Le Dain

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Origin of Surname

Dain means deer in ancient French, but the name is not found in nearby Normandy, suggesting that there might be other derivations.

Some sources suggest that it is of early medieval English origin, and is from a nickname for a worthy and honourable citizen, probably an Alderman or Burgess of the town. The name is derived from the Middle English (1200 - 1500) "d(e)igne, deyn(e), dain(e)", worthy, fitting, from the Old French "digne", originally from the Latin "dignus".

Flemish barber

However, the following tale related by Le Dain descendants, including Nicolas Jouault, suggests that Jersey's Le Dains are possibly of French origin.

Olivier Neckere-Le Mauvais-Le Dain 1430-1483 was a barber and favourite of Louis XI of France (some details of him are in Victor Hugo's novel Notre Dame). In 1457 he entered the service of the Dauphin Louis who found him on a visit to the small Flemish village. Olivier was made the head barber in 1466, and the following year he married Marguerite Herbelot, daughter of a wealthy Parisienne. Olivier had taken the French translation of his surname, Le Mauvais ('le genie malfaisant des eaux', 'le mauvais esprit'). In 1473 he was made a noble and changed his name to le Dain. From 1473-74 he received from Louis XI the posts of grenier a sel de Neufchatel-en-Bray, capitaine de Meulan and in 1479 grenier a sel de Paris, capitaine de Corbeil, gruyer de la foret de Senart, capitaine de Chinon et du chateau de Loches, gouverneur de Saint Quintin and prevot and mayor of Mantes.

Master of the King's forests was a prestigious position, being capitaine of the bridges brought in a large revenue on dues for navigating these parts of the Seine, which was the exonomic axis of the north of France. In 1477 he was Ambassador to Gent. His mission was very successful and he was promoted to chamberlain and councillor to the King. He had a large entourage of 50-plus, consisting mainly of merchants (28) and members of the clergy (15). Several of his family held prominent posts. In 1475 his brother-in-law Laurent Hervelot temporarily held the post of general controller of the aides in Normandy. Jean de Croisettes was procureur to the King; Pierre Parent, brother-in-law to Laurent, the King's secretary; Jean Gale, brother-in-law, clerk to the King. The King's last words to his son were to seek the advice of Olivier.

Olivier's lieutenant, Daniel Bart, a compatriot, carried out various evil, violent and murderous crimes in his master's name. Daniel was tried and hung at Montfaucon, where Olivier also met his fate after being tried by Parliament after the King's death. Olivier was buried at Saint Laurents les Paris. The Parisiens had the following saying:

Un Flamand et un boulanger Un Hesselin et un barbier On mis le bon cordelier

On the death of Olivier his son fled with what valuables and money he could carry in a small boat to Jersey, where he started a hostel on the site of the present Grand Hotel.

Early names in Jersey

The Extente of 1331 records the name Dain.

  • 1528 - Drouet Le Dain living in Le Douet, St Peter
  • 1550 - Edouard le Dain living in St Peter (Chantry certificate)
  • 1607 - John Le Dain living in Le Douet
  • 1629 - Baptism of Rachel, daughter of Marguerite Le Dain in St Peter
  • 1696 - Thomas and Jean Le Dain signed the Oath of Association in St Peter
  • 1749 - Heritage of Jean Fallu mentions adjoining property of Thomas Le Dain
  • 1781 - Birth of Philippe, son of Philippe Le Dain.

Saut Falluet farm was owned by a Philip Le Dain in the 19th century

Witches

  • Marie (born about 1640), wife of Jean Le Dain, is said to be the last person in the Channel Islands to be executed for sorcery
  • Thomyne Le Dain (born in 1609) was hanged and strangled for witchcraft


Variants

Family records

Le Dain lineages in Jersey

Le Dain baptisms in Jersey

Prominent family members

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