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On the slope to the left, ancient Mankinholes, Yorkshire


At first glance, one might think "Mankin" means either "a kin to man" or that it is a diminutive form of man in the same way that "lambkin" means a little lamb. This would be the case if the origin of the word were Dutch as in "manikin," or french "mannequin," but it has been stated in excellent sources on the etymology of names that "mankin" comes from Celtic origin. The "kin" actually means "leader or head" and in the combined form "man-kin" "means head of a group" or "headman." In the Oxford Old English Dictionary (OOED), where the first known uses of the word are recorded, a "mankin" was a "fierce wild man." In heraldry a "mankin" is always shown as a forest being with a crown of leaves and a wild-eyed expression. As cited in the OOED in Sleq.Inf.Chr.(Ld)57 written in the year about 1300 AD, it talks about "Mankin Beasts" coming out of woods and field: "Ne hadden huy nout ful longue i fare yat huy ne seien wondres yare; ye Bestes Mankene and eke wilde Comen out of wodes and of felde."

There is in Yorkshire a placename, "Mankinholes," which identifies an area of caverns not uncommon in the Pennine hills of that region, where "mankin holes" appear to have been made or inhabited by mankins now gone, and leaving deep pits or openings descending to connected caverns in the ground. "Mankin holes" are often quite deep, such as the well-known, "Witches Cave" which is many hundreds of feet in depth. In other sources, the Celtic meaning is that "mankinholes" are defined as air pockets in bread, giving one the impression or superstition that something or someone was living there. Mankinholes in Yorkshire is related to that superstition.
The surname "Mankin" is found in parish records of this West Riding area of Yorkshire in the township of Langfield, and parish of Halifax where we shall later examine in detail in search of our English or Scottish roots. Yorkshire borders Scotland, and Mankin (Manchan)is a typical Scottish surname in form, as in Rankin, Hankin, etc. Coupled with the fact that the Mankin clan is found arriving in America with the extended family of the Lords of Baltimore who became great barons in Yorkshire, settling in their American colony, and shipping Scottish prisoners captured there in the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion, one can easily assume that Yorkshire is a likely place of origin of the Port Tobacco branch of Mankin in America. Most likely, "Mankinholes" (also written "Mancknowles" in Lancashire) was shortened to "Mankin".

Variations in spelling range from Manken, Mankyn, Mankins, and other possible origins of the name could indicate derivation from the Irish Mangin, Moneghan and the Scottish religious name Manchan, the latter a Celtic reference to the 9th century St. Manchan whose golden reliquary of bones are in Offaly, Ireland.

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12th Century A.D.
St. Manchan's Reliquary
Offally, Ireland

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Last updated 12 November 2005