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

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

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

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

(E. 2217.)

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

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

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

They are all represented in modern directories.


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

(SYLVESTER, The Devine Weekes, )

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

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

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

(1) Settlements and Enclosures,

(2) Highways and Byways,

(3) Watercourses,

(4) Buildings,

(5) Shop Signs.

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


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

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

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

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

(Tennyson, The Brook, 1. 5.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Redgauntlet, ch. xi.)

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

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

(F, 1119).

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


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

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

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

"Thorugh a goter, by a prive wente."

(Troilus and Criseyde, iii. 788.)


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

(B, 4022.)

Hence the names Bowerman, Boorman, Burman.

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

Born and fed in rudenesse

As in a cote or in an oxe stalle

(E, 397)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

(Moliere L'Ecole des Femmes, i. 1.)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Chant of Wat Tyler's followers.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

"How called you your franklin, Prior Aylmer?"

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

(Ivanhoe, ch. i.)—

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

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

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

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

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

"Putte the litil faunt with ynne"

(Exodus ii. 3)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"With hunte and horne and houndes hym bisyde"

(A, 1678)—

which still hold the field easily against Webber and Hunter.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Edward IV. and the Tanner of Tamworth.)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Lord of the Isles, iv. 33.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

(Winter's Tale, iv. 3.)

Corner means horn-blower, Fr, cor, horn, and is also a contraction of coroner, but its commonest origin is local, in angulo, in the corner. Curren and Curryer are generally connected with leather, but Henry VII. bestowed L3 on the Curren that brought tidings of Perkin War-beck. Garner has five possible origins: (i) a contraction of gardener, (ii) from the French personal name Garner, Ger. Werner, (iii) Old Fr. grenier, grain-keeper, (iv) Old Fr, garennier, warren keeper, (v) local, from garner, Fr. grenier, Lat. granarium. In the next chapter will be found, as a specimen problem, an investigation of the name Rutter.


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

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

(John Gilpin, 1. 22)—

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

(Skelton, Magnyfycence, 1. 762.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(A, 236.)

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

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


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

(Prologue, 1. 20.)

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

"And in his hand he baar a myghty bow"

(A, 108.)

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

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

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

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

(Timon of Athens, v. 4)—

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

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

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

(A, 687.)

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

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

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

(A, 361.)

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

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

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

(A, 536.)

The Miller is the same as the Meller or Mellor—

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

(A, 3923.)

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

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

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

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

(A, 603);

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

"To boylle the chicknes and the marybones."

(A, 380.)

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

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

(A, 399.)

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

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

(Privy Purse Expenses of Henry VII, 1495.)

[Footnote: He was usually more generous to the high arts, e.g. "To a Spaynarde that pleyed the fole, L2," "To the young damoysell that daunceth, L30." With which cf. "To Carter for writing of a boke, 7s. 4d."]

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


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

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

"With this chanoun I dwelt have seven yere"

(G, 720);

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

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

(Cock Lorelles Bote.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Romaunt of the Rose, 6348.)


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


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

(Fortunes of Nigel, ch. i.)

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


Fuller tells us that—

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

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

"His bowe he bente and sette therinne a flo" (H, 264)—

[Footnote: The true English word for arrow, Anglo-Sax. fla.]

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

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

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

(The Abbot, ch. xxxiii.)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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