USBORNES in the dark ages (400AD to 1066AD)
Having established that the
pre-fix os- (or us-) indicates Norman and therefore Scandinavian origin, history
throws up counter arguments. It has to be remember that continuous migration
means the pool of names has been stirred up across national boundaries over the
centuries. The Normans, the Saxons and the Vikings all had common roots in
Scandinavia and northern Germany.
According to the Saxon Chronicles, in the year 617, Aethlefrith, king of Northumbria was slain by Raedwald, king of East Anglia. Aethlefrith's sons were driven away. Their names were Os-wald*(see note), Os-wy, Os-lac, Os-laf and Offa. In 871 the newly crowned King Alfred was trying to cope with bands of marauding Danes. In one battle the Danes were victorious, in the next the Saxons. Eorl Osbearn (Jarl Osborne in translation), a leading Danish warrior was killed in a battle at Ashdown in Wessex and the Danes "were put to flight, and there were many thousands slain and fighting went on till nightfall".
Edward the confessor who had been educated in Normandy was King of England from 1042-1066. His friendship with the Normans encouraged immigration. There is known to have been a substantial immigrant colony in London. Normans were even appointed to positions of power. An Osbern seems to have been the leading man in the colony of Normans planted in Hereford by Edward (driven out by Godwin in 1052). Osbern FitzOsbern (brother of William Fitz-Osbern) was Chaplain to King Edward and Rector of Bosham, King Harold's own particular residence. He was appointed Bishop of Exeter after the invasion. It was the belief by William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, that he had been promised the crown by Edward and the growing resentment by certain powerful English families (notably the Godwins of Wessex) of the influx of French speaking foreigners that led directly to the battle of Hastings and the most radical change of power base that England had seen in a thousand years.
*The penguin dictionary of surnames states "Os-wald = god ruler (old English and old Norse). It's (the name's) popularity was established by the sainted king of Northumbria (642AD). Others add: Os Born = God Bear; Os Bone = God Child.