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Immigration and Emigration
Your Story: The CHIN / CHING Name, and persons in Cornwall

The name is written CHIN as baptisms, marriages and burials are recorded in St. Keverne Parish registers until about 1800. When a Richard Ching marries there in 1798 he signs his name CHING while on the same entry form the clerk, or the Incumbent minister, records the name as CHIN. CHING is used consistently in St. Keverne from 1800 as it has been by Richard’s descendants in New Zealand. Mr Douch, curator of the Royal Institution of Cornwall wrote:

“CHING is a north of Cornwall name, particularly from the parish of Kilkampton. From the late seventeenth century a spattering of CHING’s were in the west of the county, especially in the parish of Phillack”

A dictionary of surnames claims CHINN/SHINN as from Anglo Saxon CYNG equaling ‘royal’ in meaning. This dictionary author cites Alwine se Cyng (1050-1071 as mentioned in Robert of Gloucester’s Chronicle. (A Londoner named Ching about to settle in Australia in the 1930 period changed his surname, probably without knowing the linguistic link, to King, to avoid the oriental connotation at that time when Australia had a strong ‘whites only’ immigration policy)

Another reference, given by Ekwall (1974) in his Early London Personal Names, records a Wilfric CHING there about 1130. The Cornish Lay Subsidy Rolls of 1524 and 1545 use the spelling CHYNG and were probably Mr. Douch’s reference source or prove him correct. Men with the forenames Nicholas, Thomas, Roger and Richard lived then in the northern Cornish parishes of Morwenstow, Kilkampton, Stratton and Tamerton. These Subsidy Rolls list the names of tax-payer debtors to the Crown over sixteen years of age with income from land or taxable goods of two pounds per year, also those whose annual wage was one pound or more. No Ching or variant surname is on any 1530 Duchy of Cornwall Muster Roll.

The name is well represented, again in the northern parishes of Cornwall, on Protestation Rolls of 1641 (as by TL Stoate). Only four parishes are believed to be missing from these Rolls. In the lists are CHIN/CHYNG/CHING males – Richard, Roger, Nicholas, Francis, Emanuell, William and several named John. There are also Cheren, Theophilus, Phillip, Thomas, Samuel, Anthonie and Abraham who are living in Kilkampton, Stratton, Poundstock and Morwenstow parishes. The Protestation Roll parish geographically nearest to St. Keverne is Mevagissy on the Channel coast where Roger and Nicholas CHING are listed.

Covering records of the next decade Stoate has edited Cornwall Hearth and Poll Tax lists 1660-64. In these same northern parishes we find Pascho CHINS; Mary CHING; Cesar CHINGE with Grace, John, Abraham and Rebeccah. On the Channel coast at Mevagissey and at St. Mewan are Nicholas CHINGE, assessed on three hearths and paying 2/- poll tax 1660, and Elies Katerin paying 1/-.

Other references Contrary to popular belief the name ‘CHING’ is not Chinese. In Chinese culture there are only 100 original family names and CHING is not one of them. The CHING, or more properly Q’IN, Dynasty was not Chinese but Manchurian and therefore a foreign occupying power hated by the indigenous HAN people.

One explanation of the name is that it was a local expression ‘at the chine’ for residence thereby. A chine was a crevice or chasm such as Blackgang Chine or Shanklin Chine. Variants exist such as CHYNE, CHYNNE, CHINNE or CHIN. Another origin of the name is supposed to be someone with a long chin or sharp beard.

The earliest reference to the name is of Henry de CHINE in Cambridgeshire in 1273, which is found in the Hundred Rolls of 1277.

Words: Kevin & Tracy Ching

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Your comments

1 Jan Deney from Tacoma, Washington., USA - 26 December 2003
"MY family descends as follows: Philip Ching (m) ? Elizabeth ? Michael Chin (m) Alice Keverne John Chinn (m) Lilly Jane Glasson Elizabeth Dewey Chinn (m) Richard Langdon "

"Michael Chin(n)(g) born 17 March 1839 Manaccan Cornwall England found on 1871 Camborne Cornwall Eng Dist 13 Sch 010 "

"John Henry Chinn born 11May 1862 Stennack, Camborne, Cornwall Eng - immigration to the US 1881. died 10 Aug 1918. On Census 25 Jun 1900 & 2nd May 1910 of Jackson Amador California "

"I had the census of Philip & His family in Cornwall but can't locate at this moment. "

"Am very curious what family of Chin's/Chings he came from. Any other leads would be helpful. "

"Many thanks "




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