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The Origins of the surname Hidden

The surname Hidden is unusual not only because it is rare, but also because its main origin can be traced to a specific place. This place is the manor and one time hamlet of Hidden near Hungerford, Berkshire. The site of the manor house is still known as Great Hidden Farm.
The majority of the bearers of the name today are descended from ancestors who lived in the neighbourhood of Hungerford. An exception is possible in Lancashire where the name may have originated as a variant spelling of one of the old established Lancashire names of Iddon or Eden. Also any Hiddens descended from forbears in Continental Europe are likely to have a different origin for their surname.

The approximate date at which the Hidden surname originated is also known. This is between about 1450 and 1500 A.D. and compared with most other surnames this is quite a late date of origin. The date can be established because the early Hiddens were nearly always known as Hidden alias Clydesdale. The use of an alias by Berkshire families in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries is not uncommon and is usually assumed to result from a marriage between members of the two families. In the case of the Hidden/Clydesdale alias however, it was almost certainly due to the wish of the Clydesdale family to be associated with the manor of Hidden.

Apart from a very few instances which apparently relate to isolated individuals there are no references in Berkshire or Wiltshire to any members of a family having the name Hidden before the time of John Hidden alias Clydesdale (c1480-1549). There are however references in the area to Clydesdale family members before that date. It is probable that the above John was the son of another John Clydesdale who was leasee of an adjacent manor. It is certain that the younger John acquired the lease of the manor of Hidden from the Priory of St. Frideswide in Oxford. With the dissolution of the monasteries taking place during his lifetime the younger John would no doubt wish to use every means possible to emphasise his right to occupy the manor and pass it on to his children as their inheritance. It was for this reason and because he was a significant figure in the local community, acting as lord of the manor of Hidden after the Dissolution, that he was willing and able to add the name Hidden to his own name of Clydesdale.

The place name Hidden is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It is said to said to derive from the Old English hyþ-denu meaning 'a valley with a landing place'
There are references to Hyddene in 984 A.D. (Codex diplomaticus aevi Saxonici); Hyddene in 1050 A.D. (Earle J. A handbook to the land charters etc); Huddon c.1170 A.D. (Cartulary of the Monastery of St. Frideswide); Huddon in 1242 A.D. (The Book of Fees)


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Copyright © 1998, Nick Hidden [Last revised 22 Oct 1998]