A Dictionary of English Surnames by P. H. Reaney, R. M. Wilson

By P. H. Reaney, R. M. Wilson

This vintage dictionary solutions questions comparable to those and explains the origins of over 16,000 names in present English use. it will likely be a resource of fascination to everybody with an curiosity in names and their heritage.

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Some few are nicknames or occupational names (these sometimes preceded by le, occasionally la): Ysabella Barones 1275 SRWo, Hugh Rabuckes 1301 SRY, Claricia le Parkeres 1327 SRSo, Juliana la Kinges 1285 Ass (Ess), Amiscia la Wrihtes 1333 ColchCt. Occasionally we have a place-name: John Dounes 1327 SRWo. The interpretation of these surnames is more difficult than one would expect. It is clear that in the twelfth century Segarus Aileves meant ‘son of Aileve’ and that is probably the meaning in the fourteenth century in the names of men.

G. Geoffrey le Moyne was constable of Newcastle in 1219 AssY, and so is unlikely to have been a monk. Similarly, cf. John le prest le chaucer c1250 Clerkenwell; William Priour, cossun 1283 LLB B; William called le Clerk, butcher 1336 Husting; Richard Priur lindraper 1300, Roger le Mounk, baker 1318 NorwDeeds. Occupational surnames originally denoted the actual occupation followed by the individual. At what period they became hereditary is a difficult problem. In addition, such names as Pope, Cardinal, Legate, can never have been surnames of office in England, and must have been originally pageant-names.

But a certain number are mentioned by name, which almost invariably ends in -es (Joan la Warneres, Alice Sayheres). It is a reasonable presumption that they were widows and that this type of women’s surname denoted either a widow or a married woman. Matilda Candeles (1327 SRSx) was probably the wife of Ralph Candel, for in 1332 she is described as ‘Matilda relicta Candel’. Margery la Mazones was the wife of Walter le Mazoun (1311 ColchCt). Agnes Rickemannes (1329 Husting) was probably the widow of Rickeman le Chaumberleng (1292 SRLo) and if so, we have to reckon with the fact that some of these women’s names denote the christian name and not the surname of their husbands.

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