Saturday, 28 April 2012

Surname Saturday - VIPONT / VIPOND

Every now and then I come across an uncommon surname and I wonder about it's origins.Then later,when searching indexes or wandering around a graveyard, the surname I thought so rare jumps out at me from the most unexpected places.

Recently I noticed the surname Vipont while visiting the Borders archive in Hawick. Those who follow sport in Scotland will be familiar with the television  broadcaster and 'Adventure Show' host, Dougie Vipond and  those from further afield from his days as the drummer in the pop band 'Deacon Blue'.

Only half a dozen Scottish surnames start with the letter  'V',so where did this unusual name originate and is it Scottish?

Vipont appears to derive from several places in Normandy called Vieupont or Vieuxpont; 'old bridge' and the Norman family that came to Britain hailed from Vipont near Lisieux. The Scottish Viponts are descended from William de Ueupunt who was granted land in Westmorland by William the Lion,c1165-77.Scotland and England were continually in dispute over Cumberland and Westmorland until the Border was legally resolved by the Treaty of York in 1237.

Though not uncommon for nobles from either country to own land in both Scotland and England the paths taken by the Vipont families diverged. The Viponts in England granted land during the Scots short occupancy, became Lords of Appleby and High Sheriffs of Westmorland.Their Scottish cousins held land in Carriden,West Lothian and Loch Leven,Fife. During the 14th century the Scottish Viponts witnessed several charters and in 1296 rendered homage to Edward 1 of England. The sixth baron,Sir William de Vepont was described by the poet Barbour as one of 'two worthy knights' killed on the Scottish side at Bannockburn in 1314. His death led to the families decline. Their Carriden estates passed through the female line to the Cockburn family, progenitors of the Berwickshire family,Cockburn of that ilk.

Never a surname of large numbers, the distribution of Viponts in the 1881 census as expected is found predominantly in north west England. Black commented in 1946 that 'the surname is now almost extinct in Scotland.'
This case illustrates;what is a Scottish surname? Of Norman origin and possibly Norse prior to that,Vipont was carried to both Scotland and England before the creation of the Border as we know it. Both branches went their separate ways, one to flourish, the other decline.With so few left bearing the surname they are surely a candidate for a one name study. You may even be related to a former pop star.

Black,G (1946) The Surnames of Scotland :The New York Public Library.
Thomas,D (2012) Vipond History [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/2012].
Great Britain Family Names. Vipond [online] Available at: [accessed 28/04/12]
The Very Best of Deacon Blue [accessed 28/04/012].