History: Origins

Origins of the name Dashper:

Duzepers (dyssypres 1503, duchpers 1400) meaning twelve equals or twelve peers, from which the name Dashper derives.

The reference is to the twelve peers or paladins of King Charlemagne, said to be attached to his person as being the bravest of his knights. Later, the term was applied to other illustrious nobles or knights (1330 Middle English Dictionary) and the singular was formed some 200 years before the earliest example in the Middle English Dictionary.

Henry Duzepers (1203)

Alb (e) ricus Duzepers, Dizeper (1221)

William Duzeper (1279)

Roger Dozeper (1293)

(Ref: "A Dictionary of British Surnames" P.H.Reaney: published by Routledge and Kegan Paul)

Douzepeers: Fr. The twelve peers or paladins of Charlemagne said to be his greatest and bravest knights, attendant upon the emperor’s person.

Peer: Generally a class-descriptive term applied to those of baronial House of Lords. Over time, the word has come to describe the members of the ‘greater nobility’ who ruled over the general knightly classes.

Paladin: One of Charlemagne’s twelve peers, and by a similar description King Arthur’s knights of the Round Table. The word has been extended to be applied to any medieval champion or knight of distinctive virtue.

Knight: The formal title of knight, the word deriving from the Anglo-Saxon Cniht, that described the office arising out of the warrior of the 11th century into a class of the lower nobility charged with fighting for the liege lord and maintaining lordship over the demense, managing it and defending the people in exchange for scutage from the property that supported him. Originally a purely martial description from the Latin miles, the definition of what it meant to be a knight changed as the influences of an increasingly formal court and activist church added expectations to the behavior of real knights. Throughout the medieval period, the role of the knight was changing, stretched between the conflicting demands of lady, court, church and battlefield. But the ideal of chivalry, the virtues to which a knight was to aspire, remain a powerful evocation of the best of Western culture, and this power remains today, giving strength to the modern tournament societies and the knights who today strive to hone their martial skills and practice ethical conduct.

Emperor: Title of the sovereigns of the Holy Roman Empire, adopted from the old Roman imperator, meaning the power of the sword. The title was reincarnated under Charlemagne for the use by the inheritors of his empire. In the medieval context the person who would act as emperor would be elected, unable to use the title until they were anointed in the coronation ceremony.

(Ref: http://www.chronique.com )

Surnames of members of the twelve peers surrounding King Charlemagne:


The words douze pairs were anglicized in a variety of forms ranging from douzepers to dosepers. The word even occurred as a singular in the metrical romance of Octavian "Ferst they sent out a doseper." At the beginning of the 13th century there existed a cour des pairs which exercised judicial functions and dated possibly to the 11th century, but their prerogatives at the beginning of the 14th century appear to have been mainly ceremonial and decorative. In 1257 the twelve peers were the chiefs of the great feudal provinces, the dukes of Normandy, Burgundy and Aquitaine, the counts of Toulouse, Champagne and Flanders, and six spiritual peers, the archbishop of Reims, the bishops of Laon, Chalons-sur-Marne, Beauvais, Langres and Noyon. (See Du Cange, Glossarium, s.v.) http://members.nbci.com/Rushistory/milhis/charenc.htm

Extract from : "The Ancient Arms of Dashper" 

(commissioned research from Swyrich Corporation 2002)

"Of  Norman origin, the history of this family name entwines itself throughout the fabric of the ancient chronicals of England. Examination of ancient manuscript reproductions such as the Domesday Book (compiled in 1086 by William the Conqueror), the Ragman Rolls, the Wace poem, the Honour Roll of the Battel Abbey, The Curia Regis, Pipe Rolls, the Falaise Roll,  tax records, baptismals, family genealogies, and local parish and church records, reveals the first record of the name Dashper was found in London where they were seated from very early times and were granted lands by Duke William of Normandy, their leige Lord, for their distinguished assistance in the Battle of Hastings in 1066 A.D.

Throughout the ages, the name Dashper occured in many references with different spellings, Dashe, Dashpar, Daishper, and these changes in spelling occurred even between father and son. Three major events of a person's life, birth, marriage and death were recorded. Frequently, all were different, all three spellings relating to the same person.

The surname Dashper is believed to be of Norman origin,  a race commonly but mistakenly assumed to be of French origin. More accurately they were of Viking origin. The Vikings landed in the Orkneys and Northern Scotland about the year 870 A.D., under their King, Stirgud the Stout. Thorfinn Rollo, his descendant, scion of a Viking explorer clans who may well have visited North America, landed in Northern France  about the year 911 A.D.   The French King Charles the Simple, after Rollo laid siege to Paris, finally conceeded defeat and granted Northern France to Rollo. Rollo became the first Duke of Normandy, the territory of the North Men. Rollo married Charles' daughter and became a convert to Christianity. Descended from Rollo was Duke William of Normandy who invaded England in 1066 and was victorious over the Saxons King Harold at Hastings in 1066 A.D.

William granted his Norman nobles much of the land of England for their assistance in the Battle of Hastings. Those estates which were still held by these families in 1986 were granted in perpetuity, forever,  hence the name of the census was called the Domesday Book. From amongst these Normans a noble is believed to have been a distant Dashper ancestor."

"The first evidence of the Dashper surname was found in London where they were recorded as a family of great antiquity seated with manor and estates in that shire. They were originally from D'Assche in Normandy and one of the first on record was Roger de Dashpar who was recorded in the Rotunda Oblitus et Finibus about 1200, and also under the Court of Hastings at the time of King John. They established estates in London, in Crooked Lane and became prominant businessmen of that city. Notable amongst the family at this time was  Joseph Dash of Crooked Lane.

During the 15th, 16th, and 17th century, England, Scotland, and Ireland were ravaged by religious and political conflicts as first one element, then another, fought for control. This created the unrest that was to produce a great exodus, either voluntarily, of by banishment, as first one side acquired control, then another. The tyranny assumed the proportions of an inquisition and many innocent men were either banished to the colonies, imprisoned, or hanged, drawn and quartered. Alliances were crucial to survival. Arranged marriages assured families of protection, added to their possessions and estates, and gained them influence in the right quarter. Some family names were almost obliterated - - - electing loyalty to the wrong side could cause disasterous results to the future of a whole family name.

Manipulation of families known to be loyal to the cause in power was the only way to national survival, there being no standing army.

Subjugation of Ireland became the objective of a succession of monarchs. Many families were freely "encouraged" to migrate to Ireland or to the "colonies". Lands were granted free, or at nominal payments. Some families were rewarded with grants of land, others were banished.

In Ireland, settlers became known as the "Adventurers for Land". One of the conditions of settlement they undertook was to maintain the Protestant faith within their families and amongst all those who worked for them. There is no evidence that the family name migrated to Ireland, but that does not preclude the possibility of their scattered migration to that country.

But the New World beckoned and migration continued, some went voluntarily from Ireland, but most directly from England or Scotland, their home teritories. Some clans  and families even moved to the European continent.

Kinsmen of the family name Dashper were amongst the many who sailed aboard the amada of small sailing ships, tiny vessels known as the "White Sails" which plied the stormy Atlantic during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. These overcrowded ships were pestilance ridden, sometimes 30% to 40% of the passengers never reaching their destination, were buried at sea.

Amongst the settlers which could be considered a kinsman of the surname Dashper, or a variable spelling of that family name, was Richard Dashpar who settled in Virginia in 1622; John Dash settled in Virginia in 1774;  another John Dashper arrived in South Carolina; Joseph Dash arrived in San Francisco in 1852. The trek from the port of entry was also hazardous and many joined the wagon trains to the prairies or over the Rockies to the west coast. The War of Independance found many loyal to the crown making their way north to Canada about 1790.  They became known as the United Empire Loyalists."

The Making of a Knight (page 38) William Durand
Excerpted from J. Miller's Chaucer: Sources and Background, William Durand's Pontifical, c. 1295, takes us step by step through the format of a knighting ceremony.

" Blessing of the sword: Grant, we pray, O Lord, our prayers, and see fit to bless with the hand of your majesty this sword with which your servant desires to be girt, to the end that he may be a defender of the Church, of widows, of orphans, and of all the servants of God, against the cruelty of Pagans, and that he may be the terror and dread of his other enemies, ensuring for him the performance of equitable prosecution and just defense. Response: Amen."

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Last revised: January 07, 2005