The Romance of Names
by Ernest Weekley
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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, Grandgerard, Grandguillaume, Grandguillot, Grandjacques, Grand-jean, Grandperrin (Pierre), Grandpierre, Grandremy, Grandvincent, and Petitcolin, Petitdemange (Dominique), Petitdidier (Desiderius), Petit-Durand, Petit-Etienne (Stephen), Petit-Gerard, 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 (Rene), 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. Tete, 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 nies? 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 Anseis 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. Elie, 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 quene, an oak.

Moses appears in the French form Moyes (Moise) 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 Elie, 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 etres d'une maison. Hester, to which Bardsley gives the same origin, I should rather connect with Old Fr. hestre (hetre), 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, defense a 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, peronnelle" (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 Brabancon, 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, Alencon, 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, Genes (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'Alenc on, Danvers, d'Anvers, Antwerp, Devereux, d'Evreux, 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'Urfe. 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 Ruetli, 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. [thorn]witan, 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 Dieudonne, 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.

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