Although the use of family names originated in China, it was about the time of the Dark Ages that their use came to Europe. Initially family names were used by the landed gentry before coming into use with the lower classes. Often these classes used their daily occupation in forming their name. This was the case with the name Runcie and it is believed that the original name was French, being derived from Rouncy meaning keeper of horses.
At one time it may have been introduced into England by the Normans but it appears that this line died out, or returned to France There have been various spellings of the name Runcie namely Runcy, Runsy Runsey, Runcey and many others. The family name is also linked with the name Runciman.
It would appear that all the existing Runcie families worldwide originated in the North East coast of Scotland in the Banffshire region, especially around the fishing village of Cullen, or the nearby villages of Fordyce and Deskford. Mention of a William Runcie is made in the Annals of Cullen 1613. The original Runcies in that area worked as fisherman. It is thought that they may have been sailors from a French ship which foundered and sank of the coast at Cullen. For more details on Cullen and Fordyce click here.
An early instance of the name Rouncy can be found in the Burke’s Peerage 1896, “Laurence Rouncy Oxfordshire 1276”. This is also where there is reference to the armorial bearings attributed to the name Runcie, having as a motto ‘By Sea ’ with the crest being ‘ a Seahorse erect Or, holding in the fore fins a Thistle leaved’ shown on our home page.
Notes on the Name
French metonymic occupational name for someone in charge of horses used as pack animals rather than for riding.
Roncin workhorse of obscure etymology. The word also developed the meaning drudge and so may have also been a nickname for a hard pressed servant Rouncy ‘ Rouncy nag’ Runcieman Runchman 1676 Bardsley ‘ Man in charge of the Rounces (Dict of British Surnames P.H. Reamey).
Variations of the Name
- Variation Ronsin Dictionary of British Surnames P.Hanks F Hodges (Oxford Press)
- Other variations including Runcie, Runcy, Runcey, Runsey, Ronsin - Runchman, Runcieman, Runciman
- Roger Laurence Rouncy Eynsham 1276
- Runcie Runcy oldest long standing name in Cullen (New Statistical Accounts of Banffshire Page 331)
- Alex Runcie in Briach Aberdeenshire 1786 Aberdeen (Surnames of Scotland Black New York Public Library)