Page images

heads. First, those which have de prefixed, and which were derived chiefly from places in Normandy; 2nd. those which, not being local, had le prefixed, as Le Marshall, Le Latimer, Le Mesurier, Le Bastard, Le Despencer, Le Strange. 3rd. those with which neither de nor le was used, and which were probably all significative: Basset, Howard, Talbot, Bellew, Bigod, Fortescue, and many others belong to this third division. Camden has observed that the distinction of these three classes was religiously kept in records in respect of adding de or le, or writing the word simply, till about the time of King Edward the Fourth. Fitz is a common prefix to Norman patronymics, just as son is the Saxon termination to express the same idea. Fitzwilliam is the Norman form, Williamson the Saxon. We have read of an ancient Fitz-Swain ; but it is in recent times only that a Saxon Harris, equivalent to Harrison (i. e. Harry's son) has been converted into the etymological mongrel of FitzHarris, which is almost as startling as Fitz-Harrison or FitzThompson would be. We shall have occasion again to advert, in the course of our observations, to some of the Norman names still existing in England, and they are still common in Jersey and Guernsey.

II. The second and most numerous division of English surnames comprehends all those which have a local English origin. A vast number of places in England have contributed to form this class of surnames, which may be looked at as consisting of two subdivisions. The first is that of generic names, such as Bridge and Brook, Church and Chapel, Knoll and Kay, Hill and Dale, Mountain, Vale, and Vaulx, Carr and Combe, Cope and Cragg, Cliff and Clough, Deane and Dikes, Pitt and Hole, Flood and Fell, Hayes and Park, Grove and Hurst, Green and Grave, Garth and Grange, Moor and Marsh, Shore and Slade, Wood and Shaw, Hide, Holme, and Warren, Wear and Hatch, Field and Croft, Forest and Garden, Holt and Hope, Plains and Platt, Street and Lane, Burrow and Town, Barnes and Lodge. The second consists of specific names of places, such as Oxford, Buckingham, Wortley and Preston. The frequent adoption of such names of places as surnames gave rise to the old distich

In ford, in ham, in ley, and tun,

The most of English surnames run.' As names of places, most of these specific names are very much older than the Conquest. The Saxon charters published under the able and learned superintendence of Mr. Kemble, contain many names of places : of the whole number, nearly one-fourth end in ford, or ham, or ley, or tun.*

The exact examination of the numbers is due to Dr. Leo, in the

A former Lord Lyttelton once contended that his family must be more ancient than that of the Grenvilles, since the little town existed before the grande ville. At Venice a somewhat similar, but more serious dispute once arose between the houses Ponti and Canali. The former alleged that they, the Bridges, were above the Canals: the latter, that they, the Canals, existed before the Bridges. The Senate was obliged to remind the rival houses, that its authority could equally pull down Bridges and stop Canals, if they became a public nuisance.

Unlike names derived from occupations, these local English names are in themselves void of any signification, with reference to the condition in life of those who first assumed them. Persons who bear the names of specific places in England, must not suppose that their ancestors were either lords, or possessors of such places, but, as Camden justly observes, only that they • originally came from them, or were born at them. Devon or Kent became the surname of a man who had come from Devon or Kent, just as Lichfield or Lancaster denoted a person from one or other of those places.

When Jews abandon their biblical onomasticon, we frequently find them known by the names of places from which they have emigrated. Thus, in the north of Germany, there are many Jewish families of the name of Warschauer, Dantziger, and Friedlander. And thus the Bassi of Pisa received the name of Pisani on their migrating to Venice; and a victim of religious persecution at Lucca having fled to Geneva, there exchanged his hereditary name for that of Deluc, which has since become well known to the scientific world in the person of one of his descendants. Many English names, such as Fleming, Lombard, Pickard (Picard) refer merely to the country from which the family first came to England.

Camden gives Drinkwater as an instance of a name, local in its origin, and altered to a significative word by the common

sort, who desire to make all to be significative.' He supposes the local origin to be Derwentwater. A similar corruption of the Italo-Tyrolian name Tunicotto into the German Thunichtgut would tend to increase the probability of Camden's conjecture as to Drinkwater.* We venture, nevertheless, to hold that



introduction to his edition of the Rectitudines Singularum Personarum, Halle, 1842; translated as “A Treatise on the Local Nomenclature of the Anglo-Saxons, London, 1852.'

* Maria Theresa changed the name of her minister Thunichtgut (Do-no-good), into Thu-gut, (Do-good); probably, as Professor Pott observes, (p. 40.) den Spott seines sehr übles vorbedeutenden


Drinkwater is not any corruption of a local name, but belongs to the class of names which indicate a personal quality or habit. The existence of Boileau in French, and Bevilacqua in Italian, seems sufficient to show that this is so. There is also an English name Drawwater. The Flemish name Tupigny has been altered in this country to Twopeny, which is a better example of Camden's proposition.

The instances in which places have derived their names from those of men, are rare in comparison with those in which men have assumed surnames derived froin places. Some places, however, received their names from men even in the Saxon times, as Alfreton, Edwardston, Ubsford, Kettering, Billinghurst, Leffrington. After the Conquest many places acquired a distinguishing surname, as it may be called, from the family name of the resident landowner. The following are instances : Hurst-Pierpoint, Hurst-Monceaux, Tarring-Neville, TarringPeverill, Rotherfield-Greys, Rotherfield-Pypard, Drayton-Bassett, Drayton-Passelew, Melton-Mowbray, Higham-Ferrars, Minster-Lovell, Stanstead-Rivers, Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

Names of men have, in some few instances, been converted into words of general import wholly independent of the original meaning of such names. A Scotchman, Macadam, first showed how to macadamize our roads, and enriched the vocabulary of most of the nations of Europe ; and the Spanish jesuit, Escobar, has caused a great people to adopt his name, and the words escobarder and escobarderie, as the fittest to describe what the Lettres Provinciales so fully exposed to the world. In like manner we speak of tantalizing, of herculean strength, of a Fabian policy, and of a sandwich, a tilbury or a brougham.

Professor Pott of Halle, whose work on family names is full of proofs of great learning and unwearying labour, is sometimes unhappy in his suggestions as to the etymologies of English surnames. He conjectures that the English local name Wilberforce may be compared with the German Starke and the French La Force. The German Starke and the French La Force may more properly be compared with our English Strong and Starkie, and with our northern Stark. Wilberforce is a mere corruption of Wilburg foss. Still more palpably inadmissible is Professor Pott's conjecture that our English local name Wilbraham is in part of Jewish origin,' and that the two last syllables of the word are obtained from Abraham. It is well known that, on English ground, Abraham has been disguised as Brahain, just

[ocr errors]

• Namensklanges abzuziehen.' In like manner the Romans changed Maleventum into Beneventum, and Egesta into Segesta.

as Solomon has become Slowman and Sloman; but we never yet met with such a hybrid as the union of the English William and the Jewish Abraham produces. Wilburgham is probably the true etymology of the name. Skinner, whose Onomas* ticon' the Professor seems not to have consulted, derives Wilbraham from Will-burne and ham. Another etymological error committed by the learned Professor in dealing with English surnames, is found in a suggestion that Pashley may be derived from pash, a local word used in Cheshire, and signifying brains. The etymology of this name, which has sometimes been written Passelewe and Paslew, as well as Passeley and Pashley, is clear. Skinner correctly states it à Fr. passe l'eau, sc. à tranando vel transeundo aquam. An old monkish writer alludes to the meaning in verses preserved among Sir Robert Cotton's manuscripts, and addressed to a member of the family, who was Archdeacon of Lewes in the reign of Henry III.* The name of Fairfield is one of those which may be traced through all the languages of Europe in the forms of Campbell, Kemble, Campobello, Beauchamp, and Schönau.

III. We now come to the great class of surnames derived from occupations. An old writer quaintly and truly says, • Touching such as have their surnames of occupations, as Smith, ' Taylor, Turner, and such others, it is not to be doubted but their ancestors have first gotten them by using such trades, and the children of such parents being contented to take them upon them, their after-coming posterity could hardly avoid them, and so in time cometh it rightly to be said —

• “From whence came Smith, all be he knight or squire,

But from the Smith, that forgeth at the fire ?” * And so in effect may be said of the rest. Neither can it be

disgraceful to any that now live in very worshipful estate and * reputation, that their ancestors in former ages have been, by their honest trades of life, good and necessary members in the commonwealth, seeing all gentry hath first taken issue from the commonalty.'

The following is the number of births, deaths, and marriages in a single year in England and Wales, of some of the more numerous of these English families whose surnames are derived from occupations, from Mr. Lowe's Tables of the births, deaths, and marriages of persons bearing sixty of the most common surnames.

Nec enim quia transit,
Sed præcellit aquam cognomine credo notari —
Mente quidem lenis, re dulcis, sanguine clarus,
In tribus his præcellis aquam.'

[blocks in formation]

The great number of the family of Smith seems to be owing to this, that the Smith of the age when surnames first became hereditary, included in his mystery the work which Wheeler, Cartwright, and other Wrights afterwards performed. The family of Lefevre in French is much less numerous than that of the English Smiths. The generic name Lefevre used in Normandy and in the south of France, for this northern Schmidt or Smith, is derived from the Latin Faber, and became a surname as Lefevre; so also Favre, Faure, and Fabri.

It is probable that a small proportion only of these names, derived from occupations, were adopted in country places, and that the bulk of them arose in towns. In the country every little hamlet supplied in or near it, not only its own name for adoption by Squire, Franklin, Yeoman, Freeman, or any other of its inhabitants, but many neighbouring objects, such as Green, Hill, Wood, Marsh, Ley, Moore, Field, or Shaw. Acre or Larpent, Ash or Freine, Elm or Orme, Oak or Chesne, was to be found in almost every parish. The Turners and Taylors, Barbers and Bakers, Cooks, Coopers, and Chapmans, would more exercise their crafts in towns than in country places. The less numerous families of Carters and Filders, of Barkers and Tanners, of Fowlers and Foresters, and Woodmans, of Farmers and Shepherds, of Bailiffs and Reeves, would mainly arise in the country. Each of a large number of local names has names of occupation dependent on it, many of which belong alone to the country. Pitt has its Collier and Pitman, Bridge its Bridger and Bridgman. It is said that a larger proportion of the names of occupation, such as. Mercier, Meunier, Barbier, Boulanger, Couvreur, Tourneur, are found in France, than we have of them in England.* There are very few of them in Sweden, where

* M. Salverte gives as a reason for this, "les premiers bourgeois

« PreviousContinue »