The surname of DE QUINCEY was a locational name from Cuinchy (pas de Calais) from where came Saer de Quincey, ancestor of the Earls of Winchester. The name was brought to England in the wake of the Norman Conquest of 1066. Many of the early names recorded in medieval documents denote noble families but many also indicate migration from the continent during, and in the wake of, the Norman invasion of 1066. There was a constant stream of merchants, workmen and others arriving in England during this time. In 1086 the Record of Great Inquisition of lands of England, their extent, value, ownership and liabilities was made by order of William The Conqueror. It is known as the Domesday book. Local names usually denoted where a man held his land. Early records of the name mention Saer de Quincey, 1152, County Oxford. Henry Quenci, 1300, County Lancashire. Robert de Quency was documented in County Essex in the year 1273. In many parts of central and western Europe, hereditary surnames began to become fixed at around the 12th century, and have developed and changed slowly over the years. As society became more complex, and such matters as the management of tenure, and in particular the collection of taxes were delegated to special functionaries, it became imperative to distinguish a more complex system of nomenclature to differentiate one individual from another.
The English writer Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859) was born in Manchester, the son of a businessman, into a family of Norman origin. In the 13th century his ancestors had held the earldom of Winchester, but they later sank into obscurity. The prefix De was adopted by the author. The American Quincy family were established in Massachusetts by Edmund Quincy in 1633. Fifth in descent was Josiah Quincy (1744-75) a leading patriot who was sent to England to argue the colonists' case in 1774. His son Josiah (1772-1864) was a powerful opponent of slavery, president of Harvard, and mayor of Boston, a post also held by several of his descendants. The family traditionally pronounces the name KWINZI.
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