The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Romance of Names, by Ernest Weekley

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Title: The Romance of Names

Author: Ernest Weekley

Release Date: January 20, 2008 [eBook #24374]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


E-text prepared by Jon Richfield


Transcriber's notes will be found at the end of the text.








Advertising material that appeared at the start of the book




"A book of extraordinary interest; those who do not yet realise how enthralling a subject word-history is could not do better
than sample its flavour in Mr. Weekley's admirable book."

Spectator. Third Edition. 6s. net.



"A study of the origin and significance of surnames, full of fascination for the general reader."

Truth. Second Edition. 6s. net.



"It is a very great pleasure to get a dictionary from Mr. Weekley. One knows from experience that
Mr. Weekley would contrive to avoid unnecessary dullness,
even if he were compiling a railway guide, but that he would also get the trains right."

— Mr. J. C. SQUIRE in The Observer. Crown 4to. £ 2 2s. net.












Professor of French and Head of the Modern Language Department

at University College, Nottingham;

Sometime Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge








FIRST EDITION January 1914








  Advertising material from the end of the book






In preparing this revised edition I have been able to make use of much information conveyed to me by readers interested in the subject. The general arrangement of the book remains unchanged, but a certain number of statements have been modified, corrected, or suppressed. The study of our surnames has been mostly left to the amateur philologist, and many origins given by my predecessors as ascertained facts turn out, on investigation, to be unsupported by a shred of evidence. I cannot hope that this little book in its new form is free from error, but I feel that it has benefited by the years I have spent in research since its original publication. I would ask reader to accept it, not as a comprehensive treatise containing full information on any name that happens to occur in it, but as a general survey of the subject, and an attempt to indicate and exemplify the various ways in which our surnames have come into existence.








The early demand for a new edition of this little book is a gratifying proof of a widespread interest in its subject, rather than a testimony to the value of my small contribution to that subject. Of the imperfections of this contribution no one can be more conscious than myself, but I trust that the most palpable blemishes have been removed in this revised edition. The student of etymology seldom passes a day without coming across some piece of evidence which throws new light on a difficult problem (see Chapter XVI), or invalidates what had before seemed a reasonable conjecture. I have to thank many correspondents for sending me information of value and for indicating points in which conciseness has led to misunderstanding. Some of my correspondents need, however, to be reminded that etymology and genealogy are separate sciences; so that, while offering every apology to that Mr. Robinson whose name is a corruption of Montmorency, I still adhere to my belief that the other Robinsons derive from Robert.


NOTTINGHAM March 1914.







The interpretation of personal names has always had an attraction for the learned and others, but the first attempts to classify and explain our English surnames date, so far as my knowledge goes, from 1605. In that year Verstegan published his Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, which contains chapters on both font-names and surnames, and about the same time appeared Camden's Remains Concerning Britain, in which the same subjects are treated much more fully. Both of these learned antiquaries make excellent reading, and much curious information may be gleaned from their pages, especially those of Camden, whose position as Clarencieux King-at-Arms gave him exceptional opportunities for genealogical research. From the philological point of view they are of course untrustworthy, though less so than most modern writers on the same subject.

About the middle of the nineteenth century, the period of Archbishop Trench and Canon Taylor, began a kind of boom in works of this kind, and books on surnames are now numerous. But of all these industrious compilers one only, Bardsley, can be taken seriously. His Dictionary of English Surnames, published (Oxford Press, 1901) from his notes some years after his death, is invaluable to students. It represents the results of twenty years' conscientious research among early rolls and registers, the explanations given being usually supported by medieval instances. But it cannot be used uncritically, for the author does not appear to have been either a linguist or a philologist, and, although he usually refrains from etymological conjecture, he occasionally ventures with disastrous results. Thus, to take a few instances, he identifies Prust with Priest, but the medieval le prust is quite obviously the Norman form of Old Fr. le Proust, the provost. He attempts to connect pullen with the archaic Eng. pullen, poultry; but his early examples, le pulein, polayn, etc., are of course Fr. Poulain, i.e. Colt. Under Fallows, explained as "fallow lands," he quotes three examples of de la faleyse, i.e. Fr. Falaise, corresponding to our Cliff, Cleeve, etc; Pochin, explained as the diminutive of some personal name, is the Norman form of the famous name Poussin, i.e. Chick. Or, coming to native instances, le wenchel, a medieval prototype of Winkle, is explained as for "periwinkle," whereas it is a common Middle-English word, existing now in the shortened form wench, and means Child. The obsolete Swordslipper, now only Slipper, which he interprets as a maker of "sword-slips," or sheaths, was really a sword-sharpener, from Mid. Eng. slipen, cognate with Old Du. slijpen, to polish, sharpen, and Ger. schleifen. Sometimes a very simple problem is left unexplained, e.g. in the case of the name Tyas, where the medieval instances of le tyeis are to a student of Old French clearly le tieis or tiois, i.e. the German, cognate with Ger. deutsch and Ital. tedesco.

These examples are quoted, not in depreciation of conscientious student to whose work my own compilation is greatly indebted, but merely to show that the etymological study of surnames has scarcely been touched at present, except by writers to whom philology is an unknown science. I have inserted, as a specimen problem (ch. xvi.), a little disquisition on the name Rutter, a cursory perusal of which will convince most readers that it is not much use making shots in this subject.

My aim has been to steer a clear course between a too learned and a too superficial treatment, and rather to show how surnames are formed than to adduce innumerable examples which the reader should be able to solve for himself. I have made no attempt to collect curious names, but have taken those which occur in the London Directory (1908) or have caught my eye in the newspaper or the streets. To go into proofs would have swelled the book beyond all reasonable proportions, but the reader may assume that, in the case of any derivation not expressly stated as a conjecture, the connecting links exist. In the various classes of names, I have intentionally omitted all that is obvious, except in the rather frequent case of the obvious being wrong. The index, which I have tried to make complete, is intended to replace to some extent those cross-references which are useful to students but irritating to the general reader. Hundreds of names are susceptible of two, three, or more explanations, and I do not profess to be exhaustive.

The subject-matter is divided into a number of rather short chapters, dealing with the various classes and subdivisions into which surnames fall; but the natural association which exists between names has often prevailed over rigid classification. The quotations by which obsolete words are illustrated are taken as far as possible from Chaucer, whose writings date from the very period when our surnames were gradually becoming hereditary. I have also quoted extensively from the Promptorium Parvulorum, our earliest English-Latin Dictionary (1440).

In ch. vii, on Anglo-Saxon names, I have obtained some help from a paper by the late Professor Skeat (Transactions of the Philological Society, 1907-10, pp. 57-85) and from the materials contained in Searle's valuable Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum (Cambridge, 1897). Among several works which I have consulted on French and German family names, the most useful have been Heintze's Deutsche Familiennamen, 3rd ed. (Halle a. S., 1908) and Kremers' Beitraege zur Erforschung der franzoesischen Familiennamen (Bonn, 1910). The comparative method which I have adopted, especially in explaining nicknames (ch. xxi), will be found, I think, to clear up a good many dark points. Of books on names published in this country, only Bardsley's Dictionary has been of any considerable assistance, though I have gleaned some scraps of information here and there from other compilations. My real sources have been the lists of medieval names found in Domesday Book, the Pipe Rolls, the Hundred Rolls, and in the numerous historical records published by the Government and by various antiquarian societies.


Nottingham, September 1913


The following dictionaries are quoted without further reference:

Promptorium Parvulorum (1440), ed. Mayhew (E.E.T.S.; 1908).

PALSGRAVE, L'Esclarcissement de la langue francoyse (1530), ed. Génin (Paris, 1852).

COOPER, Thesaurus Lingua Romanae et Britannicae (London; 1573).

COTGRAVE A Dictionarie of the French and English Tongues

(London, 1611).

The Middle English quotations, except where otherwise stated, are from Chaucer, the references being to the Globe edition.






"The French and we termed them Surnames, not because they are the names of the Sire, or the father,
but because they are super
-added to Christian names."

(CAMDEN, Remains concerning Britain.)

The study of the origin of family names is at the same time quite simple and very difficult. Its simplicity consists in the fact that surnames can only come into existence in certain well-understood ways. Its difficulty is due to the extraordinary perversions which names undergo in common speech, to the orthographic uncertainty of our ancestors, to the frequent coalescence of two or more names of quite different Origin, and to the multitudinous forms which one single name can assume, such forms being due to local pronunciation, accidents of spelling, date of adoption, and many minor causes. It must always remembered that the majority of our surnames from the various dialects of Middle English, i.e. of a language very different from our own in spelling and sound, full of words that are now obsolete, and of others which have completely changed their form and meaning.

If we take any medieval roll of names, we see almost at a glance that four such individuals as—

John filius Simon
William de la Moor
Richard le Spicer
Robert le Long

exhaust the possibilities of English name-making—i.e. that every surname must be (i) personal, from a sire or ancestor, (ii) local, from place of residence, [Footnote: This is by far the largest class, counting by names, not individuals, and many names for which I give another explanation have also a local origin. Thus, when I say that Ely is Old Fr. Élie, i.e. Elias, I assume that the reader will know without being told that it has an alternative explanation from Ely in Cambridgeshire.] (iii) occupative, from trade or office, (iv) a nickname, from bodily attributes, character, etc.

This can easily be illustrated from any list of names taken at random. The Rugby team chosen to represent the East Midlands against Kent (January 22, 1913) consisted of the following fifteen names: Hancock; Mobbs, Poulton, Hudson, Cook; Watson, Earl; Bull, Muddiman, Collins, Tebbitt, Lacey, Hall, Osborne, Manton. Some of these are simple, but others require a little knowledge for their explanation.



There are seven personal names, and the first of these, Hancock, is rather a problem. This is usually explained as from Flemish Hanke, Johnny, while the origin of the suffix -cock has never been very clearly accounted for (see The suffix –cock, Chapter VI). With Hancock we may compare Hankin. But, while the Flemish derivation is possible for these two names, it will not explain Hanson, which sometimes becomes Hansom (Epithesis And Assimilation, Chapter III). According to Camden, there is evidence that Han was also used as a rimed form of Ran, short for Ranolf and Randolf (cf. Hob from Robert, Hick from Richard), very popular names in the north during the surname period. In Hankin and Hancock this Han would naturally coalesce with the Flemish Hanke. This would also explain the names Hand for Rand, and Hands, Hance for Rands, Rance. Mobbs is the same as Mabbs (cf. Moggy for Maggy), and Mabbs is the genitive of Mab, i.e. Mabel, for Amabel. We have the diminutive in Mappin and the patronymic in Mapleson. [Footnote: Maple and Mapple, generally tree names (Chapter XII), are in some cases for Mabel. Maplethorpe is from Mablethorpe (Line.), thorp of Madalbert (Maethelbeorht).] Hudson is the son of Hud, a very common medieval name, which seems to represent Anglo-Saxon Hudda (Chapter VII), the vigorous survival of which into the surname period is a mystery. Watson is the son of Wat, i.e. Walter, from the Old N.E. Fr. Vautier (Gautier), regularly pronounced and written Water at one time—

"My name is Walter Whitmore.
    How now! Why start'st thou? What! doth death affright?

Suffolk.   Thy name affrights me, in whose sound is death.

A cunning man did calculate my birth,
And told me that by water I should die."

(2 Henry VI, iv.1)

Hence the name Waters, which has not usually any connection with water; while Waterman, though sometimes occupative, is also formed from Walter, like Hickman from Hick (Chapter VI). Collins is from Colin, a French diminutive of Col, i.e. Nicol or Nicolas.

Tebbitt is a diminutive of Theobald, a favourite medieval name which had the shortened forms Teb, Tib, Tub, whence a number of derivatives. But names in Teb- and Tib- may also come from Isabel (Chapter X). Osborne is the Anglo-Saxon name Osbeorn.

Of course, each of these personal names has a meaning, e.g. Amabel, ultimately Latin, means lovable, and Walter, a Germanic name, means "rule army" (Modern Ger. walten and Heer), but the discussion of such meanings lies outside our subject. It is, in fact, sometimes difficult to distinguish between the personal name and the nickname. Thus Pagan, whence Payn, with its diminutives Pannell, Pennell, etc., Gold, Good, German, whence Jermyn, Jarman, and many other apparent nicknames, occur as personal names in the earliest records. Their etymological origin is in any case the same as if they were nicknames.

To return to our football team, Poulton, Lacey, Hall, and Manton are local. There are several villages in Cheshire and Lancashire named Poulton, i.e. the town or homestead (Chapter XIII) by the pool. Lacey occurs in Domesday Book as de Laci, from some small spot in Normandy, probably the hamlet of Lassy (Calvados). Hall is due to residence near the great house of the neighbourhood. If Hall's ancestor's name had chanced to be put down in Anglo-French as de la sale, he might now be known as Sale, or even as Saul. Manton is the name of places in Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire, so that this player, at any rate, has an ancestral qualification for the East Midlands.

The only true occupative name in the list is Cook, for Earl is a nickname. Cook was perhaps the last occupative title to hold its own against the inherited name. Justice Shallow, welcoming Sir John Falstaff, says—

"Some pigeons, Davy; a couple of short-legged hens, a joint of mutton, and
any pretty little tiny kickshaws. Tell William Cook"                 (2 Henry IV, v. i.).

And students of the Ingoldsby Legends will remember that

"Ellen Bean ruled his cuisine.—He called her Nelly Cook."

(Nell Cook, 1. 32.)

There are probably a goodly number of housewives of the present day who would be at a loss if suddenly asked for "cook's" name in full. It may be noted that Lequeux means exactly the same, and is of identical origin, archaic Fr. le queux, Lat. coquus, while Kew is sometimes for Anglo-Fr. le keu, where keu is the accusative of queux (Alternative Origins, Chapter I).




The nicknames are Earl, Bull, and Muddiman. Nicknames such as Earl may have been acquired in various ways (Chapter XV). Bull and Muddiman are singularly appropriate for Rugby scrummagers, though the first may be from an inn or shop sign, rather than from physique or character. It is equivalent to Thoreau, Old Fr. toreau (taureau). Muddiman is for Moodyman, where moody has its older meaning of valiant; cf. its German cognate mutig. The weather on the day in question gave a certain fitness both to the original meaning and the later form.

The above names are, with the exception of Hancock, Hudson, and Muddiman, easy to solve; but it must not be concluded that every list is as simple, or that the obvious is always right. The first page of Bards Dictionary of Surnames might well serve as a danger-signal to cocksure writers on this subject. The names Abbey and Abbott would naturally seem to go back to an ancestor who lived in or near an and to another who had been nicknamed the abbot.

But Abbey is more often from the Anglo-French entry le abbé, the abbot, and Abbott may be a diminutive of Ab, standing for Abel, or Abraham, the first of which was a common medieval font-name. Francis Holyoak describes himself on the title-page of his Latin Dictionary (1612) as Franciscus de Sacra Quercu, but his name also represents the holly oak, or holm oak (Tree Names, Chapter XII). On the other hand, Holliman always occurs in early rolls as hali or holi man, i.e. holy man.




It may be stated here, once for all, that etymologies of names which are based on medieval latinizations, family mottoes, etc., are always to be regarded with suspicion, as they involve the reversing of chronology, or the explanation of a name by a pun which has been made from it. We find Lilburne latinized as de insula tontis, as though it were the impossible hybrid de l'isle burn, and Beautoy sometimes as de bella fide, whereas foy is the Old French for beech, from Lat. fagus. Napier of Merchiston had the motto n'a pier, "has no equal," and described himself on title-pages as the Nonpareil, but his ancestor was a servant who looked after the napery. With Holyoak's rendering of his own name we may compare Parkinson's "latinization" of his name in his famous book on gardening(1629), which bears the title Paradisi in Sole Paradisus Terrestris, i.e. the Earthly Paradise of "Park in Sun."

Many noble names have an anecdotic "explanation." I learnt at school that Percy came from "pierce-eye," in allusion to a treacherous exploit at Alnwick. The Lesleys claim descent from a hero who overthrew a Hungarian champion

"Between the less lee and the mair
He slew the knight and left him there."

(Quentin Durward, ch. xxxvii.)

Similarly, the great name of Courtenay, Courtney, of French local origin, is derived in an Old French epic from court nez, short nose, an epithet conferred on the famous Guillaume d'Orange, who, when the sword of a Saracen giant removed this important feature, exclaimed undauntedly—

"Mais que mon nés ai un poi acorcié,
Bien sai mes nons en sera alongié."

(Li Coronemenz Looïs, 1. 1159.)

[Footnote: "Though I have my nose a little shortened, I know well that my name will be thereby lengthened."]

I read lately in some newspaper that the original Lockhart took the "heart" of the Bruce to the Holy Land in a "locked" casket. Practically every famous Scottish name has a yarn connected with it, the gem perhaps being that which accounts for Guthrie. A Scottish king, it is said, landed weary and hungry as the sole survivor of a shipwreck. He approached a woman who was gutting fish, and asked her to prepare one for him. The kindly fishwife at once replied, "I'll gut three." Whereupon the king, dropping into rime with a readiness worthy of Mr. Wegg, said—

"Then gut three, Your name shall be,"

[Footnote added by scanner, who has not read much of Dickens:
Silas Wegg was a ready-witted character in "Our Mutual Friend."]

and conferred a suitable estate on his benefactress.

After all, truth is stranger than fiction. There is quite enough legitimate cause for wonderment in the fact that Tyas is letter for letter the same name as Douch, or that Strangeways, from a district in Manchester which, lying between the Irwell and the Irk, formerly subject to floods, is etymologically strong-wash. The Joannes Acutus whose tomb stands in Florence is the great free-lance captain Sir John Hawkwood, "omitting the h in Latin as frivolous, and the k and w as unusual" (Verstegan, Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, ch. ix), which makes him almost as unrecognizable as that Peter Gower, the supposed founder of freemasonry, who turned out to be Pythagoras.




Many names are susceptible of two, three, or more explanations. This is especially true of some of our commonest monosyllabic surnames. Bell may be from Anglo-Fr. le bel (beau), or from a shop sign, or from residence near the church or town bell. It may even have been applied to the man who pulled the bell. Finally, the ancestor may have been a lady called Isabel, a supposition which does not necessarily imply illegitimacy (Chapter X). Ball is sometimes the shortened form of the once favourite Baldwin. It is also from a shop sign, and perhaps most frequently of all is for bald. The latter word is properly balled, i.e., marked with a ball, or white streak, a word of Celtic origin; cf. "piebald," i.e., balled like a (mag)pie, and the "bald-faced stag." [Footnote: Halliwell notes that the nickname Ball is the name of a horse in Chaucer and in Tusser, of a sheep in the Promptorium Parvulorum, and of a dog in the Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VIII. In each case the name alludes to a white mark, or what horsy people call a star. A cow thus marked is called in Scotland a boasand cow, and from the same word comes the obsolete bawson, badger.] From the same word we get the augmentative Ballard, used, according to Wyclif, by the little boys who unwisely called to an irritable prophet—

"Stey up ballard" (2 Kings ii. 23).

The name may also be personal, Anglo-Sax. Beal-heard. Rowe may be local, from residence in a row (cf. Fr. Delarue), or it may be an accidental spelling of the nickname Roe, which also survives in the Mid. English form Ray (Beasts, Chapter XXIII).

But Row was also the shortened form of Rowland, or Roland. Cobb is an Anglo-Saxon name, as in the local Cobham, but it is also from the first syllable of Cobbold (for either Cuthbeald or Godbeald) and the second of Jacob. From Jacob come the diminutives Cobbin and Coppin.

Or, to take some less common names, House not only represents the medieval de la house, but also stands for Howes, which, in its turn, may be the plural of how, a hill (Chapter XII), or the genitive of How, one of the numerous medieval forms of Hugh (Chapter VI). Hind may be for Hine, a farm servant (Chapter III), or for Mid. Eng. hende, courteous (cf. for the vowel change Ind, Chapter XIII), and is perhaps sometimes also an animal nickname (Beasts, Chapter XXIII). Rouse is generally Fr. roux, i.e. the red, but it may also be the nominative form of Rou, i.e. of Rolf, or Rollo, the sea-king who conquered Normandy. [Footnote: Old French had a declension in two cases. The nominative, which has now almost disappeared, was usually distinguished by -s. This survives in a few words, e.g. fils, and proper names such as Charles, Jules, etc] Was Holman the holy man, the man who lived near a holm, i.e. holly (Chapter XII), on a holm, or river island (Chapter XII), or in a hole, or hollow? All these origins have equal claims.

As a rule, when an apparent nickname is also susceptible of another solution, baptismal, local, or occupative, the alternative explanation is to be preferred, as the popular tendency has always been towards twisting names into significant words. Thus, to take an example of each class, Diamond is sometimes for an old name Daymond (Daegmund), Portwine is a corruption of Poitevin, the man from Poitou (Chapter XI), and Tipler, which now suggests alcoholic excess, was, as late as the seventeenth century, the regular name for an alehouse keeper.

In a very large number of cases there is a considerable choice for the modern bearer of a name. Any Boon or Bone who wishes to assert that

Of Hereford's high blood he came,
A race renown'd for knightly fame

(Lord of the Isles, vi. 15),

can claim descent from de Bohun. While, if he holds that kind hearts are more than coronets, he has an alternative descent from some medieval le bon. This adjective, used as a personal name, gave also Bunn and Bunce; for the spelling of the latter name cf. Dance for Dans, and Pearce for Piers, the nominative of Pierre (Alternative Origins, Chapter I), which also survives in Pears and Pearson. Swain may go back to the father of Canute, or to some hoary-headed swain who, possibly, tended the swine. Not all the Seymours are St. Maurs. Some of them were once Seamers, i.e. tailors. Gosling is rather trivial, but it represents the romantic Jocelyn, in Normandy Gosselin, a diminutive of the once very popular personal name Josse. Goss is usually for goose, but any Goss, or Gossett, unwilling to trace his family back to John Goose, "my lord of Yorkes fole," [Footnote: Privy Purse Expenses of Elizabeth of York (1502).] may likewise choose the French Josse or Gosse. Goss may also be a dialect pronunciation of gorse, the older form of which has given the name Gorst. Coward, though humble, cow-herd, is no more timid than Craven, the name of a district in the West Riding of Yorkshire.




Mr. Chucks, when in good society, "seldom bowed, Sir, to anything under three syllables" (Peter Simple, ch. xvii.). But the length of a name is not necessarily an index of a noble meaning. As will be seen (pp. 74, 5), a great number of our monosyllabic names belong to, the oldest stratum of all. The boatswain's own name, from Norman-Fr. chouque, a tree-stump, is identical with the rather aristocratic Zouch or Such, from the usual French form souche. Stubbs, which has the same meaning, may be compared with Curson, Curzon, Fr. courson, a stump, a derivative of court, short. [Footnote: Curson is also a dialect variant of Christian.] Pomeroy has a lordly ring, but is the Old French for Applegarth or Appleyard (Tree Names, Chapter XIV), and Camoys means flat-nosed, Fr. Camus—

"This wenche thikke and wel y- growen was,
With kamuse nose, and eyen greye as glas."

(A, 3973.)

Kingsley, speaking of the name assumed by John Briggs, says—

"Vavasour was a very pretty name, and one of those which is [sic] supposed by novelists and young ladies to be aristocratic; why so is a puzzle; as its plain meaning is a tenant farmer and nothing more or less" (Two Years Ago, ch. xi.).

The word is said to represent a Vulgar Lat. vassus vassorum, vassal of vassals.

On the other hand, many a homely name has a complimentary meaning. Mr. Wegg did not like the name Boffin, but its oldest form is bon-fin, good and fine. In 1273 Mr. Bumble's name was spelt bon-bel, good and beautiful. With these we may group Bunker, of which the oldest form is bon-quer (bon coeur), and Boffey, which corresponds to the common French name Bonnefoy, good faith; while the much more assertive Beaufoy means simply fine beech (Chapter I).

With Bunker we may compare Goodhart and Cordeaux, the oldest form of the latter being the French name Courdoux. Momerie and Mummery are identical with Mowbray, from Monbrai in Normandy. Molyneux impresses more than Mullins, of which it is merely the dim., Fr. moulins, mills. The Yorkshire name Tankard is identical with Tancred. Stiggins goes back to the illustrious Anglo-Saxon name Stigand, as Wiggins does to wigand, a champion. Cadman represents Caedmon, the name of the poet-monk of Whitby. Segar is an imitative form of the Anglo-Sax. Saegaer, of which the normal modern representative is Sayers. Giblett is not a name one would covet, but it stands in the same relationship to Gilbert as Hamlet does to Hamo.

A small difference in spelling makes a great difference in the look of a name. The aristocratic Coke is an archaic spelling of Cook, the still more lordly Herries sometimes disguises Harris, while the modern Brassey is the same as de Bracy in Ivanhoe. The rather grisly Nightgall is a variant of Nightingale. The accidental retention of particles and articles is also effective, e.g. Delmar, Delamere, Delapole, impress more than Mears and Pool, and Larpent (Fr. I'arpent), Lemaitre, and Lestrange more than Acres, Masters, and Strange. There are few names of less heroic sound than Spark and Codlin, yet the former is sometimes a contraction of the picturesque Sparrow-hawk, used as a personal name by the Anglo-Saxons, while the latter can be traced back via the earlier forms Quodling (still found), Querdling, Querdelyoun to Coeur de Lion.





"Quelque diversité d'herbes qu'il y alt, tout s'enveloppe sous le nom de salade; de mesme, sous la considération
des noms, je m'en voys faire icy une galimafree de divers articles." (Montaigne, Essais, i. 46.)

Just as, in studying a new language, the linguist finds it most helpful to take a simple text and hammer out in detail every word and grammatical form it contains, so the student of name-lore cannot do better than tackle a medieval roll and try to connect every name in it with those of the present day. I give here two lists of names from the Hundred Rolls of 1273. The first contains the names of London and Middlesex jurymen, most of them, especially the Londoners, men of substance and position. The second is a list of cottagers resident in the village of Steeple Claydon in Bucks. Even a cursory perusal of these lists should Suffice to dispel all recollection of the nightmare "philology" which has been so much employed to obscure what is perfectly simple and obvious; while a very slight knowledge of Latin and French is all that is required to connect these names of men who were dead and buried before the Battle of Crecy with those to be found in any modern directory. The brief indications supplied under each name will be found in a fuller form in the various chapters of the book to which references are given.

For simplicity I have given the modern English form of each Christian name and expanded the abbreviations used by the official compilers. It will be noticed that English, Latin, and Anglo-French are used indifferently, that le is usually, though not always, put before the trade-name or nickname, that de is put before place-names and at before spots which have no proper name. The names in the right-hand column are only specimens of the, often very numerous, modern equivalents.






Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

William Dibel.

Dibble (Theobald).

Initial t- and d- alternate (Dialectic Variants, Chapter III) according to locality. In Tennyson, for Denison, son of Denis, we have the opposite change. The forms assumed by Theobald are very numerous (Chapter I). Besides Dibble we have the shorter Dibb. Other variants are Dyball, Dipple, Tipple, Tidball, Tudball, and a number of names in Teb-, Tib-, Tub-. The reason for the great popularity of the name is obscure.

Baldwin le Bocher.


On the various forms of this name, see Chapter XV.

Robert Hauteyn.


The Yorkshire name Auty is probably unconnected. It seems rather to be an altered form of a Scandinavian personal name cognate with Odo.

Henry le Wimpler.


The name has apparently disappeared with the garment. But it is never safe to assert that a surname is quite extinct.

Stephen le Peron


From Old Fr. feron, ferron, smith. In a few cases French has -on as an agential suffix (Chapter XVIII).

William de Paris.

Paris, Parris, Parish.

The commoner modern form Parish is seldom to be derived from our word parish. This rarely occurs, while the entry de Paris is, on the other hand, very common.


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Roger le Wyn.


Anglo-Saxon wine, friend. Also a Celtic nickname, Identical with Gwynne (Chapter XXII).

Matthew de Pomfrait


The usual pronunciation of Pontefract, broken bridge, one of the few English place-names of purely Latin origin (Chapter XIII). The Old French form would be Pont-frait.

Richard le Paumer.


A man who had made pilgrimage to the Holy Land (Chapter XVII). The modern spelling is restored, but the -l- remains mute. It is just possible that this name sometimes means tennis-player, as tennis, Fr. le jeu de paume, once played with the palm of the hand, is of great antiquity.

Walter Poletar.


A dealer in poults, i.e. fowls. For the lengthened form poulterer, cf. fruiterer for fruiter, and see Chapter XV.

Reginald Aurifaber.


The French form orfévre may have given the name Offer.

Henry Deubeneye.

Daubeney, Dabney.

Fr. d'Aubigny. One of the many cases in which the French preposition has been incorporated in the name. Cf. Danvers, for d'Anvers, Antwerp, and see Chapter XI.


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Richard Knotte


From Scandinavian Cnut, Canute. This name is also local, from knot, a hillock, and has of course become confused (Variant Spellings, Chapter III) with the nickname Nott, with cropped hair (Chapter XXII)—

"Thou nott-pated fool."

(1 Henry IV, ii. 4.)

Walter le Wyte.


The large number of Whites is partly to be accounted for by their having absorbed the name Wight (Chapter XXII) from Mid. Eng. wiht, valiant.

Adam le Sutel.


Both Eng. subtle and Fr. subtil are restored spellings, which do not appear in nomenclature (Chapter III).

Fulk de Sancto Edmundo.


The older form would be Tednam. Bury St. Edmund's is sometimes referred to as Tednambury. For the mutilation of the word saint in place-names, see Chapter III.

William le Boteler.


More probably a bottle-maker than what we understand by a butler, the origin being of course the same.

Gilbert Lupus


Wolf, and the Scandinavian Ulf, are both common as personal names before the Conquest, but a good many Modern bearers of the name are German Jews (Chapter IV). Old Fr. lou (loup) is one source of Low.


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Stephen Juvenis.


Senex is rarely found. The natural tendency was to distinguish the younger man from his father. Senior is generally to be explained differently (Chapter XV).

William Braciator.


The French form brasseur also survives as Bracher and Brasher, the latter being also confused with Brazier, the worker in brass.

John de Cruce.

Cross, Crouch.

A man who lived near some outdoor cross. The form crouch survives in "Crutched Friars." Hence also the name Croucher.

Matthew le Candeler.

Candler, Chandler.

Initial c- for ch- shows Norman or Picard origin (Chapter III).

Henry Bernard.

Barnard, Barnett.

The change from -er- to -ar- is regular; cf. Clark, and see Chapter III. The endings -ard, -ald, are generally changed to -ett; cf. Everett for Everard, Barrett for Berald, Garrett for Gerard, Garrard, whence the imitative Garrison for Garretson.

William de Bosco.

Bush, Busk, Buss.

"For there is neither bush nor hay (Chapter XIII)
In May that it nyl shrouded bene."

(Romaunt of the Rose, 54.)

The name might also be translated as Wood. The corresponding name of French origin is Boyce or Boyes, Fr. bois (Chapter XIV).


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Henry de Sancta Ositha.


Cf. Fulk de Sancto Edmundo (supra), and cf. Tooley St.

for St. Olave St. (Chapter III).

Walter ate Stede.


In this case the preposition has not coalesced, as in Adeane, at the dean, i.e. hollow, Agate, at gate, etc. (Chapter XII).

William le Fevere.

Wright, Smith.

The French name survives as Feaver and Fevyer. Cf. also the Lat. Faber, which is not always a modern German importation

(Chapter XII).

Thomas de Cumbe.

Combe, Coombes.

A West-country name for a hollow in a hillside (Chapter XII).

John State.

State, Stacey.

Generally for Eustace, but sometimes perhaps for Anastasia, as we find Stacey used as a female name (Chapter III).

Richard le Teynturier.

Dyer, Dexter.

Dexter represents Mid. Eng. dighester, with the feminine agential suffix (Chapter XV).

Henry le Waleys.

Wallis, Walsh, Welch.

Literally the foreigner, but especially applied by the English to the Western Celts. Quelch represents the: Welsh pronunciation. With Wallis cf. Cornwallis, Mid. Eng. le cornwaleis (Chapter X).

John le Bret.

Brett, Britton.

An inhabitant of Brittany, perhaps resident in that Breton colony in London called Little Britain. Bret The Old French nominative of Breton (Chapter VIII).




Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Thomas le Clerc.


One of our commonest names. We now spell the common noun clerk by etymological reaction, but educated people pronounce the word as it was generally written up to the eighteenth century (Chapter III).


Stephen le Hatter


The great rarity of this name is a curious problem (Chapter XV). The name Capper exists, though it is not very common.

Thomas le Batur.


But, being a Londoner, he was more probably a gold-beater, or perhaps a beater of cloth. The name Beater also survives.

Alexander de Leycestre

Leicester, Lester.

For the simpler spelling, once usual and still adopted by those who chalk the names on the mail-vans at St. Pancras, cf. such names as Worster, Wooster, Gloster, etc. (Chapter XI).

Robert le Noreys.

Norris, Nurse.

Old Fr. noreis, the Northerner (Chapter XI), or norice (nourrice), the nurse, foster-mother (Chapter XX).

Reginald le Blond

Blount, Blunt.

Fr. blond, fair. We have also the dim. Blundell. The corresponding English name is Fairfax, from Mid. Eng. fax, hair (Chapter XXII).

Randolf ate Mor.


With the preposition retained (Chapter XII) it has
given the Latin-looking Amor.


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Matthew le Pevrier.


For the reduction of pepperer to Pepper cf. Armour for armourer, and see Chapter XV.

Godfrey le Furmager.

Cheeseman, Firminger.

From Old Fr. formage (fromage). The intrusion of the n in Firminger is regular; cf. Massinger, messenger, from Fr. messager, and see Chapter III.

Robert Campeneys.

Champness, Champneys.

Old Fr. champeneis (champenois), of Champagne (Chapter XI).

John del Pek.

Peck, Peaks, Pike, Pick.

A name taken from a hill-top, but sometimes referring to the unrelated Derbyshire Peak.

Richard Dygun.


A diminutive of Dig, for Dick (Chapter VI).

Peter le Hoder.


A maker of hods or a maker of hoods? The latter is more likely.

Alan Allutarius.


Lat. alutarius, a "white-tawer", Similarly, Mid. Eng. stan-heawere, stone-hewer, is contracted to Stanier, now almost swallowed up by Stainer. The simple tawer is also one origin of the name Tower.

Peter le Rus.

Russ, Rush, Rouse.

Fr. roux, of red complexion. Cf. the dim. Russell, Fr. Rousseau

(Chapter XXII).





Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Roger de la Hale.

Hall, Hale, Hales.

One of our commonest local surnames. But it has two interpretations, from hall and from heal (Chapter XII).

Walter de la Hedge.

Hedge, Hedges.

Other names of similar meaning are Hay, Hayes, Haig, Haigh, Hawes (Chapter XIII)

John Rex


One of our commonest nicknames, the survival of which is easily understood (Chapter XV).

Stephen de la Novels Meyson.


Cf. also Newbigging, from Mid. Eng. biggen, to 'build (Chapter XIII).

Randolf Pokoc.

Pocock, Peacock.

The simple Poe, Lat. pavo, has the same meaning (Chapter XXIII).

William de Fonte.

Spring, Wells, Fountain, Attewell.

This is the most usual origin of the name Spring (Chapter IX).

Robert del Parer


Old Fr. périer (poirier), pear-tree. Another origin of Perrier is, through French, from Lat. petrarius, a stone-hewer.

Adam de la Denne.

Denne, Dean, Done.

A Mid. English name for valley (Chapter XII).


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Robertus filius Gillelmi.


For other possible names to be derived from a father named William, see Chapter VI.

William filius Radolfi.


A very common medieval name, Anglo-Sax. Raedwulf, the origin of our Ralph, Relf, Rolfe, Roff, and of Fr. Raoul. Some of its derivatives, e.g. Rolls, have got mixed with those of Roland. To be distinguished from Randolf or Randall, of which the shorter form is Ran or Rand, whence Rankin, Rands, Rance, etc.





Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Andrew Colle

Collins, Colley

For Nicolas (Chapter V).

William Neuman

Newman, Newcomb.

A man recently settled in the village (Chapter XII).

Adam ate Dene

Dean, Denne, Adeane.

The separate at survives in A'Court and A'Beckett, at the beck head; cf. Allan a' Dale (Chapter XII).

Ralph Mydevynter.


An old name for Christmas (Chapter IX).

William ate Hull.

Athill, Hill, Hull.

The form hul for hil occurs in Mid. English (Chapter XII).


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Gilbert Sutor.

Sutor, Soutar.

On the poor representation of the shoemaker see Chapter XV.

Walter Maraud.


It is easy to understand the disappearance of this name—

"A rogue, beggar, vagabond; a varlet, rascall, scoundrell, base knave"


but it may be represented by Marratt, Marrott, unless these are from Mary (Chapter X).

Nicholas le P.ker.


This may be expanded into Parker, a park-keeper, Packer, a wool-packer, or the medieval Porker, a swine-herd, now lost in Parker.

John Stegand

Stigand, Stiggins.

Anglo-Saxon names survived chiefly among the peasantry (Chapter I).

Roger Mercator.

Marchant, Chapman.

The restored modern spelling merchant has affected the pronunciation of the common noun (Chapter III). The more usual term Chapman is cognate with cheap, chaffer, Chipping, Copenhagen, Ger. kaufen, to buy, etc.

Adam Hoppe.

Hobbs, Hobson, Hopkins.

An example of the interchange of b and P (Chapter III). Hob is usually regarded as one of the rimed forms from Robert (Chapter VI).

Roger Crom.

Crum, Crump.

Lit. crooked, cognate with Ger. krumm. The final -p of Crump is excrescent (Chapter III).

Stephen Cornevaleis

Cornwallis, Cornish.

A name which would begin in Devonshire (Chapter XI).


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Walter de Ibernia


A much more common name than Scotland, which has been squeezed out by Scott (Chapter XI).

Matilda filia Matildae

Mawson (for Maud-son), Till, Tilley, Tillett, Tillotson, etc.

One of the favourite girl-names during the surname period (Chapter X).

Ralph Vouler.


A West-country pronunciation; cf. Vowle for Fowell, Vokes for Foakes (Chapter VI), Venn for Fenn, etc.

John filius Thomae.

Thompson, Tompkins, Tomlin, etc.

One of the largest surname families. It includes Toulmin, a metathesis of Tomlin. In Townson and Tonson it coalesces with Tony, Anthony.

Henry Bolle.


In this case evidently a nickname (Chapter I).

Roger Gyle.


For names in Gil- see Chapter VI. The form in the roll may, however, represent an uncomplimentary nickname, "guile."

Walter Molendarius.

Miller, Mellen, Milner.

In Milne, Milner, we have the oldest form, representing Vulgar Lat. molina, mill cf. Kilner, from kiln, Lat. culina, kitchen. Millard (Chapter XIX) is perhaps sometimes the same name with excrescent -d.

Thomas Berker.


A man who stripped bark, also a tanner. But as a surname reinforced by the Norman form of Fr. berger, a shepherd (Chapter XV).


Hundred Rolls

Modern Form

Matthew Hedde.


Sometimes local, at the head, but here a nickname; cf. Tate, Tail, sometimes from Fr. tête (Chapter XIII).

Richard Joyet.

Jowett, Jewett.

A diminutive either of Joy or of Julian, Juliana. But it is possible that Joy itself is not the abstract noun, but a shortened form of Julian.

Adam Kyg.

Ketch, Beach

An obsolete adjective meaning lively (Chapter XXII).

Simon filius Johannis Nigelli.

Johnson, Jones, Jennings, etc.

The derivatives of John are numerous and not to be distinguished from those of Joan, Jane (Chapter X).


The above lists illustrate all the simpler ways in which surnames could be formed. At the time of compilation they were not hereditary. Thus the last man on the list is Simon Johnson, but his father was John Neilson, or Nelson (Chapter X), and his son would be — Simpson, Sims, etc. This would go on until, at a period varying with the locality, the wealth and importance of the individual, one name in the line would become accidentally petrified and persist to the present day. The chain could, of course, be broken at any time by the assumption of a name from one of the other three classes (Chapter I).






"Do you spell it with a V or a W?" inquired the judge.

"That depends upon the taste and fancy of the speller, my lord," replied Sam. "I never had occasion to spell it more than once or twice in my life,
but I spells it with a V."

(Pickwick, ch. xxxiv.)

Many people are particular about the spelling of their names. I am myself, although, as a student of philology, I ought to know better. The greatest of Englishmen was so careless in the matter as to sign himself Shakspe, a fact usually emphasized by Baconian when speaking of the illiterate clown of Stratford-on-Avon. Equally illiterate must have been the learned Dr. Crown, who, in the various books he published in the latter half of the seventeenth century, spelt his name, indifferently Cron, Croon, Croun, Crone, Croone, Croune. The modern spelling of any particular name Is a pure accident. Before the Elementary Education Act of 1870 a considerable proportion of English people did not spell their names at all. They trusted to the parson and the clerk, who did their best with unfamiliar names. Even now old people in rural districts may find half a dozen orthographic variants of their own names among the sparse documentary records of their lives. Dugdale the antiquary is said to have found more than 130 variants of Mainwaring among the parchments of that family. Bardsley quotes, under the name Blenkinsop

"On April 2 3, 1470, Elizabeth Blynkkynesoppye, of Blynkkynsoppe, widow of Thomas Blynkyensope, of Blynkkensope, received a general pardon"

four variants in one sentence. In the List of Foreign Protestants and Aliens in England (1618) we have Andrian Medlor and Ellin Medler his wife, Johan Cosen and Abraham Cozen, brethren. The death of Sarah Inward, daughter of Richard Inwood, was registered in 1685.




Medieval spelling was roughly phonetic, i.e. it attempted to reproduce the sound of the period and region, and even men of learning, as late as the eighteenth century, were very uncertain in matters of orthography. The spelling of the language is now practically normalized, although in conformity with no sort of principle; but the family name, as a private possession, has kept its freedom. Thus, if we wish to speak poetically of a meadow, I suppose we should call it a lea, but the same word is represented by the family names Lea, Lee, Ley, Leigh, Legh, Legge, Lay, Lye, perhaps the largest group of local surnames we possess.

In matters of spelling we observe various tendencies. One is the retention of an archaic form, which does not necessarily affect pronunciation. Late Mid. English was fond of y for i, of double consonants, and of final -e. All these appear in the names Thynne (thin) and Wyllie (wily). Therefore we should not deride the man who writes himself Smythe. But in some cases the pronunciation suffers, e.g. the name Fry represents Mid. Eng. fri, one of the forms of the adjective that is now written free. Burt represents Anglo-Sax. beorht, the normal result of which is Bright. We now write subtle and perfect, artificial words, in the second of which the pronunciation has been changed in accordance with the restored spelling; but the older forms survive in the names Suttle and Parfitt

"He was a verray parfit, gentil knyght."

(A, 72.)

The usual English pronunciation of names like Mackenzie, Menzies, Dalziel, is due to the substitution by the printer of a z for an obsolete letter that represented a soft palatal sound more like y. [Footnote: This substitution has led one writer on surnames, who apparently confuses bells with beans, to derive the rare surname Billiter, whence Billiter's Lane in the City, from "Belzetter, i.e., the Bell-setter." The Mid. Eng. "bellezeter, campanarius" (Prompt. Parv.), was a bell-founder, from a verb related to geysir, ingot, and Ger. giessen, to pour. Robert le bellegeter was a freeman of York in 1279.]

We have an archaic plural ending in Knollys (Knowles), the plural of knoll, and in Sandys, and an archaic spelling in Sclater for Slater or Slatter, for both slat and slate come from Old Fr. esclat (éclat), a splinter. With Knollys and Sandys we may put Pepys, for the existence of the dims. Pipkin, Peppitt, and Peppiatt points to the medieval name Pipun, corresponding to the royal Pepin. Streatfeild preserves variant spellings of street and field. In Gardiner we have the Old Northern French word which now, as a common noun, gardener, is assimilated to garden, the normal French form of which appears in Jardine.

Such orthographic variants as i and y, Simons, Symons, Ph and f, Jephcott, Jeffcott, s and c, Pearce, Pearce, Rees, Reece, Sellars (cellars), ks and x, Dickson, Dixon, are a matter of taste or accident. Initial letters which became mute often disappeared in spelling, e.g. Wray, a corner (Chapter XIII), has become hopelessly confused with Ray, a roe, Knott, from Cnut, i.e. Canute, or from dialect knot, a hillock, with Noll, crop-haired. Knowlson is the son of Nowell (Chapter IX) or of Noll, i.e. Oliver.

Therefore, when Mr. X. asserts that his name has always been spelt in such and such a way, he is talking nonsense. If his great-grandfather's will is accessible, he will probably find two or three variants in that alone. The great Duke of Wellington, as a younger man, signed himself Arthur Wesley—

"He was colonel of Dad's regiment, the Thirty-third foot, after Dad left the army, and then he changed
his name from Wesley to Wellesley, or else the other way about"

(KIPLING, Marklake Witches);

and I know two families the members of which disagree as to the orthography of their names. We have a curious affectation in such spellings as ffrench, ffoulkes, etc., where the ff is merely the method of indicating the capital letter in early documents.

The telescoping of long names is a familiar phenomenon. Well-known examples are Cholmondeley, Chumley, Marjoribanks, Marchbanks, Mainwaring, Mannering. Less familiar are Auchinleck, Affleck, Boutevilain, Butlin, Postlethwaite, Posnett, Sudeley, Sully, Wolstenholme, Woosnam. Ensor is from the local Edensor, Cavendish was regularly Candish for the Elizabethans, while Cavenham in Suffolk has given the surname Canham. Daventry has become Daintree, Dentry, and probably the imitative Dainty, while Stepson is for Stevenson. It is this tendency which makes the connection between surnames and village names so difficult to establish in many cases, for the artificial name as it occurs in the gazetteer often gives little clue to the local pronunciation. It is easy to recognize Bickenhall or Bickenhill in Bicknell and Puttenham in Putnam, but the identity of Wyndham with Wymondham is only clear when we know the local Pronunciation of the latter name. Milton and Melton are often telescoped forms of Middleton.



Dialectic variants must also be taken into account. Briggs and Rigg represent the Northern forms of Bridges and Ridge, and Philbrick is a disguised Fellbrigg. In Egg we have rather the survival of the Mid. English spelling of Edge. Braid, Lang, Strang, are Northern variants of Broad, Long, Strong. Auld is for Old while Tamson is for Thompson and Dabbs for Dobbs (Robert). We have the same change of vowel in Raper, for Roper. Venner generally means hunter, Fr. veneur, but sometimes represents the West-country form of Fenner, the fen-dweller; cf. Vidler for fiddler, and Vanner for Fanner, the winnower.

We all the difficulty we have in catching a new and unfamiliar name, and the subterfuges we employ to find out what it really is. In such cases we do not get the help from association and analogy which serves us in dealing with language in general, but find ourselves in the position of a foreigner or child hearing unfamiliar word for the first time. We realize how many imperceptible shades there are between a short i and a short e, or between a fully voiced g and a voiceless k, examples suggested to me by my having lately understood a Mr. Riggs to be a Mr. Rex.

We find occurring in surnames examples of those consonantal changes which do not violate the great Phonetic law that such changes can only occur regularly within the same group, i.e. that a labial cannot alternate with a palatal, or a dental with either. It is thus that we find b alternating with p, Hobbs and Hopps (Robert), Bollinger and Pullinger, Fr. boulanger; g with k, Cutlack and Goodlake (Anglo-Sax. Guthlac), Diggs and Dix (Richard), Gipps and Kipps (Gilbert), Catlin and Galling (Catherine); j with ch, Jubb or Jupp and Chubb (Job); d with t, Proud and Prout (Chapter XXII), Dyson and Tyson (Dionisia), and also with th, Carrodus and Carruthers (a hamlet in Dumfries). The alternation of c and ch or g and j in names of French origin is dialectic, the c and g representing the Norman-Picard pronunciation, e.g. Campion for Champion, Gosling for Joslin. In some cases we have shown a definite preference for one form, e.g. Chancellor and Chappell, but Carpenter and Camp. In English names c is northern, ch southern, e.g. Carlton, Charlton, Kirk, Church.

There are also a few very common vowel changes. The sound er usually became ar, as in Barclay (Berkeley), Clark, Darby, Garrard (Gerard), Jarrold (Gerald), Harbord (Herbert), Jarvis (Gervase), Marchant, Sargent, etc., while Larned, our great-grandfathers' pronunciation of "learned," corresponds to Fr. Littri. Thus Parkins is the same name as Perkins. (Peter), and these also give Parks and Perks, the former of which is usually not connected with Park. To Peter, or rather to Fr. Pierre, belong also Parr, Parry and Perry, though Parry is generally Welsh (Chapter VI). The dims. Parrott, Perrott, etc., were sometimes nicknames, the etymology being the same, for our word parrot is from Fr. pierrot. To the freedom with which this sound is spelt, e.g. in Herd, Heard, Hird, Hurd, we also owe Purkiss for Perkins; cf. appurtenance for appartenance.

The letter l seems also to exercise a demoralizing influence on the adjacent vowel. Juliana became Gillian, and from this, or from the masculine form Julian, we get Jalland, Jolland, and the shortened Gell, Gill (Chapter VI), and Jull. Gallon, which Bardsley groups with these, is more often a French name, from the Old German Walo, or a corruption of the still commoner French name Galland, likewise of Germanic origin.

We find also such irregular vowel changes as Flinders for Flanders, and conversely Packard for Picard. Pottinger (see below) sometimes becomes Pettinger as Portugal gives Pettingall. The general tendency is towards that thinning of the vowel that we get in mister for master and Miss Miggs's mim for ma'am. Littimer for Lattimer is an example of this. But in Royle for the local Ryle we find the same broadening which has given boil, a swelling, for earlier bile.




Among phonetic changes which occur with more or less regularity are those called aphesis, epenthesis, epithesis, assimilation, dissimilation, and metathesis, convenient terms which are less learned than they appear. Aphesis is the loss of the unaccented first syllable, as in 'baccy and 'later. It occurs almost regularly in words of French origin, e.g. squire and esquire, Prentice and apprentice. When such double forms exist, the surname invariably assumes the popular form, e.g. Prentice, Squire. Other examples are Bonner, i.e. debonair, Jenner, Jenoure, for Mid. Eng. engenour, engineer, Cator, Chaytor, Old Fr. acatour (acheteur), a buyer—

"A gentil maunciple was they of a temple,
Of which achatours mighte take exemple" (A. 567),

Spencer, dispenser, a spender, Stacey for Eustace, Vick and Veck for Levick, i.e. l'évêque, the bishop, Pottinger for the obsolete potigar, an apothecary, etc.

The institution now known as the "orspittle" was called by our unlettered forefathers the "spital," hence the names Spittle and Spittlehouse. A well-known amateur goal-keeper has the appropriate name Fender, for defender.

Many names beginning with n are due to aphesis, e.g. Nash for atten ash, Nalder, Nelms, Nock, atten oak, Nokes, Nye, atten ey, at the island, Nangle, atten angle, Nind or Nend, atten ind or end. With these we may compare Twells, at wells, and the numerous cases in which the first part of a personal name is dropped, e.g. Tolley, Bartholomew, Munn, Edmund, Pott, Philpot, dim. of Philip (see p.87), and the less common Facey, from Boniface, and Loney, from Apollonia, the latter of which has also given Applin.

When a name compounded with Saint begins with a vowel, we get such forms as Tedman, St. Edmund, Tobin, St. Aubyn, Toosey, St. Osith, Toomey, St. Omer, Tooley, St. Olave; cf. Tooley St. for St. Olave St. and tawdry from St. Audrey. When the saint's name begins with a consonant, we get, instead of aphesis, a telescoped pronunciation, e.g. Selinger, St. Leger, Seymour, St. Maur, Sinclair, St. Clair, Semark, St. Mark, Semple, St. Paul, Simper, St. Pierre, Sidney, probably for St. Denis, with which we may compare the educated pronunciation of St. John. These names are all of local origin, from chapelries in Normandy or England.

Epenthesis is the insertion of a sound which facilitates pronunciation, such as that of b in Fr. chambre, from Lat. camera. The intrusive sound may be a vowel or a consonant, as in the names Henery, Hendry, perversions of Henry. [Footnote: On the usual fate of this name in English, see below.]

To Hendry we owe the northern Henderson, which has often coalesced with Anderson, from Andrew. These are contracted into Henson and Anson, the latter also from Ann and Agnes (Chapter IX). Intrusion of a vowel is seen in Greenaway, Hathaway, heath way, Treadaway, trade (i.e. trodden) way, etc., also in Horniman, Alabone, Alban, Minister, minster, etc. But epenthesis of a consonant is more common, especially b or p after m, and d after n. Examples are Gamble for the Anglo-Saxon name Gamel, Hamblin for Hamlin, a double diminutive of Hamo, Simpson, Thompson, etc., and Grindrod, green royd (see p. III). There is also the special case of n before g in such names as Firminger (Chapter XV), Massinger (Chapter XX), Pottinger (Chapter XVIII), etc.




Epithesis, or the addition of a final consonant, is common in uneducated speech, e.g. scholard, gownd, garding, etc. I say "uneducated," but many such forms have been adapted by the language, e.g. sound, Fr. son, and we have the name Kitching for kitchen. The usual additions are -d, -t, or -g after n, e.g. Simmonds, Simon, Hammond, Hammant, Fr. Hamon, Hind, a farm labourer, of which the older form is Hine (Chapter XVII), Collings for Collins, Jennings, Fr. Jeannin, dim. of Jean, Aveling from the female name Avelina or Evelyn. Neill is for Neil, Nigel. We have epithetic -b in Plumb, the man who lived by the plum-tree and epithetic -p in Crump (Chapter II).

Assimilation is the tendency of a sound to imitate its neighbour. Thus the d of Hud (Chapter I) sometimes becomes t in contact with the sharp s, hence Hutson; Tomkins tends to become Tonkin, whence Tonks, if the m and k are not separated by the epenthetic p, Tompkins. In Hopps and Hopkins we have the b of Hob assimilated to the sharp s and k, while in Hobbs we pronounce a final -z. It is perhaps under the influence of the initial labial that Milson, son of Miles or Michael, sometimes becomes Milsom, and Branson, son of Brand, appears as Bransom.

The same group of names is affected by dissimilation, i.e. the instinct to avoid the recurrence of the same sound. Thus Ranson, son of Ranolf or Randolf, becomes Ransom [Footnote: So also Fr, rançon gives Eng. ransom. The French surname Rançon is probably aphetic for Laurançon.] by dissimilation of one n, and Hanson, son of Han (Chapter I), becomes Hansom. In Sansom we have Samson assimilated to Samson and then dissimilated. Dissimilation especially affects the sounds l, n, r. Bullivant is found earlier as bon enfaunt (Goodchild), just as a braggart Burgundian was called by Tudor dramatists a burgullian. Bellinger is for Barringer, an Old French name of Teutonic origin. [Footnote: "When was Bobadil here, your captain? that rogue, that foist, that fencing burgullian" (Jonson, Every Man in his Humour, iv. 2).] Those people called Salisbury who do not hail from Salesbury in Lancashire must have had an ancestor de Sares-bury, for such was the earlier name of Salisbury (Sarum). A number of occupative names have lost the last syllable by dissimilation, e.g. Pepper for pepperer, Armour for armourer. For further examples see Chapter XV.

It may be noted here that, apart from dissimilation, the sounds l, n, r, have a general tendency to become confused, e.g. Phillimore is for Finamour (Dearlove), which also appears as Finnemore and Fenimore, the latter also to be explained from fen and moor. Catlin is from Catherine. Balestier, a cross-bow man, gives Bannister, and Hamnet and Hamlet both occur as the name of one of Shakespeare's sons. Janico or Jenico, Fr. Janicot may be the origin of Jellicoe.

We also get the change of r to l in Hal, for Harry, whence Hallett, Hawkins (Halkins), and the Cornish Hockin, Mal or Mol for Mary, whence Malleson, Mollison, etc., and Pell for Peregrine. This confusion is common in infantile speech, e.g. I have heard a small child express great satisfaction at the presence on the table of "blackbelly dam."




Metathesis, or the transposition of sound, chiefly affects l and r, especially the latter. Our word cress is from Mid. Eng. kers, which appears in Karslake, Toulmin is for Tomlin, a double dim., -el-in, of Tom, Grundy is for Gundry, from Anglo-Sax. Gundred, and Joe Gargery descended from a Gregory. Burnell is for Brunel, dim. of Fr. brun, brown, and Thrupp is for Thorp, a village (Chapter XIII). Strickland was formerly Stirkland, Cripps is the same as Crisp, from Mid. Eng. crisp, curly. Prentis Jankin had—

"Crispe here, shynynge as gold so fyn"

(D. 304);

and of Fame we are told that

"Her heer was oundie (wavy) and crips."

(House of Fame, iii. 296.)

Both names may also be short for Crispin, the etymology being the same in any case. Apps is sometimes for asp, the tree now called by the adjectival name aspen (cf. linden). We find Thomas atte apse in the reign of Edward III.

The letters l, n, r also tend to disappear from no other cause than rapid or careless pronunciation.

Hence we get Home for Holme (Chapter XII), Ferris for Ferrers, a French local name, Batt for Bartholomew, Gatty for Gertrude, Dallison for d'Alençon. The loss of -r- after a vowel is also exemplified by Foster for Forster, Pannell and Pennell for Parnell (sometimes), Gath for Garth (Chapter XIII), and Mash for Marsh. To the loss of n before s we owe such names as Pattison, Paterson, etc., son of Paton, the dim. of Patrick, and Robison for Robinson, and also a whole group of names like Jenks and Jinks for Jenkins (John), Wilkes for Wilkins, Gilkes, Danks, Perks, Hawkes, Jukes for Judkins (Chapter VI), etc. Here I should also include Biggs, which is not always connected with Bigg, for we seldom find adjectival nicknames with -s. It seems to represent Biggins, from obsolete biggin, a building (Chapter XIII).

The French nasal n often disappeared before r. Thus denrée, lit. a pennyworth, appears in Anglo-French as darree. Similarly Henry became Harry, except in Scotland, and the English Kings of that name were always called Harry by their subjects. It is to this pronunciation that we owe the popularity of Harris and Harrison, and the frequency of Welsh Parry, ap, Harry, as compared with Penry. A compromise between Henry and Harry is seen in Hanrott, from the French dim. Henriot.

The initial h-, which we regard with such veneration, is treated quite arbitrarily in surnames. We find a well-known medieval poet called indifferently Occleve and Hoccleve. Harnett is the same as Arnett, for Arnold, Ewens and Heavens are both from Ewan, and Heaven is an imitative form of Evan. In Hoskins, from the medieval Osekin, a dim. of some Anglo-Saxon name such as Oswald (Chapter VII), the aspirate has definitely prevailed. The Devonshire name Hexter is for Exeter, Arbuckle is a corruption of Harbottle, in Northumberland. The Old French name Ancel appears as both Ansell and Hansell, and Earnshaw exists side by side with Hearnshaw (Chapter XII).

The loss of h is especially common when it is the initial letter of a suffix, e.g. Barnum for Barnham, Haslam, (hazel), Blenkinsop for Blenkin's hope (see hope, Chapter XII), Newall for Newhall, Windle for Wind Hill, Tickell for Tick Hill, in Yorkshire, etc. But Barnum and Haslam may also represent the Anglo-Saxon dative plural of the words barn and hazel. A man who minded sheep was once called a Shepard, or Sheppard, as he still is, though we spell it shepherd. The letter w disappears in the same way; thus Greenish is for Greenwich, Horridge for Horwich, Aspinall for Aspinwall, Millard for Millward, the mill-keeper, Boxall for Boxwell, Caudle for Cauldwell (cold); and the Anglo-Saxon names in -win are often confused with those in -ing, e.g. Gooding, Goodwin; Golding, Goldwin; Gunning, Gunwin, etc. In this way Harding has prevailed over the once equally common Hardwin.




Finally, we have to consider what may be called baby phonetics, the sound-changes which seem rather to transgress general phonetic laws. Young children habitually confuse dentals and palatals, thus a child may be heard to say that he has "dot a told." This tendency is, however, not confined to children. My own name, which is a very uncommon one, is a stumbling-block to most people, and when I give it in a shop the scribe has generally got as far as Wheat- before he can be stopped.

We find both Estill and Askell for the medieval Asketil, and Thurtle alternating with Thurkle, originally Thurketil (Chapter VII). Bertenshave is found for Birkenshaw, birch wood, Bartley, sometimes from Bartholomew, is more often for Berkeley, and both Lord Bacon and Horace Walpole wrote Twitnam for Twickenham. Jeffcock, dim. of Geoffrey, becomes Jeffcott, while Glascock is for the local Glascott. Here the palatal takes the place of the dental, as in Brangwin for Anglo-Sax. Brandwine. Middleman is a dialect form of Michaelmas (Chapter IX). We have the same change in tiddlebat for stickleback, a word which exemplifies another point in baby phonetics, viz. the loss of initial s-, as in the classic instance tummy. To this loss of s- we owe Pick for Spick (Chapter XXIII), Pink for Spink, a dialect word for the chaffinch, and, I think, Tout for Stout. The name Stacey is found as Tacey in old Notts registers. On the other hand, an inorganic s- is sometimes prefixed, as in Sturgess for the older Turgis. For the loss of s- we may compare Shakespeare's parmaceti (1 Henry IV. i. 3), and for its addition the adjective spruce, from Pruce, i.e. Prussia.

We also find the infantile confusion between th and f e.g. in Selfe, which appears to represent a personal name Seleth, probably from Anglo-Sax, saelth, bliss. Perhaps also in Fripp for Thripp, a variant of Thrupp, for Thorp. Bickerstaffe is the name of a place in Lancashire, of which the older form appears in Bickersteth, and the local name Throgmorton is spelt by Camden Frogmorton, just as Pepys invariably writes Queenhive for Queenhythe.

Such are some of the commoner phenomena to be noticed in connection with the spelling and sound of our names. The student must always bear in mind that our surnames date from a period when nearly the whole population was uneducated. Their modern forms depend on all sorts of circumstances, such as local dialect, time of adoption, successive fashions in pronunciation and the taste and fancy of the speller. They form part of our language, that is, of a living and ever-changing organism. Some of us are old enough to remember the confusion between initial v and w which prompted the judge's question to Mr. Weller. The vulgar i for a, as in "tike the kike," has been evolved within comparatively recent times, as well as the loss of final -g, "shootin and huntin," in sporting circles. In the word warmint—

"What were you brought up to be?"
"A warmint, dear boy"

(Great Expectations, ch. xl.),

we have three phonetic phenomena, all of which have influenced the form and sound of modern surnames, e.g. in Winter, sometimes for Vinter, i.e. vintner, Clark for Clerk, and Bryant for Bryan; and similar changes have been in progress all through the history of our language.

In conclusion it may be remarked that the personal and accidental element, which has so much to do with the development of surnames, releases this branch of philology to some extent from the iron rule of the phonetician. Of this the preceding pages give examples. The name, not being subject as other words are to a normalizing influence, is easily affected by the traditional or accidental spelling. Otherwise Fry would be pronounced Free. The o is short in Robin and long in Probyn, and yet the names are the same (Chapter VI). Sloper and Smoker mean a maker of slops and smocks respectively, and Smale is an archaic spelling of Small, the modern vowel being in each case lengthened by the retention of an archaic spelling. The late Professor Skeat rejects Bardsley's identification of Waring with Old Fr. Garin or Warin, because the original vowel and the suffix are both different. But Mainwaring, which is undoubtedly from mesnil-Warin (Chapter XIV), shows Bardsley to be right.





"Talbots and Stanleys, St. Maurs and such-like folk, have led armies and made laws time out of mind; but those noble
families would be somewhat astonished—if the accounts ever came to be fairly taken—to find how small their
work for England has been by the side of that of the Browns." (Tom Brown's Schooldays, ch. i.)

Brown, Jones, and Robinson have usurped in popular speech positions properly belonging to Smith, Jones and Williams. But the high position of Jones and Williams is due to the Welsh, who, replacing a string of Aps by a simple genitive at a comparatively recent date, have given undue prominence to a few very common names; cf. Davies, Evans, etc. If we consider only purely English names, the triumvirate would be Smith, Taylor, and Brown. Thus, of our three commonest names, the first two are occupative and the third is a nickname. French has no regular equivalent, though Dupont and Durand are sometimes used in this way —

"Si Chateaubriand avait eu nom Durand ou Dupont, qui sait si son Génie du Christianisme n'eût point passé
pour une capucinade?"

(F. Brunetiére.)

The Germans speak of Müller, Meyer and Schulze, all rural names, and it is perhaps characteristic that two of them are official. Meyer is an early loan from Lat. major, and appears to have originally meant something like overseer. Later on it acquired the meaning of farmer, in its proper sense of one who farms, i.e. manages on a profit-sharing system, the property of another. It is etymologically the same as our Mayor, Mair, etc. Schulze, a village magistrate, is cognate with Ger. Schuld, debt, and our verb shall.




Taking the different classes of surnames separately, the six commonest occupative names are Smith, Taylor, Clark, Wright, Walker, Turner. If we exclude Clark, as being more often a nickname for the man who could read and write, the sixth will be Cooper, sometimes spelt Cowper.

The commanding position of Smith is due to the fact that it was applied to all workers in every kind of metal. The modern Smiths no doubt include descendants of medieval blacksmiths, whitesmiths, bladesmiths, locksmiths, and many others, but the compounds are not common as surnames. We find, however, Shoosmith, Shearsmith, and Nasmyth, the last being more probably for earlier Knysmith, i.e. knife-smith, than for nail-smith, which was supplanted by Naylor. Grossmith I guess to be an accommodated form of the Ger. Grobschmied, blacksmith, lit. rough smith, and Goldsmith is very often a Jewish name for Ger. Goldschmid.

Wright, obsolete perhaps as a trade name, has given many compounds, including Arkwright, a maker of bins, or arks as they were once called, Tellwright, a tile maker, and many others which need no interpretation. The high position of Taylor is curious, for there were other names for the trade, such as Seamen, Shapster, Parmenter (Chapter XVIII), and neither Tailleur nor Letailleur are particularly common in French. The explanation is that this name has absorbed the medieval Teler and Teller, weaver, ultimately belonging to Lat. tela, a web; — cf. the very common Fr. Tellier and Letellier. In some cases also the Mid. Eng. teygheler, Tyler, has been swallowed up. Walker, i.e. trampler, meant a cloth fuller, but another origin has helped to swell the numbers of the clan—

"Walkers are such as are otherwise called foresters. They are foresters assigned by the King, who are walkers within a certain space of ground assigned to their care" (Cowel's Interpreter).

Cooper, a derivative of Lat. cupa or cuppa, a vessel, is cognate with the famous French name Cuvier, which has given our Cover, though this may also be for coverer, i.e. tiler (Chapter XV).

Of occupative names which have also an official meaning, the three commonest are Ward, Bailey, and Marshall. Ward, originally abstract, is the same word as Fr. garde. Bailey, Old Fr. bailif (bailli), ranges from a Scottish magistrate to a man in possession. It is related to bail and to bailey, a ward in a fortress, as in Old Bailey. Bayliss may come from the Old French nominative bailis (Chapter I), or may be formed like Parsons, etc. (Chapter XV). Marshall (Chapter XX) may stand for a great commander or a shoeing-smith, still called farrier-marshal in the army. The first syllable is cognate with mare and the second means servant. Constable, Lat. comes stabuli, stableman, has a similar history.




The commonest local names naturally include none taken from particular places. The three commonest are Hall, Wood and Green, from residence by the great house, the wood, and the village green. Cf. the French names Lasalle, Dubois, Dupré. Hall is sometimes for Hale (Chapter II), and its Old French translation is one source of Sale. Next to these come Hill, Moore, and Shaw (Chapter XII); but Lee would probably come among the first if all its variants were taken into account (Chapter III).

Of baptismal names used unaltered as surnames the six commonest are Thomas, Lewis, Martin, James, Morris, Morgan. Here again the Welsh element is strong, and four of these names, ending in -s, belong also to the next group, i.e. the class of surnames formed from the genitive of baptismal names. The frequent occurrence of Lewis is partly due to its being adopted as a kind of translation of the Welsh Llewellyn, but the name is often a disguised Jewish Levi, and has nearly absorbed the local Lewes. Next to the above come Allen, Bennett, Mitchell, all of French introduction. Mitchell may have been reinforced by Mickle, the northern for Bigg. It is curious that these particularly common names, Martin, Allen, Bennett (Benedict), Mitchell (Michael), have formed comparatively few derivatives and are generally found in their unaltered form. Three of them are from famous saints' names, while Allen, a Breton name which came in with the Conquest, has probably absorbed to some extent the Anglo-Saxon name Alwin (Chapter VII). Martin is in some cases an animal nickname, the marten. Among the genitives Jones, Williams, and Davi(e)s lead easily, followed by Evans, Roberts, and Hughes, all Welsh in the main. Among the twelve commonest names of this class those that are not preponderantly Welsh are Roberts, Edwards, Harris, Phillips, and Rogers. Another Welsh patronymic, Price (Chapter VI), is among the fifty commonest English names.

The classification of names in -son raises the difficult question as to whether Jack represents Fr. Jacques, or whether it comes from Jankin, Jenkin, dim. of John. [Footnote: See E. B. Nicholson, The Pedigree of Jack.]

Taking Johnson and Jackson as separate names, we get the order Johnson, Robinson, Wilson, Thompson, Jackson, Harrison. The variants of Thompson might put it a place or two higher. Names in -kins (Distribution of names, Chapter IV), though very numerous in some regions, are not so common as those in the above classes. It would be hard to say which English font-name has given the largest number of family names. In Chapter V. will be found some idea of the bewildering and multitudinous forms they assume. It has been calculated, I need hardly say by a German professor, that the possible number of derivatives from one given name is 6, 000, but fortunately most of the seeds are abortive.

Of nicknames Brown, Clark, and White are by far the commonest. Then comes King, followed by the two adjectival nicknames Sharp and Young.

The growth of towns and facility of communication are now bringing about such a general movement that most regions would accept Brown, Jones and Robinson as fairly typical names. But this was not always so. Brown is still much commoner in the north than in the south, and at one time the northern Johnson and Robinson contrasted with the southern Jones and Roberts, the latter being of comparatively modern origin in Wales (Chapter IV). Even now, if we take the farmer class, our nomenclature is largely regional, and the directories even of our great manufacturing towns represent to a great extent the medieval population of the rural district around them. [Footnote: See Guppy, Homes of Family Names.] The names Daft and Turney, well known in Nottingham, appear in the county in the Hundred Rolls. Cheetham, the name of a place now absorbed in Manchester, is as a surname ten times more numerous there than in London, and the same is true of many characteristic north-country names, such as the Barraclough, Murgatroyd, and Sugden of Charlotte Brontë's Shirley. The transference of Murgatroyd (Chapter XII) to Cornwall, in Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore, must have been part of the intentional topsy-turvydom in which those two bright spirits delighted.

Diminutives in -kin, from the Old Dutch suffix -ken, are still found in greatest number on the east coast that faces Holland, or in Wales, where they were introduced by the Flemish weavers who settled in Pembrokeshire in the reign of Henry I. It is in the border counties, Cheshire, Shropshire, Hereford, and Monmouth, that we find the old Welsh names such as Gough, Lloyd, Onion (Enion), Vaughan (Chapter XXII). The local Gape, an opening in the cliffs, is pretty well confined to Norfolk, and Puddifoot belongs to Bucks and the adjacent counties as it did in 1273. The hall changes hands as one conquering race succeeds another—

"Where is Bohun? Where is de Vere? The lawyer, the farmer, the silk mercer, lies perdu under the coronet, and winks to the antiquary to say nothing" (Emerson, English Traits),

but the hut keeps its ancient inhabitants. The descendant of the Anglo-Saxon serf who cringed to Front de Boeuf now makes way respectfully for Isaac of York's motor, perhaps on the very spot where his own fierce ancestor first exchanged the sword for the ploughshare long before Alfred's day.





"I was born in the year 1632, in the city of York, of a good family, though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull. He got a good estate by merchandize, and leaving off his trade, lived afterwards at York, from whence he married my mother, whose relations were named Robinson, a very good family in that country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual corruption of words in English, we are now called—nay, we call ourselves and write our name—Crusoe" (Robinson Crusoe, ch. i.).

Any student of our family nomenclature must be struck by the fact that the number of foreign names now recognizable in England is out of all proportion to the immense number which must have been introduced at various periods of our history. Even the expert, who is often able to detect the foreign name in its apparently English garb, cannot rectify this disproportion for us. The number of names of which the present form can be traced back to a foreign origin is inconsiderable when compared with the much larger number assimilated and absorbed by the Anglo-Saxon.




The great mass of those names of French or Flemish origin which do not date back to the Conquest or to medieval times are due to the immigration of Protestant refugees in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is true that many names for which Huguenot ancestry is claimed were known in England long before the Reformation. Thus, Bulteel is the name of a refugee family which came from Tournay about the year 1600, but the same name is found in the Hundred Rolls Of 1273. The Grubbe family, according to Burke, came from Germany about 1450, after the Hussite persecution; but we find the name in England two centuries earlier, "without the assistance of a foreign persecution to make it respectable" (Bardsley, Dictionary of English Surnames). The Minet family is known to be of Huguenot origin, but the same name also figures in the medieval Rolls. The fact is that there was all through the Middle Ages a steady immigration of foreigners, whether artisans, tradesmen, or adventurers, some of whose names naturally reappear among the Huguenots. On several occasions large bodies of Continental workmen, skilled in special trades, were brought into the country by the wise policy of the Government. Like the Huguenots later on, they were protected by the State and persecuted by the populace, who resented their habits of industry and sobriety.

During the whole period of the religious troubles in France and Flanders, starting from the middle of the sixteenth century, refugees were reaching this country in a steady stream; but after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685) they arrived in thousands, and the task of providing for them and helping on their absorption into the population became a serious problem. Among the better class of these immigrants was to be found the flower of French intellect and enterprise, and one has only to look through an Army or Navy list, or to notice the names which are prominent in the Church, at the Bar, and in the higher walks of industry and commerce, to realize the madness of Louis XIV. and the wisdom of the English Government.

Here are a few taken at random from Smiles's History of the Huguenots—Bosanquet, Casaubon, Chenevix Trench, Champion de Crespigny, Dalbiac, Delane, Dollond, Durand, Fonblanque, Gambier, Garrick, Layard, Lefanu, Lefroy, Ligonier, Luard, Martineau, Palairet, Perowne, Plimsoll, Riou, Romilly all respectable and many distinguished, even cricket being represented. These more educated foreigners usually kept their names, sometimes with slight modifications which do not make them unrecognizable. Thus, Bouverie, literally "ox-farm," is generally found in its unaltered form, though the London Directory has also examples of the perverted Buffery. But the majority of the immigrants were of the artisan class and illiterate. This explains the extraordinary disappearance, in the course of two centuries, of the thousands of French names which were introduced between 1550 and 1700.

We have many official lists of these foreigners, and in these lists we catch the foreign name in the very act of transforming itself into English. This happens sometimes by translation, e.g. Poulain became Colt, Poisson was reincarnated as Fish, and a refugee bearing the somewhat uncommon name Petitoeil transformed himself into Little-eye, which became in a few generations Lidley. But comparatively few surnames were susceptible of such simple treatment, and in the great majority of cases the name underwent a more or less arbitrary perversion which gave it a more English physiognomy. Especially interesting from this point of view is the list of— "Straungers residing and dwellinge within the city of London and the liberties thereof," drawn up in 1618. The names were probably taken down by the officials of the different wards, who, differing themselves in intelligence and orthography, produced very curious results.

As a rule the Christian name is translated, while the surname is either assimilated to some English form or perverted according to the taste and fancy of the individual constable. Thus, John Garret, a Dutchman, is probably Jan Gerard, and James Flower, a milliner, born in Rouen, is certainly Jaques Fleur, or Lafleur. John de Cane and Peter le Cane are Jean Duquesne and Pierre Lequesne (Norman quêne, oak), though the former may also have come from Caen. John Buck, from Rouen, is Jean Bouc, and Abraham Bushell, from Rochelle, was probably a Roussel or Boissel. James King and John Hill, both Dutchmen, are obvious translations of common Dutch names, while Henry Powell, a German, is Heinrich Paul. Mary Peacock, from Dunkirk, and John Bonner, a Frenchman, I take to be Marie Picot and Jean Bonheur, while Nicholas Bellow is surely Nicolas Belleau. Michael Leman, born in Brussels, may be French Leman or Lemoine, or perhaps German Lehmann.

To each alien's name is appended that of the monarch whose subject he calls himself, but a republic is outside the experience of one constable, who leaves an interrogative blank after Cristofer Switcher, born at Swerick (Zürich) in Switcherland. The surname so ingeniously created appears to have left no pedagogic descendants. In some cases the harassed Bumble has lost patience, and substituted a plain English name for foreign absurdity. To the brain which christened Oliver Twist we owe Henry Price, a subject of the King of Poland, Lewis Jackson, a "Portingall," and Alexander Faith, a steward to the Venice Ambassador, born in the dukedom of Florence.




In the returns made outside the bounds of the city proper the aliens have added their own signatures, or in some cases made their marks. Jacob Alburtt signs himself as Jacob Elbers, and Croft Castell as Kraft Kassels. Harman James is the official translation of Hermann Jacobs, Mary Miller of Marija Moliner, and John Young of Jan le Jeune. Gyllyam Spease, for Wilbert Spirs, seems to be due to a Welsh constable, and Chrystyan Wyhelhames, for Cristian Welselm, looks like a conscientious attempt at Williams. One registrar, with a phonetic system of his own, has transformed the Dutch Moll into the more familiar Maule, and has enriched his list with Jannacay Yacopes for Jantje Jacobs. Lowe Luddow, who signs himself Louij Ledou, seems to be Louis Ledoux. An alien who writes himself Jann Eisankraott (Ger. Eisenkraut? ) cannot reasonably complain plain at being transformed into John Isacrocke, but the substitution of John Johnson for Jansen Vandrusen suggests that this individual's case was taken at the end of a long day's work.

These examples, taken at random, show how the French and Flemish names of the humbler refugees lost their foreign appearance. In many cases the transformation was etymologically justified. Thus, some of our Druitts and Drewetts may be descended from Martin Druett, the first name on the list. But this is probably the common French name Drouet or Drouot, assimilated to the English Druitt, which we find in 1273. And both are diminutives of Drogo, which occurs in Domesday Book, and is, through Old French, the origin of our Drew. But in many cases the name has been so deformed that one can only guess at the continental original. I should conjecture, for instance, that the curious name Shoppee is a corruption of Chappuis, the Old French for a carpenter, and that

Jacob Shophousey, registered as a German cutler, came from Schaffhausen. In this particular region of English nomenclature a little guessing is almost excusable. The law of probabilities makes it mathematically certain that the horde of immigrants included representatives of all the very common French family names, and it would be strange if Chappuis were absent.

This process of transformation is still going on in a small way, especially in our provincial manufacturing towns, in which most large commercial undertakings have slipped from the nerveless grasp of the Anglo-Saxon into the more capable and prehensile fingers of the foreigner—

"Hilda then learnt that Mrs. Gailey had married a French modeller named Canonges. . . and that in course of time the modeller had informally changed the name to Cannon, because no one in the five towns could pronounce the true name rightly."
(Arnold Bennett, Hilda Lessways, i. 5.)

This occurs most frequently in the case of Jewish names of German origin. Thus, Löwe becomes Lowe or Lyons, Meyer is transformed into Myers, Goldschmid into Goldsmith, Kohn into Cowan, Levy into Lee or Lewis, Salamon into Salmon, Hirsch or Hertz into Hart, and so on. Sometimes a bolder flight is attempted—

"Leopold Norfolk Gordon had a house in Park Lane, and ever so many people's money to keep it up with. As may be guessed from his name, he was a Jew."

(Morley Roberts, Lady Penelope, ch. ii.)




The Jewish names of German origin which are now so common in England mostly date from the beginning of the nineteenth century, when laws were passed in Austria, Prussia and Bavaria to compel all Jewish families to adopt a fixed surname. Many of them chose personal names, e.g. Jakobs, Levy, Moses, for this purpose, while others named themselves from their place of residence, e.g. Cassel, Speyer (Spires), Hamburg, often with the addition of the syllable -er, e.g. Darmesteter, Homburger. Some families preferred descriptive names such as Selig (Chapter XXII), Sonnenschein, Goldmann, or invented poetic and gorgeous place-names such as Rosenberg, Blumenthal, Goldberg, Lilienfeld. The oriental fancy also showed itself in such names as Edelstein, jewel, Glueckstein, luck stone, Rubinstein, ruby, Goldenkranz, golden wreath, etc. [Footnote: Our Touchstone would seem also to be a nickname. The obituary of a Mr. Touchstone appeared in the Manchester Guardian, December 12, 1912.] It is owing to the existence of the last two groups that our fashionable intelligence is now often so suggestive of a wine-list. Among animal names adopted the favourites were Adler, eagle, Hirsch, hart, Löwe, lion, and Wolf, each of which is used with symbolic significance in the Old Testament.





"Watte vocat, cui Thomme venit, neque Symme retardat,
    Betteque, Gibbe simul, Hykke venire jubent;
Colle furit, quem Geffe juvat nocumenta parantes,
    Cum quibus ad dampnum Wille coire vovet.
Grigge rapit, dum Dawe strepit, comes est quibus Hobbe,
    Lorkyn et in medio non minor esse putat:
Hudde ferit, quem Judde terit, dum Tebbe minatur,
    Jakke domosque viros vellit et ense necat."

(GOWER, On Wat Tyler's Rebellion.)

Gower's lines on the peasant rebels give us some idea of the names which were most popular in the fourteenth century, and which have consequently impressed themselves most strongly on our modern surnames. It will be noticed that one member of the modern triumvirate, Harry, or Hal, is absent. [Footnote: The three names were not definitely established till the nineteenth century. Before that period they had rivals. French says Pierre et Paul, and German Heinz and Kunz, i.e. Heinrich and Conrad.] The great popularity of this name probably dates from a rather later period and is connected with the exploits of Henry V. Moreover, all the names, with the possible exception of Hud, are of French introduction and occur rarely before the Conquest. The old Anglo-Saxon names did survive, especially in the remoter parts of the country, and have given us many surnames (see ch. vii.), but even in the Middle Ages people had a preference for anything that came over with the Conqueror. French names are nearly all of German origin, the Celtic names and the Latin names which encroached on them having been swept away by the Frankish invasion, a parallel to the wholesale adoption of Norman names in England. Thus our name Harvey, no longer usual as a font-name, is Fr. Herod, which represents the heroic German name Herewig, to the second syllable of which belongs such an apparently insignificant name as Wigg.




The disappearance of Latin names is not to be regretted, for the Latin nomenclature was of the most unimaginative description, while the Old German names are more like those of Greece; e.g. Ger. Ludwig, which has passed into most of the European languages (Louis, Lewis, Ludovico, etc), is from Old High Ger. hlut-wig, renowned in fight, equivalent to the Greek Clytomachus, with one-half of which it is etymologically cognate.

Some of the names in Gower's list, e.g. Watte (Chapter I), Thomme, Symme, Geffe (Chapter VI), Wille, Jakke, are easily recognized. Bette is for Bat, Bartholomew, a name, which has given Batty, Batten, Bates, Bartle (cf. Bartlemas), Bartlett, Badcock, Batcock. But this group of names belongs also to the Bert- or -bent, which is so common in Teutonic names, such as Bertrand, Bertram, Herbert, Hubert, many of which reached us in an Old French form. For the loss of the -r-, cf. Matty from Martha. Gibe is for Gilbert. Hick is rimed on Dick: (Chapter VI). Colle is for Nicolas. Grig is for Gregory, whence Gregson and Scottish Grier. Dawe, for David, alternated with Day and Dow, which appear as first element in many surnames, though Day has another origin (Chapter XIX) and Dowson sometimes belongs to the female name Douce, sweet. Hobbe is a rimed form from Robert. Lorkyn, or Larkin, is for Lawrence, for which we also find Law, Lay, and Low, whence Lawson, Lakin, Lowson, Locock, etc. For Hudde see Chapters I, VII. Judde, from the very popular Jordan, has given Judson, Judkins, and the contracted Jukes. Jordan (Fr. Jourdain, Ital. Giordano) seems to have been adopted as a personal name in honour of John the Baptist. Tebbe is for Theobald (Chapter I).




Many people, in addressing a small boy with whom they are unacquainted, are in the habit of using Tommy as a name to which any small boy should naturally answer. In some parts of Polynesia the natives speak of a white Mary or a black Mary, i.e. woman, just as the Walloons round Mons speak of Marie bon bec, a shrew, Marie grognon, a Mrs. Gummidge, Marie quatre langues, a chatterbox, and several other Maries still less politely described. We have the modern silly Johnny for the older silly Billy, while Jack Pudding is in German Hans Wurst, John Sausage. Only the very commonest names are used in this way, and, if we had no further evidence, the rustic Dicky bird, Robin redbreast, Hob goblin, Tom tit, Will o' the Wisp, Jack o' lantern, etc., would tell us which have been in the past the most popular English font-names. During the Middle Ages there was a kind of race among half a dozen favourite names, the prevailing order being John, William, Thomas, Richard, Robert, with perhaps Hugh as sixth.

Now, for each of these there is a reason. John, a favourite name in so many languages (Jean, Johann, Giovanni, Juan, Ian, Ivan, etc.), as the name of the Baptist and of the favoured disciple, defied even the unpopularity of our one King of that name. The special circumstances attending the birth and naming of the Baptist probably supplied the chief factor in its triumph.

For some time after the Conquest William led easily. We usually adopted the W- form from the north-east of France, but Guillaume has also supplied a large number of surnames in Gil-, which have got inextricably mixed up with those derived from Gilbert, Gillian (Juliana), and Giles. Gilman represents the French dim. Guillemin, the local-looking Gilliam is simply Guillaume, and Wilmot corresponds to Fr. Guillemot.

The doubting disciple held a very insignificant place until the shrine of St. Thomas of Canterbury became one of the holy places of Christendom. To Thomas belong Macey, Massie, and Masson, dims. of French aphetic forms, but the first two are also from Old French forms of Matthew, and Masson is sometimes an alternative form of Mason.

Robert and Richard were both popular Norman names. The first was greatly helped by Robin Hood and the second by the Lion-Heart.

The name Hugh was borne by several saints, the most famous of whom in England was the child-martyr, St. Hugh of Lincoln, said to have been murdered by the Jews C. 1250. It had a dim. Huggin and also the forms Hew and How, whence Hewett, Hewlett, Howitt, Howlett, etc., while from the French dim. Huchon we get Hutchin and its derivatives, and also Houchin. Hugh also appears in the rather small class of names represented by Littlejohn, Meiklejohn, etc. [Footnote: This formation seems to be much commoner in French. In the "Bottin" I find Grandblaise, Grandcollot (Nicolas), Grandgeorge, Grandgérard, Grandguillaume, Grandguillot, Grandjacques, Grand-jean, Grandperrin (Pierre), Grandpierre, Grandremy, Grandvincent, and Petitcolin, Petitdemange (Dominique), Petitdidier (Desiderius), Petit-Durand, Petit-Etienne (Stephen), Petit-Gérard, Petit-Huguenin, Petitjean, Petitperrin, Petit-Richard.] We find Goodhew, Goodhue. Cf. Gaukroger, i.e. awkward Roger, and Goodwillie. But the more usual origin of Goodhew, Goodhue is from Middle Eng. heave, servant, hind. Cf. Goodhind.

Most of the other names in Gower's list have been prolific. We might add to them Roger, whence Hodge and Dodge, Humfrey, which did not lend itself to many variations, and Peter, from the French form of which we have many derivatives (Chapter III), including perhaps the Huguenot Perowne, Fr. Perron, but this can also be local, du Perron, the etymology, Lat. Petra, rock, remaining the same.

The absence of the great names Alfred [Footnote: The name Alured is due to misreading of the older Alvred, v being written u in old MSS. Allfrey is from the Old French form of the name.] and Edward is not surprising, as they belonged to the conquered race. Though Edward was revived as the name of a long line of Kings, its contribution to surnames has been small, most names in Ed-, Ead-, e.g. Ede, Eden, Edison, Edkins, Eady, etc., belonging rather to the once popular female name Eda or to Edith, though in some cases they are from Edward or other Anglo-Saxon names having the same initial syllable. James is a rare name in medieval rolls, being represented by Jacob, and no doubt partly by Jack (Chapter IV). It is—

"Wrested from Jacob, the same as Jago [Footnote: Jago is found, with other Spanish names, in Cornwall; cf. Bastian or Baste, for Sebastian.] in Spanish, Jaques in French; which some Frenchified English, to their disgrace, have too much affected" (Camden).

It appears in Gimson, Jemmett, and the odd-looking Gem, while its French form is somewhat disguised in Jeakes and Jex.




The force of royal example is seen in the popularity under the Angevin kings of Henry, or Harry, Geoffrey and Fulk, the three favourite names in that family. For Harry see Chapter III. Geoffrey, from Ger. Gottfried, Godfrey, has given us a large number of names in Geff-, Jeff-, and Giff-, Jiff-, and probably also Jebb, Gepp and Jepson, while to Fulk we owe Fewkes, Foakes, Fowkes, Vokes, etc., and perhaps in some cases Fox. But it is impossible to catalogue all the popular medieval font-names. Many others will be found scattered through this book as occasion or association suggests them.

Three names whose poor representation is surprising are Arthur, Charles and George, the two great Kings of medieval romance and the patron saint of Merrie England. All three are fairly common in their unaltered form, and we find also Arter for Arthur. But they have given few derivatives, though Atkins, generally from Ad-, i.e. Adam, may sometimes be from Arthur (cf. Bat for Bart, Matty for Martha, etc.). Arthur is a rare medieval font-name, a fact no doubt due to the sad fate of King John's nephew. Its modern popularity dates from the Duke of Wellington, while Charles and George were raised from obscurity by the Stuarts and the Brunswicks. To these might be added the German name Frederick, the spread of which was due to the fame of Frederick the Great. It gave, however, in French the dissimilated Ferry, one source of our surnames Ferry, Ferris, though the former is generally local. [Footnote: "For Frideric, the English have commonly used Frery and Fery, which hath been now a long time a Christian name in the ancient family of Tilney, and lucky to their house, as they report." (Camden.)]

If, on the other hand, we take from Gower's list a name which is to-day comparatively rare, e.g. Gilbert, we find it represented by a whole string of surnames, e.g. Gilbart, Gibbs, Gibson, Gibbon, Gibbins, Gipps, Gipson, to mention only the most familiar. From the French dim. Gibelot we get the rather rare Giblett; cf. Hewlett for Hew-el-et, Hamlet for Ham-el-et (Hamo), etc.




In forming patronymics from personal names, it is not always the first syllable that is selected. In Toll, Tolley, Tollett, from Bartholomew, the second has survived, while Philpot, dim. of Philip, has given Potts. From Alexander we get Sanders and Saunders. But, taking, for simplicity, two instances in which the first syllable has survived, we shall find plenty of instruction in those two pretty men Robert and Richard. We have seen (Chapter VI) that Roger gave Hodge and Dodge, which, in the derivatives Hodson and Dodson, have coalesced with names derived from Odo and the Anglo-Sax. Dodda (Chapter VII). Similarly Robert gave Rob, Hob and Dob, and Richard gave Rick, Hick and Dick. [Footnote: I believe, however, that Hob is in some cases from Hubert, whence Hubbard, Hibbert, Hobart, etc.] Hob, whence Hobbs, was sharpened into Hop, whence Hopps. The diminutive Hopkin, passing into Wales, gave Popkin, just as ap-Robin became Probyn, ap-Hugh Pugh, ap-Owen Bowen, etc. In the north Dobbs became Dabbs (p. A. Hob also developed another rimed form Nob cf. to "hob-nob" with anyone), whence Nobbs and Nabbs, the latter, of course, being sometimes rimed on Abbs, from Abel or Abraham. Bob is the latest variant and has not formed many surnames. Richard has a larger family than Robert, for, besides Rick, Hick and Dick, we have Rich and Hitch, Higg and Digg. The reader will be able to continue this genealogical tree for himself.

The full or the shortened name can become a surname, either without change, or with the addition of the genitive -s or the word -son, the former more usual in the south, the latter in the north. To take a simple case, we find as surnames William, Will, Williams, Wills, Williamson, Wilson. [Footnote: This suffix has squeezed out all the others, though Alice Johnson is theoretically absurd. In Mid. English we find daughter, father, mother, brother and other terms of relationship used in this way, e.g. in 1379, Agnes Dyconwyfdowson, the wife of Dow's son Dick. Dawbarn, child of David, is still found. See also Chapter XXI]

From the short form we get diminutives by means of the English suffixes -ie or -y (these especially in the north), -kin (Chapter IV), and the French suffixes -et, -ot (often becoming -at in English), -in, -on (often becoming -en in English). Thus Willy, Wilkie, Willett. I give a few examples of surnames formed from each class

Ritchie (Richard), Oddy (Odo, whence also Oates), Lambie (Lambert), Jelley (Julian); [Footnote: Lamb is also, of course, a nickname cf. Agnew, Fr. agneau]

Dawkins, Dawkes (David), Hawkins, Hawkes (Hal), Gilkins (Geoffrey), Perkins, Perks (Peter), Rankin (Randolf);

Gillett (Gil, Chapter VI), Collett (Nicholas), Bartlett (Bartholomew), Ricketts (Richard), Marriott, Marryat (Mary), Elliott (Elias, see Chapter IX), Wyatt (Guy), Perrott (Peter);

Collins (Nicholas), Jennings (John, see Chapter X), Copping (Jacob, see Chapter I), Rawlin (Raoul, the French form of Radolf, whence Roll, Ralph, Relf), Paton (Patrick), Sisson (Sirs, i.e. Cecilia), Gibbons (Gilbert), Beaton (Beatrice).

In addition to the suffixes and diminutives already mentioned, we have the two rather puzzling endings -man and -cock. Man occurs as an ending in several Germanic names which are older than the Conquest, e.g. Ashman, Harman, Coleman; and the simple Mann is also an Anglo-Saxon personal name. It is sometimes to be taken literally, e.g. in Goodman, i.e. master of the house (Matt. xx. ii), Longman, Youngman, etc. In Hickman, Homan (How, Hugh), etc., it may mean servant of, as in Ladyman, Priestman, or may be merely an augmentative suffix. In Coltman, Runciman, it is occupative, the man in charge of the colts, rouncies or nags. Chaucer's Shipman—

"Rood upon a rouncy as he kouthe" (A. 390).

In Bridgeman, Pullman, it means the man who lived near, or had some office in connection with, the bridge or pool. But it is often due to the imitative instinct. Dedman is for the local Debenham, and Lakeman for Lakenham, while Wyman represents the old name Wymond, and Bowman and Beeman are sometimes for the local Beaumont (cf. the pronunciation of Belvoir). But the existence in German of the name Bienemann shows that Beeman may have meant bee-keeper. Sloman may be a nickname, but also means the man in the slough (Chapter XII), and Godliman is an old familiar spelling of Godalming. We of course get doubtful cases, e.g. Sandeman may be, as explained by Bardsley, the servant of Alexander (Chapter VI), but it may equally well represent Mid. Eng. sandeman, a messenger, and Lawman, Layman, are rather to be regarded as derivatives of Lawrence (Chapter VI) than what they appear to be.





Many explanations have been given of the suffix -cock, but I cannot say that any of them have convinced me. Both Cock and the patronymic Cocking are found as early personal names. The suffix was added to the shortened form of font-names, e.g. Alcock (Allen), Hitchcock (Richard), was apparently felt as a mere diminutive, and took an -s like the diminutives in -kin, e.g. Willcocks, Simcox. In Hedgecock, 'Woodcock, etc., it is of course a nickname. The modern Cox is one of our very common names, and the spelling Cock, Cocks, Cox, can be found representing three generations in the churchyard of Invergowrie, near Dundee.

The two names Bawcock and Meacock had once a special significance. Pistol, urged to the breach by Fluellen, replies

"Good bawcock, bate thy rage! use lenity, sweet chuck"

(Henry V., iii, 2);

and Petruchio, pretending that his first interview with Katherine has been most satisfactory, says—

  "'Tis a world to see
How tame, when men and women are alone,
A meacock wretch can make the curstest shrew."

(Taming of the Shrew, ii.1.)

These have been explained as Fr. beau coq, which is possible, and meek cock, which is absurd. As both words are found as surnames before Shakespeare's time, it is probable that they are diminutives which were felt as suited to receive a special connotation, just as a man who treats his thirst generously is vulgarly called a Lushington. Bawcock can easily be connected with Baldwin, while Meacock, Maycock, belong to the personal name May or Mee, shortened from the Old Fr. Mahieu (Chapter IX).

Although we are not dealing with Celtic names, a few words as to the Scottish, Irish, and Welsh surnames which we find in our directories may be useful. Those of Celtic origin are almost invariably patronymics. The Scottish and Irish Mac, son, used like the Anglo-Fr. Fitz-, ultimately means kin, and is related to the -mough of Watmough (Chapter XXI) and to the word maid. In MacNab, son of the abbot, and MacPherson, son of the parson, we have curious hybrids. In Manx names, such as Quilliam (Mac William), Killip (Mac Philip), Clucas (Mac Lucas), we have aphetic forms of Mac. The Irish 0', grandson, descendant, has etymologically the same meaning as Mac, and is related to the first part of Ger. Oheim, uncle, of Anglo-Sax. eam (see Eames, Chapter XXI), and of Lat. avus, grandfather. Oe or oye is still used for grandchild in Scottish—

"There was my daughter's wean, little Eppie Daidle, my oe, ye ken" (Heart of Midlothian, ch. iv.).

The names of the Lowlands of Scotland are pretty much the same as those of northern England, with the addition of a very large French element, due to the close historical connection between the two countries. Examples of French names, often much corrupted, are Bethune (Pas de Calais), often corrupted into Beaton, the name of one of the Queen's Maries, Boswell (Bosville, Seine Inf.), Bruce (Brieux, Orne), Comyn, Cumming (Comines, Nord), Grant (le grand), Rennie (René), etc.





Welsh Ap or Ab, reduced from an older Map, ultimately cognate with Mac, gives us such names as Probyn, Powell (Howell, Hoel), Price (Rhys), Pritchard, Prosser (Rosser), Prothero (Roderick), Bedward, Beddoes (Eddowe), Blood (Lud, Lloyd), Bethell (Ithel), Benyon (Enion), whence also Binyon and the local-looking Baynham. Onion and Onions are imitative forms of Enion. Applejohn and Upjohn are corruptions of Ap-john. The name Floyd, sometimes Flood, is due to the English inability to grapple with the Welsh Ll—

"I am a gentylman and come of Brutes [Brutus'] blood,
My name is ap Ryce, ap Davy, ap Flood."

(Andrew Boorde, Book of the Introduction of Knowledge, ii 7.)

While Welsh names are almost entirely patronymic, Cornish names are very largely local. They are distinguished by the following prefixes and others of less common occurrence: Caer-, fort, Lan-, church, Pen-, hill, Pol-, pool, Ros-, heath, Tre-, settlement, e.g. Carthew, Lanyon, Penruddock, Polwarth, Rosevear, Trethewy. Sometimes these elements are found combined, e.g. in Penrose.

A certain number of Celtic nicknames and occupative names which are frequently found in England will be mentioned elsewhere (pp. 173, 216). In Gilchrist, Christ's servant, Gildea, servant of God, Gillies, servant of Jesus, Gillespie, bishop's servant, Gilmour, Mary's servant, Gilroy, red servant, we have the Highland "gillie." Such names were originally preceded by Mac-, e.g. Gilroy is the same as MacIlroy; cf. MacLean, for Mac-gil-Ian, son of the servant of John. To the same class of formation belong Scottish names in Mal-, e.g. Malcolm, and Irish names in Mul-, e.g. Mulholland, in which the first element means tonsured servant, shaveling, and the second is the name of a saint.






"England had now once more (A.D. 1100) a King born on her own soil, a Queen of the blood of the hero Eadmund, a King and Queen whose children would trace to AElfred by two descents. Norman insolence mocked at the English King and his English Lady under the English names of Godric and Godgifu." [Footnote: "Godricum eum, et comparem Godgivam appellantes" (William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum Anglorum).]

(FREEMAN, Norman Conquest, v. 170.)

In dealing with surnames we begin after the Conquest, for the simple reason that there were no surnames before. Occasionally an important person has come down in history with a nickname, e.g. Edmund Iron-side, Harold Harefoot, Edward the Confessor; but this is exceptional, and the Anglo-Saxon, as a rule, was satisfied with one name. It is probable that very many of the names in use before the Conquest, whether of English or Scandinavian origin, were chosen because of their etymological meaning, e.g. that the name Beornheard (Bernard, Barnard, Barnett) was given to a boy in the hope that he would grow up a warrior strong, just as his sister might be called AEthelgifu, noble gift. The formation of these old names is both interesting and, like all Germanic nomenclature, poetic.




As a rule the name consists of two elements, and the number of those elements which appear with great frequency is rather limited. Some themes occur only in the first half of the name, e.g. Aethel-, whence Aethelstan, later Alston; AElf-, whence AElfgar, now Elgar and Agar (AEthel- and AElf- soon got confused, so that Allvey, Elvey may represent both AEthelwig and AElfwig, or perhaps in some cases Ealdwig); Cuth-, whence Cuthbeald, now Cobbold [Footnote: This is also the origin of Cupples, and probably of Keble and Nibbles. It shares Cobbett and Cubitt with Cuthbeorht.]; Cyne-, whence Cynebeald now Kimball and Kemble, both of which are also local, Folc-, whence Folcheard and Folchere, now Folkard and Fulcher; Gund-, whence Gundred, now Gundry and Grundy (Metathesis, Chapter III); Os-, whence Osbert, Osborn,

Other themes only occur as the second half of the name. Such are -gifu, in Godgifu, i.e. Godiva, whence Goodeve; -lac in Guthlac, now Goodlake and Goodluck (Chapter XXI); -laf in Deorlaf, now Dearlove; -wacer in Eoforwacer, now Earwaker.

Other themes, and perhaps the greater number, may occur indifferently first and second, e.g. beald, god, here, sige, weald, win, wulf or ulf. Thus we have complete reversals in Beald-wine, whence Baldwin, and Wine-beald, whence Winbolt, Here-weald, whence Herald, Harold, Harrod, and Weald-here, whence Walter (Chapter I). With these we may compare Gold-man and Man-gold, the latter of which has given Mangles. So also we have Sige-heard, whence Siggers, and Wulf-sige, now Wolsey, Wulf-noth, now the imitative Wallnutt, and Beorht-wulf, later Bardolph and Bardell. The famous name Havelock was borne by the hero of a medieval epic, "Havelock the Dane," but Dunstan is usually for the local Dunston. On the other hand, Winston is a personal name, Wine-stan, whence Winstanley.

These examples show that the pre-Norman names are by no means unrepresented in the twentieth century, but, in this matter, one must proceed with caution. To take as examples the two names that head this chapter, there is no doubt that Goderic and Godiva are now represented by Goodrich and Goodeve, but these may also belong to the small group mentioned in Chapter VI, and stand for good Richard and good Eve. Also Goodrich comes in some cases from Goodrich, formerly Gotheridge, in Hereford, which has also given Gutteridge.

Moreover, it must not be forgotten that our medieval nomenclature is preponderantly French, as the early rolls show beyond dispute, so that, even where a modern name appears susceptible of an Anglo-Saxon explanation, it is often safer to refer it to the Old French cognate; for the Germanic names introduced into France by the Frankish conquerors, and the Scandinavian names which passed into Normandy, contained very much the same elements as our own native names, but underwent a different phonetic development. Thus I would rather explain Bawden, Bowden, Boulders, Boden, and the dims. Body and Bodkin, as Old French variants from the Old Ger. Baldawin than as coming directly from Anglo-Saxon. Boyden undoubtedly goes back to Old Fr. Baudouin.

Practically all the names given in Gower's lines (Chapter V), and many others to which I have ascribed a continental origin, are found occasionally in England before the Conquest, but the weight of evidence shows that they were either adopted in England as French names or were corrupted in form by the Norman scribes and officials. To take other examples, our Tibbald, Tibbles, Tibbs suggest the Fr. Thibaut rather than the natural development of Anglo-Sax. Thiudbeald, i.e. Theobald; and Ralph, Relf, Roff, etc., show the regular Old French development of Raedwulf, Radolf. Tibaut Wauter, i.e. Theobald Walter, who lived in Lancashire in 1242, had both his names in an old French form.






As a matter of fact, the various ways of forming nicknames or descriptive names, are all used in the pre-Conquest personal names. We find Orme, i.e. serpent or dragon (cf. Great Orme's Head), Wulf, i.e. Wolf, Hwita, i.e. White, and its derivative Hwiting, now Whiting, Saemann, i.e. Seaman, Bonda, i.e. Bond, Leofcild, dear child, now Leif child, etc. But, except the case of Orme, so common as the first element of place-names, I doubt the survival of these as purely personal names into the surname period and regard White, Seaman, Bond, Leif child rather as new epithets of Mid. English formation. Whiting is of course Anglo-Saxon, -ing being the regular patronymic suffix. Cf. Browning, Benning, Dering, Dunning, Gunning, Hemming, Kipping, Manning, and many others which occur in place-names. But not all names in -ing are Anglo-Saxon, e.g. Baring is German; cf. Behring, of the Straits; and Jobling is Fr. Jobelin, a double dim. of Job.

I will now give a few examples of undoubted survival of these Anglo-Saxon compounds, showing how the suffixes have been corrupted and simplified. Among the commonest of these suffixes are -beald, -beorht, -cytel (Chapter VII.), -god, -heard, -here, -man, -mund, -raed, -ric, -weald, -weard, -wine, [Footnote: Bold, bright, kettle, god, strong, army, man, protection, counsel, powerful, ruling, guard, friend.] which survive in Rumball and Rumbold (Rumbeald), Allbright [Footnote: AIbert is of modern German introduction.] and Allbutt (Ealdbeorht, i.e. Albert), Arkle (Earncytel), Allgood and Elgood (AElfgod), Everett (Eoforheard, i.e. Everard), Gunter (Gundhere), Harman (Hereman), Redmond (Raedmund), [Footnote: Pure Anglo-Saxon, like the names of so many opponents of English tyranny. Parnell is of course not Irish (Chapter X).] Aldred, Eldred (AEthelraed or Ealdraed), Aldridge, Alderick, Eldridge (AEthelric or Ealdric), Thorold (Thurweald), and, through Fr. Turold, Turrell, Terrell, and Tyrrell, Harward and Harvard (Hereweard), Lewin (Leofwine).

In popular use some of these endings got confused, e.g. Rumbold probably sometimes represents Rumweald, while Kennard no doubt stands for Coenweard as well as for Coenheard. Man and round were often interchanged (Chapter VI), so that from Eastmund come both Esmond and Eastman. Gorman represents Gormund, and Almond (Chapter XI) is so common in the Middle Ages that it must sometimes be from AEthelmund.

Sometimes the modern forms are imitative. Thus Allchin is for Ealhwine (Alcuin), and Goodyear, Goodier and Goodair may represent Godhere. [Footnote: This may, however, be taken literally. There is a German name Gutjahr and a Norfolk name Feaveryear.] Good-beer, Godbehere, Gotobed are classed by Bardsley under Godbeorht, whence Godber. But in these three names the face value of the words may well be accepted (pp. 156, 203, 206). Wisgar or Wisgeard has given the imitative Whisker and Vizard, and, through French, the Scottish Wishart, which is thus the same as the famous Norman Guiscard. Garment and Rayment are for Garmund and Regenmund, i.e. Raymond.





Other names which can be traced directly to the group of Anglo-Saxon names dealt with above are Elphick (AElfheah), which in Norman French gave Alphege, Elmer (AElfmaer), Allnutt (AElfnoth), Alwin, Elwin, Elvin (AElfwine), Aylmer (AEthelmaer), Aylward (AEthelweard), Kenrick (Coenric), Collard (Ceolheard), Colvin (Ceolwine), Darwin (Deorwine), Edridge (Eadric), Aldwin, Auden (Ealdwine), Baldry (Bealdred or Bealdric), Falstaff (Fastwulf), Filmer (Filumaer), Frewin eowine), Garrard, Garrett, Jarrold (Gaerheard, Gaerweald), but probably these are through French, Garbett (Garbeald, with which cf. the Italian Garibaldi), Gatliffe (Geatleof), Goddard (Godheard), Goodliffe (Godleof), Gunnell (Gunhild), Gunner (Gunhere), [Footnote: It is unlikely that this name is connected with gun, a word of too late appearance. It may be seen over a shop in Brentford, perhaps kept by a descendant of the thane of the adjacent Gunnersbury.] Haines (Hagene), Haldane (Haelfdene), Hastings (Haesten, the Danish chief who gave his name to Hastings, formerly Haestinga-ceaster), Herbert (Herebeorht), Herrick Hereric), Hildyard (Hildegeard), Hubert, Hubbard, Hobart, Hibbert (Hygebeorht), Ingram (Ingelram), Lambert (Landbeorht), Livesey (Leofsige), Lemon (Leofman), Leveridge (Leofric), Loveridge (Luferic), Maynard (Maegenheard), Manfrey (Maegenfrith), Rayner (Regenhere), Raymond (Regenmund), Reynolds (Regenweald), Seabright (Sigebeorht or Saebeorht), Sayers (Saegaer), [Footnote: The simple Sayer is also for "assayer," either of metals or of meat and drink— "essayeur, an essayer; one that tasts, or takes an essay; and particularly, an officer in the mint, who touches every kind of new Coyne before it be delivered out" (Cotgrave). Robert le sayer, goldsmith, was a London citizen c. 1300.] Sewell (Saeweald or Sigeweald), Seward (Sigeweard), Turbot (Thurbeorht), Thoroughgood (Thurgod), Walthew (Waltheof), Warman (Waermund), Wyberd (Wigbeorht), Wyman (Wigmund), Willard (Wilheard), Winfrey (Winefrith), Ulyett and Woollett (Wulfgeat), Wolmer (Wulfmaer), Woodridge (Wulfric).

In several of these, e.g. Fulcher, Hibbert, Lambert, Reynolds, the probability is that the name came through French. Where an alternative explanation is possible, the direct Anglo-Saxon origin is generally the less probable. Thus, although Coning occurs as an Anglo-Saxon name, Collings is generally a variant of Collins (cf. Jennings for Jennins), and though Hammond is etymologically Haganmund, it is better to connect it with the very popular French name Hamon. Simmonds might come from Sigemund, but is more likely from Simon with excrescent -d (Epithesis, Chapter III).

In many cases the Anglo-Saxon name was a simplex instead of a compound. The simple Cytel survives as Chettle, Kettle. [Footnote: Connected with the kettle or cauldron of Norse mythology. The renowned Captain Kettle, described by his creator as a Welshman, must have descended from some hardy Norse pirate. Many names in this chapter are Scandinavian.] Beorn is one of the origins of Barnes. Brand also appears as Braund, Grim is common in place-names, and from Grima we have Grimes. Cola gives Cole, the name of a monarch of ancient legend, but this name is more usually from Nicolas (Chapter VI). Gonna is now Gunn, Serl has given the very common Searle, and Wicga is Wigg. From Hacun we have Hack and the dim. Hackett.

To these might be added many examples of pure adjectives, such as Freo, Free, Froda, (prudent), Froude, Gods, Good, Leof (dear), Leif, Leaf, Read (red), Read, Reid, Reed, Rica, Rich, Rudda (ruddy), Rudd and Rodd, Snel (swift, valiant), Snell, Swet, Sweet, etc., or epithets such as Boda (messenger), Bode, Cempa (warrior), Kemp, Cyta, Kite, Dreng (warrior), Dring, Eorl, Earl, Godcild, Goodchild, Nunna, Nunn, Oter, Otter, Puttoc (kite), Puttock, Saemann, Seaman, Spearhafoc, Sparhawk, Spark (Chapter I), Tryggr (true), Triggs, Unwine (unfriend), Unwin, etc. But many of these had died out as personal names and, in medieval use, were nicknames pure and simple.





Finally, there is a very large group of Anglo-Saxon dissyllabic names, usually ending in -a, which appear to be pet forms of the longer names, though it is not always possible to establish the connection. Many of them have double forms with a long and short vowel respectively. It is to this class that we must refer the large number of our monosyllabic surnames, which would otherwise defy interpretation. Anglo-Sax. Dodds gave Dodd, while Dodson's partner Fogg had an ancestor Focga. Other examples are Bacga, Bagg, Benna, Benn, Bota, Boot and dim. Booty, Botts, Bolt, whence Bolting, Bubba, Bubb, Budda, Budd, Bynna, Binns, Cada, Cade, Cobbs, Cobb, Coda, Coad, Codda, Codd, Cuffs, Cuff, Deda, Deedes, Duda, Dowd, Duna, Down, Donna, Dunn, Dutta, Dull, Eada, Eade, Edes, etc., Ebba, Ebbs; Eppa, Epps, Hudda, Hud, whence Hudson, Inga, Inge, Sibba, Sibbs, Sicga, Siggs, Tata, Tate and Tait, Tidda, Tidd, Tigga, Tigg, Toca, Tooke, Tucca, Tuck, Wada, Wade, Wadda, Waddy, etc. Similarly French took from German a number of surnames formed from shortened names in -o, with an accusative in -on, e.g. Old Ger. Bodo has given Fr. Bout and Bouton, whence perhaps our Butt and Button.

But the names exemplified above are very thinly represented in early records, and, though their existence in surnames derived from place-names (Dodsley, Bagshaw, Bensted, Bedworth, Cobham, Ebbsworth, etc.) would vouch for them even if they were not recorded, their comparative insignificance is attested by the fact that they form very few derivatives.

Compare, for instance, the multitudinous surnames which go back to monosyllables of the later type of name, such as John and Hugh, with the complete sterility of the names above. Therefore, when an alternative derivation for a surname is possible, it is usually ten to one that this alternative is right. Dodson is a simplified Dodgson, from Roger (Chapter VI); Benson belongs to Benedict, sometimes to Benjamin; Cobbett is a disguised Cuthbert or Cobbold (cf. Garrett, Chapter II); Down is usually local, at the down or dune; Dunn is medieval le dun, a colour nickname; names in Ead-, Ed-, are usually from the medieval female name Eda (Chapter VI); Sibbs generally belongs to Sibilla or Sebastian; Tait must sometimes be for Fr. Tête, with which cf. Eng. Head; Tidd is an old pet form of Theodore; and Wade is more frequently atte wade, i.e. ford. Even Ebbs and Epps are more likely to be shortened forms of Isabella, usually reduced to Ib, or Ibbot (Chapter X), or of the once popular Euphemia.

To sum up, we may say that the Anglo-Saxon element in our surnames is much larger than one would imagine from Bardsley's Dictionary, and that it accounts, not only for names which have a distinctly Anglo-Saxon suffix or a disguised form of one, but also for a very large number of monosyllabic names which survive in isolation and without kindred. In this chapter I have only given sets of characteristic examples, to which many more might be added. It would be comparatively easy, with some imagination and a conscientious neglect of evidence, to connect the greater number of our surnames with the Anglo-Saxons.

Thus Honeyball might very well represent the Anglo-Sax. Hunbeald, but, in the absence of links, it is better to regard it as a popular perversion of Hannibal (Chapter VIII). In dealing with this subject, the via media is the safe one, and one cannot pass in one stride from Hengist and Horsa to the Reformation period.




Matthew Arnold, in his essay on the Function of Criticism at the Present Time, is moved by the case of Poor Wragg, who was "in custody," to the following wail—

"What a touch of grossness in our race, what an original shortcoming in the more delicate spiritual perceptions, is shown by the natural growth amongst us of such hideous names—Higginbottom, Stiggins, Bugg!"

But this is the poet's point of view. Though there may have been "no Wragg by the Ilissus," it is not a bad name, for, in its original form Ragg, it is the first element of the heroic Ragnar, and probably unrelated to Raggett, which is the medieval le ragged. Bugg, which one family exchanged for Norfolk Howard, is the Anglo-Saxon Bucgo, a name no doubt borne by many a valiant warrior. Stiggins, as we have seen (Chapter XIII), goes back to a name great in history, and Higginbottom (Chapter XII) is purely geographical.





"Morz est Rollanz, Deus en ad l'anme es ciels.
Li Emperere en Rencesvals parvient…
Carles escriet: 'U estes vus, bels niés?
U l'Arcevesques e li quens Oliviers?
U est Gerins e sis cumpainz Geriers?
Otes u est e Ii quens Berengiers?
Ives e Ivories que j'aveie tant chiers?
Qu'est devenuz li Guascuinz Engeliers,
Sansun li dux e Anseïs li fiers?
U est Gerarz de Russillun li vielz,
Li duze per que j'aveie laissiet?'"

(Chanson de Roland, 1. 2397.)

[Footnote: "Dead is Roland, God has his soul in heaven. The Emperor arrives at Roncevaux… Charles cries: 'Where are you, fair nephew? Where the archbishop (Turpin) and Count Oliver? Where is Gerin and his comrade Gerier? Where is Odo and count Berenger? Ivo and Ivory whom I held so dear? What has become of the Gascon Engelier? Samson the duke and Anseis the proud?
Where is Gerard of Roussillon the old, the twelve peers whom I had left?' "]

It is natural that many favourite names should be taken from those of heroes of romance whose exploits were sung all over Europe by wandering minstrels. Such names, including those taken from the Round Table legends, usually came to us through French, though a few names of the British heroes are Welsh, e.g. Cradock from Caradoc (Caractacus) and Maddox from Madoc.





But the Round Table stories were versified much later than the true Old French Chansons de Geste, which had a basis in the national history, and not many of Arthur's knights are immortalized as surnames. We have Tristram, Lancelot, whence Lance, Percival, Gawain in Gavin, and Kay. But the last named is, like Key, more usually from the word we now spell "quay," though Key and Keys can also be shop-signs, as of course Crosskeys is. Linnell is sometimes for Lionel, as Neil, [Footnote: But the Scottish Neil is a Gaelic name often exchanged for the unrelated Nigel.] Neal for Nigel. The ladies have fared better. Vivian, which is sometimes from the masculine Vivien, is found in Dorset as Vye, and Isolt and Guinevere, which long survived as font-names in Cornwall, have given several names. From Isolt come Isard, Isitt, Izzard, Izod, and many other forms, while Guinever appears as Genever, Jennifer, Gaynor, Gilliver, Gulliver, [Footnote: There is also an Old Fr. Gulafre which will account for some of the Gullivers.] and perhaps also as Juniper. It is probably also the source of Genn and Ginn, though these may come also from Eugenia or from Jane. The later prose versions of the Arthurian stories, such as those of Malory, are full of musical and picturesque names like those used by Mr. Maurice Hewlett, but this artificial nomenclature has left no traces in our surnames.

Of the paladins the most popular was Roland or Rowland, who survives as Rowe, Rowlinson, Rolls, Rollit, etc., sometimes coalescing with the derivations of Raoul, another epic hero. Gerin or Geri gave Jeary, and Oates is the nominative (Chapter VIII) of Odo, an important Norman name. Berenger appears as Barringer and Bellinger (Chapter III). The simple Oliver is fairly common, but it also became the Cornish Olver. But perhaps the largest surname family connected with the paladins is derived from the Breton Ives or Ivon [Footnote: A number of Old French names had an accusative in -on or -ain. Thus we find Otes, Oton, Ives, Ivain, and feminines such as Ide, Idain, all of which survive as English surnames.] whose name appears in that of two English towns. It is the same as Welsh Evan, and the Yvain of the Arthurian legends, and has given us Ives, Ivison, Ivatts, etc. The modern surname Ivory is usually an imitative form of Every or Avery (p, 82). Gerard has a variety of forms in Ger- and Gar-, Jerand Jar- (see p.32). The others do not seem to have survived, except the redoubtable Archbishop Turpin, whose fame is probably less than that of his namesake Dick.

Besides the paladins, there are many heroes of Old French epic whose names were popular during the two centuries that followed the Conquest. Ogier le Danois, who also fought at Roncevaux, has given us Odgers; Fierabras occasionally crops up as Fairbrass, Firebrace; Aimeri de Narbonne, from Almaric, [Footnote: A metathesis of Amalric, which is found in Anglo-Saxon.] whence Ital. Amerigo, is in English Amery, Emery, Imray, etc.; Renaud de Montauban is represented by Reynolds (Chapter VII) and Reynell.

The famous Doon de Mayence may have been an ancestor of Lorna, and the equally famous Garin, or Warin, de Monglane has given us Gearing, Gearing, Waring, sometimes Warren, and the diminutives Garnett and Warnett. Milo, of Greek origin, became Miles, with dim. Millett, but the chief origin of the surname Miles is a contracted form of the common font-name Michael. Amis and Amiles were the David and Jonathan of Old French epic and the former survives as Ames, Amies, and Amos, the last an imitative form.

We have also Berner from Bernier, Bartram from Bertran, Farrant from Fernand, Terry and Terriss from Thierry, the French form of Ger. Dietrich (Theodoric), which, through Dutch, has given also Derrick. Garner, from Ger. Werner, is our Garner and Warner, though these have other origins (pp. 154, 185). Dru, from Drogo, has given Drew, with dim. Druitt (Chapter V), and Druce, though the latter may also come from the town of Dreux. Walrond and Waldron are for Waleran, usually Galeran, and King Pippin had a retainer named Morant. Saint Leger, or Leodigarius, appears as Ledger, Ledgard, etc., and sometimes in the shortened Legg. Among the heroines we have Orbell from Orable, while Blancheflour may have suggested Lillywhite; but the part played by women in the Chansons de Geste was insignificant.





As this element in our nomenclature has hitherto received no attention, it may be well to add a few more examples of names which occur very frequently in the Chansons de Geste and which have undoubted representatives in modern English. Allard was one of the Four Sons of Aymon. The name is etymologically identical with Aylward (Chapter VII), but in the above form has reached us through French. Acard or Achard is represented by Haggard, Haggett, and Hatchard, Hatchett, though Haggard probably has another origin (Chapter XXIII). Harness is imitative for Harnais, Herneis. Clarabutt is for Clarembaut; cf. Archbutt for Archembaut, the Old French form of Archibald, Archbold. Durrant is Durand, still a very common French surname. Ely is Old Fr. Élie, i.e. Elias (Chapter IX), which had the dim. Elyot. [Footnote: For other names belonging to this group see Chapter IX.] We also find Old Fr. Helye, whence our Healey. Enguerrand is telescoped to Ingram, though this may also come from the English form Ingelram. Fawkes is the Old Fr. Fauques, nominative (Chapter VIII) of Faucon, i.e. falcon. Galpin is contracted from Galopin, a famous epic thief, but it may also come from the common noun galopin

"Galloppins, under cookes, or scullions in monasteries."


In either case it means a "runner." Henfrey is from Heinfrei or Hainfroi, identical with Anglo-Sax. Haganfrith, and Manser from Manesier. Neame (Chapter XXI) may sometimes represent Naime, the Nestor of Old French epic and the sage counsellor of Charlemagne. Richer, from Old Fr. Richier, has generally been absorbed by the cognate Richard. Aubrey and Avery are from Alberic, cognate with Anglo-Sax. AElfric. An unheroic name like Siggins may be connected with several heroes called Seguin.





Nor are the heroes of antiquity altogether absent. Along with Old French national and Arthurian epics there were a number of romances based on the legends of Alexander, Caesar, and the tale of Troy. Alexander, or Saunder, was the favourite among this class of names, especially in Scotland. Cayzer was generally a nickname (Chapter XIII), its later form Cesar being due to Italian influence, [Footnote: Julius Cesar, physician to Queen Elizabeth, was a Venetian (Bardsley).] and the same applies to Hannibal, [Footnote: But the frequent occurrence of this name and its corruptions in Cornwall suggests that it may really have been introduced by Carthaginian sailors.] when it is not an imitative form of the female name Annabel, also corrupted into Honeyball. Both Dionisius and Dionisia were once common, and have survived as Dennis, Dennett, Denny, and from the shortened Dye we get Dyson. But this Dionisius was the patron saint of France. Apparent names of heathen gods and goddesses are almost always due to folk-etymology, e.g. Bacchus is for back-house or bake-house, and the ancestors of Mr. Wegg's friend Venus came from Venice.





" 'O Now you see, brother Toby,' he would say, looking up, 'that Christian names are not such indifferent things; —had Luther here been called by any other name but Martin, he would have been damn'd to all eternity' "

(Tristram Shandy, ch. xxxv).



The use of biblical names as font-names does not date from the Puritans, nor are surnames derived from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob necessarily Jewish. The Old Testament names which were most popular among the medieval peasants from whom we nearly all spring were naturally those connected with the most picturesque episodes of sacred history. Taking as an example the father of all men, we find derived from the name Adam the following: Adams, Adamson, Adcock, Addis, Addison, Adds, Addy, Ade, Ades, Adey, Adis, Ady, Addey, Aday, Adee, Addyman, Adkin, Adkins, Adkinson, Adnett, [Footnote: Adenet (little Adam) le Roi was an Old French epic hero.] Adnitt, Adnet, Adnot, Atkin, Atkins, Atkinson, and the northern Aitken, etc. This list, compiled from Bardsley's Dictionary of Surnames, is certainly not exhaustive. Probably Taddy is rimed on Addy as Taggy is on Aggy (Agnes). To put together all the derivatives of John or Thomas would be a task almost beyond the wit of man. Names in Abb-, App-, may come from either Abraham or Abel, and from Abbs we also have Nabbs. Cain was of course unpopular. Cain, Cane, Kain, when not Manx, is from the town of Caen or from Norman quêne, an oak.

Moses appears in the French form Moyes (Moïse) as early as 1273, and still earlier as Moss. Of the patriarchs the favourites were perhaps Jacob and Joseph, the name Jessop from the latter having been influenced by Ital. Giuseppe. Benjamin has sometimes given Benson and Bennett, but these are generally for Benedict (Chapter IV). The Judges are poorly represented, except Samson, a name which has obviously coalesced with the derivatives of Samuel. David had, of course, an immense vogue, especially in Wales (for some of its derivatives see Chapter VI), and Solomon was also popular, the modern Salmon not always being a Jewish name.

But almost the favourite Old Testament name was Elijah, Elias, which, usually through its Old French form Élie, whence Ely, is the parent of Ellis, Elliot, and many other names in El-, some of which, however, have to be shared with Ellen and Alice (Chapter X). Job was also popular, and is easily recognized in Jobson, Jobling, etc., but less easily in Chubb (Chapter III) and Jupp. The intermediate form was the obsolete Joppe. Among the prophetic writers Daniel was an easy winner, Dann, Dance (Chapter I), Dannatt, Dancock, etc. Balaam is an imitative spelling of the local Baylham.

In considering these Old Testament names it must be remembered that the people did not possess the Bible in the vernacular. The teaching of the parish priests made them familiar with selected episodes, from which they naturally took the names which appeared to contain the greatest element of holiness or of warlike renown. It is probable that the mystery plays were not without influence; for the personal name was not always a fixed quantity, and many of the names mentioned in the preceding paragraph may have been acquired rather on the medieval stage than at the font.

This would apply with still more force to names taken from the legends of saints and martyrs on which the miracle plays were based. We even find the names Saint, Martyr and Postill, the regular aphetic form of apostle (Chapter III), just as we find King and Pope. Camden, speaking of the freedom with which English names are formed, quotes a Dutchman, who—

"When he heard of English men called God and Devil, said, that the English borrowed names from all things whatsoever, good or bad."

The medieval name Godde may of course be for Good, Anglo-Sax. Goda, but Ledieu is common enough in France. The name seems to be obsolete, unless it is disguised as Goad. The occurrence in medieval rolls of Diabolus and le Diable shows that Deville need not always be for de Eyville. There was probably much competition for this important part, and the name would not be always felt as uncomplimentary. Among German surnames we find not only Teufel, but also the compounds Manteufel and Teufelskind.





Coming to the New Testament, we find the four Evangelists strongly represented, especially the first and last. Matthew appears not only in an easily recognizable form, e.g. in Matheson, but also as Mayhew and Mayo, Old Fr. Mahieu. From the latter form we have the shortened May and Mee, whence Mayes, Makins, Meakin, Meeson, [Footnote: One family of Meeson claims descent from Malvoisin.] and sometimes Mason. Mark is one of the sources of March (p, 90), as Luke is of Luck, whence Lucock, Luckett, etc, though we more often find the learned form Lucas.

Of John there is no need to speak. Of the apostles the great favourites, Simon, or Peter, John, and Bartholomew have already been mentioned. Almost equally popular was Philip, whence Philp, Phipps, Phelps, and the dim. Philpot, whence the aphetic Pott, Potts. Andrew flourished naturally in Scotland, its commonest derivative being Anderson, while Dendy is for the rimed form Dandy. Paul has of course had a great influence and is responsible for Pawson or Porson, Pawling, Polson, Pollett, and most names in Pol-. [Footnote: This does not of course apply to Cornish names in Pol- (Chapter VI)] It is also, in the form Powell, assimilated to the Welsh Ap Howel. Paul is regularly spelt Poule by Chaucer, and St. Paul's Cathedral is often called Powles in Tudor documents. Paul's companions are poorly represented, for Barnby is local, while names in Sil- and Sel- come from shortened form of Cecil, Cecilia, and Silvester. Another great name from the Acts of the Apostles is that of the protomartyr Stephen, among the numerous derivatives of which we must include Stennett and Stimpson.

Many non-biblical saints whose names occur very frequently have already been mentioned, e.g. Antony, Bernard, Gregory, Martin, Lawrence, Nicholas, etc To these may be added Augustine, or Austin, Christopher, or Kit, with the dim. Christie and the patronymic Kitson, Clement, whence a large family of names in Clem-, Gervase or Jarvis, Jerome, sometimes represented by Jerram, and Theodore or Tidd (cf. Tibb fron Theobald), who becomes in Welsh Tudor. Vincent has given Vince, Vincey and Vincett, and Baseley, Blazey are from Basil and Blaine. The Anglo-Saxon saints are poorly represented, though probably most of them survive in a disguised form, e.g. Price is sometimes for Brice, Cuthbert has sometimes given Cubitt and Cobbett, and also Cutts. Bottle sometimes represents Botolf, Neate may be for Neot, and Chad (Ceadda) survives as Chatt and in many local names. The Cornish Tangye is from the Breton St. Tanneguy. The Archangel Michael has given one of our commonest names, Mitchell (Chapter IV). This is through French, but we have also the contracted Miall

"At Michael's term had many a trial,
Worse than the dragon and St. Michael."

(Hudibras, III. ii. 51.)

[Footnote: Cf. Vialls from Vitalis, also a saint's name.]

This name exists in several other forms, e.g. Mihell, Myhill, Mighill, and most frequently of all as Miles (Chapter VIII). The reader will remember the famous salient of Saint-Mihiel, on the Meuse, held by the Germans for so long a period of the war. From Gabriel we have Gabb, Gabbett, etc. The common rustic pronunciation Gable has given Cable (Chapter III).

Among female saints we find Agnes, pronounced Annis, the derivatives of which have become confused with those of Anne, or Nan, Catherine, whence Call, Catlin, etc., Cecilia, Cicely, whence Sisley, and of course Mary and Margaret. For these see Chapter X. St. Bride, or Bridget, survives in Kirkbride.





A very interesting group of surnames are derived from font-names taken from the great feasts of the Church, date of birth or baptism, etc. [Footnote: Names of this class were no doubt also sometimes given to foundlings.] These are more often French or Greco-Latin than English, a fact to be explained by priestly influence. Thus Christmas is much less common than Noel or Nowell, but we also find Midwinter (Chapter II) and Yule. Easter has a local origin (from a place in Essex) and also represents Mid. Eng. estre, a word of very vague meaning for part of a building, originally the exterior, from Lat. extra. It survives in Fr. les êtres d'une maison. Hester, to which Bardsley gives the same origin, I should rather connect with Old Fr. hestre (hêtre), a beech. However that may be, the Easter festival is represented in our surnames by Pascall, Cornish Pascoe, and Pask, Pash, Pace, Pack.

Patch, formerly a nickname for a jester (Chapter XX), from his motley clothes, is also sometimes a variant of Pash. And the dim. Patchett has become confused with Padgett, from Padge, a rimed form of Madge. Pentecost is recorded as a personal name in Anglo-Saxon times. Michaelmas is now Middleman (Chapter III), and Tiffany is an old name for Epiphany. It comes from Greco-Latin theophania (while Epiphany represents epiphania), which gave the French female name Tiphaine, whence our Tiffin. Lammas (loaf mass) is also found as a personal name, but there is a place called Lammas in Norfolk. We have compounds of day in Halliday or Holiday, Hay-day, for high day, Loveday, a day appointed for reconciliations, and Hockaday, for a child born during Hocktide, which begins on the 15th day after Easter. It was also called Hobday, though it is hard to say why; hence the name Hobday, unless this is to be taken as the day, or servant (Chapter XIX), in the service of Hob; cf. Hobman.

The days of the week are puzzling, the only one at all common being Munday, though most of the others are found in earlier nomenclature. We should rather expect special attention to be given to Sunday and Friday, and, in fact, Sonntag and Freytag are by far the most usual in German, while Dimanche and its perversions are common in France, and Vendredi also occurs. This makes me suspect some other origin, probably local, for Munday, the more so as Fr. Dimanche, Demange, etc., is often for the personal name Dominicus, the etymology remaining the same as that of the day-name, the Lord's day. Parts of the day seem to survive in Noon, Eve, and Morrow, but Noon is local, Fr. Noyon (cf. Moon, earlier Mohun, from Moyon), Eve is the mother of mankind, and Morrow is for moor-wro, the second element being Mid. Eng. wra, comer, whence Wray.





We find the same difficulty with the names of the months. Several of these are represented in French, but our March has four other origins, from March in Cambridgeshire, from march, a boundary, from marsh, or from Mark; while May means in Mid. English a maiden (Chapter XXI), and is also a dim. of Matthew (Chapter IX). The names of the seasons also present difficulty. Spring usually corresponds to Fr. La Fontaine (Chapter II), but we find also Lent, the old name for the season, and French has Printemps. [Footnote: The cognate Ger. Lenz is fairly common, hence the frequency of Lent in America.] Summer and Winter [Footnote: Winter was one of Hereward's most faithful comrades.] are found very early as nicknames, as are also Frost and Snow; but why always Summers or Somers with s and Winter without? [Footnote: Two other common nicknames were Flint and Steel.] The latter has no doubt in many cases absorbed Vinter, vintner (Chapter III) but this will not account for the complete absence of genitive forms. And what has become of the other season? We should not expect to find the learned word "autumn," but neither Fall nor Harvest, the true English equivalents, are at all common as surnames.

I regard this group, viz. days, months, seasons, as one of the least clearly accounted for in our nomenclature, and cannot help thinking that the more copious examples which we find in French and German are largely distorted forms due to the imitative instinct, or are susceptible of other explanations. This is certainly true in some cases, e.g. Fr. Mars is the regular French development of Medardus, a saint to whom a well-known Parisian church is dedicated; and the relationship of Janvier to Janus may be via the Late Lat. januarius, for janitor, a doorkeeper.

[Footnote: Medardus was the saint who, according to Ingoldsby, lived largely on oysters obtained by the Red Sea shore. At his church in Paris were performed the 'miracles' of the Quietists in the seventeenth century. When the scenes that took place became a scandal, the government intervened, with the result that a wag adorned the church door with the following:

De par le Roi, défense à Dieu
De faire miracle en ce lieu."]





"During the whole evening Mr. Jellyby sat in a corner with his head against the wall, as if he were subject to low spirits."

(Bleak House, ch. iv.)

Bardsley first drew attention to the very large number of surnames derived from an ancestress. His views have been subjected to much ignorant criticism by writers who, taking upon themselves the task of defending medieval virtue, have been unwilling to accept this terrible picture of the moral condition of England, etc. This anxiety is misplaced. There are many reasons, besides illegitimacy, for the adoption of the mother's name. In medieval times the children of a widow, especially posthumous children, would often assume the mother's name. Widdowson itself is sufficiently common. In the case of second marriages the two families might sometimes be distinguished by their mothers' names. Orphans would be adopted by female relatives, and a medieval Mrs. Joe Gargery would probably have impressed her own name rather than that of her husband on a medieval Pip. In a village which counted two Johns or Williams, and few villages did not, the children of one might assume, or rather would be given by the public voice, the mother's name. Finally, metronymics can be collected in hundreds by anyone who cares to work through a few early registers.




Thus, in the Lancashire Inquests 205-1307 occur plenty of people described as the sons of Alice, Beatrice, Christiana, Eda, Eva, Mariot, Matilda, Quenilda, [Footnote: An Anglo-Saxon name, Cynehild, whence Quennell.] Sibilla, Ysolt. Even if illegitimacy were the only reason, that would not concern the philologist.

Female names undergo the same course of treatment as male names. Mary gave the diminutives Marion and Mariot, whence Marriott. It was popularly shortened into Mal (cf. Hal for Harry), which had the diminutive Mally. From these we have Mawson and Malleson, the former also belonging to Maud. Mal and Mally became Mol and Molly, hence Mollison. The rimed forms Pol, Polly are later, and names in Pol- usually belong to Paul (Chapter IX). The name Morris has three other origins (the font-name Maurice, the nickname Moorish, and the local marsh), but both Morris and Morrison are sometimes to be referred to Mary. Similarly Margaret, popularly Mar-get, became Mag, Meg, Mog, whence Meggitt, Moxon, etc. The rarity of Maggot is easily understood, but Poll Maggot was one of Jack Sheppard's accomplices and Shakespeare uses maggot-pie for magpie (Macbeth, iii, 4). Meg was rimed into Peg, whence Peggs, Mog into Pog, whence Pogson, and Madge into Padge, whence Padgett, when this is not for Patchett (Chapter IX), or for the Fr. Paget, usually explained as Smallpage. The royal name Matilda appears in the contracted Maud, Mould, Moule, Mott, Mahood (Old Fr. Maheut). Its middle syllable Till gave Tilly, Tillson and the dim. Tillet, Tillot, whence Tillotson. From Beatrice we have Bee, Beaton and Betts, and the northern Beattie, which are not connected with the great name Elizabeth. This is in medieval rolls represented by its cognate Isabel, of which the shortened form was Bell (Chapter I), or Ib, the latter giving Ibbot, Ibbotson, and the rimed forms Tib-, Nib-, Bib-, Lib-. Here also belong Ebbs and Epps rather than to the Anglo-Sax. Ebba (Chapter VII).

Many names which would now sound somewhat ambitious were common among the medieval peasantry and are still found in the outlying parts of England, especially Devon and Cornwall. Among the characters in Mr. Eden Phillpotts's Widecombe Fair are two sisters named Sibley and Petronell. From Sibilla, now Sibyl, come most names in Sib-, though this was used also as a dim. of Sebastian (see also Chapter VII), while Petronilla, has given Parnell, Purnell. As a female name it suffered the eclipse to which certain names are accidentally subject, and became equivalent to wench. References to a "prattling Parnel" are common in old writers, and the same fate overtook it in French—

"Taisez-vous, péronnelle" (Tartufe, i. 1).

Mention has already been made of the survival of Guinevere (Chapter VIII). From Cassandra we have Cash, Cass, Case, and Casson, from Idonia, Ide, Iddins, Iddison; these were no doubt confused with the derivatives of Ida. William filius Idae is in the Fine Rolls of John's reign, and John Idonyesone occurs there, temp. Edward I. Pim, as a female font-name, may be from Euphemia, and Siddons appears to belong to Sidonia, while the pretty name Avice appears as Avis and Haweis. From Lettice, Lat. laetitia, joy, we have Letts, Lettson, while the corresponding Joyce, Lat. jocosa, merry, has become confused with Fr. Josse (Chapter I). Anstey, Antis, is from Anastasia, Precious from Preciosa, and Royce from Rohesia.





It is often difficult to separate patronymics from metronymics. We have already seen (Chapter VI) that names in Ed- may be from Eda or from Edward, while names in Gil- must be shared between Julian, Juliana, Guillaume, Gilbert, and Giles. There are many other cases like Julian and Juliana, e.g. Custance is for Constance, but Cust may also represent the masculine Constant, while among the derivatives of Philip we must not forget the warlike Philippa. Or, to take pairs which are unrelated, Kitson may be from Christopher or from Catherine, and Mattison from Matthew or from Martha, which became Matty and Patty, the derivatives of the latter coalescing with those of Patrick (Chapter VI). It is obvious that the derivatives of Alice would be confused with those of Allen, while names in El- may represent Elias or Eleanor. Also names in Al- and El- are sometimes themselves confused, e.g. the Anglo-Saxon AElfgod appears both as Allgood and Elgood. More Nelsons are derived from Neil, i.e. Nigel, than from Nell, the rimed dim. of Ellen. Emmett is a dim. of Emma, but Empson may be a shortened Emerson from Emery (Chapter VIII). The rather commonplace Tibbles stands for both Theobald and Isabella, and the same is true of all names in Tib- and some in Teb-. Lastly, the coalescence of John, the commonest English font-name, with Joan, the earlier form of Jane, was inevitable, while the French forms Jean and Jeanne would be undistinguishable in their derivatives. These names between them have given an immense number of surnames, the masculine or feminine interpretation of which must be left to the reader's imagination.





"Now as men have always first given names unto places, so hath it afterwards grown usuall that men have taken their names from places"

(VERSTEGAN, Restitution of Decayed Intelligence).

There is an idea cherished by some people that the possession of a surname which is that of a village or other locality points to ancestral ownership of that region. This is a delusion. In the case of quite small features of the landscape, e.g. Bridge, Hill, the name was given from place of residence. But in the case of counties, towns and villages, the name was usually acquired when the locality was left. Thus John Tiler leaving Acton, perhaps for Acton's good, would be known in his new surroundings as John Acton. A moment's reflection will show that this must be so. Scott is an English name, the aristocratic Scotts beyond the border representing a Norman family Escot, originally of Scottish origin. English, early spelt Inglis, is a Scottish name. The names Cornish and Cornwallis first became common in Devonshire, as Devenish did outside that county. French and Francis, Old Fr. le franceis, are English names, just as Langlois (l'Anglais) is common in France. For the same reason Cutler is a rare name in Sheffield, where all are cutlers. By exception the name Curnow, which is Cornish for a Cornishman, is fairly common in its native county, but it was perhaps applied especially to those inhabitants who could only speak the old Cornish language.




The local name may range in origin from a country to a plant (France, Darbishire, Lankester, Ashby, Street, House, Pound, Plumptre, Daisy), and, mathematically stated, the size of the locality will vary in direct proportion to the distance from which the immigrant has come. Terentius Afer was named from a continent. I cannot find a parallel in England, but names such as the nouns France, Ireland, Pettingell (Portugal), or the adjectives Dench, Mid. Eng. dense, Danish, Norman, Welsh, (Walsh, Wallis, etc.), Allman (Allemand), often perverted to Almond, were considered a sufficient mark of identification for men who came from foreign parts. But the untravelled inhabitant, if distinguished by a local name, would often receive it from some very minute feature of the landscape, e.g. Solomon Daisy may have been descended from a Robert Dayeseye, who lived in Hunts in 1273. It is not very easy to see how such very trifling surnames as this last came into existence, but its exiguity is surpassed in the case of a prominent French airman who bears the appropriately buoyant name of Brindejonc, perhaps from some ancestor who habitually chewed a straw.

An immense number of our countrymen are simply named from the points of the compass, slightly disguised in Norris, Anglo-Fr. le noreis, [Footnote: The corresponding le surreis is now represented by Surridge.] Sotheran, the southron, and Sterling, for Easterling, a name given to the Hanse merchants. Westray was formerly le westreis. A German was to our ancestors, as he still is to sailors, a Dutchman, whence our name Douch, Ger. deutsch, Old High Ger. tiutisc, which, through Old French tieis, has given Tyas. [Footnote: Tyars, or Tyers, which Bardsley puts with this, seems to be rather Fr. Thiers, Lat. tertius.]

But not every local name is to be taken at its face value. Holland is usually from one of the Lancashire Hollands, and England may be for Mid. Eng. ing-land, the land of Ing (cf. Ingulf, Ingold, etc.), a personal name which is the first element in many place-names, or from ing, a meadow by a stream. Holyland is not Palestine, but the holly-land. Hampshire is often for Hallamshire, a district in Yorkshire. Dane is a variant of Mid. Eng. dene, a valley, the inhabitant of Denmark having given us Dench (Chapter XI) and Dennis (le daneis). Visitors to Margate will remember the valley called the Dane, which stretches from the harbour to St. Peters. Saxon is not racial, but a perversion of sexton (Chapter XVII). Mr. Birdofredum Sawin, commenting on the methods employed in carrying out the great mission of the Anglo-Saxon race, remarks that—

"Saxons would be handy
To du the buryin' down here upon the Rio Grandy"

(Lowell, Biglow Papers).

The name Cockayne was perhaps first given derisively to a sybarite—

"Paris est pour le riche un pays de Cocagne" (Boileau),

but it may be an imitative form of Coken in Durham.

Names such as Morris, i.e. Moorish, or Sarson, i.e. Saracen (but also for Sara-son), are rather nicknames, due to complexion or to an ancestor who was mine host of the Saracen's Head. Moor is sometimes of similar origin. Russ, like Rush, is one of the many forms of Fr. roux, red-complexioned (Chapter II). Pole is for Pool, the native of Poland being called Polack—

"He smote the sledded Polack on the ice" (Hamlet, I. i).

But the name Pollock is local (Renfrewshire).






As a rule it will be found that, while most of our counties have given family names, sometimes corrupted, e.g. Lankshear, Willsher, Cant, Chant, for Kent, with which we may compare Anguish for Angus, the larger towns are rather poorly represented, the movement having always been from country to town, and the smaller spot serving for more exact description. An exception is Bristow (Bristol), Mid. Eng. brig-stow, the place on the bridge, the great commercial city of the west from which so many medieval seamen hailed; but the name is sometimes from Burstow (Surrey), and there were possibly smaller places called by so natural a name, just as the name Bradford, i.e. broad ford, may come from a great many other places than the Yorkshire wool town. Rossiter is generally for Rochester, but also for Wroxeter (Salop); Coggeshall is well disguised as Coxall, Barnstaple as Bastable, Maidstone as Mayston, Stockport as Stopford. On the other hand, there is not a village of any antiquity but has, or once had, a representative among surnames.





The provinces and towns of France and Flanders have given us many common surnames. From names of provinces we have Burgoyne and Burgin, Champain and Champneys (Chapter II), Gascoyne and Gaskin, Mayne, Mansell, Old Fr. Mancel (manceau), an inhabitant of Maine or of its capital Le Mans, Brett and Britton, Fr. le Bret and le Breton, Pickard, Power, sometimes from Old Fr. Pohier, a Picard, Peto, formerly Peitow, from Poitou, Poidevin and Puddifin, for

Poitevin, Loring, Old Fr. le Lohereng, the man from Lorraine, assimilated to Fleming, Hammy, an old name for Hainault, Brabazon, le Brabançon, and Brebner, formerly le Brabaner, Angwin, for Angevin, Flinders, a perversion of Flanders, Barry, which is sometimes for Berri, and others which can be identified by everybody.

Among towns we have Allenson, Alençon, Amyas, Amiens, Ainger, Angers, Aris, Arras, Bevis, Beauvais, Bullen, Boulogne, Bloss, Blois, Bursell, Brussels, Callis and Challis, Calais, Challen, from one of the French towns called Chalon or Chalons, Chaworth, Cahors, Druce, Dreux, Gaunt, Gand (Ghent), Luck, Luick (Liege), Loving, Louvain, Malins, Malines (Mechlin), Raynes, Rennes and Rheims, Roan, Rouen, Sessions, Soissons, Stamp, Old Fr. Estampes (ttampes), Turney, Tournay, etc. The name de Verdun is common enough in old records for us to connect with it both the fascinating Dolly and the illustrious Harry. [Footnote added by scanner: Some modern readers might not realise that Weekley was referring to Harry Vardon, a famous golfer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Dolly Varden was a character in Dickens’ "Barnaby Rudge", a pretty girl in flowered hats and skirts. Her name was borrowed for various clothing styles, breeds of flowers, shows, theatres and even angling fishes among other things. There seem to have been several references to "the fascinating Dolly Varden", though the expression does not occur in the book.] To the above may be added, among German towns, Cullen, Cologne, and Lubbock, Luebeck, and, from Italy, Janes, Gênes (Genoa), Janaway or Janways, i.e. Genoese, and Lombard or Lombard. Familiar names of foreign towns were often anglicized. Thus we find Hamburg called Hamborough, Bruges Bridges, and Tours Towers.

To the town of Angers we sometimes owe, besides Ainger, the forbidding names Anger and Danger. In many local names of foreign origin the preposition de has been incorporated, e.g. Dalmain, d'Allemagne, sometimes corrupted into Dallman and Dollman, though these are also for Doleman, from the East Anglian dole, a boundary, Dallison, d'Alençon, Danvers, d'Anvers, Antwerp, Devereux, d'Évreux, Daubeney, Dabney, d'Aubigny, Disney, d'Isigny, etc. Doyle is a later form of Doyley, or Dolley, for d'Ouilli, and Darcy and Durfey were once d'Arcy and d'Urfé. Dew is sometimes for de Eu. Sir John de Grey, justice of Chester, had in 1246 two Alice in Wonderland clerks named Henry de Eu and William de Ho. A familiar example, which has been much disputed, is the Cambridgeshire name Death, which some of its possessors prefer to write D'Aeth or De Ath. Bardsley rejects this, without, I think, sufficient reason. It is true that it occurs as de Dethe in the Hundred Rolls, but this is not a serious argument, for we find also de Daubeney (Chapter XI), the original de having already been absorbed at the time the Rolls were compiled. This retention of the de is also common in names derived from spots which have not become recognized place-names; see Chapter XIV.

But to derive a name of obviously native origin from a place in France is a snobbish, if harmless, delusion. There are quite enough moor leys in England without explaining Morley by Morlaix. To connect the Mid. English nickname Longfellow with Longueville, or the patronymic Hansom (Chapter III) with Anceaumville, betrays the same belief in phonetic epilepsy that inspires the derivation of Barber from the chapelry of Sainte-Barbe. The fact that there are at least three places, in England called Carrington has not prevented one writer from seeking the origin of that name in the appropriate locality of Charenton.





"In ford, in ham, in ley and tun
The most of English surnames run"


Verstegan's couplet, even if it be not strictly true, makes a very good text for a discourse on our local names. The ham, or home, and the ton, or town, originally an enclosure (cf. Ger. Zaun, hedge), were, at any rate in a great part of England, the regular nucleus of the village, which in some cases has become the great town and in others has decayed away and disappeared from the map. In an age when wool was our great export, flock keeping was naturally a most important calling, and the ley, or meadow land, would be quickly taken up and associated with human activity. When bridges were scarce, fords were important, and it is easy to see how the inn, the smithy, the cartwright's booth, etc., would naturally plant themselves at such a spot and form the commencement of a hamlet.




Each of these four words exists by itself as a specific place-name and also as a surname. In fact Lee and Ford are among our commonest local surnames. In the same way the local origin of such names as Clay and Chalk may be specific as well as general. But I do not propose to deal here with the vast subject of our English village names, but only with the essential elements of which they are composed, elements which were often used for surnominal purposes long before the spot itself had developed into a village. [Footnote: A good general account of our village names will be found in the Appendix to Isaac Taylor's Names and their Histories. It is reprinted as chapter xi of the same author's Words and Places (Everyman Library). See also Johnston's Place-names of England and Wales, a glossary of selected names with a comprehensive introduction. There are many modern books on the village names of various counties, e.g. Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Suffolk (Skeat), Oxfordshire (Alexander), Lancashire (Wyld and Hirst), West Riding of Yorkshire (Moorman), Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire (Duignan), Nottinghamshire (Mutschmann), Gloucestershire (Baddeley), Herefordshire (Bannister), Wiltshire (Elsblom), S.W. Yorkshire (Goodall), Sussex (Roberts), Lancashire (Sephton), Derbyshire (Walker), Northumberland and Durham (Mawer).] Thus the name Oakley must generally have been borne by a man who lived on meadow land which was surrounded or dotted with oak-trees. But I should be shy of explaining a given village called Oakley in the same way, because the student of place-names might be able to show from early records that the place was originally an ey, or island, and that the first syllable is the disguised name of a medieval churl. These four simple etymons themselves may also become perverted. Thus -ham is sometimes confused with -holm (Chapter XII), -ley, as I have just suggested, may in some cases contain -ey, -ton occasionally interchanges with -don and -stone, and -lord with the French -fort (Chapter XIV).

In. this chapter will be found a summary of the various words applied by our ancestors to the natural features of the land they lived on. To avoid too lengthy a catalogue, I have classified them under the three headings—

(1) Hill and Dale,

(2) Plain and Woodland,

(3) Water and Waterside,

reserving for the next chapter the names due to man's interference with the scenery, e.g. roads, buildings, enclosures, etc.

They are mostly Anglo-Saxon or Scandinavian, the Celtic name remaining as the appellation of the individual hill, stream, etc. (Helvellyn, Avon, etc.). The simple word has in almost all cases given a fairly common surname, but compounds are of course numerous, the first element being descriptive of the second, e.g. Bradley, broad lea, Radley and Ridley, red lea, Brockley, brook lea or badger lea (Chapter XXIII), Beverley, beaver lea, Cleverley, clover lea, Hawley, hedge lea, Rawnsley, raven's lea, and so ad infinitum. In the oldest records spot names are generally preceded by the preposition at, whence such names as Attewell, Atwood, but other prepositions occur, as in Bythesea, Underwood and the hybrid Suttees, on Tees. Cf. such French names as Doutrepont, from beyond the bridge.

One curious phenomenon, of which I can offer no explanation, is that while many spot names occur indifferently with or without -s, e.g. Bridge, Bridges; Brook, Brooks; Platt, Plaits, in others we find a regular preference either for the singular or plural form. [Footnote: In some cases no doubt a plural, in others a kind of genitive due to the influence of personal names, such as Wills, Perkins, etc.] Compare the following couples:

Field Meadows

Lake Rivers

Pool Mears (metes)

Spying Wells

House Coates (P, 133)

Marsh Myers (mires)

[Footnote: Myers is very often a Jewish name, from the very common Ger. Meyer, for which see Chapter IV.]

to which many more might be added. So we find regularly Nokes but Nash (Chapter III), Beech but Willows. The general tendency is certainly towards the -s forms in the case of monosyllables, e.g. Banks, Foulds, Hayes, Stubbs, Thwaites, etc., but we naturally find the singular in compounds, e.g. Windebank (winding), Nettlefold, Roundhay, etc.

There is also a further problem offered by names in -er. We know that a Waller was a mason or wall-builder, but was a Bridger really a Pontifex, [Footnote: An example of a Latinized name. Cf. Sutor, Faber, and the barbarous Sartorius, for sartor, a tailor. Pontifex may also be the latinized form of Pope or Bishop. It is not known why this title, bridge-builder, was given to high-priests.] did he merely live near the bridge, or was he the same as a Bridgman, and what was the latter? Did Sam Weller's ancestor sink wells, possess a well, or live near someone else's well? Probably all explanations may be correct, for the suffix may have differed in meaning according to locality, but I fancy that in most cases proximity alone is implied. The same applies to many cases of names in -man, such as Hillman, Dickman (dyke), Parkman.

Many of the words in the following paragraphs are obsolete or survive only in local usage. Some of them also vary considerably in meaning, according to the region in which they are found. I have included many which, in their simple form, seem too obvious to need explanation, because the compounds are not always equally clear.





We have a fair number of Celtic words connected with natural scenery, but they do not as a rule form compounds, and as surnames are usually found in their simple form. Such are Cairn, a stony hill, Crag, Craig, and the related Carrick and Creagh, Glen or Glynn, and Lynn, a cascade. Two words, however, of Celtic origin, don, or down, a hill, and combe, a hollow in the hills, were adopted by the Anglo-Saxons and enter into many compounds. Thus we find Kingdon, whence the imitative Kingdom, Brandon, from the name Brand (Chapter VII), Ashdown, etc. The simple Donne or Dunne is sometimes the Anglo-Saxon name Dunna, whence Dunning, or a colour nickname, while Down and Downing may represent the Anglo-Sax. Duna and Duning (Chapter VII). From Combe, used especially in the west of England, we have Compton, and such compounds as Acomb, at combe, Addiscombe, Battiscombe, etc. But Newcomb is for Newcome (Chapter II). See also Slocomb (Chapter XXI).




The simple Hill and Dale are among our common surnames. Hill also appears as Hull and is easily disguised in compounds, e.g. Brummel for broom-hill, Tootell and Tuttle for Toothill, a name found in many localities and meaning a hill on which a watch was kept. It is connected with the verb to tout, originally to look out

"David dwellide in the tote hil" (Wyc, 2 Sam. v. 9).

We have Dale and its cognate Dell in Swindell (swine), Tindall (Tyne), Twaddell, Tweddell (Tweed), etc. —

"Mr. H. T. Twaddle announced the change of his name to Tweeddale in the Times, January 4, 1890" (Bardsley).

Other names for a hill are Fell (Scand.), found in the lake country, whence Grenfell; and Hough or How (Scand.), as in the north country names Greenhow, Birchenough.

This is often reduced to -o, as in Clitheroe, Shafto, and is easily confused with scough, a wood (Scand.), as in Briscoe (birch), Ayscough (ash).

In the north hills were also called Law and Low, with such compounds as Bradlaugh, Whitelaw, and Harlow. To these must be added Barrow, often confused with the related borough (Chapter XIII). Both belong to the Anglo-Sax. beorgan, to protect, cover. The name Leatherbarrow means the hill, perhaps the burial mound, of Leather, Anglo-Sax. Hlothere, cognate with Lothair and Luther.

A hill-top was Cope or Copp. Chaucer uses it of the tip of the Miller's nose

"Upon the cope right of his nose he hade
A werte, and thereon stood a toft of herys."

(A. 554.)

Another name for a hill-top appears in Peak, Pike, Peck, or Pick, but the many compounds in Pick-, e.g. Pickbourne, Pickford, Pickwick, etc., suggest a personal name Pick of which we have the dim. in Pickett (cf. Fr. Picot) and the softened Piggot. Peak may be in some cases from the Derbyshire Peak, which has, however, no connection with the common noun peak. A mere hillock or knoll has given the names Knapp, Knollys or Knowles, Knock, and Knott. But Knapp may also be for Mid. Eng. nape, cognate with knave and with Low Ger. Knappe, squire—

"Wer wagt es, Rittersmann oder Knapp'.
  Zu tauchen in diesen Schlund?"

(Schiller, Der Taucher, 1. I.)

Redknap, the name of a Richmond boat-builder, is probably a nickname, like Redhead. A Knapper may have lived on a "knap," or may have been one of the Suffolk flint-knappers, who still prepare gun-flints for weapons to be retailed to the heathen.

Knock and Knocker are both Kentish names, and there is a reef off Margate known as the Kentish Knock. We have the plural Knox (cf. Bax, Settlements and Enclosures, Chapter XIII). Knott is sometimes for Cnut, or Canute, which generally becomes Nutt. Both have got mixed with the nickname Nott.

A green knoll was also called Toft (Scand.), whence Langtoft, and the name was used later for a homestead. From Cliff we have Clift, [Footnote: This may also be from Mid. Eng, clift, a cleft.] with excrescent -t, and the cognates Cleeve and Clive. Compounds of Cliff are Radcliffe (red), Sutcliffe (south), Wyclif (white). The c- sometimes disappears in compounds, e.g. Cunliffe, earlier Cunde-clive, and Topliff; but Ayliffe is for AElfgifu or AEthelgifu and Goodliffe from Godleof (cf. Ger. Gottlieb). The older form of Stone appears in Staines, Stanhope, Stanton, etc. Wheatstone is either for "white stone" or for the local Whetstone (Middlesex). In Balderstone, Johnston, Edmondstone, Livingstone, the suffix is -ton, though the frequence of Johnston points to corruption from Johnson, just as in Nottingham we have the converse case of Beeson from the local Beeston. In Hailstone the first element may be Mid. Eng, half, holy. Another Mid. English name for a stone appears in Hone, now used only of a whetstone.

A hollow or valley in the hillside was called in the north Clough, also spelt Clow, Cleugh (Clim o' the Cleugh), and Clew. The compound Fairclough is found corrupted into Faircloth. Another obscure northern name for a glen was Hope, whence Allsop, Blenkinsop, the first element in each being perhaps the name of the first settler, and Burnup, Hartopp, (hart), Harrap (hare), Heslop (hazel).

Gill (Scand.), a ravine, has given Fothergill, Pickersgill, and Gaskell, from Gaisgill (Westmorland). These, like most of our names connected with mountain scenery, are naturally found almost exclusively in the north. Other surnames which belong more or less to the hill country are Hole, found also as Holl, Hoole, and Hoyle, but perhaps meaning merely a depression in the land, Ridge, and its northern form Rigg, with their compounds Doddridge, Langridge, Brownrigg, Hazelrigg, etc. Ridge, Rigg, also appear as Rudge, Rugg. From Mid. Eng. raike, a path, a sheep-track (Scand.), we get Raikes and perhaps Greatorex, found earlier as Greatrakes, the name of a famous faith-healer of the seventeenth century.





The compounds of Wood itself are very numerous, e.g. Braidwood, Harwood, Norwood, Sherrard and Sherratt (Sherwood). But, in considering the frequency of the simple Wood, it must be remembered that we find people described as le wode, i.e. mad (cf. Ger. Wut, frenzy), and that mad and madman are found as medieval names

"Thou told'st me they were stolen unto this wood;
  And here am I, and wode within this wood,
  Because I cannot meet my Hermia."

(Midsummer Night's Dream, ii. 1.)

As a suffix -wood is sometimes a corruption of -ward, e.g. Haywood is occasionally for Hayward, and Allwood, Elwood are for Aylward, Anglo-Sax. AEthelweard. Another name for a wood was Holt, cognate with Ger. Holz


"But right so as thise holtes and thise hayis,
  That han in winter dede ben and dreye,
  Revesten hem in grene whan that May is."

(Troilus and Criseyde, iii. 351.)

Hurst or Hirst means a wooded hill (cf. Ger. Horst), and Shaw was once almost as common a word as wood itself—

"Wher rydestow under this grene-wode shawe?"

(D, 1386.)

Hurst belongs especially to the south and west, though Hirst is very common in Yorkshire; Shaw is found in the north and Holt in the east and south. We have compounds of Shaw in Bradshaw, Crashaw (crow), Hearnshaw (heron), Earnshaw (Mid. Eng, earn, eagle), Renshaw (raven) [Footnote: It is obvious that this may also be for raven's haw (Chapter XIII). Raven was a common personal name and is the first element in Ramsbottom (Chapter XII), Ramsden.], etc., of Hurst in Buckhurst (beech), Brockhurst (badger), and of Holt in Oakshott.

We have earlier forms of Grove in Greaves—

"And with his stremes dryeth in the greves
The silver dropes, hangynge on the leves"

(A. 1495)

and Graves, the latter being thus no more funereal than Tombs, from Thomas (cf. Timbs from Timothy). But Greaves and Graves may also be variants of the official Grieves (Chapter XIX), or may come from Mid. Eng. graefe, a trench, quarry. Compounds are Hargreave (hare), Redgrave, Stangrave, the two latter probably referring to an excavation. From Mid. Eng, strope, a small wood, appear to come Strode and Stroud, compound Bulstrode, while Struthers is the cognate strother, marsh, still in dialect use. Weald and wold, the cognates of Ger. Wald, were applied rather to wild country in general than to land covered with trees. They are probably connected with wild.

Similarly the Late Lat. foresta, whence our forest, means only what is outside, Lat, foris, the town jurisdiction. From the Mid. Eng. waeld we have the names Weld and Weale, the latter with the not uncommon loss of final -d. Scroggs (Scand.) and Scrubbs suggest their meaning of brushwood. Scroggins, from its form, is a patronymic, and probably represents Scoggins with intrusive -r-. This is perhaps from Scogin, a name borne by a poet who was contemporary with Chaucer and by a court-fool of the fifteenth century—

"The same Sir John, the very same. I saw him break Skogan's head at the court gate, when he was a crack, not thus high." (2 Henry IV., iii. 2.)

With Scrubb of cloudy ammonia fame we may compare Wormwood Scrubbs. Shrubb is the same word, and Shropshire is for Anglo-Sax. scrob-scire.





The two northern names for a clearing in the wood were Royd and Thwaite (Scand.). The former is cognate with the second part of Baireut and Wernigerode, and with the Rütli, the small plateau on which the Swiss patriots took their famous oath. It was so called—

"Weil dort die Waldung ausgerodet ward."

(SCHILLER, Wilhelm Tell.)

Among its compounds are Ackroyd (oak), Grindrod (green), Murgatroyd (Margaret), Learoyd (lea), Ormerod, etc. We also find the name Rodd, which may belong here or to Rudd (Chapter VII), and both these names may also be for Rood, equivalent to Cross or Crouch (Chapter II), as in Holyrood. Ridding is also related to Royd. Hacking may be a dim. of Hack (Chapter VII), but we find also de le hacking, which suggests a forest clearing.

Thwaite, from Anglo-Sax. þwitan, to cut, is found chiefly in Cumberland and the adjacent region in such compounds as Braithwaite (broad), Hebbelthwaite, Postlethwaite, Satterthwaite. The second of these is sometimes corrupted into Ablewhite as Cowperthwaite is into Copperwheat, for "this suffix has ever been too big a mouthful in the south" (Bardsley). A glade or valley in the wood was called a Dean, Dene, Denne, cognate with den. The compounds are numerous, e.g. Borden (boar), Dibden (deep), Sugden (Mid. Eng. suge, sow), Hazeldean or Heseltine. From the fact that swine were pastured in these glades the names Denman and Denyer have been explained as equivalent to swineherd. As a suffix -den is often confused with -don (Chapter XII). At the foot of Horsenden Hill, near Harrow, two boards announce Horsendon Farm and Horsenden Golf-links. An opening in the wood was also called Slade

"And when he came to Barnesdale,
  Great heavinesse there hee hadd;
  He found two of his fellowes
  Were slain both in a Slade."

(Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne.)

The maps still show Pond Slade in Richmond Park, The compound Hertslet may be for hart-Slade.

Acre, a field, cognate with, but not derived from, Lat. ager, occurs in Goodacre, Hardacre, Linacre, Whittaker, etc., and Field itself gives numerous compounds, including Butterfield (bittern, Chapter XXIII), Schofield (school), Streatfeild (street), Whitfield.

Pasture-land is represented above all by Lea, for which see Chapter III. It is cognate with Hohenlohe and Waterloo, while Mead and Medd are cognate with Zermatt (at the mead). Brinsmead thus means the same as Brinsley.





Marshy land has given the names Carr or Kerr (Scand.) and Marsh, originally an adjective, merisc, from mer, mere. The doublet Marris has usually become Morris. The compounds Tidmarsh and Titchmarsh contain the Anglo-Saxon names Tidda and Ticca. Moor also originally had the meaning morass (e.g. in Sedgemoor), as Ger. Moor still has, so that Fenimore is pleonastic. The northern form is Muir, as in Muirhead. Moss was similarly used in the north; cf. moss-trooper and Solway Moss, but the surname Moss is generally for Moses (Chapter IX). From slough we get the names Slow, Slowley, and Sloman (also perhaps a nickname), with which we may compare Moorman and Mossman. This seems to be also the most usual meaning of Slack or Slagg, also used of a gap in the hills

"The first horse that he rode upon,
  For he was raven black,
  He bore him far, and very far,
  But failed in a slack."

(Ballad of Lady Maisry.)

Tye means common land. Platt is a piece, or plot, of level country—

"Oft on a plat of rising ground
I hear the far-off curfew sound"

(Penseroso, 1. 73);

and shape is expressed by Gore, a triangular piece of land (cf. Kensington Gore), of which the older form Gare, Geare, also survives. In Lowndes we have laund or lound

"And to the laund he rideth hym ful right,
  For thider was the hart wont have his flight

(A. 1691)—

a piece of heath land, the origin of the modern word lawn. In Lund and Lunn it has become confused with the Old Norse lundr, a sacred grove.

Laund itself is of French origin—

"Lande, a land, or laund; a wild, untilled, shrubbie, or bushie plaine"


Its relation to land is uncertain, and it is not possible to distinguish them in such compounds as Acland (Chapter XII), Buckland, Cleveland, etc. The name Lander or Launder is unconnected with these (see p.186). Flack is Mid. Eng. flagge, turf. Snape is a dialect word for boggy ground, and Wong means a meadow.

A rather uncouth-looking set of names, which occur chiefly on the border of Cheshire and Lancashire, are compounded from bottom or botham, a wide shallow valley suited for agriculture. Hotspur, dissatisfied with his fellow-conspirators' map-drawing, expresses his intention of damming the Trent so that

"It shall not wind with such a deep indent
To rob me of so rich a bottom here."

(1 Henry IV, iii. 1.)

Familiar compounds are Higginbottom, Rowbotham, Sidebottom. The first element of Shufflebotham is, in the Lancashire Assize Rolls (1176-1285), spelt Schyppewalle- and Schyppewelle-, where schyppe is for sheep, still so pronounced in dialect. Tarbottom, earlier Tarbutton, is corrupted from Tarbolton (Ayrshire).







Very few surnames are taken, in any language, from the names of rivers. This is quite natural, for just as the man who lived on a hill became known as Hill, Peake, etc., and not as Skiddaw or Wrekin, so the man who lived by the waterside would be known as Bywater, Rivers, etc. No Londoner talks of going on the Thames, and the country-dweller also usually refers to his local stream as the river or the water, and not by its geographical name. Another reason for the absence of such surnames is probably to be found in the fact that our river (and mountain) names are almost exclusively Celtic, and had no connotation for the English population. We have many apparent river names, but most of them are susceptible of another explanation. Dee may be for Day as Deakin is for Dakin, i.e. David, Derwent looks like Darwin (Chapter VII) or the local Darwen with excrescent -t (Chapter III), Humber is Humbert, a French name corresponding to the Anglo-Sax, Hunbeorht, Medway may be merely "mid-way," and Trent is a place in Somerset. This view as to river surnames is supported by the fact that we do not appear to have a single mountain surname, the apparent exception, Snowdon, being for Snowden (see den, Dean, Dene, Denne). [Footnote: But see my Surnames, Chapter XVI.]

Among names for streams we have Beck, [Footnote: The simple Beck is generally a German name of modern introduction (see pecch).] cognate with Ger. Bach; Bourne, [Footnote: Distinct from bourne, a boundary, Fr. borne.] or Burn, cognate with Ger. Brunnen; Brook, related to break; Crick, a creek; Fleet, a creek, cognate with Flood; and Syke, a trench or rill. In Beckett and Brockett the suffix is head (Chapter XIII). Troutbeck, Birkbeck explain themselves. In Colbeck we have cold, and Holbrook contains hollow, but in some names -brook has been substituted for -borough, -burgh. We find Brook latinized as Torrens. Aborn is for atte bourne, and there are probably many places called Blackburn and Otterburn.

Firth, an estuary, cognate with fjord, often becomes Frith, but this surname usually comes from frith, a park or game preserve (Chapter XIII).

Another word for a creek, wick or wick (Scand.), cannot be distinguished from wick, a settlement. Pond, a doublet of Pound (Chapter XIII), means a piece of water enclosed by a dam, while natural sheets of water are Lake, or Lack, not limited originally to a large expanse, Mere, whence Mears and such compounds as Cranmer (crane), Bulmer (bull), etc., and Pool, also spelt Pull and Pole. We have compounds of the latter in Poulton (Chapter I), Claypole, and Glasspool.

In Kent a small pond is called Sole, whence Nethersole. The bank of a river or lake was called Over, cognate with Ger. Ufer, whence Overend, Overall (see below), Overbury, Overland. The surname Shore, for atte shore, may refer to the sea-shore, but the word sewer was once regularly so pronounced and the name was applied to large drains in the fen country (cf. Gott, Water, Chapter XIII). Beach is a word of late appearance and doubtful origin, and as a surname is usually identical with Beech.

Spits of land by the waterside were called Hook (cf. Hook of Holland and Sandy Hook) and Hoe or Hoo, as in Plymouth Hoe, or the Hundred of Hoo, between the Thames and the Medway. From Hook comes Hooker, where it does not mean a maker of hooks, while Homan and Hooman sometimes belong to the second. Alluvial land by a stream was called halgh, haugh, whence sometimes Hawes. Its dative case gives Hale and Heal. These often become -hall, -all, in place-names. Compounds are Greenhalgh, Greenall and Featherstonehaugh, perhaps our longest surname.

Ing, a low-lying meadow, Mid. Eng. eng, survives in Greening, Fenning, Wilding, and probably sometimes in England (Chapter XI). But Inge and Ings, the latter the name of one of the Cato Street conspirators, also represent an Anglo-Saxon personal name. Cf. Ingall and Ingle, from Ingwulf, or Ingold, whence Ingoldsby.





Ey, an island, [Footnote: Isle of Sheppey, Mersea Island, etc, are pleonasms.]survives as the last element of many names, and is not always to be distinguished from hey (hay, Settlements, Chapter III) and ley. Bill Nye's ancestor lived atten ey (Chapter III). Dowdney or Dudeney has been explained from the Anglo-Saxon name Duda, but it more probably represents the very common French name Dieudonné, corresponding to Lat. Deodatus. In the north a river island was commonly called Holm (Scand.), also pronounced Home, Hulme, and Hume, in compounds easily confused with -ham, e.g. Durham was once Dun-holmr, hill island. The very common Holmes is probably in most cases a tree-name (Chapter XII). In Chisholm the first element may mean pebble; cf. Chesil Beach. The names Bent, whence Broadbent, and Crook probably also belong sometimes to the river, but may have arisen from a turn in a road or valley. But Bent was also applied to a tract covered with bents, or rushes, and Crook is generally a nickname (Chapter XXII). Lastly, the crossing of the unbridged stream has given us Ford or Forth whence Stratford, Strafford (street), Stanford, Stamford, Staniforth (stone), etc. The alternative name was Wade, whence the compound Grimwade. The cognate wath (Scand.) has been confused with with (Scand.), a wood, whence the name Wythe and the compound Askwith or Asquith. Both -wath and –with have been often replaced by -worth and -wood.






In conclusion a few words must be said about tree names, so common in their simple form and in topographical compounds. Here, as in the case of most of the etymons already mentioned in this chapter, the origin of the surname may be specific as well as general, i.e. the name Ash may come from Ash in Kent rather than from any particular tree, the etymology remaining the same. Many of our surnames have preserved the older forms of tree names, e.g. the lime was once the line, hence Lines, Lynes, and earlier still the Lind, as in the compounds Lyndhurst, Lindley, etc. The older form of Oak appears in Acland, Acton, and variants in Ogden and Braddock, broad oak. We have ash in Aston, Ascham. The holly was once the hollin, whence Hollins, Hollis, Hollings; cf. Hollings-head, Holinshed. But hollin became colloquially holm, whence generally Holmes. Homewood is for holm-wood. The holm oak, ilex, is so called from its holly-like leaves. For Birch we also find Birk, a northern form. Beech often appears in compounds as Buck-; cf. buckwheat, so called because the grains are of the shape of beech-mast. In Poppleton, Popplewell we have the dialect popple, a poplar. Yeo sometimes represents yew, spelt yowe by Palsgrave. [Footnote: The yeo of yeoman, which is conjectured to have meant district, cognate with Ger. Gau in Breisgau, Rheingau, etc., is not found by itself.]

In Sallows we have a provincial name for the willow, cognate with Fr, saule and Lat. salix. Rowntree is the rowan, or mountain ash, and Bawtry or Bawtree is a northern name for the elder. The older forms of Alder and Elder, in both of which the -d- is intrusive (Chapter III), appear in Allerton and Ellershaw. Maple is sometimes Mapple and sycamore is corrupted into Sicklemore.

Tree-names are common in all languages. Beerbohm Tree is pleonastic, from Ger. Bierbaum, for Birnbaum, pear-tree. A few years ago a prominent Belgian statesman bore the name Vandenpereboom, rather terrifying till decomposed into "van den pereboom." Its Mid. English equivalent appears in Pirie, originally a collection of pear-trees, but used by Chaucer for the single tree

"And thus I lete hym sitte upon the pyrie."

(E. 2217.)

From trees we may descend gradually, via Thorne, Bush, Furze, Gorst (Chapter I), Ling, etc., until we come finally to Grace, which in some cases represents grass, for we find William atte grase in 1327, while the name Poorgrass, in Mr. Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, seems to be certified by the famous French names Malherbe and Malesherbes. But Savory is the French personal name Savary.

The following list of trees is given by Chaucer in the Knight's tale—

"The names that the trees highte, —
As ook, firre, birch, aspe, alder, holm, popeler,
Wylugh, elm, plane, assh, box, chasteyn, lynde, laurer,
Mapul, thorn, beck, hasel, ew, whippeltre."           (A. 2920.)

They are all represented in modern directories.





"One fels downs firs, another of the same
With crossed poles a little lodge doth frame:
Another mounds it with dry wall about,
And leaves a breach for passage in and out:
With turfs and furze some others yet more gross
Their homely sties in stead of walls inclose:
Some, like the swallow, mud and hay doe mixe
And that about their silly [p. 209] cotes they fixe
Some heals [thatch] their roofer with fearn, or reeds, or rushes,
And some with hides, with oase, with boughs, and bushes,"

(SYLVESTER, The Devine Weekes, )

In almost every case where man has interfered with nature the resulting local name is naturally of Anglo-Saxon or, in some parts of England, of Scandinavian origin. The Roman and French elements in our topographical names are scanty in number, though the former are of frequent occurrence. The chief Latin contributions are -Chester, -cester, -caster, Lat. castrum, a fort, or plural castra, a camp; -street, Lat. via strata, a levelled way; -minster, Lat. monasterium; and -church or -kirk, Greco-Lat. kuriakon, belonging to the Lord. Eccles, Greco-Lat. ecclesia, probably goes back to Celtic Christianity. Street was the high-road, hence Greenstreet. Minster is curiously corrupted in Buckmaster for Buckminster and Kittermaster for Kidderminster, while in its simple form it appears as Minister (Chapter III).

We have a few French place-names, e.g. Beamish (Chapter XIV), Beaumont, Richmond, Richemont, and Malpas (Cheshire), the evil pass, with which we may compare Maltravers. We have the apparent opposite in Bompas, Bumpus, Fr. bon pas, but this was a nickname. Of late there has been a tendency to introduce the French ville, e.g. Bournville, near Birmingham. That part of Margate which ought to be called Northdown is known as Cliftonville, and the inhabitants of the opposite end of the town, dissatisfied with such good names as Westbrook and Rancorn, hanker after Westonville. But these philological atrocities are fortunately too late to be perpetuated as surnames.

I have divided the names in this chapter into those that are connected with

  1. Settlements and Enclosures,
  2. Highways and Byways,
  3. Watercourses,
  4. Buildings,
  5. Shop Signs.

And here, as before, names which neither in their simple nor compound form present any difficulty are omitted.





The words which occur most commonly in the names of the modern towns which have sprung from early homesteads are borough or bury, [Footnote: Originally the dative of borough.] by, ham, stoke, stow, thorp, tun or ton, wick, and worth. These names are all of native origin, except by, which indicates a Danish settlement, and wick, which is supposed to be a very early loan from Lat. vicus, cognate with Greek oikos, house. Nearly all of them are common, in their simple form, both as specific place-names and as surnames. Borough, cognate with Ger. Burg, castle, and related to Barrow (Chapter XII), has many variants, Bury, Brough, Borrow, Berry, whence Berryman, and Burgh, the last of which has become Burke in Ireland.

In Atterbury the preposition and article have both remained, while in Thornber the suffix is almost unrecognizable. By, related to byre and to the preposition by, is especially common in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. It is sometimes spelt bee, e.g. Ashbee for Ashby. The simple Bye is not uncommon. Ham is cognate with home. In compounds it is sometimes reduced to -um, e.g. Barnum, Holtum, Warnum. But in some such names the -um is the original form, representing an old dative plural (Chapter III). Allum represents the usual Midland pronunciation of Hallam. Cullum, generally for Culham, may also represent the missionary Saint Colomb. In Newnham the adjective is dative, as in Ger. Neuenheim, at the new home. In Bonham, Frankham, and Pridham the suffix -ham has been substituted for the French homme of bonhomme, franc homme, prudhomme, while Jerningham is a perversion of the personal name Jernegan or Gernegan, as Garnham is of Gernon, Old French for Beard (Chapter XXI). Stead is cognate with Ger. Stadt, place, town, and with staith, as in Bickersteth(Chapter III). Armstead means the dwelling of the hermit, Bensted the stead of Benna (Chapter VII) or Bennet.

Stoke is originally distinct from Stock, a stump, with which it has become fused in the compounds Bostock, Brigstocke. Stow appears in the compound Bristol (Chapter XI) and in Plaistow, play-ground (cf. Playsted). Thorp, cognate with Ger. Dorf, village, is especially common in the eastern counties

"By twenty thorps, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges."

(Tennyson, The Brook, 1. 5.)

It has also given Thrupp and probably Thripp, whence Calthrop, Winthrop, Westrupp, etc.

Ton, later Town, gave also the northern Toon, still used in Scotland with something of its original sense (Chapter XII). Boston is Botolf's town, Gunston Gunolf's town. So also Tarleton (Thurweald), Monkton (monk), Preston (priest). Barton meant originally a barley-field, and is still used in the west of England for a paddock. Wick appears also as Wych, Weech. Its compounds cannot be separated from those of wick, a creek (Chapter XII). Bromage is for Bromwich, Greenidge for Greenwich, Prestage for Prestwich; cf. the place-name Swanage (Dorset), earlier Swanewic.

Worth was perhaps originally applied to land by a river or to a holm (Chapter XII); cf. Ger. Donauwert, Nonnenwert, etc. Harmsworth is for Harmondsworth; cf. Ebbsworth (Ebba), Shuttleworth (Sceotweald), Wadsworth (Wada). Sometimes we find a lengthened form, e.g. Allworthy, from ald, old (cf. Aldworth), Langworthy. Rickworth, further corrupted to Record, is the Anglo-Saxon name Ricweard. Littleworth may belong to this class, but may also be a nickname. This would make it equivalent to the imitative Little-proud, formerly Littleprow, from Old French and Mid. Eng. prou, worth, value.

To this group may be added two more, which signify a mart, viz. Cheap or Chipp (cf. Chepstow, Chipping Barnet) and Staple, whence Huxtable, Stapleton, etc. Liberty, that part of a city which, though outside the walls, shares in the city privileges, and Parish also occur as surnames, but the latter is usually for Paris.

Many other words connected with the delimitation of property occur commonly in surnames. Croft or Craft, a small field, is common in compounds such as Beecroft or Bearcroft (barley), Haycraft (see hay, below), Oscroft(ox), Rycroft, Meadowcroft. [Footnote: I remember reading in some story of a socially ambitious lady who adopted this commonplace name instead of Gubbins. The latter name came over, as Gobin, with the Conqueror, and goes back to Old Ger. Godberaht, whence Old Fr. Godibert.] Fold occurs usually as Foulds, but we have compounds such as Nettlefold, Penfold or Pinfold (Chapter XIII). Sty, not originally limited to pigs, has given Hardisty, the sty of Heardwulf. Frith, a park or game preserve, is probably more often the origin of a surname than the other frith (Chapter XII). It is cognate with Ger. Friedhof, cemetery. Chase is still used of a park and Game once meant rabbit-warren. Warren is Fr. garenne. Garth, the Scandinavian doublet of Yard, and cognate with Garden, has given the compounds Garside, Garfield, Hogarth (from a place in Westmorland), and Applegarth, of which Applegate is a corruption. We have a compound of yard in Wynyard, Anglo-Sax. win, vine. We have also the name Close and its derivative Clowser. Gate, a barrier or opening, Anglo-Sax. geat, is distinct from the Scandinavian gate, a street (Chapter XIII), though of course confused with it in surnames. From the northern form we have Yates, Yeats, and Yeatman, and the compounds Byatt, by gate, Hyatt, high gate. Agate is for atte gate, and Lidgate, whence Lidgett, means a swing gate, shutting like a lid. Fladgate is for flood-gate. Here also belongs Barr. Hatch, the gate at the entrance to a chase, survives in Colney Hatch. The apparent dim. Hatchett is for Hatchard (Chapter VIII); cf. Everett for Everard (Chapter II). Hay, also Haig, Haigh, Haw, Hey, is cognate with Hedge. Like most monosyllabic local surnames, it is commonly found in the plural, Hayes, Hawes. The bird nickname Hedgecock exists also as Haycock. The curious-looking patronymics Townson and Orchardson are of course corrupt. The former is for Tomlinson and the latter perhaps from Achard (Chapter VIII).

Several places and families in England are named Hide or Hyde, which meant a certain measure of land. The popular connection between this word and hide, a skin, as in the story of the first Jutish settlement, is a fable. It is connected with an Anglo-Saxon word meaning household, which appears also in Huish, Anglo-Sax. hi-wisc. Dike, or Dyke, and Moat, also Mott, both have, or had, a double meaning. We still use dike, which belongs to dig and ditch, both of a trench and a mound, and the latter was the earlier meaning of Fr. motte, now a clod, In Anglo-French we find moat used of a mound fortress in a marsh. Now it is applied to the surrounding water. From dike come the names Dicker, Dickman, Grimsdick, etc. Sometimes the name Dykes may imply residence near some historic earthwork, such as Offa's Dyke, just as Wall, for which Waugh was used in the north, may show connection with the Roman wall. With these may be mentioned the French name Fosse, whence the apparently pleonastic Fosdyke and the name of Verdant Green's friend, Mr. Four-in-hand Fosbrooke. Delves is from Mid. Eng. dell, ditch. Jury is for Jewry, the quarter allotted to the Jews, but Jewsbury is no doubt for Dewsbury; cf. Jewhurst for Dewhurst.

Here may be mentioned a few local surnames which are hard to classify. We have the apparently anatomical Back, Foot, Head, and, in compounds, -side. Back seems to have been used of the region behind a building or dwelling, as it still is at Cambridge. Its plural has given Bax. But it was also a personal name connected with Bacon (Chapter XXIII).

We should expect Foot to mean the base of a hill, but it always occurs in early rolls without a preposition. It may represent in some cases an old personal name of obscure origin, but it is also a nickname with compounds such as Barfoot, Lightfoot. The simple Head, found as Mid. Eng. del heved, is perhaps generally from a shop sign. Fr. Tête, one origin of Tait, Tate, and Ger. Haupt, Kopf, also occur as surnames. As a local suffix -head appears to mean top-end and is generally shortened to -ett, e.g. Birkett (cf. Birkenhead), [Footnote: No doubt sometimes, like Burchett, Burkett, for the personal name Burchard, Anglo-Sax. Burgheard] Brockett (brook), Bromet, Bromhead (broom), Hazlitt (hazel). The same suffix appears to be present in Fossett, from fosse, and Forcett from force, a waterfall (Scand.). Broadhead is a nickname, like Fr. Grossetête and Ger. Breitkopf. The face-value of Evershed is boar's head. Morshead may be the nickname of mine host of the Saracen's Head or may mean the end of the moor. So the names Aked (oak), Blackett, Woodhead may be explained anatomically or geographically according to the choice of the bearer. Perrett, usually a dim. of Peter, may sometimes represent the rather effective old nickname "pear-head."

Side is local in the uncomfortable sounding Akenside (oak), Fearenside (fern), but Heaviside appears to be a nickname. Handyside may mean "gracious manner," from Mid. Eng. side, cognate with Ger. Sitte, custom. See Hendy (Chapter XXII). The simple end survives as Ind or Nind (Chapter III) and in Overend (Chapter XII), Townsend. Edge appears also in the older form Egg, but the frequency of place-names beginning with Edge, e.g. Edgeley, Edgington, Edgworth, etc., suggests that it was also a personal name.

Lynch, a boundary, is cognate with golf-links. The following sounds modern, but refers to people sitting in a hollow among the sand-ridges—

"And are ye in the wont of drawing up wi' a' the gangrel bodies that ye find cowering in a sand-bunker upon the links?"

(Redgauntlet, ch. xi.)

Pitt is found in the compound Bulpitt, no doubt the place where the town bull was kept. It is also the origin of the Kentish names Pett and Pettman (Chapter XVII). Arch refers generally to a bridge. Lastly, there are three words for a corner, viz. Hearne, Herne, Hurne, Horn; Wyke, the same word as Wick, a creek (Chapter XII); and Wray (Scand.). The franklin tell us that "yonge clerkes" desirous of knowledge—

"Seken in every halke and every herne
Particular sciences for to lerne"

(F, 1119).

Wray has become confused with Ray (Chapter III). Its compound thack-wray, the corner where the thatch was stored, has given Thackeray.




The word road was not used in its current sense during the surname period, but meant the art of riding, and specifically a raid or inroad. Therefore the name Roades is unconnected with it and represents merely a variant of Royds (Chapter XII). This name and its compounds belong essentially to the north, the prevailing spelling, Rhodes, being artificial. It has no connection with the island of Rhodes.

The meaning of Street has changed considerably since the days when Icknield Street and Watling Street were great national roads. It is now used exclusively of town thoroughfares, and has become such a mere suffix that, while we speak of the Oxford Róad, we try to suppress the second word in Ox'ford Street. To street belong our place-names and surnames in Strat-, Stret-, etc., e.g. Stratton, Stretton, Stredwick. Way has a number of compounds with intrusive -a-, e.g. Challaway, Dallaway (dale), Greenaway, Hathaway (heath), Westaway. But Hanway is the name of a country (Chapter XI), and Otway, Ottoway, is Old Fr. Otouet, a dim. of Odo. Shipway is for sheep-way. In the north of England the streets in a town are often called gates (Scand.). It is impossible to distinguish the compounds of this gate from those of the native gate, a barrier (Chapter XIII), e.g. Norgate may mean North Street or North Gate.

Alley and Court both exist as surnames, but the former is for a'lee, i.e. Atlee (Chapter XII), and the latter is from court in the sense of mansion, country house. The curious spelling Caught may be seen over a shop in Chiswick. Rowe (Chapter I) sometimes means row of houses, but in Townroe the second element is identical with Wray (Chapter XIII). Cosway, Cossey, is from causeway, Fr. chaussée; and Twitchers, Twitchell represent dialect words used of a narrow passage and connected with the Mid. English verb twiselen, to fork, or divide; Twiss must be of similar origin, for we find Robert del twysse in 1367. Cf. Birtwistle and Entwistle. With the above may be classed the west-country Shute, a narrow street; Vennell, a north-country word for alley, Fr. venelle, dim. of Lat. versa, vein; Wynd, a court, also a north-country word, probably from the verb wind, to twist; and the cognate Went, a passage—

"Thorugh a goter, by a prive wente."
           (Troilus and Criseyde, iii. 788.)





Names derived from artificial watercourses are Channell, now replaced as a common noun by the learned form canal; Condy or Cundy, for the earlier Cunditt, conduit; Gott, cognate with gut, used in Yorkshire for the channel from a mill-dam, and in Lincolnshire for a water-drain on the coast; Lade, Leete, connected with the verb to lead; and sometimes Shore (Chapter XII), which was my grandfather's pronunciation of sewer. From weir, lit. a protection, precaution, cognate with beware and Ger. wehren, to protect, we have not only Weir, but also Ware, Warr, Wear, and the more pretentious Delawarr. The latter name passed from an Earl Delawarr to a region in North America, and thus to Fenimore Cooper's noble red men. But this group of names must sometimes be referred to the Domesday wars, an outlying potion of a manor. Lock is more often a land name, to be classed with Hatch (Chapter XIII), but was also used of a water-gate. Key was once the usual spelling of quay. The curious name Keylock is a perversion of Kellogg, Mid. Eng. Kill-hog. Port seldom belongs here, as the Mid. English is almost always de la Porte, i.e. Gates. From well we have a very large number of compounds, e.g. Cauldwell (cold), Halliwell, the variants of which, Holliwell, Hollowell, probably all represent Mid. Eng. hali, holy. Here belongs also Winch, from the device used for drawing water from deep wells.






The greater number of the words to be dealt with under this heading enter into the composition of specific place-names. A considerable number of surnames are derived from the names of religious buildings, usually from proximity rather than actual habitation. Such names are naturally of Greco-Latin origin, and were either introduced directly into Anglo-Saxon by the missionaries, or were adopted later in a French form after the Conquest. It has already been noted (Chapter I) that Abbey is not always what it seems; but in some cases it is local, from Fr, abbaye, of which the Provençal form Abadie was introduced by the Huguenots. We find much earlier Abdy, taken straight from the Greco-Lat. abbatia. The famous name Chantrey is for chantry, Armitage was once the regular pronunciation of Hermitage, and Chappell a common spelling of Chapel

"Also if you finde not the word you seeke for presently after one sort of spelling, condemne me not forthwith, but consider how it is used to be spelled, whether with double or single letters, as Chappell, or Chapell" (Holyoak, Latin Dict., 1612).

We have also the Norman form Capel, but this may be a nickname from Mid. Eng. capel, nag—

"Why nadstow (hast thou not) pit the capul in the lathe (barn)?" (A, 4088.)

A Galilee was a chapel or porch devoted to special purposes—

"Those they pursued had taken refuge in the galilee of the church"

(Fair Maid of Perth, ch. ix.).

The tomb of the Venerable Bede is in the Galilee of Durham Cathedral. I had a schoolfellow with this uncommon name, now generally perverted to Galley. In a play now running (Feb. 1913) in London, there is a character named Sanctuary, a name found also in Crockford and the London Directory.

I have only once come across the contracted form Sentry [Footnote: On the development in meaning of this word, first occurring in the phrase "to take sentrie," i.e. refuge, see my Romance of Words, ch. vii.] (Daily Telegraph, Dec. 26, 1912), and then under circumstances which might make quotation actionable. Purvis is Mid. Eng. parvis, a porch, Greco-Lat. paradises. It may be the same as Provis, the name selected by Mr. Magwitch on his return from the Antipodes (Great Expectations, ch. xl.), unless this is for Provost. Porch and Portch both occur as surnames, but Porcher is Fr. porcher, a swineherd, and Portal is a Huguenot name. Churcher and Kirker, Churchman and Kirkman, are usually local; cf. Bridges and Bridgman.

The names Temple and Templeman were acquired from residence near one of the preceptories of the Knights Templars, and Spittlehouse (Chapter III) is sometimes to be accounted for in a similar way (Knights of the Hospital). We even find the surname Tabernacle. Musters is Old Fr. moustiers (moutiers), common in French place-names, from Lat. monasterium. The word bow, still used for an arch in some old towns, has given the names Bow and Bowes. A medieval statute, recently revived to baffle the suffragettes, was originally directed against robbers and "pillers," i.e. plunderers, but the name Piller is also for pillar; cf. the French name Colonise. With these may be mentioned Buttress and Carvell, the latter from Old Fr. carnet (créneau), a battlement.

As general terms for larger dwellings we find Hall, House, also written Hose, and Seal, the last-named from the Teutonic original which has given Fr. Lasalle, whence our surname Sale. To the same class belong Place, Plaice, as in Cumnor Place.

The possession of such surnames does not imply ancestral possession of Haddon Hall, Stafford House, etc., but merely that the founder of the family lived under the shadow of greatness. In compounds -house is generally treated as in "workus," e.g. Bacchus (Chapter VIII), Bellows, Brewis, Duffus (dove), Kirkus, Loftus, Malthus, Windus (wynd, Chapter XIII). In connection with Woodhouse it must be remembered that this name was given to the man who played the part of a "wild man of the woods" in processions and festivities. William Power, skinner, called "Wodehous," died in London in 1391. Of similar origin is Greenman. The tavern sign of the Green Man is sometimes explained as representing a forester in green, but it was probably at first equivalent to the German sign "Zum wilden Mann." Cassell is sometimes for Castle, but is more often a local German name of recent introduction. The northern Peel, a castle, as in the Isle of Man, was originally applied to a stockade, Old Fr. pel (pieu), a stake, Lat. Palos. Hence also Peall, Peile. Keep comes from the central tower of the castle, where the baron and his family kept, i.e. lived. A moated Grange is a poetic figment, for the word comes from Fr, grange, a barn (to Lat. granum); hence Granger.

With Mill and the older Milne (Chapter II) we may compare Mullins, Fr. Desmoulins. Barnes is sometimes, but not always, what it seems (Chapter XXI). With it we may put Leathes, from an obsolete Scandinavian word for barn (see quot. Chapter XIII), to which we owe also the names Leatham and Latham. Mr. Oldbuck's "ecstatic description" of the Roman camp with its praetorium was spoilt by Edie Ochiltree's disastrous interruption

"Praetorian here, praetorian there, I mind the bigging o't."         (Antiquary, ch. iv.).




The obsolete verb to big, i.e. build, whence Biggar, a builder, has given us Biggins, Biggs (Chapter III), and Newbigging, while from to build we have Newbould and Newbolt. Cazenove, Ital. casa nuova, means exactly the same. Probably related to build is the obsolete Bottle, a building, whence Harbottle. A humble dwelling was called a Board

Borde, a little house, lodging, or cottage of timber (Cotgrave)—

whence Boardman, Border. Other names were Booth, Lodge, and Folley, Fr. feuillée, a hut made of branches—

"Feuillée, an arbor, or bower, framed of leav'd plants, or branches" (Cotgrave).

Scale, possibly connected with shealing, is a Scandinavian word used in the north for a shepherd's hut, hence the surname Scales. Bower, which now suggests a leafy arbour, had no such sense in Mid. English. Chaucer says of the poor widow—

"Ful sooty was hir bour and eek hire halle."

(B, 4022.)

Hence the names Bowerman, Boorman, Burman.

But the commonest of names for a humble dwelling was cot or cote

Born and fed in rudenesse
As in a cote or in an oxe stalle

(E, 397)

the inhabitant of which was a Colman, Cotter, or, diminutively, Cottrell, Cotterill. Hence the frequent occurrence of the name Coates.

There are also numerous compounds, e.g. Alcott (old), Norcott, Kingscote, and the many variants of Caldecott, Calcott, the cold dwelling, especially common as a village name in the vicinity of the Roman roads. It is supposed to have been applied, like Coldharbour, to deserted posts. The name Cotton is sometimes from the dative plural of the same word, though, when of French origin, it represents Colon, dim. of Cot, aphetic for Jacot.

Names such as Kitchin, Spence, a north-country word for pantry (Chapter XX), and Mews, originally applied to the hawk-coops (see Mewer, Chapter XV), point to domestic employment. The simple Mew, common in Hampshire, is a bird nickname. Scammell preserves an older form of shamble(s), originally the benches on which meat was exposed for sale. The name Currie, or Curry, is too common to be referred entirely to the Scot. Corrie, a mountain glen, or to Curry in Somerset, and I conjecture that it sometimes represents Old French and Mid. Eng. curie, a kitchen, which is the origin of Petty Cury in Cambridge and of the famous French name Curie. Nor can Furness be derived exclusively from the Furness district of Lancashire. It must sometimes correspond to the common French name Dufour, from four, oven. We also have the name Ovens. Stables, when not identical with Staples (Chapter XIII), belongs to the same class as Mews. Chambers, found in Scotland as Chalmers, is official, the medieval de la Chambre often referring to the Exchequer Chamber of the City of London. Bellchambers has probably no connection with this word. It appears to be an imitative spelling of Belencombre, a place near Dieppe, for the entry de Belencumbre is of frequent occurrence.

Places of confinement are represented by Gale, gaol (Chapter III), Penn, whence Inkpen (Berkshire), Pond, Pound, and Penfold or Pinfold. But Gales is also for Anglo-Fr. Galles, Wales. Butts may come from the archery ground, while Butt is generally to be referred to the French name Bout (Chapter VII) or to Budd (Chapter VII). Cordery, for de la corderie, of the rope-walk, has been confused with the much more picturesque Corderoy, i.e. coeur de roi.






As is well known, medieval shops had signs instead of numbers, and traces of this custom are still to be seen in country towns. It is quite obvious that town surnames would readily spring into existence from such signs. The famous name Rothschild, always mispronounced in English, goes back to the "red shield" over Nathan Rothschild's shop in the Jewry of Frankfurt; and within the writer's memory two brothers named Grainge in the little town of Uxbridge were familiarly known as Bible Grainge and Gridiron Grainge. Many animal surnames are to be referred partly to this source, e.g. Bull, Hart, Lamb, Lyon, Ram, Roebuck, Stagg; Cock, Falcon, Peacock, Raven, Swann, etc., all still common as tavern signs. The popinjay, or parrot, is still occasionally found as Pobgee, Popjoy. These surnames all have, of course, an alternative explanation (ch. xxiii.). Here also usually belong Angel and Virgin.

A considerable number of such names probably consist of those taken from figures used in heraldry or from objects which indicated the craft practised, or the special commodity in which the tradesman dealt. Such are Arrow, Bell, Buckle, Crosskeys, Crowne, Gauntlett, Hatt, Horne, Image, Key, Lilley, Meatyard, measuring wand—

"Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment, in meteyard, in weight, or in measure" (Lev. xix. 35)—

Mullett, [Footnote: A five-pointed star, Old Fr. molette, rowel of a spur.] Rose, Shears, and perhaps Blades, Shipp, Spurr, Starr, Sword. Thomas Palle, called "Sheres," died in London, 1376.

But here again we must walk delicately. The Germanic name Hatto, borne by the wicked bishop who perished in the Mäuseturm, gave the French name Hatt with the accusative form Hatton, [Footnote: In Old French a certain number of names, mostly of Germanic origin, had an accusative in -on, e.g. Guy, Guyon, Hugues, Hugon. From Lat. Pontius came Poinz, Poinson, whence our Poyntz, less pleasingly Punch, and Punshon. In the Pipe Rolls these are also spelt Pin-, whence Pinch, Pinchin, and Pinches.] Horn is an old personal name, as in the medieval romance of King Horn, Shipp is a common provincialism for sheep, [Footnote: Hence the connection between the ship and the "ha'porth of tar."] Starr has another explanation (see Starling) and Bell has several (chapter 1). I should guess that Porteous was the sign used by some medieval writer of mass-books and breviaries. Its oldest form is the Anglo-Fr. Porte-hors, corresponding to medieval Lat. portiforium, a breviary, lit. what one carries outside, a portable prayer-book—

"For on my porthors here I make an oath." (B, 1321.)

But as the name is found without prefix in the Hundred Rolls, it may have been a nickname conferred on some clericus who was proud of so rare a possession.





"Such, however, is the illusion of antiquity and wealth that decent and dignified men now existing boast their descent from these filthy thieves"

(EMERSON, English Traits, ch. iv.).

Not every Norman or Old French name need be included in the group described by Emerson when talking down to an uneducated audience. In fact, it is probable that the majority of genuine French names belong to a later period; for, although the baron who accompanied the Conqueror would in many cases keep his old territorial designation, the minor ruffian would, as a rule, drop the name of the obscure hamlet from which he came and assume some surname more convenient in his new surroundings. Local names of Old French origin are usually taken from the provinces and larger towns which had a meaning for English ears. I have given examples of such in chapter xi. Of course it is easy to take a detailed map of Northern France and say, without offering any proof, that "Avery (Chapter VIII) is from Evreux, Belcher (Chapter XXI) from Bellecourt, Custance (Chapter X) from Coutances," and so on. But any serious student knows this to be idiotic nonsense. The fact that, except in the small minority composed of the senior branches of the noblest houses, the surname was not hereditary till centuries after the Conquest, justifies any bearer of a Norman name taken from a village or smaller locality in repudiating all connection with the "filthy thieves" and conjecturing descent from some decent artisan belonging to one of the later immigrations.

That a considerable number of aristocratic families, and others, bear an easily recognizable French town or village name is of course well known, but it will usually be found that such names are derived from places which are as plentiful in France as our own Ashleys, Barton, Burton, Langleys, Newtons, Suttons, etc., are in England. In some cases a local French name has spread in an exceptional manner. Examples are Baines (Gains, 2 [Footnote: The figures in brackets indicate the number of times that the French local name occurs in the Postal Directory. The above is the usual explanation of Baines. found with de in the Hundred Rolls. But I think it was sometimes a nickname, bones, applied to a thin man. I find William Banes in Lancashire in 1252; cf. Langbain.] ), Gurney (Gournai, 6), Vernon (3). But usually in such cases we find a large number of spots which may have given rise to the surname, e.g. Beaumont (46, without counting Belmont), Dampier (Dampierre, i.e. St. Peter's, 28), Daubeney, Dabney (Aubigné, 4, Aubigny, 17), Ferrers (Ferriéres, 22), Nevill (Neuville, 58), Nugent (Nogent, 17), Villiers (58). This last name, representing Vulgar Lat. villarium, is the origin of Ger. -weiler, so common in German village names along the old Roman roads, e.g. Badenweiler, Froschweiler, etc.

When we come to those surnames of this class which have remained somewhat more exclusive, we generally find that the place-name is also comparatively rare. Thus Hawtrey is from Hauterive (7), Pinpoint from Pierrepont (5), Furneaux from Fourneaux (5), Vipont and Vipan from Vieux-Pont (3), and there are three places called Percy.

The following have two possible birthplaces each—Bellew or Pellew (Belleau), Cantelo (Canteloup [Footnote: But the doublet Chanteloup is common.] ), Mauleverer (Maulévrier), Mompesson (Mont Pinçon or Pinchon), Montmorency, Mortimer (Morte-mer). The following are unique—Carteret, Doll [Footnote: This may also be a metronymic, from Dorothy.] (Dol), Fiennes, Furnival (Fournival), Greville, Harcourt, Melville (Meleville), Montresor, Mowbray (Monbrai), Sackville (Sacquenville), Venables. These names are taken at random, but the same line of investigation can be followed up by any reader who thinks it worth while.






Apart from aristocratic questions, it is interesting to notice the contamination which has occurred between English and French surnames of local origin. The very common French suffix -ville is regularly confounded with our -field. Thus Summerfield is the same name as Somerville, Dangerfield is for d'Angerville, Belfield for Belleville, Blomfield for Blonville, and Stutfield for Estouteville, while Grenville, Granvillehave certainly become confused with our Grenfell, green fell, and Greenfield. Camden notes that Turberville became Troublefield, and I have found the intermediate Trubleville in the twelfth century. The case of Tess Durbeyfield will occur to every reader. The suffix -fort has been confused with our -ford and -forth, so that Rochford is in some cases for Rochefort and Beeforth for Beaufort or Belfort. With the first syllable of Beeforth we may compare Beevor for Beauvoir, Belvoir, Beecham for Beauchamp, and Beamish for Beaumais.

The name Beamish actually occurs as that of village in Durham, the earlier form of which points Old French origin, from beau mes, Lat. bellum mansum, a fair manse, i.e. dwelling. Otherwise it would be tempting to derive the surname Beamish from Ger, böhmisch, earlier behmisch, Bohemian.

A brief survey of French spot-names which have passed into English will show that they were acquired in exactly the same way as the corresponding English names. Norman ancestry, is, however, not always to be assumed in this case. Until the end of the fourteenth century a large proportion of our population was bi-lingual, and names accidentally recorded in Anglo-French may occasionally have stuck. Thus the name Boyes or Boyce may spring from a man of pure English descent who happened to be described as del boil instead of atte wood, just as Capron (Chapter XXI) means Hood. While English spot-names have as a rule shed both the preposition and the article (Chapter XII), French usually keeps one or both, though these were more often lost when the name passed into England. Thus our Roach is not a fish-name, but corresponds to Fr. Laroche or Delaroche; and the blind pirate Pew, if not a Welshman, ap Hugh, was of the race of Dupuy, from Old Fr. Puy, a hill, Lat. podium, a height, gallery, etc., whence also our Pew, once a raised platform.

In some cases the prefix has passed into English; e.g. Diprose is from des préaux, of the meadows, a name assumed by Boileau among others. There are, of course, plenty of places in France called Les Préaux, but in the case of such a name we need not go further than possession of, or residence by, a piece of grass-land—

"Je sais un paysan qu'on appelait Gros-Pierre,
Qui, n'ayant pour tout bien qu'un seul quartier de terre,
Y fit tout alentour faire un fossé bourbeux,
Et de monsieur de l'Isle en prit le nom pompeux."

(Molière L'Ecole des Femmes, i. 1.)


The Old French singular préal is perhaps the origin of Prall, Prawle. Similarly Preece, Prees, usually for Price, may sometimes be for des Pres. With Boyes (Chapter XIV) we may compare Tallis from Fr. taillis, a copse (tailler, to cut). Garrick, a Huguenot name, is Fr, gangue, an old word for heath.





Trees have in all countries a strong influence on topographical names, and hence on surnames. Frean, though usually from the Scandinavian name Fraena, is sometimes for Fr. frêne, ash, Lat. fraxinus, while Cain and Kaines [Footnote: There is one family of Keynes derived specifically from Chahaignes (Sarthe).] are Norm. quêne (chêne), oak. The modern French for beech is hêtre, Du. heester, but Lat. fagus has given a great many dialect forms which have supplied us with the surnames Fay, Foy, and the plural dim. Failes. Here also I should put the name Defoe, assumed by the writer whose father was satisfied with Foe. With Quatrefages, four beeches, we may compare such English names as Fiveash, Twelvetrees, and Snooks, for "seven oaks."

In Latin the suffix -etum was used to designate a grove or plantation. This suffix, or its plural -eta, is very common in France, becoming successively -ei(e), -oi(e), -ai(e). The name Dobree is a Guernsey spelling of d'Aubray, Lat. arboretum, which was dissimilated (Chapter III) into arboretum. Darblay, the name of Fanny Burney's husband, is a variant. From au(l)ne, alder, we have aunai, whence our Dawnay. So also frênai has given Freeney, chênai, Chaney, and the Norm. quênai is one origin of Kenney, while the older chesnai appears in Chesney. Houssaie, from hoax, holly, gives Hussey; chastenai, chestnut grove, exists in Nottingham as Chastener; coudrai, hazel copse, gives Cowdrey and Cowdery; Verney and Varney are from vernai, grove of alders, of Celtic origin, and Viney corresponds to the French name Vinoy, Lat. vinetum.

We have also Chinnery, Chenerey from the extended chênerai, and Pomeroy from pommerai. Here again the name offers no clue as to the exact place of origin. There are in the French Postal Directory eight places called Épinay, from épine, thorn, but these do not exhaust the number of "spinnies" in France. Also connected with tree-names are Conyers, Old Fr, coigniers, quince-trees, and Pirie, Perry, Anglo-Fr. périe, a collective from peire (poire).

Among Norman names for a homestead the favourite is mesnil, from Vulgar Lat. mansionile, which enters into a great number of local names. It has given our Meynell, and is also the first element of Mainwaring, Mannering, from mesnil-Warin. The simple mes, a southern form of which appears in Dumas, has given us Mees and Meese, which are thus etymological doublets of the word manse. With Beamish (Chapter XIV) we may compare Bellasis, from bel-assis, fairly situated. Poyntz is sometimes for des ponts; cf. Pierpoint for Pierrepont.

Even Norman names which were undoubtedly borne by leaders among the Conqueror's companions are now rarely found among the noble, and many a descendant of these once mighty families cobbles the shoes of more recent invaders. Even so the descendants of the Spanish nobles who conquered California are glad to peddle vegetables at the doors of San Francisco magnates whose fathers dealt in old clothes in some German Judengasse.






"When Adam delved and Eve span,
Who was then the gentleman?"

Chant of Wat Tyler's followers.

The occupative name would, especially in villages, tend to become a very natural surname. It is not therefore surprising to find so large a number of this class among our commonest surnames, e.g. Smith, Taylor, Wright, Walker, Turner, Clark, Cooper, etc. And, as the same craft often persisted in a family for generations, it was probably this type of surname which first became hereditary. On the other hand, such names as Cook, Gardiner, Carter, etc., have no doubt in some cases prevailed over another surname lawfully acquired (Chapter I). It is impossible to fix an approximate date for the definite adoption of surnames of this class. It occurred earlier in towns than in the country, and by the middle of the fourteenth century we often find in the names of London citizens a contradiction between the surname and the trade-name; e.g. Walter Ussher, tanner, John Botoner, girdler, Roger Carpenter, pepperer, Richard le Hunte, chaundeler, occur 1336-52.

The number of surnames belonging to this group is immense, for every medieval trade and craft was highly specialized and its privileges were jealously guarded. The general public, which now, like Issachar, crouches between the trusts and the trades unions, was in the middle ages similarly victimized by the guilds of merchants and craftsmen.

Then, as now, it grumblingly recognized that, "Plus ça change, plus ça reste la même chose," and went on enduring. [Footnote: If a student of philology were allowed to touch on such high matters as legislation, I would moralize on the word kiddle, meaning an illegal kind of weir used for fish-poaching, whence perhaps the surname Kiddell. From investigations made with a view to discovering the origin of the word, I came to the conclusion that all the legislative powers in England spent three centuries in passing enactments against these devices, with the inevitable consequence that they became ever more numerous.]





By dealing with a few essential points at the outset we shall clear the ground for considering the various groups of surnames connected with trade, craft, profession or office. To begin with, it is certain that such names as Pope, Cayzer, King, Earl, Bishop are nicknames, very often conferred on performers in religious plays or acquired in connection with popular festivals and processions—

"Names also have been taken of civil honours, dignities and estate, as King, Duke, Prince, Lord, Baron, Knight, Valvasor or Vavasor, Squire, Castellon, partly for that their ancestours were such, served such, acted such parts; or were Kings of the Bean, Christmas-Lords, etc." (Camden).

We find corresponding names in other languages, and some of the French names, usually preceded by the definite article, have passed into English, e.g. Lempriere, a Huguenot name, and Levêque, whence our Levick, Vick, Veck (Chapter III). Baron generally appears as Barron, and Duke, used in Mid. English of any leader, is often degraded to Duck, whence the dim. Duckett. But all three of these names can also be referred to Marmaduke.

It would be tempting to put Palsgrave in this class. Prince Rupert, the Pfalzgraf, i.e. Count Palatine, was known as the Palsgrave in his day, but I have not found the title recorded early enough.

With Lord we must put the northern Laird, and, in my opinion, Senior; for, if we notice how much commoner Young is than Old, and Fr. Lejeune than Levieux, we must conclude that junior, a very rare surname, ought to be of much more frequent occurrence than Senior, Synyer, a fairly common name. There can be little doubt that Senior is usually a latinization of the medieval le seigneur, whence also Saynor. Knight is not always knightly, for Anglo-Sax. cniht means servant; cf. Ger. Knecht. The word got on in the world, with the consequence that the name is very popular, while its medieval compeers, knave, varlet, villain, have, even when adorned with the adj. good, dropped out of the surname list, Bonvalet, Bonvarlet, Bonvillain are still common surnames in France. From Knight we have the compound Road-night, a mounted servitor. Thus Knight is more often a true occupative name, and the same applies to Dring or Dreng, a Scandinavian name of similar meaning.

Other names from the middle rungs of the social ladder are also to be taken literally, e.g. Franklin, a freeholder, Anglo-Fr. frankelein

"How called you your franklin, Prior Aylmer?"

"Cedric," answered the Prior, "Cedric the Saxon"

(Ivanhoe, ch. i.)—

Burgess, Freeman, Freeborn. The latter is sometimes for Freebairn and exists already as the Anglo-Saxon personal name Freobeorn. Denison (Chapter II) is occasionally an accommodated form of denizen, Anglo-Fr. deinzein, a burgess enjoying the privileges belonging to those who lived "deinz (in) la cité." In 1483 a certain Edward Jhonson—

"Sued to be mayde Denison for fer of ye payment of ye subsedy."

(Letter to Sir William Stonor, June 9, 1483.)

Bond is from Anglo-Sax, bonda, which means simply agriculturist. The word is of Icelandic origin and related to Boor, another word which has deteriorated and is rare as a surname, though the cognate Bauer is common enough in Germany. Holder is translated by Tennant. For some other names applied to the humbler peasantry see Chapter XIII.

To return to the social summit, we have Kingson, often confused with the local Kingston, and its Anglo-French equivalent Fauntleroy. Faunt, aphetic for Anglo-Fr. enfaunt, is common in Mid. English. When the mother of Moses had made the ark of bulrushes, or, as Wyclif calls it, the "junket of resshen," she—

"Putte the litil faunt with ynne"

(Exodus ii. 3)

The Old French accusative (Chapter I) was also used as a genitive, as in Bourg-le-roi, Bourg-la-rein, corresponding to our Kingsbury and Queensborough. We have a genitive also in Flowerdew, found in French as Flourdieu. Lower, in his Patronymics Britannica (1860), the first attempt at a dictionary of English surnames, conjectures Fauntleroy to be from an ancient French war-cry Défendez le roi! for "in course of time, the meaning of the name being forgotten, the de would be dropped, and the remaining syllables would easily glide into Fauntleroy." [Footnote: I have quoted this "etymology" because it is too funny to be lost; but a good deal of useful information can be found in Lower, especially with regard to the habitat of well-known names.]






Names of ecclesiastics must usually be nicknames, because medieval churchmen were not entitled to have descendants. This appears clearly in such an entry as "Bishop the crossbowman," or "Johannes Monacus et uxor ejus Emma," living in Kent in the twelfth century. But these names are so numerous that I have put them with the Canterbury Pilgrims (ch. xvii.). Three of them may be mentioned here in connection with a small group of occupative surnames of puzzling form. We have noticed (Chapter XII) that monosyllabic, and some other, surnames of local origin frequently take an -s, partly by analogy with names like Wills, Watts, etc. We rarely find this -s in the case of occupative names, but Parsons, Vicars or Vickers, and Monks are common, and in fact the first two are scarcely found without the -s. To these we may add Reeves (Chapter XVII), Grieves (Chapter XIX), and the well-known Nottingham name Mellers (Chapter XVII). The explanation seems to be that these names are true genitives, and that John Parsons was John the Parson's man, while John Monks was employed by the monastery. This is confirmed by such entries as "Walter atte Parsons," "John del Parsons," "Allen atte Prestes," "William del Freres," "Thomas de la Vicars," all from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Another exceptional group is that of names formed by adding -son to the occupative names, the commonest being perhaps Clarkson, Cookson, Smithson, and Wrightson. To this class belongs Grayson, which Bardsley shows to be equivalent to the grieve's son.

Our occupative names are both English and French, [Footnote: We have also a few Latinizations, e.g. Faber (wright), Messer (mower). This type of name is much commoner in Germany, e.g. Avenarius, oat man, Fabricius, smith, Textor, weaver, etc. Mercator, of map projection fame, was a Fleming named Kremer, i.e. dealer.] the two languages being represented by those important tradesmen Baker and Butcher. The former is reinforced by Bollinger, Fr. boulanger, Pester, Old Fr. pestour (Lat. piston), and Furner—

"Fournier, a baker, or one that keeps, or governs a common oven" (Cotgrave).

The English and French names for the same trade also survive in Cheeseman and Firminger, Old Fr. formagier (fromage).

We have as endings -er, -ier, the latter often made into -yer, -ger, as in Lockyer, Sawyer, Kidger (Chapter XIX), Woodger, [Footnote: Woodyer, Woodger, may also be for wood-hewer. See Stanier] and -or, -our, as in Taylor, Jenoure (Chapter III). The latter ending, corresponding to Modern Fr. -eur, represents Lat. -or, -orem, but we tack it onto English words as in "sailor," or substitute it for -er, -ier, as in Fermor, for Farmer, Fr. fermier. In the Privy Purse Expenses of that careful monarch Henry VII. occurs the item—

"To bere drunken at a fermors house . . . 1s."

In the same way we replace the Fr. -our, -eur by -er, as in Turner, Fr. tourneur, Ginner, Jenner for Jenoure.

The ending -er, -ier represents the Lat. -arius. It passed not only into French, but also into the Germanic languages, replacing the Teutonic agential suffix which consisted of a single vowel. We have a few traces of this oldest group of occupative names, e.g. Webb, Mid. Eng. webbe, Anglo-Sax. webb-a, and Hunt, Mid. Eng. hunte, Anglo-Sax. hunt-a—

"With hunte and horne and houndes hym bisyde"

(A, 1678)

which still hold the field easily against Webber and Hunter.

So also, the German name Beck represents Old High Ger. pecch-o, baker. To these must be added Kemp, a champion, a very early loan-word connected with Lat. campus, field, and Wright, originally the worker, Anglo-Sax. wyrht-a. Camp is sometimes for Kemp, but is also from the Picard form of Fr, champ, i.e. Field. Of similar formation to Webb, etc., is Clapp, from an Anglo-Sax. nickname, the clapper—

"Osgod Clapa, King Edward Confessor's staller, was cast upon the pavement of the Church by a demon's hand for his insolent pride in presence of the relics (of St. Edmund, King and Martyr)."

(W. H. Hutton, Bampton Lectures, 1903.)




The ending -ster was originally feminine, and applied to trades chiefly carried on by women, e.g. Baxter, Bagster, baker, Brewster, Simister, sempster, Webster, etc., but in process of time the distinction was lost, so that we find Blaxter and Whitster for Blacker, Blakey, and Whiter, both of which, curiously enough, have the same meaning—

"Bleykester or whytster, candidarius" (Prompt. Parv.)—

for this black represents Mid. Eng. bla-c, related to bleak and bleach, and meaning pale—

"Blake, wan of colour, blesme (blême)" (Palsgrave).

Occupative names of French origin are apt to vary according to the period and dialect of their adoption. For Butcher we find also Booker, Bowker, and sometimes the later Bosher, Busher, with the same sound for the ch as in Labouchère, the lady butcher. But Booker may also mean what it appears to mean, as Mid. Eng. bokere is used by Wyclif for the Latin scriba.

Butcher, originally a dealer in goat's flesh, Fr. bouc, has ousted flesher. German still has half a dozen surnames derived from names for this trade, e.g. Fleischer, Fleischmann, [Footnote: Hellenized as Sarkander. This was a favourite trick of German scholars at the Renaissance period. Well-known examples are Melancthon (Schwarzerd), Neander (Neumann).] Metzger, Schlechter; but our flesher has been absorbed by Fletcher, a maker of arrows, Fr. flêche. Fletcher Gate at Nottingham was formerly Flesher Gate. The undue extension of Taylor has already been mentioned (Chapter IV). Another example is Barker, which has swallowed up the Anglo-Fr. berquier, a shepherd, Fr. berger, with the result that the Barkers outnumber the Tanners by three to one

" 'What craftsman are you?' said our King,
          'I pray you, tell me now.'
'I am a barker,' quoth the tanner;
          'What craftsman art thou?' "

(Edward IV. and the Tanner of Tamworth.)

The name seems to have been applied also to the man who barked trees for the tanner.





With Barker it seems natural to mention Mewer, of which I find one representative in the London Directory. The medieval le muur had charge of the mews in which the hawks were kept while moulting (Fr. muer, Lat. mutare). Hence the phrase "mewed up." The word seems to have been used for any kind of coop. Chaucer tells us of the Franklin—

"Ful many a fat partrich hadde he in muw" (A, 349).

I suspect that some of the Muirs (Chapter XII) spring from this important office. Similarly Clayer has been absorbed by the local Clare, Kayer, the man who made keys, by Care, and Blower, whether of horn or bellows, has paid tribute to the local Bloor, Blore.

Sewer, an attendant at table, aphetic for Old Fr. asseour, a setter, is now a very rare name. As we know that sewer, a drain, became shore, it is probable that the surname Shore sometimes represents this official or servile title. And this same name Shore, though not particularly common, and susceptible of a simple local origin, labours under grave suspicion of having also enriched itself at the expense of the medieval le suur, the shoemaker, Lat. sutor-em, whence Fr. Lesueur. This would inevitably become Sewer and then Shore, as above. Perhaps, in the final reckoning, Shaw is not altogether guiltless, for I know of one family in which this has replaced earlier Shore.

The medieval le suur brings us to another problem, viz. the poor show made by the craftsmen who clothed the upper and lower extremities of our ancestors. The name Hatter, once frequent enough, is almost extinct, and Capper is not very common. The name Shoemaker has met with the same fate, though the trade is represented by the Lat. Sutor, whence Scot. Souter. Here belong also Cordner, Codner, [Footnote: Confused, of course, with the local Codnor (Derbyshire)] Old Fr. cordouanier (cordonnier), a cordwainer, a worker in Cordovan leather, and Corser, Cosser, earlier corviser, corresponding to the French name Courvoisier, also derived from Cordova. Chaucer, in describing the equipment of Sir Thopas, mentions

"His shoon of cordewane" (B, 1922).

The scarcity of Groser, grocer, is not surprising, for the word, aphetic for engrosser, originally meaning a wholesale dealer, one who sold en gros, is of comparatively late occurrence. His medieval representative was Spicer.

On the other hand, many occupative titles which are now obsolete, or practically so, still survive strongly as surnames. Examples of these will be found in chapters xvii.–xx.

Some occupative names are rather deceptive. Kisser, which is said still to exist, means a maker of cuishes, thigh-armour, Fr, cuisses—

"Helm, cuish, and breastplate streamed with gore."

(Lord of the Isles, iv. 33.)

Corker is for caulker, i.e. one who stopped the chinks of ships and casks, originally with lime (Lat. calx)—

"Sir, we have a chest beneath the hatches, caulk'd and bitumed ready" (Pericles iii. 1).

Cleaver represents Old Fr, clavier, a mace-bearer, Lat. clava, a club, or a door-keeper, Lat. clavis, a key. Perhaps even clavus, a nail, must also be considered, for a Latin vocabulary of the fifteenth century tells us—

"Claves, -vos vel -vas qui fert sit claviger."

Neither Bowler nor Scorer are connected with cricket. The former made wooden bowls, and the latter was sometimes a scourer, or scout, Mid. Eng. scurrour, a word of rather complicated origin, but perhaps more frequently a peaceful scullion, from Fr. écurer, to scour, Lat. ex-curare—

"Escureur, a scourer, cleanser, feyer" (Cotgrave).

[Footnote: Feyer: A sweeper, now perhaps represented by Fayer.]

A Leaper did not always leap (Chapter XVII). The verb had also in Mid. English the sense of running away, so that the name may mean fugitive. In some cases it may represent a maker of leaps, i.e. fish baskets, or perhaps a man who hawked fish in such a basket.

A Slayer made slays, part of a weaver's loom, and a Bloomer worked in a bloom-smithy, from Anglo-Sax. blo-ma, a mass of hammered iron. Weightman and Warman represent Mid. Eng, waþeman, hunter; cf. the common German surname Weidemann, of cognate origin. Reader and Booker are not always literary. The former is for Reeder, a thatcher—

"Redare of howsys, calamator, arundinarius" (Prompt. Parv.)—

and the latter is a Norman variant of Butcher, as already mentioned.




The spelling of occupative surnames often differs from that now associated with the trade itself. In Naylor, Taylor, and Tyler we have the archaic preference for y. [Footnote: It may be noted here that John Tiler of Dartford, who killed a tax-gatherer for insulting his daughter, was not Wat Tiler, who was killed at Smithfield for insulting the King. The confusion between the two has led to much sympathy being wasted on a ruffian.] Our ancestors thought sope as good a spelling as soap, hence the name Soper. A Plummer, i.e. a man who worked in lead, Lat. plumbum, is now written, by etymological reaction, plumber, though the restored letter is not sounded. A man who dealt in 'arbs originated the name Arber, which we should now replace by herbalist. We have a restored spelling in clerk, though educated people pronounce the word as it was once written

Clarke, or he that readeth distinctly, clericus." (Holyoak's Lat. Dict., 1612.)

In many cases we are unable to say exactly what is the ocpupation indicated. We may assume that a Setter and a Tipper did setting and tipping, and both are said to have been concerned in the arrow industry. If this is true, I should say that Setter might represent the Old Fr, saieteur, arrow-maker, from saiete, an arrow, Lat. sagitta. But in a medieval vocabulary we find "setter of mes, dapifer," which would make it the same as Sewer (Chapter XV). Similarly, when we consider the number of objects that can be tipped, we shall be shy of defining the activity of the Tipper too closely. Trinder, earlier trenden, is from Mid. Eng. trender, to roll (cf. Roller). In the west country trinder now means specifically a wool-winder—

"Lat hym rollen and trenden withynne hymself the lyght of his ynwarde sighte" (Boece, 1043).

There are also some names of this class to which we can with certainty attribute two or more origins. Boulter means a maker of bolts for crossbows, [Footnote: How many people who use the expression "bolt upright," associate it with "straight as a dart"?] but also a sifter, from the obsolete verb to bolt—

"The fanned snow, that's bolted
By the northern blasts twice o'er."

(Winter's Tale, iv. 3.)

Corner means horn-blower, Fr, cor, horn, and is also a contraction of coroner, but its commonest origin is local, in angulo, in the corner. Curren and Curryer are generally connected with leather, but Henry VII. bestowed £3 on the Curren that brought tidings of Perkin War-beck. Garner has five possible origins: (i) a contraction of gardener, (ii) from the French personal name Garner, Ger. Werner, (iii) Old Fr. grenier, grain-keeper, (iv) Old Fr, garennier, warren keeper, (v) local, from garner, Fr. grenier, Lat. granarium. In the next chapter will be found, as a specimen problem, an investigation of the name Rutter.





Two phonetic phenomena should also be noticed. One is the regular insertion of n before the ending -ger, as in Firminger (Chapter XV), Massinger (Chapter XX), Pottinger (Chapter XVIII), and in Arminger, Clavinger, from the latinized armiger, esquire, and claviger, mace-bearer, etc. (Chapter XV). The other is the fact that many occupative names ending in -rer lose the -er by dissimilation (Chapter III). Examples are Armour for armourer, Barter for barterer, Buckler for bucklerer, but also for buckle-maker, Callender for calenderer, one who calendered, i.e. pressed, cloth

"And my good friend the Callender
Will lend his horse to go."

(John Gilpin, 1. 22)

Coffer, for cofferer, a treasurer, Cover, for coverer, i.e. tiler, Fr. couvreur, when it does not correspond to Fr. cuvier, i.e. a maker of coves, vats, Ginger, Grammer, for grammarer, Paternoster, maker of paternosters or rosaries, Pepper, Sellar, for cellarer (Chapter III), Tabor, for Taberer, player on the taber. Here also belongs Treasure, for treasurer. Salter is sometimes for sautrier, a player on the psaltery. We have the opposite process in poulterer for Pointer (Chapter II), and caterer for Cator (Chapter III).




Such names as Ginger, Pepper, may however belong to the class of nicknames conferred on dealers in certain commodities; cf. Pescod, Peskett, from pease-cod. Of this we have several examples which can be confirmed by foreign parallels, e.g. Garlick, found in German as Knoblauch, [Footnote: The cognate Eng. Clove-leek occurs as a surname in the Ramsey Chartulary.] Straw, represented in German by the cognate name Stroh, and Pease, which is certified by Fr. Despois. We find Witepease in the twelfth century.

Especially common are those names which deal with the two staple foods of the country, bread and beer. In German we find several compounds of Brot, bread, and one of the greatest of chess-players bore the amazing name Zuckertort, sugar-tart. In French we have such names as Painchaud, Painlevê, Pain-tendre—

"Eugene Aram was usher, in 1744, to the Rev. Mr. Painblanc, in Piccadilly"


Hence our Cakebread and Whitbread were probably names given to bakers. Simnel is explained in the same way, and Lambert Simnel is understood to have been a baker's lad, but the name could equally well be from Fr. Simonel, dim. of Simon. Wastall is found in the Hundred Rolls as Wasted, Old Fr. gastel (gâteau). Here also belongs Cracknell

"Craquelin, a cracknell; made of the yolks of egges, water, and flower; and fashioned like a hollow trendle" (Cotgrave).

Goodbeer is explained by Bardsley as a perversion of Godber (Chapter VII), which may be true, but the name is also to be taken literally. We have Ger. Gutbier, and the existence of Sourale in the Hundred Rolls and Sowerbutts at the present day justifies us in accepting both Goodbeer and Goodale at their face-value. But Rice is an imitative form of Welsh Rhys, Reece, and Salt, when not derived from Salt in Stafford, is from Old Fr. sault, a wood, Lat. saltus. [Footnote: This is common in place-names, and I should suggest, as a guess, that Sacheverell is from the village of Sault-Chevreuil-du-Tronchet (Manche).] It is doubtful whether the name Cheese is to be included here. Jan Kees, for John Cornelius, said to have been a nickname for a Hollander, may easily have reached the Eastern counties. Bardsley's earliest instance for the name is John Chese, who was living in Norfolk in 1273. But still I find Furmage as a medieval surname.

We also have the dealer in meat represented by the classical example of Hogsflesh, with which we may compare Mutton and Veal, two names which may be seen fairly near each other in Hammersmith Road (but for these see also Chapter XXIII), and I have known a German named Kalbfleisch. Names of this kind would sometimes come into existence through the practice of crying wares; though if Mr. Rottenherring, who was a freeman of York in 1332, obtained his in this way, he must have deliberately ignored an ancient piece of wisdom.





"Howe sayst thou, man? am not I a joly rutter?"

(Skelton, Magnyfycence, 1. 762.)

The fairly common name Rutter is a good example of the difficulty of explaining a surname derived from a trade or calling no longer practised. Even so careful an authority as Bardsley has gone hopelessly astray over this name. He says, "German ritter, a rider, i.e. a trooper," and quotes from Halliwell, "rutter, a rider, a trooper, from the German; a name given to mercenary soldiers engaged from Brabant, etc." Now this statement is altogether opposed to chronology. The name occurs as le roter, rotour, ruter in the Hundred Rolls of 1273, i.e. more than two centuries before any German name for trooper could possibly have become familiar in England. Any stray Mid. High Ger. Riter would have been assimilated to the cognate Eng. Rider. It is possible that some German Reuters have become English Rutters in comparatively modern times, but the German surname Reuter has nothing to do with a trooper. It represents Mid. High Ger. riutaere, a clearer of land, from the verb riuten (reuten), corresponding to Low Ger. roden, and related to our royd, a clearing (Chapter XII). This word is apparently not connected with our root, though it means to root out, but ultimately belongs to a root ru which appears in Lat. rutrum, a spade, rutabulum, a rake, etc.

There is another Ger. Reuter, a trooper, which has given the sixteenth-century Eng. rutter, but not as a surname. The word appears in German about 1500, i.e. rather late for the surname period, and comes from Du. ruiter, a mercenary trooper. The German for trooper is Reiter, really the same word as Ritter, a knight, the two forms having been differentiated in meaning; cf. Fr. cavalier, a trooper, and chevalier, a knight. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Ger. Reiter was confused with, and supplanted by, this borrowed word Reuter, which was taken to mean rider, and we find the cavalry called Reuterei well into the eighteenth century. As a matter of fact the two words are quite unrelated, though the origin of Du. ruiter is disputed.

The New English Dictionary gives, from the year 1506, rutter (var. ruter, ruiter), a cavalry soldier, especially German, from Du. ruiter, whence Ger. Reuter, as above. It connects the Dutch word with medieval Lat. rutarius, i.e. ruptarius, which is also Kluge's view. [Footnote: Deutsches Etymologisches Wrterbuch.] But Franck [Footnote: Etymologisch Woordenboek der Nederlandsche Taal.] sees phonetic difficulties and prefers to regard ruiter as belonging rather to ruiten, to uproot. The application of the name up-rooter to a lawless mercenary is not unnatural.

But whatever be the ultimate origin of this Dutch and German military word, it is sufficiently obvious that it cannot have given an English surname which is already common in the thirteenth century. There is a much earlier claimant in the field.

The New English Dictionary has roter (1297), var. rotour, rotor, and router (1379), a lawless person, robber, ruffian, from Old Fr. rotier (routier), and also the form rutar, used by Philemon Holland, who, in his translation of Camden's Britannia (1610), says "That age called foraine and willing souldiours rutars." The reference is to King John's mercenaries, c. 1215. Fr, routier, a mercenary, is usually derived from route, a band, Lat. rupta, a piece broken off, a detachment. References to the grander routes, the great mercenary bands which overran France in the fourteenth century, are common in French history. But the word was popularly, and naturally, connected with route, Lat. (via) rupta, a highway, so that Godefroy [Footnote: Dictionnaire de rancien Français.] separates routier, a vagabond, from routier, a bandit soldier. Cotgrave has—

"Routier, an old traveller, one that by much trotting up and down is grown acquainted with most waies; and hence, an old beaten souldier; one whom a long practise hath made experienced in, or absolute master of, his profession; and (in evill part) an old crafty fox, notable beguiler, ordinary deceiver, subtill knave; also, a purse-taker, or a robber by the high way side."

It is impossible to determine the relative shares of route, a band, and route, a highway, in this definition, but there has probably been natural confusion between two words, separate in meaning, though etymologically identical.

Now our thirteenth-century rotors and rulers may represent Old Fr. routier, and have been names applied to a mercenary soldier or a vagabond. But this cannot be considered certain. If we consult du Cange, [Footnote: Glossarium ad Scriptures medics et inflows Latinitatis.] we find, s.v. rumpere, "ruptarii, pro ruptuarii, quidam praedones sub xi saeculum, ex rusticis. . . collecti ac conflati," which suggests connection with "ruptuarius, colonus qui agrum seu terram rumpit, proscindit, colic," i.e. that the ruptarii, also called rutarii, rutharii, rotharii, rotarii, etc., were so named because they were revolting peasants, i.e. men connected with the roture, or breaking of the soil, from which we get roturier, a plebeian. That would still connect our Rutters with Lat. rumpere, but by a third road.

Finally, Old French has one more word which seems to me quite as good a candidate as any of the others, viz. roteur, a player on the rote, i.e. the fiddle used by the medieval minstrels, Chaucer says of his Frere—

"Wel koude he synge and playen on a rote."

(A, 236.)

The word is possibly of Celtic origin (Welsh crwth) and a doublet of the archaic crowd, or crowth, a fiddle. Both rote and crowth are used by Spenser. Crowd is perhaps not yet obsolete in dialect, and the fiddler in Hudibras is called Crowdero. Thus Rutter may be a doublet of Crowther. There may be other possible etymologies for Rutter, but those discussed will suffice to show that the origin of occupative names is not always easily guessed.

Since the above was written I have found strong evidence for the "fiddler" derivation of the name. In 1266 it was decided by a Lancashire jury that Richard le Harper killed William le Roter, or Ruter, in self-defence. I think there can be little doubt that some, if not all, of our Rutters owe their names to the profession represented by this enraged musician. William le Citolur and William le Piper also appear from the same record (Patent Rolls) to have indulged in homicide in the course of the year.






In Southwerk at the Tabard as I lay,
Redy to wenden on my pilgrymage,
To Caunterbury with ful devout corage,
At nyght were come into that hostelrye
Wel nyne and twenty in a compaignye
Of sondry folk, by aventure y-falle
In felaweshipe, and pilgrimes were they alle,
That toward Caunterbury wolden ryde."

(Prologue, 1. 20.)

This famous band of wayfarers includes representatives of all classes, save the highest and the lowest, just at the period when our surnames were becoming fixed. It seems natural to distinguish the following groups. The leisured class is represented by the Knight (Chapter XV) and his son the Squire, also found as Swire or Swyer, Old Fr. escuyer (écuyer), a shield-bearer (Lat. Scutum), with their attendant Yeoman, a name that originally meant a small landowner and later a trusted attendant of the warlike kind—

"And in his hand he baar a myghty bow"

(A, 108.)

With these goes the Franklin (Chapter XV), who had been Sherriff, i.e. shire-reeve. He is also described as a Vavasour (p. ii)—

"Was nowher such a worthy vavasour" (A, 360.)


From the Church and the professions we have the Nunn, her attendant priests, whence the names Press, Prest, the Monk, the Frere, or Fryer, "a wantowne and a merye," the Clark of Oxenforde, the Sargent of the lawe, the Sumner, i.e. summoner or apparitor, the doctor of physic, i.e. the Leech or Leach

"Make war breed peace; make peace stint war; make each
Prescribe to other, as each other's leech"

(Timon of Athens, v. 4)

[Footnote: The same word as the worm leech, from an Anglo-Saxon word for healer.]

and the poor parson. Le surgien and le fisicien were once common surnames, but the former is almost swallowed up by Sargent, and the latter seems to have died out. The name Leach has been reinforced by the dialect lache, a bog, whence also the compounds Blackleach, Depledge. Loosely attached to the church is the Pardoner, with his wallet—

"Bret-ful of pardon, comen from Rome al hoot."

(A, 687.)

His name still survives as Pardner, and perhaps as Partner, though both are very rare.

Commerce is represented by the Marchant, depicted as a character of weight and dignity, and the humbler trades and crafts by—

"An haberdasher, and a Carpenter,
A Webbe, a deyer (Dyer), and a tapiser."

(A, 361.)

To these may be added the Wife of Bath, whose comfortable means were drawn from the cloth trade, then our staple industry.

From rural surroundings come the Miller and the Plowman, as kindly a man as the poor parson his brother, for—

"He wolde threshe, and therto dyke and delve,
For Cristes sake, for every poure wight,
Withouten hire, if it lay in his myght."

(A, 536.)


The Miller is the same as the Meller or Mellor—

"Upon the whiche brook ther stant a melle;
And this is verray sooth, that I yow tell."

(A, 3923.)

[Footnote: Melle is a Kentish form, used by Chaucer for the rime; cf. pet for pit (Chapter XIII).]

The oldest form of the name is Milner, from Anglo-Sax. myln, Lat. molina; cf. Kilner from kiln, Lat. culina, kitchen.

The official or servile class includes the manciple, or buyer for a fraternity of templars, otherwise called an achatour, whence Cator, Chaytor, Chater (Chapter III), [Footnote: Chater, Chaytor may be also from escheatour, an official who has given us the word cheat.] the Reeve, an estate steward, so crafty that—

"Ther nas baillif (Chapter IV), ne herde (Chapter III), nor oother hyne (Chapter III),
That he ne knew his sleights and his covyne"

(A, 603);

and finally the Cook, or Coke (Chapter I)—

"To boylle the chicknes and the marybones."

(A, 380.)

In a class by himself stands the grimmest figure of all, the Shipman, of whom we are told

"If that he faught, and hadde the hyer hond,
By water he sente hem hoom to every lond."

(A, 399.)

The same occupation has given the name Marner, for mariner, and Seaman, but the medieval forms of the rare name Saylor show that it is from Fr. sailleur, a dancer, an artist who also survives as Hopper and Leaper—

"To one that leped at Chestre, 6s. 8d."

(Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VII, 1495.)

[Footnote: He was usually more generous to the high arts, e.g. "To a Spaynarde that pleyed the fole, £2," "To the young damoysell that daunceth, £30." With which cf. "To Carter for writing of a boke, 7s. 4d."]

The pilgrims were accompanied by the host of the Tabard Inn, whose occupation has given us the names Inman and Hostler, Oastler, Old Fr. hostelier (hôtelier), now applied to the inn servant who looks after the 'osses. Another form is the modern-looking Hustler. Distinct from these is Oster, Fr. oiseleur, a bird-catcher; cf. Fowler.




If we deal here with ecclesiastical names, as being really nicknames (Chapter XV), that will leave the trader and craftsman, the peasant, and the official or servile class to be treated in separate chapters. Social, as distinguished from occupative, surnames have already been touched on, and the names, not very numerous, connected with warfare have also been mentioned in various connections.

Among ecclesiastical names Monk has the largest number of variants. Its Anglo-French form is sometimes represented by Munn and Moon, while Money is the oldest Fr. monie; cf. Vicary from Old Fr. vicarie. But the French names La Monnaie, de la Monnaie, are local, from residence near the mint. The canon appears as Cannon, Channen, and Shannon, Fr. chanoine—

"With this chanoun I dwelt have seven yere"

(G, 720);

but Dean is also local sometimes (Chapter XII) and Deacon is an imitative form of Dakin or Deakin, from David (Chapter VI). Charter was used of a monk of the Charter-house, a popular corruption of Chartreuse

"With a company dyde I mete,
  As ermytes, monkes, and freres,
  Chanons, chartores . . ."

(Cock Lorelles Bote.)


Charter also comes from archaic Fr. chartier (charretier), a carter, and perhaps sometimes from Old Fr. chartrier, "a jaylor; also, a prisoner" (Cotg.), which belongs to Lat. carcer, prison. [Footnote: The sense development of these two words is curious.]

Charters may be from the French town Chartres, but is more likely a perversion of Charterhouse, as Childers is of the obsolete "childer-house," orphanage.

Among lower orders of the church we have Lister, a reader, [Footnote: Found in Late Latin as legista, from Lat. Legere, to read.] Bennet, an exorcist, and Collet, aphetic for acolyte. But each of these is susceptible of another origin which is generally to be preferred. Chaplin is of course for chaplain, Fr. chapelain. The legate appears as Leggatt. Crosier or Crozier means cross-bearer. At the funeral of Anne of Cleves (1557) the mass was executed—

"By thabbott in pontificalibus wthis croysyer, deacon and subdeacon."

Canter, Caunter is for chanter, and has an apparent dim. Cantrell, corresponding to the French name Chantereau. The practice, unknown in English, of forming dims. from occupative names is very common in French, e.g. from Mercier we have Mercerot, from Berger, i.e. Shepherd, a number of derivatives such as Bergerat, Bergeret, Bergerot, etc. Sanger and Sangster were not necessarily ecclesiastical Singers. Converse meant a lay-brother employed as a drudge in a monastery. Sacristan, the man in charge of the sacristy, from which we have Secretan, is contracted into Saxton and Sexton, a name now usually associated with grave-digging and bell-ringing, though the latter task once belonged to the Knowler

"Carilloneur, a chymer, or knowler of bells" (Cotgrave).

This is of course connected with "knell," though the only Kneller who has become famous was a German named Kniller.

Marillier, probably a Huguenot name, is an Old French form of marguillier, a churchwarden, Lat. matricularius. The hermit survives as Armatt, Armitt, with which cf. the Huguenot Lermitte (l'ermite), and the name of his dwelling is common (Chapter XIII); Anker, now anchorite, is also extant. Fals-Semblant says—

"Somtyme I am religious,
Now lyk an anker in an hous."

(Romaunt of the Rose, 6348.)






While a Pilgrim acquired his name by a journey to any shrine, a Palmer must originally have been to the Holy Land, and a Romer to Rome. But the frequent occurrence of Palmer suggests that it was often a nickname for a pious fraud. We have a doublet of Pilgrim in Pegram, though this may come from the name Peregrine, the etymology being the same, viz. Lat. peregrines, a foreigner.




"What d'ye lack, noble sir? —What d'ye lack, beauteous madam?"

(Fortunes of Nigel, ch. i.)

In the Middle Ages there was no great class of retail dealers distinct from the craftsmen who fashioned objects. The same man made and sold in almost every case. There were of course general dealers, such as the French Marchant or his English equivalent the Chapman (Chapter II), the Dutch form of which has given us the Norfolk name Copeman. The Broker is now generally absorbed by the local Brooker. There were also the itinerant merchants, of whom more anon; but in the great majority of cases the craftsman made and sold one article, and was, in fact, strictly forbidden to wander outside his special line.





Fuller tells us that—

"England were but a fling,
Save for the crooked stick and the gray-goose-wing,"

and the importance of the bow and arrow is shown by the number of surnames connected with their manufacture. We find the Bowyer, Bower or Bowmaker, who trimmed and shaped the wand of yew, [Footnote: This is also one source of Boyer, but the very common French surname Boyer means ox-herd.] the Fletcher (Chapter XV), Arrowsmith, or Flower, who prepared the arrow—

"His bowe he bente and sette therinne a flo" (H, 264)—
[Footnote: The true English word for arrow, Anglo-Sax. fla.]

and the Tipper, Stringer, and Horner, who attended to smaller details, though the Tipper and Stringer probably tipped and strung other things, and the Horner, though he made the horn nocks of the long-bow, also made horn cups and other objects.

The extent to which specialization was carried is shown by the trade description of John Darks, longbowstringemaker, who died in 1600. The Arblaster may have either made or used the arblast or cross-bow, medieval Lat. arcubalista, bow-sling. His name has given the imitative Alabaster. We also find the shortened Ballister and Balestier, from which we have Bannister (Chapter III). Or, to take an example from comestibles, a Flanner limited his activity to the making of flat cakes called flans or flawns, from Old Fr. flaon (flan), a word of Germanic origin, ultimately related to flat

"He that is hanged in May will eat no flannes in Midsummer."

(The Abbot, ch. xxxiii.)

Some names have become strangely restricted in meaning, e.g. Mercer, now almost limited to silk, was a name for a dealer in any kind of merchandise (Lat. merx); in Old French it meant pedlar—

"Mercier, a good pedler, or meane haberdasher of small wares" (Cotgrave).

On the other hand Chandler, properly a candle-maker, is now used in the compounds corn-chandler and ship's chandler. Of all the -mongers the only common survival is Ironmonger or Iremonger, with the variant Isemonger, from Mid. Eng. isen, iron. Ironmonger is also dealer in eggs, Mid. Eng. eiren.






The wool trade occupied a very large number of workers and has given a good many surnames. The Shearer was distinct from the Shearman or Sherman, the former operating on the sheep and the latter on the nap of the cloth. For Comber we also have the older Kempster, and probably Kimber, from the Mid. Eng. kemben, to comb, which survives in "unkempt". The Walker, Fuller, and Tucker, all did very much the same work of "waulking," or trampling, the cloth. All three words are used in Wyclif's Bible in variant renderings of Mark ix. 3. Fuller is from Fr. fouler, to trample, and Tucker is of uncertain origin. Fuller is found in the south and south-east, Tucker in the west, and Walker in the north. A Dyer was also called Dyster, and the same trade is the origin of the Latin-looking Dexter (Chapter II). From Mid. Eng. litster, a dyer, a word of Scandinavian origin, comes Lister, as in Lister Gate, Nottingham. With these goes the Wadman, who dealt in, or grew, the dye-plant called woad; cf. Flaxman. A beater of flax was called Swingler—

"Fleyl, swyngyl, verga, tribulum" (Prompt. Parv.).

A Tozer teased the cloth with a teasel. In Mid. English the verb is taesen or tosen, so that the names Teaser and Towser, sometimes given to bull-terriers, are doublets. Secker means sack-maker.

We have already noticed the predominance of Taylor. This is the more remarkable when we consider that the name has as rivals the native Seamer and Shapster and the imported Parmenter, Old Fr. parmentier, a maker of parements, now used chiefly of facings on clothes. But another, and more usual, origin of Parmenter, Parminter, Parmiter, is parchmenter, a very important medieval trade. The word would correspond to a Lat. pergamentarius, which has given also the German surname Berminter. Several old German cities had a Permentergasse, i.e. parchment-makers' street. A Pilcher made pilches, i.e. fur cloaks, an early loan-word from Vulgar Lat. pellicia (pellis, skin). Chaucer's version of

"Till May is out, ne'er cast a clout"


"After greet heet cometh colde;
  No man caste his pilche away."

Another name connected with clothes is Chaucer, Old Fr. chaussier, a hosier (Lat. calceus, boot), while Admiral Hozier's Ghost reminds us of the native word. The oldest meaning of hose seems to have been gaiters. It ascended in Tudor times to the dignity of breeches (cf. trunk-hose), the meaning it has in modern German. Now it has become a tradesman's euphemism for the improper word stocking, a fact which led a friend of the writer's, imperfectly acquainted with German, to ask a gifted lady of that nationality if she were a Blauhose. A Chaloner or Chawner dealt in shalloon, Mid. Eng. chalons, a material supposed to have been made at Châlons-sur-Marne—

"And in his owene chambre hem made a bed,
With sheetes and with chalons faire y-spred."

(A. 4139.)

Ganter or Gaunter is Fr. gantier, glove-maker.






Some metal-workers have already been mentioned in connection with Smith (Chapter IV), and elsewhere. The French Fèvre, from Lat. faber, is found as Feaver. Fearon comes from Old Fr, feron, ferron, smith. Face le ferrun, i.e. Boniface (Chapter III) the smith, lived in Northampton in the twelfth century. This is an example of the French use of -on as an agential suffix. Another example is Old Fr. charton, or charreton, a waggoner, from the Norman form of which we have Carton. In Scriven, from Old Fr. escrivain (écrivain), we have an isolated agential suffix. The English form is usually lengthened to Scrivener. In Ferrier, for farrier, the traditional spelling has prevailed over the pronunciation, but we have the latter in Farrar. Ferrier sometimes means ferryman, and Farrar has absorbed the common Mid. English nickname Fayrhayr. Aguilar means needle-maker, Fr. aiguille, but Pinner is more often official (Chapter XIX). Culler, Fr. coutelier, Old Fr. coutel, knife, and Spooner go together, but the fork is a modern fad. Poynter is another good example of the specialization of medieval crafts: the points were the metal tags by which the doublet and hose were connected. Hence, the play on words when Falstaff is recounting his adventure with the men in buckram—

Fal. "Their points being broken—"

Poins. "Down fell their hose."

(I Henry IV., ii, 4.)

Latimer, Latner sometimes means a worker in latten, a mixed metal of which the etymological origin is unknown. The Pardoner

"Hadde a croys of latoun ful of stones" (A, 699).

For the change from -n to -m we may compare Lorimer for Loriner, a bridle-maker, belonging ultimately to Lat. lorum, "the reyne of a brydle" (Cooper). But Latimer comes also from Latiner, a man skilled in Latin, hence an interpreter, Sir John Mandeville tells us that, on the way to Sinai-—

"Men alleweys fynden Latyneres to go with hem in the contrees."

The immortal Bowdler is usually said to take his name from the art of puddling, or buddling, iron ore. But, as this process is comparatively modern, it is more likely that the name comes from the same verb in its older meaning of making impervious to water by means of clay. Monier and Minter are both connected with coining, the former through French and the latter from Anglo-Saxon, both going back to Lat. moneta, [Footnote: On the curiously accidental history of this word see the Romance of Words, ch. x.] mint. Conner, i.e. coiner, is now generally swallowed up by the Irish Connor.

Leadbitter is for Leadbeater. The name Hamper is a contraction of hanapier, a maker of hanaps, i.e. goblets. Fr. hanap is from Old High Ger. hnapf (Napf), and shows the inability of French to pronounce initial hn- without inserting a vowel: cf. harangue from Old High Ger. hring. There is also a Mid. Eng. nap, cup, representing the cognate Anglo-Sax. hnaep, so that the name Napper may sometimes be a doublet of Hamper, though it is more probably for Napier (Chapter I) or Knapper (Chapter XII). The common noun hamper is from hanapier in a sense something like plate-basket. With metal-workers we may also put Furber or Frobisher, i.e. furbisher, of armour, etc. Poyser, from poise, scales, is official. Two occupative names of Celtic origin are Gow, a smith, as in The Fair Maid of Perth, and Caird, a tinker—

"The fellow had been originally a tinker or caird."

(Heart of Midlothian, ch. xlix.)

A few more names, which fall into no particular category, may conclude the chapter. Hillyer or Hellier is an old name for a Thacker, or thatcher, of which we have the Dutch form in Dekker. It comes from Mid. Eng. helen, to cover up. In Hillard, Hillyard we sometimes have the same name (cf. the vulgar scholard), but these are more often local (Chapter XIII). Hellier also meant tiler, for the famous Wat is described as tiler, tegheler, and hellier.

An Ashburner prepared wood-ash for the Bloomer (Chapter XV), and perhaps also for the Glaisher, or glass-maker, and Asher is best explained in the same way, for we do not, I think, add -er to tree-names. Apparent exceptions can be easily accounted for, e.g. Elmer is Anglo-Sax. AElfmaer, and Beecher is Anglo-Fr. bechur, digger (Fr. bêche, spade). Neither Pitman nor Collier had their modern meaning of coal-miner. Pitman is local, of the same class as Bridgeman, Pullman, etc., and Collier meant a charcoal-burner, as in the famous ballad of Rauf Colyear. Not much coal was dug in the Middle Ages. Even in 1610 Camden speaks with disapproval, in his Britannia, of the inhabitants of Sherwood Forest who, with plenty of wood around them, persist in digging up "stinking pit-cole."

Croker is for Crocker, a maker of crocks or pitchers. The Miller's guests only retired to bed—

"Whan that dronken al was in the crowke" (A, 4158)

The spelling has affected the pronunciation, as in Sloper and Smoker (Chapter III). Tinker is sometimes found as the frequentative Tinkler, a name traditionally due to his approach being heralded by the clatter of metal utensils—

"My bonny lass, I work on brass,
A tinkler is my station."

(BURNS, Jolly Beggars, Air 6.)


The maker of saddle-trees was called Fewster, from Old Fr. fust (fût), Lat. fustis. This has sometimes given Foster, but the latter is more often for Forster, i.e. Forester—

"An horn he bar, the bawdryk was of grene,
A forster was he soothly as I gesse,"

(A, 116.)

The saddler himself was often called by his French name sellier, whence Sella', but both this and Sellars are also local, at the cellars (Chapter III). Pargeter means dauber, plasterer, from Old Fr. parjeter, to throw over. A Straker made the strakes, or tires, of wheels. A Stanger made stangs, i.e. poles, shafts, etc.

The fine arts are represented by Limmer, for limner, a painter, an aphetic form of illumines, and Tickner is perhaps from Dutch tekener, draughtsman, cognate with Eng, token, while the art of self-defence has given us the name Scrimgeoure, with a number of corruptions, including the local-looking Skrimshire. It is related to scrimmage and skirmish, and ultimately to Ger. schirmen, to fence, lit. to protect. The name was applied to a professional swordplayer—

"Qe nul teigne escole de eskermerye ne de bokeler deins la cité."

(Liber Albus.)






A particularly idiotic form of snobbishness has sometimes led people to advance strange theories as to the origin of their names. Thus Turner has been explained as from la tour noire. Dr. Brewer, in his Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, [Footnote: Thirteenth edition, revised and corrected.] apparently desirous of dissociating himself from malt liquor, observes that—

"Very few ancient names are the names of trades. . . A few examples of a more scientific derivation will suffice for a hint:—

Brewer. This name, which exists in France as Bruhière and Brugère, is not derived from the Saxon briwan (to brew), but the French bruyère (heath), and is about tantamount to the German Plantagenet (broom plant). Miller is the old Norse melia, our mill and maul, and means a mauler or fighter.

Ringer is the Anglo-Saxon hring-gar (the mailed warrior). Tanner, German Thanger, Old German Dane-gaud, is the Dane-Goth...

This list might easily be extended."


There is of course no reason why such a list should not be indefinitely extended, but the above excerpt is probably quite long enough to make the reader feel dizzy. The fact is that there is no getting away from a surname of this class, and the bearer must try to look on the brighter side of the tragedy. Brewer is occasionally an accommodated form of the French name Bruyère or Labruyère, but is usually derived from an occupation which is the high-road to the House of Lords. The ancestor of any modern Barber may, like Salvation Yeo's father, have "exercised the mystery of a barber-surgeon," which is getting near the learned professions. A Pottinger (Chapter XV) looked after the soups, Fr. potage, but the name also represents Pothecary (apothecary), which had in early Scottish the aphetic forms Poticar, potigar

"'Pardon me,' said he, 'I am but a poor pottingar. Nevertheless, I have been bred in Paris and learnt my humanities and my cursus medendi'"

(Fair Maid of Perth, ch. vii.).






"Jacque, il me faut troubler ton Somme;
Dans le village, un gros huissier
Rôde et court, suivi du messier.
C'est pour l'impôt, las! mon pauvre homme.
Lève-toi, Jacque, lève-toi:
Voici venir I'huissier du roi."


General terms for what we now usually call a farmer are preserved in the surnames Bond (Chapter XV), whence the compound Husband, used both for the goodman of the house and in the modern sense, and Tillman. The labouring man was Day, from the same root as Ger. Dienen, to serve. It persists in "dairy" and perhaps in the puzzling name Doubleday (? doing two men's work). A similar meaning is contained in the names Swain, Hind, for earlier Hine (Chapter III), Tasker, Mann. But a Wager was a mercenary soldier. The mower has given us the names Mather (cf. aftermath), and Mawer, while Fenner is sometimes for Old Fr. feneur, haymaker (Lat. foenum, hay). For mower we also find the latinized messor, whence Messer. Whether the Ridler and the Sivier made, or used, riddles and sieves can hardly be decided. [Footnote: Riddle is the usual word for sieve in the Midlands. Hence the phrase "riddled with holes, or wounds."]

With the Wenman, who drove the wain, we may mention the Leader or Loader. The verbs "lead" and "load" are etymologically the same, and in the Midlands people talk of "leading," i.e. carting, coal. But these names could also come from residence near an artificial watercourse (Chapter XIII). Beecher has already been explained, and Shoveler is formed in the same way from dialect showl, a shovel—

" 'I,' said the owl,
  'With my spade and showl.' "

To the variants of the Miller (Chapter XXIII) may be added Mulliner, from Old French. Tedder means a man who teds, i.e. spreads, hay, the origin of the word being Scandinavian

"I teede hey, I tourne it afore it is made in cockes, je fene." (Palsgrave.)

But the greater number of surnames drawn from rural occupations are connected with the care of animals. We find names of this class in three forms, exemplified by Coltman, Goater, Shepherd, and it seems likely that the endings -er and -erd have sometimes been interchanged, e.g. that Goater may stand for goat-herd, Calver for calf-herd, and Nutter sometimes for northern nowt-herd, representing the dialect neat-herd. The compounds of herd include Bullard, Calvert, Coltard, Coward, for cow-herd, not of course to be confused with the common noun coward (Fr. couard, a derivative of Lat. cauda, tail), Evart, ewe-herd, but also a Norman spelling of Edward, Geldard, Goddard, sometimes for goat-herd, Hoggart, often confused with the local Hogarth (Chapter XIII), Seward, for sow-herd, or for the historic Siward, Stobart, dialect stob, a bull, Stodart, Mid. Eng. stot, meaning both a bullock and a nag. Chaucer tells us that—

"This reve sat upon a ful good stot" (A, 615 ).


Stoddart is naturally confused with Studdart, stud-herd, stud being cognate with Ger. Stute, mare. We also have Swinnert, and lastly Weatherhead, sometimes a perversion of wether-herd, though usually a nickname, sheep's head. The man in charge of the tups, or rams, was called Tupman or Tupper, the latter standing sometimes for tup-herd, just as we have the imitative Stutter for Stodart or Studdart. We have also Tripper from trip, a dialect word for flock, probably related to troop. Another general term for a herdsman was Looker, whence Luker.






I have headed this chapter "Hodge and his Friends," but as, a matter of strict truth he had none, except the "poure Persons," the most radiant figure in Chaucer's pageant. But his enemies were innumerable. Béranger's lines impress one less than the uncouth "Song of the Husbandman" (temp. Edward I.), in which we find the woes of poor Hodge incorporated in the persons of the hayward, the bailif, the wodeward, the budel and his cachereles (catchpoles)—

"For ever the furthe peni mot (must) to the kynge."

The bailiff has already been mentioned (Chapter IV). The budel, or beadle, has given us several surnames. We have the word in two forms, from Anglo-Sax. bytel, belonging to the verb to bid, whence the names Biddle and Buddle, and from Old Fr. bedel (bedeau), whence Beadle and its variants. The animal is probably extinct under his original name, but modern democracy is doing its best to provide him with an army of successors. The "beadle" group of names has been confused with Bithell, Welsh Ap Ithel.

Names in -ward are rather numerous, and, as they mostly come from the titles of rural officials and are often confused with compounds of -herd, they are all put together here. The simple Ward, cognate with Fr. garde, is one of our commonest surnames. Like its derivative Warden it had a very wide range of meanings. The antiquity of the office of church-warden is shown by the existence of the surname Churchward. Sometimes the surname comes from the abstract or local sense, de la warde. As the suffix -weard occurs very frequently in Anglo-Saxon personal names, it is not always possible to say whether a surname is essentially occupative or not, e.g. whether Durward is rather "door-ward" or for Anglo-Sax. Deorweard. Howard, which is phonetically Old Fr. Huard, is sometimes also for Hayward or Haward (Hereward), or for Hayward. It has no doubt interchanged with the local Howarth, Haworth.

Owing to the loss of w- in the second part of a word (Chapter III), -ward and -herd often fall together, e.g. Millard for Milward, and Woodard found in Mid. English as both wode-ward and wode-hird. Hayward belongs to hay, hedge, enclosure (Chapter XIII), from which we also get Hayman. The same functionary has given the name Haybittle, a compound of beadle. Burward and Burrard may represent the once familiar office of bear-ward; cf. Berman. I had a schoolfellow called Lateward, apparently the man in charge of the lade or leet (Chapter XIII). Medward is for mead-ward.


The name Stewart or Stuart became royal with Walter the Steward of Scotland, who married Marjorie Bruce in 1315. It stands for sty-ward, where sty means pen, not necessarily limited to pigs. Like most official titles, it has had its ups and downs, with the result that its present meaning ranges from a high officer of the crown to the sympathetic concomitant of a rough crossing.

The Reeve, Anglo-Sax. ge-refa, was in Chaucer a kind of land agent, but the name was also applied to local officials, as in port-reeve, shire-reeve. It is the same as Grieve, also originally official, but used in Scotland of a land steward—

"He has got a ploughman from Scotland who acts as grieve."

(Scott, Diary, 1814.)

This may be one source of the names Graves and Greaves. The name Woodruff, Woodroffe is too common to be referred to the plant woodruff, and the fact that the male and female of a species of sand-piper are called the ruff and reeve suggests that Woodruff may have some relation to wood-reeve. It is at any rate a curious coincidence that the German name for the plant is Waldmeister, wood-master. Another official surname especially connected with country life is Pinder, also found as Pinner, Pender, Penner, Ponder and Poynder, the man in charge of the pound or pinfold; cf. Parker, the custodian of a park, of which the Palliser or Pallister made the palings.






The itinerant dealer was usually called by a name suggesting the pack which he carried. Thus Badger, Kidder, Kiddier, Pedder, now pedlar, are from bag, kid, related to kit, and the obsolete ped, basket; cf. Leaper, Chapter XV. The badger, who dealt especially in corn, was unpopular with the rural population, and it is possible that his name was given to the stealthy animal formerly called the bawson (Chapter I.), brock or gray (Chapter XXIII). That Badger is a nickname taken from the animal is chronologically improbable, as the word is first recorded in 1523 (New English Dictionary).

To the above names may be added Cremer, Cramer, a huckster with a stall in the market, but this surname is sometimes of modern introduction, from its German cognate Krämer, now generally used for a grocer. Packman, Pakeman, and Paxman belong more probably to the font-name Pack (Chapter IX), which also appears in Paxon, either Pack's son, or for the local Paxton.

The name Hawker does not belong to this group. Nowadays a hawker is a pedlar, and it has been assumed, without sufficient evidence, that the word is of the same origin as huckster. The Mid. Eng. le haueker or haukere (1273) is quite plainly connected with hawk, and the name may have been applied either to a Falconer, Faulkner, or to a dealer in hawks. As we know that itinerant vendors of hawks travelled from castle to castle, it is quite possible that our modern hawker is an extended use of the same name.

Nor is the name Coster to be referred to costermonger, originally a dealer in costards, i.e. apples. It is sometimes for Mid. Eng. costard (cf. such names as Cherry and Plumb), but may also represent Port. da Costa and Ger. Köster, both of which are found in early lists of Protestant refugees.

Jagger was a north-country name for a man who worked draught-horses for hire. Mr. Hardy's novel Under the Greenwood Tree opens with "the Tranter's party." A carrier is still a "tranter" in Wessex. In Medieval Latin he was called travetarius, a word apparently connected with Lat. transvehere, to transport.




"Big fleas have little fleas
Upon their backs to bite 'em
Little fleas have smaller fleas,
And so ad infinitum."


It is a well-known fact that official nomenclature largely reflects the simple housekeeping of early times, and that many titles, now of great dignity, were originally associated with rather lowly duties. We have seen an example in Stewart. Another is Chamberlain. Hence surnames drawn from this class are susceptible of very varied interpretation. A Chancellor was originally a man in charge of a chancel, or grating, Lat. cancelli. In Mid. English it is usually glossed scriba, while it is now limited to very high judicial or political office. Bailey, as we have seen (Chapter IV), has also a wide range of meanings, the ground idea being that of care-taker. Cotgrave explains Old Fr. mareschal maréchal as—

"A marshall of a kingdoms, or of a camp (an honourable place); also, a blacksmith; also, a farrier, horse-leech, or horse-smith; also, a harbinger,"

[Footnote: i.e. a quartermaster. See Romance of Words, ch. vii.]

which gives a considerable choice of origins to any modern Marshall or Maskell.

Another very vague term is sergeant, whence our Sargent. Its oldest meaning is servant, Lat. serviens, servient-. Cotgrave defines sergent as—

"A sergeant, officer, catchpole, pursuyvant, apparitor; also (in Old Fr.) a footman, or souldier that serves on foot." I

Probably catchpole was the commonest meaning—

"Sargeauntes, katche pollys, and somners" (Cocke Lorelles Bote).

The administration of justice occupied a horde of officials, from the Justice down to the Catchpole. The official title Judge is rarely found, and this surname is usually from the female name Judge, which, like Jug, was used for Judith, and later for Jane—

"Jannette, Judge, Jennie; a woman's name" (Cotgrave).

The names Judson and Juxon sometimes belong to these. Catchpole has nothing to do with poles or polls. It is a Picard cache-poule (chasse-poule), collector of poultry in default of money. Another name for judge was Dempster, the pronouncer of doom, a title which still exists in the Isle of Man. We also find Deemer

"Demar, judicator" (Prompt. Parv.).

Mayor is a learned spelling of Mair, Fr. maire, Lat. major, but Major, which looks like its latinized form, is perhaps imitative for the Old French personal name Mauger. Bishop Mauger of Worcester pronounced the interdict in 1208, and the surname still exists.

Gaylor, Galer, is the Norman pronunciation of gaoler

"And Palamon, this woful prisoner,
As was his wone, bi leve of his gayler,
Was risen" (A, 1064).






Usher is Fr. huissier, door-keeper, Fr. huis, door, Lat. ostium. I conjecture that Lusher is the French name Lhuissier, and that Lush is local, for Old Fr. le huis; cf. Laporte. Wait, corruptly Weight, now used only of a Christmas minstrel, was once a watchman. It is a dialect form of Old Fr. gaite, cognate with watch. The older sense survives in the expression "to lie in wait." Gate is the same name, when not local (Chapter XIII).

The Todhunter, or fox-hunter (Chapter XXIII), was an official whose duty was to exterminate the animal now so carefully preserved. Warner is often for Warrener. The Grosvenor (gros veneur), great hunter, was a royal servant. Bannerman is found latinized as Penninger (Chapter XV). Herald may be official or from Harold (Chapter VII), the derivation being in any case the same. Toller means a collector of tolls. Cocke Lorelle speaks of these officials as "false Towlers." Connected with administration is the name Mainprice, lit. taken by hand, used both for a surety and a man out on bail—

"Maynprysyd, or memprysyd, manucaptus, fideijussus" (Prompt. Parv.);

and Shurety also exists.

The individual bigwig had a very large retinue, the members of which appear to have held very strongly to the theory of one man, one job. The Nurse, or Norris, Fr. nourrice, was apparently debarred from rocking the cradle. This was the duty of the rocker—

"To the norice and rokker of the same lord, 25s. 8d."
(Household Accounts of Elizabeth of York, March, 1503),

from whom Mr. Roker, chief turnkey at the Fleet in Mr. Pickwick's time, may have sprung The Cook was assisted by the Baster and Hasler, or turnspit, the latter from Old Fr. hastille, spit, dim. of Lat. hasta, spear. The Chandler was a servant as well as a manufacturer.

A Trotter and a Massinger, i.e. messenger, were perhaps much the same thing. Wardroper is of course wardrobe keeper, but Chaucer uses wardrope (B. 1762) in the sense which Fr. garde-robe now usually has. The Lavender, Launder or Lander saw to the washing. Napier, from Fr. nappe, cloth, meant the servant who looked after the napery. The martial sound with which this distinguished name strikes a modern ear is due to historical association, assisted, as I have somewhere read, by its riming with rapier! The water-supply was in charge of the Ewer.

The provisioning of the great house was the work of the Lardner, Fr. lard, bacon, the Panter, or Pantler, who was, at least etymologically, responsible for bread, and the Cator (Chapter III) and Spencer (Chapter III), whose names, though of opposite meaning, buyer and spender, come to very much the same thing. Spence is still the north-country word for pantry, and is used by Tennyson in the sense of refectory—

"Bluff Harry broke into the Spence
And turn'd the cowls adrift."

(The Talking Oak, 1. 47.)

Purser, now used in connection with ships only, was also a medieval form of bursar, and every castle and monastery had its almoner, now Amner. Here also belongs Carver. In Ivey Church (Bucks) is a tablet to Lady Mary Salter with a poetic tribute to her husband—

"Full forty years a carver to two kings."

As the importance of the horse led to the social elevation of the marshal and constable (Chapter IV), so the hengstman, now henchman, became his master's right-hand man. The first element is Anglo-Sax. hengest, stallion, and its most usual surnominal forms are Hensman and Hinxman. Historians now regard Hengist and Horsa, stallion and mare, as nicknames assumed by Jutish braves on the war-path. Sumpter, Old Fr. sommetier, from Somme, burden, was used both of a packhorse and its driver, its interpretation in King Lear being a matter of dispute—

                    "Return with her?
Persuade me rather to be slave and Sumpter
To this detested groom"          (Lear, ii, 4).

As a surname it probably means the driver, Medieval Lat. sumetarius.

Among those who ministered to the great man's pleasures we must probably reckon Spelman, Speller, Spillman, Spiller, from Mid. Eng. spel, a speech, narrative, but proof of this is lacking

"Now holde your mouth, par charitee,
Bothe knyght and lady free,
And herkneth to my spelle" (B, 2081).

The cognate Spielmann, lit. Player, was used in Medieval German of a wandering minstrel.

The poet is now Rymer or Rimmer, while Trover, Fr. trouvère, a poet, minstrel, lit. finder, has been confused with Trower, for Thrower, a name connected with weaving. Even the jester has come down to us as Patch, a name given regularly to this member of the household in allusion to his motley attire. Shylock applies it, to Launcelot—

"The patch is kind enough; but a huge feeder."

(Merchant of Venice, ii. 5.)

But the name has another origin (Chapter IX). Buller and Cocker are names taken from the fine old English sports of bull-baiting and cock-fighting.

Two very humble members of the parasitic class have given the names Bidder and Maunder, both meaning beggar. The first comes from Mid. Eng. bidden, to ask. Piers Plowman speaks of "bidderes and beggers." Maunder is perhaps connected with Old Fr. quemander—

"Quemander, or caimander, to beg; or goe a begging; to beg from doore to doore" (Cotgrave),

but it may mean a maker of "maunds," i.e. baskets.

A Beadman spent his time in praying for his benefactor. A medieval underling writing to his superior often signs himself "your servant and bedesman."




"Here is Wyll Wyly the myl pecker,
And Patrick Pevysshe heerbeter,
With lusty Hary Hangeman,
Nexte house to Robyn Renawaye;
Also Hycke Crokenec the rope maker,
And Steven Mesyllmouthe muskyll taker."

(Cocke Lorelles Bote.)

[Footnote: This humorous poem, inspired by Sebastian Brandt's Narrenschiff, known in England in Barclay's translation, was printed early in the reign of Henry VIII. It contains the fullest list we have of old trade-names.]

Every family name is etymologically a nickname, i.e. an eke-name, intended to give that auxiliary information which helps in identification. But writers on surnames have generally made a special class of those epithets which were originally conferred on the bearer in connection with some characteristic feature, physical or moral, or some adjunct, often of the most trifling description, with which his personality was associated. Of nicknames, as of other things, it may be said that there is nothing new under the sun. Ovidius Naso might have received his as a schoolboy, and Moss cum nano, whom we find in Suffolk in 1184, lives on as "Nosey Moss" in Whitechapel. Some of our nicknames occur as personal names in Anglo-Saxon times (Chapter VII), but as surnames they are seldom to be traced back to that period, for the simple reason that such names were not hereditary. An Anglo-Saxon might be named Wulf, but his son would bear another name, while our modern Wolfe does not usually go farther back than some Ranulf le wolf of the thirteenth or fourteenth century. This is of course stating the case broadly, because the personal name Wolf also persisted and became in some cases a surname. In this and the following chapters I do not generally attempt to distinguish between such double origins.

Nicknames are formed in very many ways, but the two largest classes are sobriquets taken from the names of animals, e.g. Hogg, or from adjectives, either alone or accompanied by a noun, e.g. Dear, Goodfellow. Each of these classes requires a chapter to itself, while here we may deal with the smaller groups.

Some writers have attempted to explain all apparent nicknames as popular perversions of surnames belonging to the other three classes. As the reader will already have noticed, such perversions are extremely common, but it is a mistake to try to account for obvious nicknames in this way. Any of us who retain a vivid recollection of early days can call to mind nicknames of the most fantastic kind, and in some cases of the most apparently impossible formation, which stuck to their possessors all through school-life. A very simple test for the genuineness of a nickname is a comparison with other languages. Camden says that Drinkwater is a corruption of Derwentwater. The incorrectness of this guess is shown by the existence as surnames of Fr. Boileau, It. Bevilacqua, and Ger. Trinkwasser. It is in fact a perfectly natural nickname for a medieval eccentric, the more normal attitude being represented by Roger Beyvin (boi-vin), who died in London in 1277.






Corresponding to our Goodday, we find Ger. Gutentag and Fr. Bonjour. The latter has been explained as from a popular form of George, but the English and German names show that the explanation is. unnecessary. With Dry we may compare Fr. Lesec and Ger. Dürr, with Garlick Ger. Knoblauch (Chapter XV), and with Shakespeare Ger. Schüttespeer. Luck is both for Luke and Luick (Liège, Chapter XI), but Rosa Bonheur and the composer Gluck certify it also as a nickname. Merryweather is like Fr. Bontemps, and Littleboy appears in the Paris Directory as Petitgas, gas being the same as gars, the old nominative (Chapter I) of garçon

"Gars, a lad, boy, stripling, youth, yonker" (Cotgrave).

Bardsley explains Twentyman as an imitative corruption of twinter-man, the man in charge of the twinters, two-year-old colts. This may be so, but there is a German confectioner in Hampstead called Zwanziger, and there are Parisians named Vingtain. Lover is confirmed by the French surnames Amant and Lamoureux, and Wellbeloved by Bienaimé. Allways may be the literal equivalent of the French name Partout. On the other hand, the name Praisegod Barebones has been wrongly fixed on an individual whose real name was Barbon or Barborne.

It may seem strange that the nickname, conferred essentially on the individual, and often of a very offensive character, should have persisted and become hereditary. But schoolboys know that, in the case of an unpleasant nickname, the more you try to pull it off, the more it sticks the faster. Malapert and Lehideux are still well represented in the Paris Directory. Many objectionable nicknames have, however, disappeared, or have been so modified as to become inoffensive.

Sometimes such disappearance has resulted from the depreciation in the meaning of a word, e.g. le lewd, the layman, the unlettered, was once as common as its opposite le learned, whence the name Larned. But many uncomplimentary names are no longer objected to because their owners do not know their earlier meanings. A famous hymn-writer of the eighteenth century bore all unconsciously a surname that would almost have made Rabelais blush. Drinkdregs, Drunkard, Sourale, Sparewater, Sweatinbed, etc. have gone, but we still have Lusk—

"Falourdin, a luske, loot, lurden, a lubberlie sloven, heavie sot, lumpish hoydon" (Cotgrave) —

and many other names which can hardly have gratified their original possessors.

A very interesting group of surnames consists of those which indicate degrees of kinship or have to do with the relations existing between individuals. We find both Master and Mann, united in Masterman, meaning the man in the service of one locally known as the master. With this we may compare Ladyman, Priestman, etc. But Mann is often of local origin, from the Isle of Man. In some cases such names are usually found with the patronymic -s, e.g. Masters, Fellows, while in others this is regularly absent, e.g. Guest, Friend. The latter name is sometimes a corruption of Mid. Eng. fremed, stranger, cognate with Ger. fremd, so that opposite terms, which we find regularly contrasted in Mid. Eng. "frend and fremed," have become absorbed in one surname.

The frequent occurrence of Fellows is due to its being sometimes for the local Fallows. From Mid. Eng. fere, a companion, connected with faren, to travel, we get Littlefair and Playfair. In Wyclif's Bible we read that Jephthah's daughter—

"Whanne sche hadde go with hir felowis and pleiferis, sche biwept hir maydynhed in the hillis" (Judges xi. 38).

Springett is for springald, and Arlett is Mid. Eng. harlot, fellow, rascal, a word which has changed its gender and meaning—

"He was a gentil harlot and a kynde,
A betre felawe sholde men noght fynde."

(A, 647.)





In surnames taken from words indicating family relationship we come across some survivals of terms no longer used, or occurring only in rustic dialect. The Mid. Eng. eme, uncle, cognate with Ger. Oheim, has given Eames. In Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde, the heroine addresses Pandarus as "uncle dere" and "uncle mine," but also uses the older word—

" 'In good feith, em,' quod she, 'that liketh me' "(ii. 162);

and the word is used more than once by Scott—

"Didna his eme die. . . wi' the name of the Bluidy Mackenzie?"

(Heart of Midlothian, ch. xii.)

It is also one of the sources of Empson, which thus corresponds to Cousins or Cozens. In Neame we have a prosthetic n- due to the frequent occurrence of min eme (cf. the Shakespearean nuncle, Lear, i. 4). The names derived from cousin have been reinforced by those from Cuss, i.e. Constant or Constance (Chapter X). Thus Cussens is from the Mid. English dim. Cussin. Anglo-Sax. nefa, whence Mid. Eng. neve, neave, is cognate with, but not derived from, Lat. nepos. [Footnote: In all books on surnames that I have come across this is referred to Old Fr. le neve. There is no such word in old French, which has nom. niés, acc. neveu.]

This is now replaced as a common noun by the French word nephew, but it survives in the surname Neave. It also meant in Mid. English a prodigal or parasite, as did also Lat. nepos—

"Neve, neverthryfte, or wastowre" (Prompt. Parv.).

It is likely that Nevison and Nevinson are sometimes derivatives of this word.

Child was sometimes used in the special sense of youth of gentle blood, or young knight; cf. Childe Harold and Childe Rowland (Lear, iii. 4). But the more general meaning may be assumed in its compounds, of which the most interesting is Leifchild, dear-child, a fairly common name in Anglo-Saxon. The corresponding Faunt, whence Fauntleroy (Chapter XV), is now rare. Another word, now only used in dialect or by affectation, is "bairn," a frequent source of the very common surname Barnes; cf. Fairbairn and Goodbairn, often perverted to Fairburn, Goodburn, Goodban. Barnfather is about equivalent to Lat. paterfamilias, but Pennefather is an old nickname for a miser—

"Caqueduc, a niggard, micher, miser, scrape-good, pinch-penny, penny-father; a covetous and greedy wretch" (Cotgrave).

The name Bastard was once considered no disgrace if the dishonour came from a noble source, and several great medieval warriors bore this sobriquet. With this we may compare Leman or Lemon, Mid. Eng. leof-man, dear man, beloved, and Paramor, Fr. par amour, an example of an adverbial phrase that has become a noun. This expression, used of lawful love in Old French, in the stock phrase "aimer une belle dame par amour," had already an evil meaning by Chaucer's time—

"My fourthe housbonde was a revelour,
This is to seyn, he hadde a paramour"               (D, 453).


With these names we may put Drewry or Drury, sweetheart, from the Old French abstract druerie, of Germanic origin and cognate with true

"For certeynly no such beeste
To be loved is not worthy,
Or bere the name of druerie."

(Romaunt of the Rose, 5062.)

Suckling is a nickname applied to a helpless person; cf. Littlechild and "milksop," which still exists, though rare, in the forms Milsopp and Mellsop. The heir survives as Ayre and Eyre. Batchelor, the origin of which is one of the etymological problems yet unsolved, had in Old French and Mid. English also the meaning of young warrior or squire. Chaucer's Squier is described as—

"A lovyere and a lusty bacheler"               (A, 80).

May, maiden, whence Mildmay, is used by Chaucer for the Holy Virgin

"Now, lady bright, to whom alle woful cryen,
Thow glorie of wommanhede, thow faire may,
Thow haven of refut, brighte sterre of day"               (B, 850).

This is the same word as Mid. Eng. mai, relative, cognate with maid and Gaelic Mac- (Chapter VI). A form of it survives in the Nottingham name Watmough and perhaps in Hickmott

"Mow, housbandys sister or syster in law" (Prompt. Parv.).

I imagine that William Echemannesmai, who owed the Treasury a mark in 1182, was one of the sponging fraternity.

Virgoe, a latinization of Virgin, is perhaps due to a shop-sign. Rigmaiden, explained by Lower as "a romping girl," is local, from a place in Westmorland. Richard de Riggemayden was living in Lancashire in 1307. With this group of names we may put Gossip, originally a god-parent, lit. related in God, from Mid. Eng. sib, kin.

With names like Farebrother, Goodfellow, we may compare some of French origin such as Bonser (bon sire), Bonamy, and Bellamy

"Thou beel amy, thou pardoner, he sayde,
Telle us som myrth, or japes, right anon."

(B, 318.)

Beldam (belle dame), originally a complimentary name for grandmother or grandam, has become uncomplimentary in meaning—

First Witch.   "Why, how now, Hecate! you look angerly."

Hecate. "Have I not reason, beldams as you are,

Saucy and overbold?"         (Macbeth, iii. 5).

From the corresponding Old Fr. bel-sire, beau-sire, we have Bewsher, Bowser, and the Picard form Belcher

"The great belsire, the grandsire, sire, and sonne,
Lie here interred under this grave stone."

(Weever, Ancient Funeral Monuments.)

Relationship was often expressed by the use of French words, so that for son-in-law we find Gender, Ginder, corresponding to Fr. Legendre. Fitch, usually an animal nickname (Chapter XXIII), is occasionally for le fiz, the son, which also survives as Fitz. Goodson, from the personal name Good (Chapter I), is sometimes registered as Fiz Deu. Cf. Fr. Lefilleul, i.e. the godson.





A possible derivative of the name May (Chapter XXI) is Ivimey. Holly and Ivy were the names of characters in Christmas games, and an old rime says

"Holy and his mery men, they dawnsyn and they syng,
Ivy and hur maydins, they wepen and they wryng."


If Ivimey is from this source, the same origin must sometimes be allowed to Holliman (Chapter I). This conjecture [Footnote: Probably a myth. See my Surnames, p. 197.] has in its favour the fact that many of our surnames are undoubtedly derived from characters assumed in dramatic performances and popular festivities. To this class belong many surnames which have the form of abstract nouns, e.g. Charity, Verity, Virtue, Vice. Of similar origin are perhaps Bliss, Chance, Luck, and Goodluck; cf. Bonaventure. Love, Luff, occurs generally as a personal name, hence the dim. Lufkins, but it is sometimes a nickname. Lovell, Lovett, more often mean little wolf. Both Louvet and Louveau are common French surnames. The name Lovell, in the wolf sense, was often applied to a dog, as in the famous couplet

"The ratte, the catte, and Lovell, our dogge
Rule all England under the hogge,"

for which William Collingborne was executed in 1484. Lowell is a variant of Lovell.

But many apparent abstract names are due to folk-etymology, e.g. Marriage is local, Old Fr. marage, marsh, and Wedlock is imitative for Wedlake; cf. Mortlock for Mortlake and perhaps Diplock for deep-lake. Creed is the Anglo-Saxon personal name Creda. Revel, a common French surname, is a personal name of obscure origin. Want is the Mid. Eng. wont, mole, whence Wontner, mole-catcher. It is difficult to see how such names as Warr, Battle, and Conquest came into existence. The former, found as de la warre, is no doubt sometimes local (Chapter XIII), and Battle is a dim. of Bat (Chapter VI). But de la batayle is also a common entry, and Laguerre and Labataille are common French surnames.






A nickname was often conferred in connection with some external object regularly associated with the individual. Names taken from shop-signs really belong to this class. Corresponding to our Hood [Footnote: Hood may also be for Hud (Chapter I), but the garment is made into a personal name in Little Red Ridinghood, who is called in French le petit Chaperon Rouge.] we have Fr. Capron (chaperon). Burdon, Fr. bourdon, meant a staff, especially a pilgrim's staff. Daunger is described as having—

"In his honde a gret burdoun"

(Romaunt of the Rose, 3401).

But the name Burdon is also local. Bracegirdle, i.e. breeks-girdle, must have been the nickname of one who wore a gorgeous belt. It is a curious fact that this name is chiefly found in the same region (Cheshire) as the somewhat similar Broadbelt. The Sussex name Quaile represents the Norman pronunciation of coif. More usually an adjective enters into such combinations. With the historic Curthose, Longsword, Strongbow we may compare Shorthouse, a perversion of shorthose, Longstaff, Horlock (hoar), Silverlock, Whitlock, etc. Whitehouse is usually of local origin, but has also absorbed the medieval names Whitehose and White-hawse, the latter from Mid. Eng. hawse, neck. Woollard may be the Anglo-Saxon personal name Wulfweard, but is more probably from woolward, i.e. without linen, a costume assumed as a sign of penitence

"Wolwarde, without any lynnen nexte ones body, sans chemyse". (Palsgrave.)

The three names Medley, Medlicott, and Motley go together, though all three of them may be local (the mid-lea, the middle-cot, and the moat-lea). Medley mixed, is the Anglo-French past participle of Old Fr. mesler (mêler). Motley is of unknown origin, but it was not necessarily a fool's dress—

"A marchant was ther with a forked berd,
In mottelye, and hye on horse he sat,
Upon his heed a Flaundryssh bevere hat"                         (A, 270).

So also the Serjeant of the Law was distinguished his, for the period, plain dress—

"He rood but hoomly in a medlee cote" (A, 328).

Gildersleeve is now rare in England, though it still flourishes in the United States. [Footnote: We have several instances of this phenomenon. A familiar example is Lippincott, a surname of local origin (Devonshire). But Bardsley's inclusion of American statistics is often misleading. It is a well-known fact that the foreign names of immigrants are regularly assimilated to English forms in the United States. In some cases, such as Cook for Koch, Cope (Chapter XII) for Kopf, Stout (Chapter XXII) for Stolz or Stultz, the change is etymologically justified. But in other cases, such as Tallman for Thalmann, dale-man, Trout for Traut, faithful, the resemblance is accidental. Beam and Chestnut, common in the States but very rare in England, represent an imitative form of Böhm or Behm, Bohemian, and a translation of Kestenbaum, chestnut tree, both Jewish names. The Becks and Bowmans of New York outnumber those of London by about five to one, the first being for Beck, baker (Chapter XV), and the second for Baumann, equivalent to Bauer, farmer. Bardsley explains the common American name Arrison by the fact that there are Cockneys in America. It comes of course from Arend, a Dutch name related to Arnold.

"A remarkable record in changes of surname was cited some years ago by an American correspondent of Notes and Queries. 'The changes which befell a resident of New Orleans were that when he moved from an American quarter to a German neighbourhood his name of Flint became Feuerstein, which for convenience was shortened to Stein. Upon his removal to a French district he was re-christened Pierre. Hence upon his return to an English neighbourhood he was translated into Peters, and his first neighbours were surprised and puzzled to find Flint turned Peters.'"

(Daily Chronicle, April 4, 1913.)]






Names like Beard, Chinn, Tooth were conferred because of some prominent feature. In Anglo-French we find Gernon, moustache, now corrupted to Garnham, and also al gernon, with the moustache, which has become Algernon. But we have already seen (Chapter XIII) that some names which appear to belong to this class are of local origin. So also Tongue is derived from one of several places named Tong or Tonge, though the ultimate origin is perhaps in some cases the same, a "tongue" of land. Quartermain is for Quatre-mains, perhaps bestowed on a very acquisitive person; Joscius Quatre-buches, four mouths, and Roger Tunekes, two necks, were alive in the twelfth century; and there is record of a Saracen champion named Quinze-paumes, though this is perhaps rather a measure of height. Cheek I conjecture to be for Chick. The odd-looking Kidney is apparently Irish. There is a rare name Poindexter, appearing in French as Poingdestre, "right fist." [Footnote: President Poincaré's name appears to mean "square fist."] I have seen it explained as from the heraldic term point dexter, but it is rather to be taken literally. I find Johannes cum pugno in 1184, and we can imagine that such a name may have been conferred on a medieval bruiser. There is also the possibility, considering the brutality of many old nicknames, that the bearer of the name had been judicially deprived of his right hand, a very common punishment, especially for striking a feudal superior. Thus Renaut de Montauban, finding that his unknown opponent is Charlemagne, exclaims—

"J'ai forfait le poing destre dont je l'ai adesé (struck)."

We have some nicknames describing gait, e.g. Ambler and Shaylor—

"I shayle, as a man or horse dothe that gothe croked with his leggs, je vas eschays" (Palsgrave) —

and perhaps sometimes Trotter. If George Eliot had been a student of surnames she would hardly have named a heroine Nancy Lammiter, i.e. cripple—

"Though ye may think him a lamiter, yet, grippie for grippie,
he'll make the bluid spin frae under your nails"             (Black Dwarf, ch. xvii.).


Pettigrew and Pettifer are of French origin, pied de grue (crane) and pied de fer. The former is the origin of the word pedigree, from a sign used in drawing genealogical trees. The Buckinghamshire name Puddifoot or Puddephatt (Podefat, 1273) and the aristocratic Pauncefote are unsolved. The former may be a corruption of Pettifer, which occurs commonly, along with the intermediate Puddifer, in the same county. But the English Dialect Dictionary gives as an obsolete Northants word the adjective puddy, stumpy, pudgy, applied especially to hands, fingers, etc., and Pudito (puddy toe) occurs as a surname in the Hundred Rolls. As for Pauncefote, I believe it simply means what it appears to, viz. "belly-foot," a curious formation, though not without parallels, among obsolete rustic nicknames. If these two conjectures are correct, both Puddifoot and Pauncefote may be almost literal equivalents of the Greek OEdipus, i.e. "swell-foot."

In other languages as well as English we find money nicknames. It is easy to understand how some of these come into existence, e.g. that Pierce. Pennilesse was the opposite of Thomas Thousandpound, whose name occurs c. 1300. With the latter we may compare Fr. Centlivre, the name of an English lady dramatist of the eighteenth century. Moneypenny is found in 1273 as Manipeni, and a Londoner named Manypeny died in 1348. The Money- is partly north country, partly imitative.

Money itself is usually occupative or local (Chapter XVII), and Shilling is the Anglo-Saxon name Scilling. The oldest and commonest of such nicknames is the simple Penny, with which we may compare the German surname Pfennig and its compounds Barpfennig, Weisspfennig, etc. The early adoption of this coin-name as a personal name is due to the fact that the word was taken in the sense of money in general. We still speak of a rich man as "worth a pretty penny." Hallmark is folk-etymology for the medieval Half-mark. Such medieval names as Four-pence, Twenty-mark, etc., probably now obsolete, are paralleled by Fr. Quatresous and Sixdenier, still to be found in the Paris Directory. It would be easy to form conjectures as to the various ways in which such names may have come into existence. To the same class must belong Besant, the name of a coin from Byzantium, its foreign origin giving it a dignity which is absent from the native Farthing and Halfpenny, though the latter, in one instance, was improved beyond recognition into MacAlpine.






There is also a small group of surnames derived from oaths or exclamations which by habitual use became associated with certain individuals. We know that monarchs had a special tendency to indulge in a favourite expletive. To Roger de Collerye we owe some information as to the imprecations preferred by four French kings—

"Quand la Pasque-Dieu (Louis XI.) décéda,
Le Bon Jour Dieu (Charles VIII.) luy succéda,
Au Bon Jour Dieu deffunct et mort
Succéda le Dyable m'emport (Louis XII).
Luy décédé, nous voyons comme
Nous duist (governs) la Foy de Gentilhomme (Francis I.)."

So important was this branch of linguistics once considered that Palsgrave, the French tutor of Princess Mary Tudor, includes in his Esclarcissement de la Langue Francoyse a section on "The Maners of Cursyng." Among the examples are "Le grant diable luy rompe le col et les deux jambes," "Le diable l'emporte, corps et ame, tripes et boyaux," which were unfortunately too long for surname purposes, but an abridged form of "Le feu Saint Anthoyne l'arde" [Footnote: Saint Anthony's fire, i.e. erysipelas, burn him!] has given the French name Feulard. Such names, usually containing the name of God, e.g. Godmefetch, Helpusgod, have mostly disappeared in this country; but Dieuleveut and Dieumegard are still found in Paris, and Gottbehüt, God forbid, and Gotthelf, God help, occur in German. Godbehere still exists, and there is not the slightest reason why it should not be of the origin which its form indicates. In Gracedieu, thanks to God, the second element is an Old French dative. Pardoe, Purdue, whence Purdey, is for par Dieu-

"I have a wyf pardee, as wel as thow"         (A, 3158).

There is a well-known professional footballer named Mordue ('sdeath), and a French composer named Boieldieu (God's bowels). The French nickname for an Englishman, goddam

"Those syllables intense,
Nucleus of England's native eloquence"
(Byron, The Island, iii. 5)—

goes back to the fifteenth century, in which invective references to the godons are numerous. [Footnote: "Les Anglais en vérité ajoutent par-ci, par-là quelques autres mots en conversant; mais il est bien aisé de voir que goddam est le fond de la langue" (Beaumarchais, Mariage de Figaro, iii. 5).]

Such nicknames are still in common use in some parts of France—

"Les Berrichons se désignent souvent par le juron qui leur est familier. Ainsi ils diront: 'Diable me brûle est bien malade. Nom d'un rat est à la foire. La femme à Diable m’estrangouille est morte. Le garçon à Bon You (Dieu) se marie avec la fille à Dieu me confonde.'"

(Nyrop, Grammaire historique de la langue française, iv. 209).






Perhaps the most interesting group of nicknames is that of which we may take Shakespeare as the type. Incidentally we should be thankful that our greatest poet bore a name so much more picturesque than Corneille, crow, or Racine, root. It is agreed among all competent scholars that in compounds of this formation the verb was originally an imperative. This is shown by the form; cf. ne'er-do-well, Fr. vaurien, Ger. Taugenichts, good-for-naught. Thus Hasluck cannot belong to this class, but must be an imitative form of the personal name Aslac, which we find in Aslockton.

As Bardsley well says, it is impossible to retail all the nonsense that has been written about the name Shakespeare—"never a name in English nomenclature so simple or so certain in its origin; it is exactly what it looks— shake-spear." The equivalent Schüttespeer is found in German, and we have also in English Shakeshaft, Waghorn, Wagstaff, Breakspear, Winspear. "Winship the mariner" was a freeman of York in the fourteenth century. Cf. Benbow (bend-bow), Hurlbatt, and the less athletic Lovejoy, Makepeace. Gathergood and its opposite Scattergood are of similar origin, good having here the sense of goods. Dogood is sometimes for Toogood, and the latter may be, like Thoroughgood, an imitative form of Thurgod (Chapter VII); but both names may also be taken literally, for we find Ger. Thunichtgut, do no good, and Fr. Trodoux (trop doux).

As a pendant to Dolittle we find a medieval Hack-little, no doubt a lazy wood-cutter, while virtue is represented by a twelfth-century Tire-little. Sherwin represents the medieval Schere-wynd, applied to a swift runner; cf. Ger. Schneidewind, cut wind, and Fr. Tranchevent. A nurseryman at Highgate has the appropriate name Cutbush, the French equivalent of which, Taillebois, has given us Tallboys; and a famous herbalist was named Culpepper. In Gathercole the second element may mean cabbage or charcoal. In one case, Horniblow for horn-blow, the verb comes after its object.

Names of this formation are very common in Mid. English as in Old French, and often bear witness to a violent or brutal nature. Thus Scorch-beef, which is found in the Hundred Rolls, has no connection with careless cookery; it is Old Fr. escorche (écorche) -buef, flay ox, a name given to some medieval "Skin-the-goat." Catchpole (Chapter XX) is formed in the same way, and in French we find, applied to law officials, the surnames Baillehart, give halter, [Footnote: Bailler, the usual Old French for to give, is still used colloquially and in dialect.] and Baillehache, give axe, the latter still appropriately borne, as Bailhache, by an English judge.

It has sometimes been assumed that most names of this class are due to folk-etymology. The frequency of their occurrence in Mid. English and in continental languages makes it certain that the contrary is the case and that many surnames of obscure origin are perversions of this very large and popular class. I have seen it stated somewhere that Shakespeare is a corruption of an Old French name Sacquespée, [Footnote: Of common occurrence in Mid. English records.] the theorist being apparently unable to see that this latter, meaning draw-sword, is merely an additional argument, if such were needed, for the literal interpretation of the English name. [Footnote: In one day's reading I came across the following Mid. English names: Baillebien (give good), Baysedame (kiss lady), Esveillechien (wake dog), Lievelance (raise lance), Metlefrein (put the bridle), Tracepurcel (track hog), Turnecotel (turn coat), together with the native Cachehare and Hoppeschort.]

Tredgold seems to have been conferred on some medieval stoic, for we find also Spurnegold. Without pinning our faith to any particular anecdote, we need have no hesitation in accepting Turnbull as a sobriquet conferred for some feat of strength and daring on a stalwart Borderer. We find the corresponding Tornebeuf in Old French, and Turnbuck also occurs. Trumbull and Trumble are variants due to metathesis followed by assimilation (Chapter III), while Tremble is a very degenerate form. In Knatchbull we have the obsolete verb knatch, which in Mid. English meant to strike on the head, fell. Crawcour is Fr. Crèvecoeur, breakheart, which has also become a local name in France. With Shacklock, shake-lock, and Sherlock, Shurlock, shear-lock, we may compare Robin Hood's comrade Scathelock, though the precise interpretation of all three names is difficult. Rackstraw, rake-straw, corresponds to Fr. Grattepaille. Golightly means much the same as Lightfoot (Chapter XIII), nor need we hesitate to regard the John Gotobed who lived in Cambridgeshire in 1273 as a notorious sluggard compared with whom his neighbour Serl Gotokirke was a shining example. [Footnote: The name is still found in the same county. Undergraduates contemporary with the author occasionally slaked their thirst at a riverside inn kept by Bathsheba Gotobed.]

Telfer is Fr. Taillefer, the iron cleaver, and Henry II.'s yacht captain was Alan Trenchemer, the sea cleaver. He had a contemporary named Ventados, wind abaft.

Slocomb has assumed a local aspect, but may very well correspond to Fr. Tardif or Ger. Mühsam, applied to some Weary Willie of the Middle Ages. Doubtfire is a misspelling of Dout-fire, from the dialect dout, to extinguish (do out), formed like don and doff. Fullalove, which does not belong to the same formation, is also found as Plein d'amour—

"Of Sir Lybeux and Pleyndamour" (B, 2090)—

and corresponds to Ger. Liebevoll. Waddilove actually occurs in the Hundred Rolls as Wade-in-love, presumably a nickname conferred on some medieval Don Juan.






There is one curious little group of nicknames which seem to correspond to such Latin names as Piso, from pisum, a pea, and Cicero, from cicer

"Cicer, a small pulse, lesse than pease" (Cooper).

Such are Barleycorn and Peppercorn, the former found in French as Graindorge. The rather romantic names Avenel and Peverel seem to be of similar formation, from Lat. avena, oats, and piper, pepper. In fact Peverel is found in Domesday as Piperellus, and Pepperell still exists. With these may be mentioned Carbonel, corresponding to the French surname Charbonneau, a little coal.





"The man replied that he did not know the object of the building; and to make it quite manifest that he really did not know, he put an adjective before the word 'object,' and another—that is, the same—before the word 'building.' With that he passed on his way, and Lord Jocelyn was left marvelling at the slender resources of our language, which makes one adjective do duty for so many qualifications."

(BESANT, All Sorts and Conditions of Men, ch. xxxviii.)

The rejection by the British workman of all adjectives but one is due to the same imaginative poverty which makes the adjective "nice" supreme in refined circles, and which limits the schoolgirl to "ripping" and her more self-conscious brother to the tempered "decent." But dozens of useful adjectives, now either obsolete or banished to rustic dialect, are found among our surnames. The tendency to accompany every noun by an adjective seems to belong to some deep-rooted human instinct. To this is partly due the Protean character of this part of speech, for the word, like the coin, becomes dulled and worn in circulation and needs periodically to be withdrawn and replaced. An epithet which is complimentary in one generation is ironical in the next and eventually offensive. Moody, with its northern form Mudie, which now means morose, was once valiant (Chapter I); and pert, surviving in the name Peart, meant active, brisk, etc.—

"Awake the pert and nimble spirit of mirth."

(Midsummer Night's Dream, i. 1.)






To interpret an adjectival nickname we must go to its meaning in Chaucer and his contemporaries. Silly, Seeley, Seely

"This sely, innocent Custance" (B, 682)—

still means innocent when we speak of the "silly sheep," and happy in the phrase "silly Suffolk." It is cognate with Ger. selig, blessed, often used in speaking of the dead. We have compounds in Sillilant, simple child (Chapter X), and Selibarn. Seely was also used for Cecil or Cecilia. Sadd was once sedate and steadfast

"But thogh this mayde tendre were of age,
Yet in the brest of hire virginitee
Ther was enclosed rype and sad corage"

(E, 218);

and as late as 1660 we find a book in defence of Charles I. described as—

"A sad and impartial inquiry whether the King or Parliament began the war."

Stout, valiant, now used euphemistically for fat, is cognate with Ger. stolz, proud, and possibly with Lat. stultus, foolish. The three ideas are not incompatible, for fools are notoriously proud of their folly and are said to be less subject to fear than the angels. Sturdy, Sturdee, once meant rebellious, pig-headed—

"Sturdy, unbuxum, rebellis, contumax, inobediens." (Prompt. Parv.)

Cotgrave offers a much wider choice for the French original—

"Estourdi (étourdi), dulled, amazed, astonished, dizzie-headed, or whose head seemes very much troubled; (hence) also, heedlesse, inconsiderate, unadvised, witlesse, uncircumspect, rash, retchlesse, or carelesse; and sottish, blockish, lumpish, lusk-like, without life, metall, spirit"



Sly and its variant Sleigh have degenerated in the same way as crafty and cunning, both of which once meant skilled. Chaucer calls the wings of Daedalus "his playes slye," i.e. his ingenious contrivances. Quick meant alert, lively, as in "the quick and the dead." Slight, cognate with Ger. schlecht, bad, once meant plain or simple.

Many adjectives which are quite obsolete in literary English survive as surnames. Mid. Eng. Lyle has been supplanted by its derivative Little, the opposite pair surviving as Mutch and Mickle. The poor parson did not fail—

"In siknesse nor in meschief to visite
The ferreste in his parisshe, muche and lyte."

(A, 493.)

We have for Lyte also the imitative Light; cf. Lightwood. With Little may be mentioned Murch, an obsolete word for dwarf—

"Murch, lytyl man, nanus."

(Prompt. Parv.)

Lenain is a fairly common name in France. Snell, swift or valiant, had become a personal name in Anglo-Saxon, but we find le snel in the Middle Ages. Freake, Frick, also meant valiant or warrior—

"Ther was no freke that ther wolde flye"

(Chevy Chase);

but the Promptorium Parvulorum makes it equivalent to Craske (Chapter XXII)—

"Fryke, or craske, in grete helth, crassus."

It is cognate with Ger. frech, which now means impudent. Nott has already been mentioned (Chapter II). Of the Yeoman we are told—

"A not hed hadde he, with a broun visage."

(A, 109.)


Stark, cognate with starch, now usually means stiff, rather than strong—

"I feele my lymes stark and suffisaunt
To do al that a man bilongeth to."

(E, 1458.)




But Stark is also for an earlier Sterk (cf. Clark and Clerk), which represents Mid. Eng. stirk, a heifer. In the cow with the crumpled horn we have a derivative of Mid. Eng. crum, crooked, whence the names Crum and Crump. Ludwig's German Dict. (1715) explains krumm as "crump, crooked, wry." The name Crook generally has the same meaning, the Ger. Krummbein corresponding to our Cruikshank or Crookshanks. It is possible that Glegg and Gleig are Mid. Eng. gleg, skilful, of Scand. origin.

There are some adjectival surnames which are not immediately recognizable. Bolt, when not local (Chapter XIII) is for bold, Leaf is imitative for lief, i.e. dear. Dear itself is of course hopelessly mixed up with Deer... The timorous-looking Fear is Fr. le fier, the proud or fierce. Skey is an old form of shy; Bligh is for Blyth; Hendy and Henty are related to handy, and had in Mid. English the sense of helpful, courteous—

"Oure hoost tho spak, 'A, sire, ye sholde be hende
And curteys, as a man of youre estat.'"

(D, 1286.)

For Savage we find also the archaic spelling Salvage (Lat. silvaticus). Curtis is Norman Fr. curteis (courtois). The adjective garish, now only poetical, but once commonly applied to gaudiness in dress, has given Gerrish. Quaint, which has so many meanings intermediate between its etymological sense of known or familiar (Lat. cognitus) and its present sense of unusual or unfamiliar, survives as Quint. But Coy is usually local, from Quy (Cambridgeshire).

Orpwood is a corruption of Mid. Eng. orped, bold, warlike. Craske is an East Anglian word for fat, and Crouse is used in the north for sprightly, confident. To these we may add Ketch, Kedge, Gedge, from an East Anglian adjective meaning lively—

"Kygge, or joly, jocundus"         (Prompt. Parv.)—

and Spragg, etymologically akin to Spry. Bragg was once used for bold or brave, without any uncomplimentary suggestion. The New English Dictionary quotes (c. 1310) from a lyric poem—

"That maketh us so brag and bolde
And biddeth us ben blythe."

Crease is a West-country word for squeamish, but the East Anglian name Creasey, Cressy, is usually for the local Kersey (Suffolk). The only solution of Pratt is that it is Anglo-Sax. praett, cunning, adopted early as a personal name, while Storr, of Scandinavian origin, means big, strong. It is cognate with Steer, a bull. Devey and Dombey seem to be diminutive forms of deaf and dumb, still used in dialect in reference to persons thus afflicted. We find in French and German surnames corresponding to these very natural nicknames. Cf. Crombie from Crum (Chapter XXII).





A large proportion of our adjectival nicknames are of French origin. Le bel appears not only as Bell but also, through Picard, as Beal. Other examples are Boon, Bone, Bunn (bon), Grant (grand), Bass (bas) and its derivative Bassett, Dasent (décent), Follett and Folliott, dim. of fol (fou), mad, which also appears in the compound Foljambe, Fulljames.

Mordaunt means biting. Power is generally Anglo-Fr. le poure (le pauvre) and Grace is for le gras, the fat. Jolige represents the Old French form of joli—

"This Absolon, that jolif was and gay,
Gooth with a sencer (censer) on the haliday."

(A, 3339.)

"Prynne, now Pring, is Anglo-Fr. le prin, the first, from the Old French adjective which survives in printemps. Cf. our name Prime and the French name Premier. The Old French adjective Gent, now replaced by gentil, generally means slender in Mid. English—

"Fair was this yonge wyf, and therwithal
As any wezele hir body gent and smal."

(A, 3233)

Petty and Pettit are variant forms of Fr. petit, small. In Prowse and Prout we have the nominative and objective (Chapter I) of an Old French adjective now represented by preux and prude, generally thought to be related in some way to Lat. pro in prosum, and perhaps also the source of our Proud.

Gross is of course Fr. le gros, but Grote represents Du. groot, great, probably unconnected with the French word. The Devonshire name Coffin, which is found in that county in the twelfth century, is the same as Caffyn, perhaps representing Fr. Chauvin, bald, the name of the theologian whom we know better in the latinized form Calvin. Here belongs probably Shovel, Fr. Chauvel. We also have the simple Chaffe, Old Fr. chauf (chauve), bald. Gaylard, sometimes made into the imitative Gaylord, is Fr. gaillard, brisk, lively

"Gaillard he was as goldfynch in the shawe."

(A, 4367.)





Especially common are colour nicknames, generally due to the complexion, but sometimes to the garb. As we have already seen (Chapter XV), Black and its variant Blake sometimes mean pale. Blagg is the same word; cf. Jagg for Jack. White has no doubt been reinforced by wight, valiant

"Oh for one hour of Wallace wight
Or well-skilled Bruce to rule the fight."

(Marmion, vi. 20.)


As an epithet applied to the hair we often find Hoar; cf. Horlock. Redd is rare, the usual forms being the northern Reid, Reed, Read; but we also have Rudd from Anglo-Sax. rud, whence ruddy and the name Ruddock, really a bird nickname, the redbreast. To these must be added Rudge, Fr. rouge, Rouse, Rush and Russ, Fr, roux, and Russell or Rowsell, Old Fr. roussel (Rousseau). The commonest nickname for a fair-haired person was Blunt, Blount, Fr. blond, with its dim. Blundell, but the true English name is Fairfax, from Anglo-Sax. feax, hair. The New English Dictionary quotes from the fifteenth century

"Then they lowsyd hur feyre faxe,
That was yelowe as the waxe."

The adjective dun was once a regular name, like Dobbin or Dapple, for a cart-horse; hence the name of the old rural sport "Dun in the mire"—

"If thou art dun we'll draw thee from the mire." (Romeo and Juliet, i. 4.)

It is possible that the name Dunn is sometimes due to this specific application of the word. The colour blue appears as Blew

"At last he rose, and twitch'd his mantle blew:
To-morrow to fresh woods and pastures new"

(Lycidas, 1. 192)—

and earlier still as Blow—

"Blak, blo, grenysh, swartysh, reed."

(House of Fame, iii. 557.)

Other colour names of French origin are Morel, swarthy, like a Moor, also found as Murrell [Footnote: This, like Merrill, is sometimes from Muriel.]; and Burnell, Burnett, dims. of brun, brown. Chaucer speaks of—

"Daun Burnet the asse" (B, 4502);

[Footnote: Lat. dominus; the masculine form of dame in Old French.]

"Daun Russel the fox" (B, 4524.)

But both Burnell and Burnett may also be local from places ending in -hill and -head (), and Burnett is sometimes for Burnard. The same applies to Burrell, usually taken to be from Mid. Eng. borel, a rough material, Old Fr. burel (bureau), also used metaphorically in the sense of plain, uneducated

"And moore we seen of Cristes secree thynges
Than burel folk, al though they weren kynges."

(D, 1871.)

The name can equally well be the local Burhill or Burwell.

Murray is too common to be referred entirely to the Scottish name and is sometimes for murrey, dark red (Fr. mûre, mulberry). It may also represent merry, in its variant form murie, which is Mid. English, and not, as might appear, Amurrican—

"His murie men comanded he
To make hym bothe game and glee."

(B, 2029.)

Pook, of uncertain origin, is supposed to have been a dark russet colour. Bayard, a derivative of bay, was the name of several famous war-horses. Cf. Blank and Blanchard. The name Soar is from the Old French adjective sor, bright yellow. It is of Germanic origin and cognate with sere.

The dim. Sorrel may be a colour name, but it was applied in venery to a buck in the third year, of course in reference to colour; and some of our names, e.g. Brocket and Prickett, [Footnote: Both words are connected with the spiky young horns, Fr. broche, spit, being applied in venery to the pointed horns of the second year.] both applied to a two-year-old stag, must sometimes be referred to this important department of medieval language. Holofernes uses some of these terms in his idiotic verses

"The preyful princess pierc'd and prick'd a pretty pleasing priket;
Some say a sore; but not a sore, till now made sore with shooting.
The dogs did yell; put l to sore, then sorel jumps from thicket."

(Love's Labour's Lost, iv. 2.)

A few adjective nicknames of Celtic origin are so common in England that they may be included here. Such are the Welsh Gough, Goff, Gooch, Gutch, red, Gwynn and Wynne, white, Lloyd, grey, Sayce, Saxon, foreigner, Vaughan, small, and the Gaelic Bain, Bean, white, Boyd, Bowie, yellow-haired, Dow, Duff, black, Finn, fair, Glass, grey, Roy, Roe, red. From Cornish come Coad, old, and Couch, [Footnote: Cognate with Welsh Gough.] red, while Bean is the Cornish for small, and Tyacke means a farmer. It is likely that both Begg and Moore owe something to the Gaelic adjectives for little and big, as in the well-known names of Callum Beg, Edward Waverley's gillie, and McCallum More. The Gaelic Begg is cognate with the Welsh Vaughan. Two other famous Highland nicknames which are very familiar in England are Cameron, crooked nose, and Campbell, wry mouth. With these may be mentioned the Irish Kennedy, ugly head, the name of the father of Brian Boru.





"As I think I have already said, one of Umslopogaas'
Zulu names was The Woodpecker."

(HAGGARD, Allan Quatermain, ch. vii.)

The great majority of nicknames coming under the headings typified by Bird and Fowell, Best, and Fish or Fisk (Scand.) are easily identified. But here, as everywhere in the subject, pitfalls abound. The name Best itself is an example of a now misleading spelling retained for obvious reasons-—

"First, on the wal was peynted a forest,
In which ther dwelleth neither man nor best."

(A, 1976.)

We do not find exotic animals, nor even the beasts of heraldry, at all frequently. Leppard, leopard, is in some cases for the Ger. Liebhart; and Griffin, when not Welsh, should no doubt be included among inn-signs. Oliphant, i.e. elephant—

"For maystow surmounten thise olifauntes in gretnesse or weighte of body" (Boece, 782)—

may be a genuine nickname, but Roland's ivory horn was also called by this name, and the surname may go back to some legendary connection of the same kind. Bear is not uncommon, captive bears being familiar to a period in which the title bear-ward is frequently met with.

It is possible that Drake may sometimes represent Anglo-Sax. draca, dragon, rather than the bird, but the latter is unmistakable in Sheldrick, for sheldrake. As a rule, animal nicknames were taken rather from the domestic species with which the peasantry were familiar and whose habits would readily suggest comparisons, generally disparaging, with those of their neighbours.





Bird names are especially common, and it does not need much imagination to see how readily and naturally a man might be nicknamed Hawke for his fierceness, Crowe from a gloomy aspect, or Nightingale for the gift of sweet song. Many of these surnames go back to words which are now either obsolete or found only in dialect. The peacock was once the Poe, an early loan from Lat. pavo, or, more fully, Pocock

"A sheaf of pocok arwes, bright and kene,
Under his belt he bar ful thriftily."

(A, 104.)

The name Pay is another form of the same word. Coe, whence Hedgecoe, is an old name for the jackdaw—

"Cadow, or coo, or chogh (chough), monedula"                 (Prompt. Parv.)—

but may also stand for cow, as we find, in defiance of gender and sex, such entries as Robert le cow, William le vache. Those birds which have now assumed a font-name, such as Jack daw, Mag pie, of course occur without it as surnames, e.g. Daw and Pye—

"The thief the chough, and eek the jangelyng pye"                (Parliament of Fowls, 305).

The latter has a dim. Pyatt.

Rainbird is a local name for the green woodpecker, but as an East-Anglian name it is most likely an imitative form of Fr. Rimbaud or Raimbaud, identical with Anglo-Sax. Regenbeald. Knott is the name of a bird which frequents the sea-shore and, mindful of Cnut's wisdom, retreats nimbly before the advancing surf—

"The knot that called was Canutus' bird of old."

(Drayton, Polyolbion, xxv. 368.)

This historical connection is most probably due to folk-etymology. Titmus is of course for tit-mouse. Dialect names for the woodpecker survive in Speight, Speke, and Spick, Pick (Chapter III). The same bird was also called woodwall

"In many places were nyghtyngales,
Alpes, fynches, and wodewales"

(Romaunt of the Rose, 567)—

hence, in some cases, the name Woodall. The Alpe, or bullfinch, mentioned in the above lines, also survives as a surname. Dunnock and Pinnock are dialect names for the sparrow. It was called in Anglo-Norman muisson, whence Musson. Starling is a dim. of Mid. Eng. stare, which has itself given the surname Starr

"The stare, that the counseyl can be-wrye."                 (Parliament of Fowls, 348.)

Heron is the French form of the bird-name which was in English Herne—

"I come from haunts of coot and hern."                 (Tennyson, The Brook, 1. 1.)

The Old French dim. heronceau also passed into English—

"I wol nat tellen of hir strange sewes (courses),
Ne of hir swannes, ne of hire heronsewes."

(F, 67.)

As a surname it has been assimilated to the local, and partly identical, Hearnshaw (Chapter XII). Some commentators go to this word to explain Hamlet's use of handsaw-

"I am but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly,
I know a hawk from a handsaw"                 (Hamlet, ii. 2).


When the author's father was a boy in Suffolk eighty years ago, the local name for the bird was pronounced exactly like answer. Grew is Fr. grue, crane, Lat. grus, gru-. Butter, Fr. butor, "a bittor" (Cotgrave), is a dialect name for the bittern, called a "butter-bump" by Tennyson's Northern Farmer (1. 31). Culver is Anglo-Sax. culfre, a pigeon—

"Columba, a culver, a dove"


hence the local Culverhouse. Dove often becomes Duff. Gaunt is sometimes a dialect form of gannet, used in Lincolnshire of the crested grebe. Popjoy may have been applied to the successful archer who became king of the popinjay for the year. The derivation of the word, Old Fr. papegai, whence Mid. Eng. papejay

"The briddes synge, it is no nay,
The sparhawk and the papejay,
That joye it was to heere"

(B, 1956)—

is obscure, though various forms of it are found in most of the European languages. In English it was applied not only to the parrot, but also to the green woodpecker. The London Directory form is Pobgee.

With bird nicknames may be mentioned Callow, unfledged, cognate with Lat. calvus, bald. Its opposite also survives as Fleck and Flick-

"Flygge, as byrdis, maturus, volabilis."

(Prompt. Parv.)

Margaret Paston, writing (1460) of the revived hopes of Henry VI., says—

"Now he and alle his olde felawship put owt their fynnes, and arn ryght flygge and mery."






We have naturally a set of names taken from the various species of falcons. To this class belongs Haggard, probably related to Anglo-Sax. haga, hedge, and used of a hawk which had acquired incurable habits of wildness by preying for itself. But Haggard is also a personal name (Chapter VIII). Spark, earlier Sparhawk, is the sparrow-hawk. It is found already in Anglo-Saxon as a personal name, and the full Sparrowhawk also exists. Tassell is a corruption of tiercel, a name given to the male peregrine, so termed, according to the legendary lore of venery—

"Because he is, commonly, a third part lesse than the female."                 (Cotgrave, )

Juliet calls Romeo her "tassell gentle" (ii. 2). Muskett was a name given to the male sparrow-hawk.

"Musket, a lytell hauke, mouchet."                 (Palsgrave.)

Mushet is the same name. It comes from Ital. moschetto, a little fly. For its later application to a firearm cf. falconet. Other names of the hawk class are Buzzard and Puttock, i.e. kite-—

"Milan, a kite, puttock, glead"


and to the same bird we owe the name Gleed, from a Scandinavian name for the bird

"And the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind."                 (Deut. xiv. 13.)

To this class also belongs Ramage—

"Ramage, of, or belonging to, branches; also, ramage, hagard, wild, homely, rude"


and sometimes Lennard, an imitative form of "lanner," the name of an inferior hawk—

Falcunculus, a leonard."

(Holyoak, Lat. Dict., 1612.)



Povey is a dialect name for the owl, a bird otherwise absent from the surname list.






Among beast nicknames we find special attention given, as in modern vituperation, to the swine, although we do not find this true English word, unless it be occasionally disguised as Swain. Hogg does not belong exclusively to this class, as it is used in dialect both of a young sheep and a yearling colt. Anglo-Sax. sugu, sow, survives in Sugg. Purcell is Old Fr. pourcel (pourceau), dim. of Lat. porcus, and I take Pockett to be a disguised form of the obsolete porket—

"Porculus, a pygg: a shoote: a porkes."


The word shoote in the above gloss is now the dialect shot, a young pig, which may have given the surname Shott. But Scutt is from a Mid. English adjective meaning short—

"Scute, or shorte, curtus, brevis"

(Prompt. Parv.)—

and is also an old name for the hare. Two other names for the pig are the northern Galt and the Lincolnshire Grice—

"Marcassin, a young wild boare; a shoot or grice." (Cotgrave.)

Grice also represents le gris, the grey; cf. Grace for le gras (Chapter XXII). Bacon looks like a nickname, but is invariably found without the article. As it is common in French, it would appear to be an Old French accusative to Back, going back to Germanic Bacco (Chapter XIII). Hinks is Mid. Eng. hengst, a stallion, and is thus identical with Hengist (Chapter XX). Stott means both a bullock and a nag (Chapter XIX).

Everyone remembers Wamba's sage disquisition on the names of animals in the first chapter of Ivanhoe. Like much of Scott's archaeology it is somewhat anachronistic, for the live animals were also called veals and muttons for centuries after Wamba's death

"Mouton, a mutton, a weather"; "veau, a calfe, or veale." (Cotgrave.)

Calf has become very rare as a surname, though Kalb is still common in Germany. Bardsley regards Duncalf and Metcalf as perverted from dun-croft and meadow-croft. It seems possible that they may be for down-calf and mead-calf, from the locality of the pasture, but this is a pure guess on my part. It is curious that beef does not appear to have survived, though Leboeuf is common in French, and bullocks are still called "beeves" in Scotland. Tegg is still used by butchers for a two-year-old sheep. Palsgrave gives it another meaning—

"Tegg, or pricket (Chapter XXII), saillant."

Roe is also found in the older forms Rae and Ray, of course confused with Wray (Chapter XIII), as Roe itself is with Rowe (Chapter I). Doe often becomes Dowe. Hind is usually occupative (Chapter III), but Fr. Labiche suggests that it must sometimes be a nickname—

"Biche, a hind; the female of a stagge."         (Cotgrave.)

Pollard was applied to a beast or stag that had lost its horns—

"He has no horns, sir, has he?
"No, sir, he's a pollard."

(Beaumont and Fletcher, Philaster, v. 4.)

Leverett is certified by the French surname Levrault. Derivation from Lever, Anglo-Sax. Leofhere, whence Levers, Leverson, or Leveson, is much less probable, as these Anglo-Saxon names rarely form dims. (Chapter VII). Luttrel is in French Loutrel, perhaps a dim. of loutre, otter, Lat. lutra. From the medieval lutrer or lutrarius, otter hunter, we get Lutterer, no doubt confused with the musical Luter.

While Catt is fairly common in the eastern counties, Robertus le chien and Willelmus le curre, who were living about the end of the twelfth century, are now completely disguised as Ken and Kerr. Modern French has both Lechien and the Norman Lequien. [Footnote: Lekain, the name of a famous French actor, has the same origin.] We owe a few other surnames to the friend of man. Kennett, from a Norman dim. of chien, meant greyhound—

"Kenette, hounde, leporarius."         (Prompt. Parv.)

The origin of the name Talbot is unknown, and it is uncertain whether the hound or the family should have precedence; but Chaucer seems to use it as the proper name of a hound

"Ran Colle our dogge, and Talbot, and Gerland,
And Malkyn, with a dystaf in hir hand."

(B, 4573.)

The great Earl of Shrewsbury is affectionately called "Talbot, our good dogge" in political rimes of the fifteenth century.

In early dictionaries may be found long lists of the fanciful names, such as Bright, Lightfoot, Ranger, Ringwood, Swift, Tempest, given to hounds. This practice seems to throw some light on such surnames as Tempest, with which we may compare the German names Storm and Sturm. In the Pipe Rolls the name le esturmi, the stormy, occurs several times. To the same class belongs Thunder, found in the Pipe Rolls as Tonitruus, and not therefore necessarily a perversion of Tunder, i.e. Sherman (Chapter XVIII)—

"Tondeur de draps, a shearman, or clothworker."         (Cotgrave.)

Garland, used by Chaucer as a dog's name, was earlier graland, and, as le garlaund is also found, it may be referred to Old Fr. grailler, to trumpet. It no doubt has other origins.

We should expect Fox to be strongly represented, and we find the compounds Colfox and Stelfox. The first means black fox—

"A colfox ful of sly iniquitee"

(B, 4405)—

and I conjecture that the first part of Stelfox is connected with stealing, as in the medieval name Stele-cat—

"The two constables made a thorough search and found John Stelfox hiding behind some bushes. Some of the jewellery was found upon him"

(Daily Chronicle, June 3, 1913).

In the north a fox is called Tod, whence Todhunter. This Tod is probably a personal name, like the French Renard and the Scottish Lawrie or Lowrie, applied to the same animal. Allan Ramsay calls him "slee Tod Lowrie." From the badger we have Brock and sometimes Gray—

Blaireau, a badger, gray, boason, brock         (Cotgrave)—

but Badger itself is occupative (Chapter XIX). The polecat survives as Fitch, Fitchett, and Fitchew—

"Fissau, a filch, or fulmart."






On fish-names Bardsley remarks, "We may quote the famous chapter on 'Snakes in Iceland': 'There are no snakes in Iceland,' and say there are no fish-names in England." This is almost true. The absence of marked traits of character in the, usually invisible, fish would militate against the adoption of such names. We should not expect to find the shark to be represented, for the word is of too late occurrence. But Whale is fairly common. Whale the mariner received two pounds from Henry VII's privy purse in 1498. The story of Jonah, or very generous proportions, may have originated the name Whalebelly, "borne by a respectable family in south-east England" (Bardsley).

But there would obviously be no great temptation to go fishing for nicknames when the beasts of the farmyard and the forest, the birds of the marshes and the air, offered on every side easily understood comparisons. At the same time Bardsley's statement goes a little too far. He explains Gudgeon as a corruption of Goodison. But this, true though it may be in some cases, will not explain the very common French surname Goujon. The phrase "greedy gudgeon" suggests that in this case a certain amount of character had been noticed in the fish. Sturgeon also seems to be a genuine fish-name. We find Fr. Lesturgeon and Ger. Stoer, both meaning the same. We have also Smelt and the synonymous Spurling. In French and German we find other surnames which undoubtedly belong to this class, but they are not numerous and probably at first occurred only in regions where fishing or fish-curing were important industries.

A few examples will show that apparent fish-names are usually not genuine. Chubb is for Job (Chapter III), Eeles is one of the numerous derivatives of Elias (Chapter IX), Hake is, like Hack, from the Scandinavian Hacun, Haddock is sometimes a perversion of the local Haydock, Lamprey comes via Old French from Old High Ger. Landprecht, which has usually given Lambert.

Pike is local (Chapter XII), Pilchard is for Pilcher (Chapter XVIII), Roach is Fr. Laroche, Salmon is for Salomon, and Turbot is the Anglo-Sax. Thurbeorht, which has also given Tarbut, as Thurgod has given Targett. But in few of the above examples is the possibility of fish origin absolutely excluded.




We have also many surnames due to physical resemblances not extending beyond one feature. Birdseye may be sometimes of local origin, from ey, island (Chapter XII), but as a genuine nickname it is as natural as the sobriquet of Hawkeye which Natty Bumppo received from the Hurons. German has the much less pleasing Gansauge, goose-eye; and Alan Oil de larrun, thief's eye, was fined for very reprehensible conduct in 1183. To explain Crowfoot as an imitative variant of Crawford is absurd when we find a dozen German surnames of the same class and formation and as many in Old or Modern French beginning with pied de. Cf. Pettigrew (Chapter XXI) and Sheepshanks. We find in the Paris Directory not only Piedeleu (Old Fr. leu, wolf) and Piedoie (oie, goose), but even the full Pied-de-Lièvre, Professeur à la Faculté de droit. The name Bulleid was spelt in the sixteenth century bul-hed, i.e. bull-head, a literal rendering of Front de Boeuf. Weatherhead (Chapter XIX) is perhaps usually a nickname

"For that old weather-headed fool, I know how to laugh at him."

(Congreve, Love for Love, ii. 7.)

Coxhead is another obvious nickname. A careful analysis of some of the most important medieval name-lists would furnish hundreds of further examples, some too outspoken to have survived into our degenerate age, and others which are now so corrupted that their original vigour is quite lost.

Puns and jokes upon proper names are, pace Gregory the Great and Shakespeare, usually very inept and stupid; but the following lines by James Smith, which may be new to some of my readers, are really clever—

Men once were surnamed from their shape or estate
            (You all may from History worm it);
There was Lewis the Bulky, and Henry the Great,
            John Lackland, and Peter the Hermit.
But now, when the door-plates of Misters and Dames
            Are read, each so constantly varies
From the owner's trade, figure, and calling, Surnames
            Seem given by the rule of contraries.

Mr. Box, though provoked, never doubles his fist,
            Mr. Burns, in his grate, has no fuel;
Mr. Playfair won't catch me at hazard or whist,
            Mr. Coward was wing'd in a duel.
Mr. Wise is a dunce, Mr. King is a whig,
            Mr. Coffin's uncommonly sprightly,
And huge Mr. Little broke down in a gig,
            While driving fat Mrs. Golightly.

Mrs. Drinkwater's apt to indulge in a dram,
            Mrs. Angel’s an absolute fury,
And meek Mr. Lyon let fierce Mr. Lamb
            Tweak his nose in the lobby of Drury.
At Bath, where the feeble go more than the stout,
            (A conduct well worthy of Nero),
Over poor Mr. Lightfoot, confined with the gout,
            Mr. Heaviside danced a Bolero.

Miss Joy, wretched maid, when she chose Mr. Love,
            Found nothing but sorrow await her;
She now holds in wedlock, as true as a dove,
            That fondest of mates, Mr. Hayter.
Mr. Oldcastle dwells in a modern-built hut,
            Miss Sage is of madcaps the archest;
Of all the queer bachelors Cupid e'er cut,
            Old Mr. Younghusband's the starchest.

Mr. Child, in a passion, knock'd down Mr. Rock,
            Mr. Stone like an aspen-leaf shivers;
Miss Poole used to dance, but she stands like a stock
            Ever since she became Mrs. Rivers;
Mr. Swift hobbles onward, no mortal knows how,
            He moves as though cords had entwin'd him;
Mr. Metcalfe ran off, upon meeting a cow,
            With pale Mr. Turnbull behind him.

Mr. Barker's as mute as a fish in the sea,
            Mr. Miles never moves on a journey;
Mr. Gotobed sits up till half-after three,
            Mr. Makepeace was bred an attorney.
Mr. Gardiner can't tell a flower from a root,
            Mr. Wilde with timidity draws back,
Mr. Ryder performs all his journeys on foot,
            Mr. Foote all his journeys on horseback.

Mr. Penny, whose father was rolling in wealth,
            Kick'd down all his fortune his dad won;
Large Mr. Le Fever's the picture of health,
            Mr. Goodenough is but a bad one.
Mr. Cruickshank stept into three thousand a year,
            By showing his leg to an heiress: —
Now I hope you'll acknowledge I've made it quite clear
            That surnames ever go by contraries.







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