became able to write their own names. Over the years in old English the letter 'V' had been gradually softening to become pronounced as 'F' which would explain why by the middle of the century a few families, particularly in the Suffolk area began spelling their name as Enefer and the founding of the branch with this particular spelling.

By the 18th century the name In(n)ever had practically disappeared with the spelling for most branches of the family becoming more consistent.

By the turn of the 19th century the spelling for most branches began to stabilize to Ennever, Enever or Enefer with a tendency by the middle of the century to drop the double 'NN'.

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Patricia Hill (patricia@ennever.co.uk)