Dorey notes from a present-day Normandy genealogist

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Dorey notes from a
Normandy genealogist

Gilbert Dorey, of Normandy, who has carried out considerable research into the origins of his family, has sent the following notes (translated here from the French)

Common Normandy surname

Dorey is a name found very frequently in Normandy and can have several origins throughout France. The explanations of Dauzat et Morlet (experts on the origins of French surnames) are doubtless valid for many regions, but for the Cotentin and the Channel Islands the origin is without doubt different.

In the Cotentin can be found old documents with Dorey and very many variants. There has been modernisation in recent times. Some parishes recorded systematically Dorée, others Dorel or Doret, others Dorey. Apparently Dorel and Doret became interchangeable because frequently the name changed from Dorel to Doret or the reverse from father to son (Fermainville and Maupertus-sur-mer). In Montebourg Doree divided and although the Dorez branch remains to this day, the original has disappeared. In ancient times Doree was predominant around Saint Lo.

Dorey, found at Montaigu-la-Brisette, Saint-Germain-de-Tournebut and Crasville since the 13th century, must have a special justification for the final 'y'. It is also the form I see in Jersey and Guernsey. It sometimes disappeared when someone married in a distant parish. The holder and the priest creating the record were not sufficiently educated to distinguish between Dorey and Doré. Mass immigration from the countryside to Cherbourg to work in the port around 1800 led to virtually all the Dorel, Doret, Dorée or Doré being recorded as Dorey, which was the most up-to-date, and these names stuck. The only Doré now in the Contentin arrived recently from further afield.

The source of the 'y'

Several researchers have tried to identify the source of the 'y'. Did it come from long back with the names of Vikings and Saxons and Celts? This would be true of England which has Doreys who do not come from Jersey and Guernsey.

I will not go into detail. A Viking or Saxon root could involve 'door', but 'dor' would be water in Celtic languages and numerous places have this element in their name and people from such places would be given this surname.

This 'y' at the end of a name or in the middle is problematic. One finds Symon or Simon as forename and surname, as well as Liot and Lyot or Pain and Payn, which change from father to son in parish registers. Does the name Payn come from 'pain' (bread) or païen?

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