The Family of Pyne

Devon & Cornwall Notes and Queries vol. VII, (1912-1913), Exeter: James G. Commin. 1913, pp. 155-156.


Oswald J. Reichel

Prepared by Michael Steer

The Note’s author offers critical comment and correction of several propositions and claims made by M.T.P. in Note 109 of this volume, pp. 134-138.  The Pyne surname has its origins in Devon and the Norman family of 'De Pyn' which settled in and around Upton Pyne to the West of Exeter from the 12th Century The article, from a copy of a rare and much sought-after journal can be downloaded from the Internet Archive. Google has sponsored the digitisation of books from several libraries. These books, on which copyright has expired, are available for free educational and research use, both as individual books and as full collections to aid researchers.

Note 118. THE FAMILY OF PYNE (VII., p. 134, par. 109.) - The connection between the German, French, Spanish and English families bearing the names severally of Von der Tanne, des Pins, de Pinos and Pyne, which M. T. P. proposes to set up on the authority of the records of a French family of that name, would certainly be most interesting if adequate proof were forthcoming of its genuineness. But it may be well to remember that families having no connection with one another may have used the same surname even when it was an uncommon one, as is clearly shewn in the case of the Giffards; and also that in days when men called themselves after the place where they lived, the same surname may have been used by families in no wise connected who succeeded one another by purchase or the marriage of a widow. It is, therefore, impossible to express an opinion as to whether M. T. P. has made out his case or not.

I venture, however, to draw attention to one statement on p. 137 that Herbert de Pyne received a grant of the manor of Upton Pyne from the Empress Maud's brother and supporter, the Earl of Gloucester, which is clearly erroneous. Upton Pyne, which appears in Domesday under its earlier name of Branford, was held in 1086 by Vitalis of Colitona (i.e., Vidal of Collumpton or Colyton) under Baldwin the sheriff. Now, Baldwin's estates formed the honour of Okehampton, and were never held by the Earl of Gloucester. In 1166 Upton was held for 1 fee by Simon, son of Herbert de Pin, of Robert, the King's son {Black Book, p. 120), who was then in possession of the barony of Okehampton in right of his wife Matilda (Trans. Devon. Assoc., xxxviii., 354), the great-grand-daughter of Baldwin the sheriff. Both Testa de Nevil (475, p. 130) and the Fee lists shew Upton Pyne continuously held of the honour of Okehampton (Feud. Aids, pp. 315, 344, 385, 485), so that a grant from the Earl of Gloucester is out of the question; and if, as I am informed, coat-armour dates from the time of the Crusades and the hereditary use of it was not established before the thirteenth century, the argument from coat-armour will not avail for a date anterior to the Conquest. Is it not much more likely that Simon, the father of the first Herbert de Pin, was the son or son-in-law of the Domesday tenant Vidal of Colyton or Collumpton, and that he got the name of Pyne from Pynes, the place of his abode? It appears also from Feud. Aids, 329, that in 1285 Thomas de Pyn still held Whytewell of the manor of Colyton, with Andrew Luterell as his tenant.             OSWALD J. REICHEL.