The Viking Connection

The Viking Connection with the Appleby family begins with the family name - Appleby.

The locational name of Appleby was first recorded for Appleby-in-Westmorland as Appelbi in 1163. Surnames were a largely Norman innovation in England, so to distinguish John from Appleby from, say, John from York, one would be called John Appleby and the other John York. But this would have happened circa 11th - 13th centuries. Before then surnames were largely unknown.

As a surname, Appleby was recorded for a family seat as Lords of the manor of Appleby from about the year 1250; the manor later became the county town of Appleby. Its use as a surname to identify people from the locality began around that time and was first used officially in the 1167 Pipe Rolls of that county. The Pipe rolls, sometimes called the Great rolls, were the records of the yearly audits performed by the Exchequer of the accounts and payments presented to the Treasury by the sheriffs and other royal officials; and owed their name to the shape they took.



Vikings in Britain

Vikings were of three types of Scandinavians:

1. Swedes, whose expeditions were mainly eastwards to places such as Russia;

2. Norwegians (Norse), who concentrated on the western seaboard of what is now Scotland, on Ireland, on the Irish Sea coasts including the Dublin area, on the Isle of Man, and on what is now Cumbria;

3. Danes, who were more interested in eastern England and the north-east (including the Northumbrian kingdom), and what is now Yorkshire.

The activities of the Vikings included a mix of trading, raiding, settlement and conquest. The result of these attacks was the collapse of the Anglian kingdom of Northumbria.



The suffix '-by' was introduced by Viking raiders who began invading the east coast of Britain in the 8th-9th centuries. The reason so many place names ending in '-by' are found in Eastern and Northern England is because that's where the Danish Vikings established their kingdom, known as The Danelaw. The earlier Anglo-Saxon words for a settlement were '-ham,' '-tun' or '-ton' - hence Birmingham, Nottingham, Northampton, Charlton etc. Places with names like Wetherby, Grimsby, Selby, Whitby, Derby, etc are Danish in origin.

Appleby-in-Westmorland, which is where the family name is believed to have originated, was not in The Danelaw, so its name did not originate from the Danish Vikings of north eastern England. Places with names like Appleby, Kirkby, Lockerbie, Langwathby, etc in the Scottish/English Borderlands are Norse in origin from the Norse - Gael Vikings from Dublin. They settled north from the Scottish/English Borderlands, along the west coast to the Orkneys in the north, from 875. The two Appleby family groups of these areas, whilst geographical neighbours, are not related - those in the east are of Danish descent, those in the west are of Norwegian descent. Your family is of Norwegian descent but migrated to Australia from an area where the local Applebys were of Danish descent.

Spelling and translation were hardly exact sciences in Medieval Britain. Sound, rather than any set of rules, was the basis for spellings, so one name was often spelled different ways even within a single document. As a surname, with variant spellings Applebe, Applebee, Applebey, and Appelbee is of Norse-Viking origin, it is a locational name from any of the various places named with the Old Norse "apall" meaning apple, plus the Old Norse '-byr', a farm or settlement. These places include Appleby in Leicestershire, recorded as "Aplebi" in the Domesday Book of 1086; Appleby in Lincolnshire, appearing as "Aplebi" in the Domesday Book, and as "Appelbi" in the 1167 Pipe Rolls of that county.


Appleby Magna

There are five towns in the UK with the locational name of Appleby:

1. Appleby-in-Westmorland, Cumbria
2. Appleby Magna and Appleby Parva near Birmingham
3. Appleby in Lincolnshire
4. Uppleby by Easingwold, a small village in North Yorkshire
5. Eppleby near Richmond, a small village in North Yorkshire

Other towns in the UK with a similarly derived locational name:

1. Applegarth, North Yorkshire. Garth - an enclosed garden, yard or quadrangle
2. Applegarthtown, a village in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
3. Appleton Manor, Nithsdale district, North Yorks.
4. Appleton Thorn, village in Cheshire (literally Appleton Town)
6. Appleton, a village in the civil parish of Appleton-with-Eaton, Oxfordshire

However as well as known place-names, it is possible that early holders of the surname acquired it because they lived or came from a farm or hamlet where apples were grown. This could account for the early origins of clusters of families located in the south-west (particularly Somerset) and the South East of England. In the 1881 census of England and Wales, there were 5054 individuals carrying the surname Appleby or close variants, 346 carrying the surname Applebee or close variants, and 72 carrying the surname Appelby or close variants.

Gaelic Viking Settlements

In 795, Vikings first began carrying out hit-and-run raids on Gaelic Irish coastal settlements. In the mid 9th century, Viking leader Turgeis or Thorgest founded a stronghold at Dublin, plundered Leinster and Meath, and raided other parts of Ireland. In 837 a fleet of sixty longships sailed up the River Liffey and raided "churches, forts and dwellings", including presumably those at Dublin.

Turgeis was killed by the High King, M·el Sechnaill mac Maele Ruanaid, which was followed by several Irish victories against the Vikings and the seizure of Dublin in 849. Shortly after, a new group of Vikings known as the Dubgaill ("dark foreigners") came to Ireland and clashed with the earlier Viking settlers, now called the Finngaill ("fair foreigners").

In 853 a Viking warlord called Amlaib (Old Norse: Olafr, possibly Olaf the White) arrived and made himself king of Dublin. He ruled along with his brothers imar (ivarr, possibly Ivar the Boneless) and Auisle. For the next fifteen years or so, they used Dublin as their base for a series of campaigns against Irish kingdoms. During these conflicts they briefly allied themselves with several Irish kings. The Dublin Vikings, known as Norse-Gaels, also carried out a number of raids in Britain at this time. These raids, later out of Scandinavia, continued into the 12th century.

The Norse Gaels were a people of mixed Gaelic and Norse ancestry and culture. They emerged in the Viking Age, when Vikings who settled in Ireland and later Scotland adopted Gaelic culture and intermarried with Gaels. The Norse-Gaels dominated much of the Irish Sea and Scottish Sea regions from the 9th to 12th centuries. They founded the Kingdom of Dublin, the Kingdom of the Isles (which included the Hebrides and the Isle of Man), the Lordship of Galloway (which is named after them), and later ruled the Kingdom of York for a time (see Anglo-Saxon Viking settlements  below).

Several Scottish clans have Norse-Gaelic roots, such as Clan MacDonald - son (Mac) of a Donegal); Clan MacDougall (after Dubgall - to screech) mac Somairle, King of the Isles; Clan RuaidhrÌ; Clan Morrison - son of Mhoire (Mary); and Clan MacLeod - son of Leod (n of Olaf the Black, King of Mann and the Isles (r. 1225 -1237). Donegals - (Irish: D™n na nGalls, meaning D™n - closed place; na - of; Gall  foreigners - "fort of the foreigners")



Viking Settlements in Cumbria
In the fifth century, Urien, King of Rheged, was lord of the valley of Lyvennet, a few miles west of Appleby. The settlement that would become known as Appleby-in-Westmorland was part of the Saxon Kingdom of Northumbria, within the independent British kingdom of Cumbria encompassing the northern Lake District. In 875 the kingdom was over-run by Norse-Gaels, under Halfdan. Orm settled at Ormside nearby. By 920, Appleby had become established as a Norse settlement, and became known by that name.

In 945, Cumbria was granted to the King of Scotland by King Edmund of England, following his conquest of all Cumbria. By 1092, King William Rufus of England occupied Cumbria and installed Ivo Taillebois as the first Norman lord of Westmorland. Ivo began building the first motte and bailey castle earthwork of what was to become Appleby Castle in 1092.


Viking stone carvings, Ireby Old chapel, Lake District

Viking Settlements in North Wirral (Liverpool)
The Viking Kingdom of Dublin was plagued by infighting in the later part of the 9th century, and following a devastating defeat to a united force from the kingdoms of Brega and Leinster, the Vikings were finally driven from Dublin in 902. Led by Ingimund, they were granted land in north Wirral (Liverpool), where they first settled near Chester. Other middle-ranking Viking lords settled followers along in the Irish Sea region, in places such as Cumbria, Galloway, Lancashire, and Mann. Wirral is the only place in mainland Britain with documented evidence of Norwegian Viking settlers. Ancient Irish Chronicles report the first peaceful settlements led by the Norseman Ingimund in 902AD, followed by repeated raids on Chester after the peninsula became full of Norse settlers. The Chronicles tell how the English of Chester used elaborate means to keep the Wirral Vikings back, including setting the town's bees onto them! The story of Ingimund represents Wirral's very own ancient Viking Saga.

The area is full of major and minor place names of Scandinavian origin: it has one of the highest densities of '-by' place names in the UK. And in Tranmere ( Trani-melr Cranebirds 'sandban') it has the only English League team with a Norwegian Viking name. Forty generations or so ago Wirral was home to a thriving Scandinavian population with its own language and customs, its own parliament at Thingwall (Ping-vollr: Assembly Field ) and its own seaport at Meols ( Melr:sandbank ) where an impressive array of Viking age finds have been made.

East Anglo-Saxon Viking settlements

From 865 to 869 the Danes made serious assaults on the east of England, culminating in the 'Great Army' attack of 865, bent on conquest, rather than just raiding for booty. As a result, the Deira (an Anglo-Saxon kingdom in Northern England) region of Northumbria became part of the Danelaw. The Danelaw, as recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, is an historical name given to the part of England in which the laws of the Danes held sway and dominated those of the Anglo-Saxons. Danelaw was ruled from York. The Danelaw roughly comprised 15 shires: Leicester, York, Nottingham, Derby, Lincoln, Essex, Cambridge, Suffolk, Norfolk, Northampton, Huntingdon, Bedford, Hertford, Middlesex, and Buckingham.

The 10th-century historian Ethelweard noted that the fleet of the Great Heathen Army arrived in East Anglia "from the north" in 865. Ingware's army is reported to have crossed the Humber the following year and captured York, the capital of Northumbria. In 867 Mercia was invaded but no major engagement took place, as the Mercians sued for peace.

Viking settlements in Brittany, France
Recent discoveries from DNA testing are unlocking the migration patterns of Celtic tribes from Brittany, France, as late as 800 CE to 1200 CE. The Celtic Appleby story begins in pre-history Ireland then moves to Wales where the family can be traced back to their Welsh tribe Cydifor Fawr. An ancestor and many of his kin then moved to Brittany, France during the Dark Ages.






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