Comber (valley) of Comberbach Bach (stream) at ComberbachCumberbatch is a modern variant of the surname Comberbach which means "dwellers in a valley with a stream". It was inherited from a village called Comberbach in Cheshire, England and this topographical description is an accurate description of the place.

Read about the origin of the surname Cumberbatch. By Bob Cumberbatch

CUMBERBATCH English: habitation name from Comberbach in north Cheshire, so called from the Old English personal name Cumbra (originally a by name meaning "Cumbrian") or the genitive plural of Cumbre "Britons" plus Old English bæce [meaning] stream. Variants: Cumberpatch

[Source: A Dictionary of Surnames by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges]

This may have been influenced by:

'Valley or stream of the Britons', v. Cumbre (gen. pl. Cumbra), bece1, bæce1, but [E Ekwall] observes that the first element could be the OE [Old English] personal name Cumbra ('Welshman'). The village stands in a hollow beside a small brook running into Budworth Mere.

[Source: E Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 4th ed., Oxford 1960]

This definition would suggest that Comberbach means "Cumbra's stream" or "stream of the Britons". Neither of which I agree with. The definition of the first compound 'Comber' is what I dispute, as this would suggest that Cumberland, Combermere etc were all named after a 'Cumbra'.

However, this same dictionary suggests:

COOMBE English: habitation name from any of various places named with Old English cumb (apparently of Celtic origin) denoting a short, straight valley, or else a topographic name from Middle English combe used independently in the same sense. There are a large number of places in England, mostly spelled Combe, named with this word. The variants in -e for the most part derive from the Old English dative case, those in -(e)s from the genitive. Variants: Co(u)mbe, Coom, Co(o)mb(e)s, Co(o)mber (see also Camber)

So the initial compound of Comber is defined as Comberbach using a historic and perhaps romantic surname origin meaning whilst I believe that it is related to a topographical description of Comber relating to Coombe meaning a valley. See "Coombe Martin" - a valley leading to the sea in North Devon, England.

Cumberbatch Variant Spellings

COMBERBACH - the most ancient form based on the village in Cheshire.
CUMBERBATCH - the modern and most frequently occuring spelling.
CUMBERPATCH - a spelling most often found in the Northampton area of England.
CUMBERBIRCH - another spelling.

Cumberbatch Possible Variant Spellings


Here I should remark that one of my reasons for considering the names Comberbach and Cumberlege identical is the similarity of the arms. John Cumberlege, was a subscriber to Plot's Natural history of Staffordshire, and his arms figure on the folding title to that work, viz. Barry of six ermine and sable, on a canton or a fleur-de-lis gules. The Rev. S. F. Cumberlege, who claims to be of the same family, now bears this coat, and for his crest, a fleur-de-lis between two feathers, with a motto, Vouloir ce que Dieu veut.

[Source: Collections for a Genealogical Account of the Family of Comberbach by George William Marshall, 1866]

George William Marshall considered the similarity of the arms as sufficient reason to consider the surname spellings as variants and thus related. I have my doubts, however the surname origins plotted on a map of England have very high densities which are geographically very close together. Certainly too close to exclude them as possible variants.