We have had some name changes over the past five generations of our nearest
ancestors. The Powyses became Powys-Lybbe, the Busfeilds became Ferrand and the
Browns became Trotter. In fact the only one of my great-grandfathers without a
name change was John Salwey Hallifax, though even the Hallifaxes are said
to have changed their name from Waterhouse around 1700.
The Powys name changes are the more interesting as it took forty-six years
and four generations including the first name change to have the first ancestor to be
born with the name Powys-Lybbe. That first ancestor was my father so my siblings
and I are only the second generation of our line to bear this name from birth.
The genealogy needs to be stated, with each person's birth surname in capitals:
Henry Philip POWYS (1791-1859)
The principal events of the naming and name changes are:
Philip Lybbe POWYS (1818-1897)
William Reginald Lybbe POWYS (1856-1888)
Reginald Cecil Lybbe POWYS (1881-1930)
Antony POWYS-LYBBE (1909-2004)
|1818, 12 June
||Philip Lybbe POWYS born to Henry Philip POWYS
and Julia BARRINGTON at Broomfield House, Southgate, Middlesex.
In the 1861 census, Philip Lybbe POWYS, his wife Annie P POWYS and their
four POWYS children were all living st St Thomas's House near Cowes, Isle
of Wight. (This was an old Barrington property.)
|1862, c. 15 Oct
Philip Lybbe POWYS MP wrote an article (yet to be found) in the Standard,
which brought this letter in response to The Times:
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES
Sir,--Having lately read, in the columns of the Standard, a most savage
and unprovoked attacked upon the masters of Eton College, made by Mr
Philip Lybbe Powys M.P. for Newport, which would seem at first sight to
bring down great discredit upon them, I think it is but right for me,
being, as I am, an Etonian, to repudiate the charges brought against
them, which I consider to be not only unfounded but simply untrue.
What Mr Powys means by saying that the school is in a "pretty fix at
present" it is hard to conceive. The school is at present in a most
flourishing condition and as free from bullying propensities as any
school in the kingdom, its excellent condition is mainly attributable
to the excellent management of the head master and tutors, who have
always most assiduously put a stop to every kind of bullying and
oppression, and I may candidly state that during the six years during
which I have been at Eton there has been but one single case of real
hard bullying, and I need scarcely add that it was most promptly and
severely punished. I happen to be acquainted with the circumstances
of Mr Powys' son's case, and I can safely assert that he was not bullied
at all, and the house in which he was is one of the best conducted in
College. But if he expected to be fondled and pampered at Eton as he
probably was at home, it would have been far better for him had he
remained at home in the nursery, for which he was far more fit that
for a public school.
I am, Sir, yours &c.,
Eton College, Oct 19.
To which Philip Lybbe Powys MP responded on the 23rd October:
Sir, - I have just read the letter signed "Etonensis" in your
journal of to-day. reflecting on a letter of mine which appeared in the
Standard, and request you to insert in your next impression, this the sole
answer I shall give to any correspondents, either with or without names,
on this subject.
The Editor added this note to the foot of the letter:
Had I been pleased I should have given the names of the boys who bullied
my son, and of the tutor from whose house I removed him.
Is striking a boy on his head when lying sick on his bed with measles
bullying or not? Are daily - nay hourly, acts of beating and kicking acts
of bullying or not? For the sake of the boys' parents I refrained from
I can and will prove every iota of my statement before the Royal
Commission, perhaps in the conviction of your correspondent (he might as
well have given his name), who may live in Eton, but I am confident was
never either a Colleger or an Oppidan at Eton,
I am, Sir, yours obediently
PHILIP LYBBE POWYS, M.P.
Bellevue Hotel, Bournemouth, Oct 21.
*** The writer of this silly letter may rest assured that our
correspondent is a gentleman now being educated at Eton College.
And Etoniensis wrote for a second time:
TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES
Sir,--I do not, it is true, board at the same house as did Mr Powys's son,
neither did I see much of him while he was at Eton. I am, however, perfectly
acquainted with the circumstances which led to his removal from the school.
Mr Powys writes,--"Is striking a boy on the head when lying sick on
his bed with measles bullying or not? Are daily and hourly acts of beating
and kicking acts of bullying or not!"
These questions I conceive to be made out of harmless curiosity, so
I will content myself with saying in answer that the actions alluded to can be
classed under the head of bullying, and oppression of a kind to which no
Etonian in my recollection ever had to submit.
If my conception, however, be a false one, and if Mr Powys believes
that his son was hit while ill in bed, and had to suffer hourly beatings and
kickings, he is most grievously mistaken. His son had to put up with no more
rough usage than any other boy in the school. In conclusion, I should be
inclined to think, judging from the style of Mr. Powys's letters, that if he
was ever at Eton himself, either as Colleger or Oppidan, he certainly never got
higher in the school than the fourth form.
Eton College, Oct 23. ETONIENSIS.
Additionally there is some extensive correspondence in The National
Archives at Kew. I obtained a copy of all that concerned PLP and it
was evidence before a Royal Commission on Public Schools and some
correspondence related to that. It was obvious from his words and
writing that he was enormously emotionally charged by the whole
|1863, 18 Feb
||Philip Lybbe POWYS got a Royal Licence (that is,
organised by the London College of Arms and almost certainly signed by
Queen Victoria) to "take and henceforth use the surname of Lybbe
in addition to and after that of Powys”. [This is the wording of
the Royal Licence, from the records in the College of Arms.]
While the wording of the Royal Licence included his issue, neither his
wife, nor his two daughters nor his two sons shared this change.
|1868, 5 Oct
From his death certificate "Philip Barrington Lybbe POWYS" died at St
Thomas', East Cowes, Isle of Wight, aged 20 and with the occupation of
"son of Philip Lybbe POWYS Landed Proprietor".
In the 1871 national census:
Philip P LYBBE, Head of household, was at Brighton in a hotel with Fanny
Annie POWYS, Wife, (no Head of her household) was at Clifton, Bristol
with her daughters Julia and Elinor
William R L POWYS was down as Reginald Powys, aged 14 and at Twyford School, Berks (with thanks to Louise Staley for finding him).
Amy and Mabel LYBBE were at 47 Tregunter Road with a nurse, etc, and no
head of household.
|1875, 21 July
||William Reginald Lybbe POWYS married Christine
HAYWOOD; he was under age. The register gives his father’s name as
"Philip POWYS (deceased)". (Christine died in 1879 in Boulogne.)
|1880, 25 Sept
||William Reginald Lybbe POWYS married Sarah Ann
BARTHOLMEW in Boulogne. This time the register has his father as Philip
Lybbe POWYS-LYBBE and with no mention of deceased. William's sister
signed the register as Edith Mary POWYS.
|1881, 12 Aug
||Reginald Cecil Lybbe POWYS born in Boulogne.
|1882, 24 July
||William Reginald Lybbe POWYS has a notice posted
in The Times to announce his change of name to POWYS-LYBBE. The notice was a
record of a fairly standard Deed Poll change dated the 21st July 1882.
|1882, 27 Sept
||William Reginald Lybbe POWYS-LYBBE’s daughter
Olga Mary is born, the first person ever to be born with the surname of
POWYS-LYBBE. This is announced in The Times and her baptism
registered at Wallingford with her surname as POWYS-LYBBE. Two further sons
were born after this with the name of POWYS-LYBBE, the elder of whom, Richard,
was the first male ever with this birth surname.
|1883, 20 Sept
||Julia Elinor Powys has her marriage notice in The
Times in which she is described as "Julia Elinor Powys, eldest daughter of
Philip Lybbe Powys Lybbe, Esq., of Hardwick, Oxon".
In the 1901 national census:
Annie P POWYS, widow and Head of household, was living in Hove with her
grand-daughter Edith Hill.
Reginald C L POWYS-LYBBE was a Pupil at Cirencester Agricultural College.
Fanny LYBBE, widow and Head of household, was living in London with her
unmarried daughters Amy and Helen.
|1902, 2 Sept
||Reginald Cecil Lybbe POWYS has a notice posted in
The Times to announce his change of name to POWYS-LYBBE. Again this was a
fairly standard notice of a Deed Poll change dated 23rd August 1902. He was
21 years, one week and six days old at that time.
|1904, 4 Oct
||The mother of William Reginald Lybbe POWYS-LYBBE,
Ann Phyllis POWYS, wrote her last will, using this name.
|1907, 12 Apr
||Reginald Cecil Lybbe POWYS-LYBBE obtains a Royal
Licence signed by Edward VII that “he and his issue and the other
issue of his father William Reginald Lybbe POWYS-LYBBE may bear the Arms
of Lybbe quarterly with those of his and their own family”.
|1908, 12 May
||Reginald Cecil Lybbe POWYS-LYBBE married Lilian
Frances Gillett TROTTER.
|1909, 29 June
||Antony POWYS-LYBBE born and so registered at
Those are the bare facts. Let's have a look behind the scenes.
Philip Lybbe POWYS became estranged from his wife and they completely
separated. She kept the children with her, confirmed by the 1871 census
and by the fact that they all retained the name of Powys. What I do not
know is when they separated. My grandfather wrote that this was in 1869,
and he thought the Royal Licence to change his name was obtained in the
same year; but in fact the Royal Licence was obtained in 1863 and the
clue to the date is that Philip Lybbe POWYS' family, wife and children,
did not share in that change. So the separation must be dated before
Philip Lybbe POWYS was elected MP for Newport, Isle of Wight in 1861
according to my grandfather but 1859 from other records. In the 1861
census the whole family was living at St James, East Cowes, Isle of Wight.
This seems to place the separation sometime between 1861 and 1862.
I have a curious pair of letters between Philip Lybbe POWYS and Talbots,
timber merchants of Caversham, Reading. From the few examples of his
handwriting they have to be copies made by Philip Lybbe POWYS. The first
letter is dated the 1st January 1870, on paper headed Holly Copse, which
was a cottage on the Hardwick estate; the second was dated the 10th January
1870 on headed paper of 47 Tregunter Road, S.W. where he lived with his
second family. Was he living on his own at Holly Copse? He signed one
of these letters "PLPLybbe" and was addressed similarly.
In 1879 Philip's only surviving son William married for the second time
with the name POWYS; both the church and the civil ceremonies have this
clearly recorded. William's eldest son Reginald, my grandfather, was
born with the name POWYS. If there had been any contact between William
and his father Philip, I would think he would have adopted his father's
name change. That William recorded his father as deceased at his first
marriage to Christine Haywood was, I am sure, to get round the need to
approach him to get his, Philip's, permission to marry as he, William,
was under age.
In 1882 William changed his name to Powys-Lybbe and his other three
children were born with that name. From a codicil to his will written
about that time, it is evident that he had had some rapprochement with
his father which also led to William receiving the principal family
properties in two trusts. I think this 1882 name change was part of
However in 1883 Julia Powys pointedly announced her marriage (or her new
in-laws did this) with that name and referring to her father as "Powys
Lybbe", both legally correct. She did not follow her younger brother's
example by changing her name.
This left my grandfather, Reginald Cecil Lybbe POWYS, still with the
name POWYS. From the 1891 and 1901 census he was commonly known as
POWYS-LYBBE, but it is obvious from his own 1902 name change, that he
thought he was still formally POWYS. Perhaps it was thought that a
minor, under the age of 21, could not have his name changed by his
father? If so, this is curious as my other grandfather, Guy Ferrand
FERRAND does not seem to have undergone the same process after his
father changed his name in 1890 from Busfeild.
But the more interesting question is why we had this name change in
the first place. I am drawn ineluctably to the conclusion that Philip
Lybbe POWYS had some crisis in his life which caused the name change.
It could have been his relationship with his wife Annie, but I am not
sure of this: there is every sign that she was both devoted to him
and, even, heartbroken at the separation. Further by the 1901 census
she was living in the same town in which Philip had been living until
his death four years previously. From the poignant letter to the Times
and the fierce response by the Editor, my strong suspicion is that
Philip found the latter and other opprobrium too hard to bear. One
may wonder why he showed an ignorance of the bullying that was rife
at all schools in those times and which he must have experienced in
his time at Eton. He would have known that you just don't complain
in public about that sort of thing, for fear of being thought a 'wet'.
To this I would factor in the letters that he and Annie wrote to his
half-brother Edward, an army officer in England and later India
where he died. Those letters have, remarkably, survived (but not
the ones from Edward) and they show an strong affectionate
relationship between Philip and Annie and that both were devoted to
their children. It is in this light that the bullying at Eton might
be seen; he would have defended his children to the death, almost.
And he must have been crestfallen to have found that others did not
share his attitudes.
[Discovered in November 2011] A confirmation of his taut state of mind can be seen in the case
where had to pay damamges for assaulting a tenant. Be aware that
this file is rather large at 369 Kbytes.
Philip almost certainly left Annie in 1862. Quite how and when he
set up home with Fanny Worth we do not know but by 1870 he has set
up house with her in Tregunter Road, W London. Philip and Fanny's
first child Amy was born, from the census, around 1865 and Mabel
the following year with Helen around 1872. In 1869 Philip had
printed a pair of books "The First and Second of October" about a
shooting party based on Holly Copse and "The Lay of the Sheriff"
about hotel life while on judge's circuits (I think). Both books
are rather indulgent, dreaming of good old times with good old
friends who have no serious disputations. He ended both dedication
PHILIPPUS LYBBE POWYS LYBBE
(Of the house and manor of Hardwick, bearer of a coat of arms)
DE DOMO ET MANORIO DE HARDWICK,
He was not living at Hardwick, I don't think he ever did in his
adult life. My view is that this indulgence is all part of trying
to put behind him the trauma of the events, by then seven years
previously, surrounding his son Philip's departure from Eton.
What of Annie's involvement in this? She also would have been
horrified to have found that her eldest surviving son was being
bullied at Eton. My over-active imagination has her insisting to
her husband that he takes firm action to deal with this. He did
so and it was fatal to their relationship as he ended up in a
situation he could not handle and, possibly, into which Annie had
encouraged him. Though he should have known better than to
In all, then, a tragedy of broken relationships and lack of parents
that perhaps lingered on to affect at least the next three generations.
That said, Philip Powys did not just add LYBBE to his surname of POWYS.
In all references to him subsequently, he was clearly known as Mr Lybbe
and as such is referred to by his Australian descendants.
Significantly in the Owners of Land Returns of 1873 all his holdings
are down for "P L P LYBBE"; similarly the Post Office directories of
London house owners of that time. His will and the 1881 census give further
details. Perhaps he wished to dissociate himself totally from his previous
life, his wife and all his acquaintances and showed this by completely
dropping all public use of his original surname of POWYS? Interestingly
Annie's death certificate has a note on it to say "Husband took name of
Lybbe after marriage[.] Wife living separate not been known by that name."
Having said all the above, I have recently been fascinated by a letter in
the Times (of London) on Monday 12th February 2007:
You feature high junks in the Eton schoolyard (picture, Feb 9), but I
would lay money this was a pale imitation of snowball fights in bygone
This is a diary entry for Melville Lawford at Eton in February 1843:
"Saturday 18th. A regular one. It was all up in pupil room. After twelve
I learned my Greek testament.
"In the afternoon we had battles with the Tugs with snow-balls. We drove
them up town, but broke so many shop windows that we came down again, and
then fought in the school yard. I received several cuts but gave as good
as I got.
"Tarver major, who fought the best of all the collegers, had his eyes so
knocked about that he is perfectly blind and was obliged to be led home
by one of the college servants. Several others, collegers and oppidans,
have black eyes and swelled noses."
The day finished with prayers.
The date of this event would have been perhaps six years after PLPL left
Eton and twenty years before his son PBLP went there.
The Busfeild and Trotter name changes were both tame by comparison.
In both cases they were the result of "names and arms" clauses in wills
by which they were left the property of some relative. In order to accept
the properties they had to change both their name and their arms. In the
Trotter case the change was for my great-great-grandfather in 1868, but
his second son, my great-grandfather seems to have adopted the change
uncomplainingly when aged 24. And in the case of the Ferrands it was my
great-grandfather who changed his name in 1890 on inheriting what had been
the Ferrand estates from his uncle, his father's elder brother, who also
had to change his name from Busfeild to Ferrand. My grandfather, also a
second son, was only 9 at that time.
February 2002: I have now received from the College of Arms
transcripts of the three name-change Royal Licences. The Trotter one was
for William Brown and his wife Mary Elizabeth Brown to change their name
to Trotter and that such surname "may in the like manner be borne and
used by the issue". The Ferrand one prays that "he and his issue may
take and use the surname of Ferrand only in lieu and in substitution of
that of Busfeild". The Powys Lybbe one is headed "Powys to Lybbe" and
prays that "he and his issue may take and henceforth use the surname of
Lybbe in addition to and after that of Powys".
These Licences changed the surnames of all the members of each of these
families; but with the Powyses the members of the family did not make
Their texts are now available.
originated c. 2001;
last revised Oct 2012