Dewsnap Name History

A bit of name history

from a ‘cousin’  Robert George Dewsnap  who happened upon our web site

I don’t know of any link between my family and the Dan Dewsnap who seized Churchill’s hand “in a grip of crushing vigour” before lowering him down the mine. I’ve got the book, though: “My Early Years”, which can be worth reading whatever yr interests may be. There’s a film of it, in which Dewsnap appears. I once met a South African man, decades ago now, who remarked of my surname, “Yes, we have a water-skiing champion called Dewsnap”. Well, that was all part of the old Brit. Emp., so it’s hardly surprising to find some Dewsnaps there among all the other Brits.

My Dad had an idea that “the Dewsnaps were Flemish weavers, who came over [to England] from Flanders.” The story behind that wd be the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685, which deprived French protestants, the Huguenots, of all religious and civil liberties, so that many fled France and French areas. That cd also be connected with the appearance of Dewsnaps in America in the early 1700s. “Dew” might conceivably be derived from the French “Dieu” meaning “God”, but what a French “snap” might be is beyond me.

“Snap”, however, I once read, means or meant “brook” or “stream”. Now: while translating a book for a Swedish museum, I once happened upon the fact that near the extreme southern coast of Sweden, a couple of hours from where I live, there is a place called Gussnava (gus-snava), (pronounced roughly GOOSE-SNAHvah), which in olden days, Viking times I think, was called “Gudis-snape” (pronounced roughly GOODiss-SNAHpe(h)). “Gud” is “God”, so that would mean “Godsbrook”. There cd be a connection. – This paragraph is just the evening wool-gathering of a linguist, so treat it accordingly! Do such reflections sound strange to an American?

Well, that’s it for today, then, cousin! We can call ourselves that for the moment, even though we’re probably about ninety-nine times removed!


  1. Gillian Reay-Young says:

    My great grand father was Dr William dewsnap and I would love to know more of his family history. I believe his father was also a consultant in London I was always told the Dewsnap family were Hugenots from France and fled to England around 1720

    Liked by 1 person

    1. szterrell says:

      Hi cousin Gillian! I wish I had more info to share but this is the only story I have from “across the pond” and I’m not even sure if they’re related or not – but it was a fun read!


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