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Origin of Surnames.
ducal court, adopted a surname but these were very few. The conspicuous adventurers who acompanied the victorious William had each a surname, as the Roll of Battle Abbey sufficiently shews, as do other catalogues of the names of these gallant soldiers
. All the lists, however, prove that surnames were adopted. The Norman gentry generally called themselves by the name of their paternal or acquired estates. Those who came hither did the
There was scarce a town, village, or manor, but what has given a surname to a family of nobility or gentry in Normandy, and after the conquest in England also. The article de was prefixed to these surnames, and as fees or lands at this time became hereditary, held by knights service, or feudal tenures, it seemed very appropriate. Though most of the considerable families took a name from their estates, abroad or in England, yet it wasnot general. Some from piety took the name of a patron saint, as St. John, St. Andrıw, St. Maur, or any other which they particularly fancied. Others adopted the baptismal name of a' father, or other ancestor, with the addition of fits or son added to it. This has been carried to a wide extent; substituting the word which means son before or after the word, it is the meaning of a great variety of names in many countries. The Hebrew had the Ben placed before the name; the Russians have their witz set after theirs; but not to notice other nations, let me confine myself to the different people who compose the British empire in Europe. Those descended from the Danes, chiefly seatexi in the norther parts of England, added son to the name they adopted. Thus we have those of Williamsons, Johnsons, &c. &c. Even women's names are used, Maryson, &c. : often cant names of both sexes, and the dininutive of names; of the foriner kind Wilson and Reston ; of the latter all the tribes of kins, as Wilkins, little Will. The Scotch Mac is son, the Irish O has the same meaning, as has the ap of the Welch, who never adopted sumames until they were incorporated by Henry VIII. for before that time they mentioned all their ancestors after their baptismal name, as far as they could be traced. This custom was so tronblesome, that the Judges recommended the Welch gèntry to adopt surnames. They generally took their father's,. with before it, but if they could trey dropped the a and united the
to the name; so we have Pooger, Price, Prichard, Powell, &c.
The adoption of surnames for some time was a mark of high
Origin of Surnames.
descent, and of consequence, so that families were eager to have their names suitable to the estimation in which they appeared. Those who had hereditary offices, used the name of their places as a surname, as Boteler, Chamberlain, Constable, the great posts they held in the palaces of their sovereign. These had the article le
put before them, as had a great variety of others, the surname Noble, for instance, which is found very early after the conquest, was then written le Noble.
Within a hundred years after the conquest sumames were greatly multiplied, and some of the gentry eager to have a name peculiar to their posterity, and perhaps to be regarded as the patriarch of a fainily, took some surname either from estate, ancestors, or even as whim or caprice used. Some of their names are such as more sober judgment would not have chosen.
What tended much to sumames being more general was armorial bearings becoming hereditary. These were nighty times. There were only two bonourable employments so long as the Norinan influence lasted; the army and the church. The man of the sword made no figure in the field, unless he had his suva nomen, and his arms on his shield. As to the church. men, they were usually called from the place of their birth, an:1 this continued long after the more general adoption of surnarne: Who knows the venerable Bishop of Rochester, Hamo, by any other name than that of Hythe ? yet his real naine was Noble.
Surnames for a long time were confined to the nobility and gentry, no others attended the person of the monarch, and none but these bore any command in the army. The Normans despised trade. This was given to the Jews, who came over with William I. but their ill practices, their usury, clipping, and counterfeiting the coin, brought on them exclusion in the reign of our English Justinian, Edward I. From this time a great change happened amongst us. The English who under their Anglo-Saxon monarchs had shewn a great taste for commerce, now again made a conspicuous figure, yet they wanted assistance to direct and to support them: the Italians, under the name of Lombards, the Hans Towns, and the Flemings, more than supplied the place of the Jews. Our kings having lost much of their continental territories, the more regarded the substantial interest of England. The English soon saw a new body of men springing up to consequence. Our great cities and towns had opulent inerchants and tradesmen ; this spread to the lesser towns,
Origin of Sirnames.
The sovereigns, to raise, foster, and to protect, gave them privedeges which emancipated these men from their often severe inasters, the great barons. These mercantile families assumeil sur. Naines, and as was natural generally took that of their trade or calling; thus we have a vast variety of surnames of this kind; they may be known by having man,maker, or only er, as Isleman, Smythian, Capper. To an antiquary here is a great field open, for it would be possible to collect all the t:ades then in being. Smith, Taylor, and Turner, Baker, and Butcher, perhaps are the cómmonest of these names ; many of them are become obsolete.
Yet we are not to suppose that the villains, or villagers, much less the slaves, sold as stock with estatas, would dare to assume any family distinction : but when Edward III. to obtain men for his French wars called forth all his subjects, and the riches acquired to individuals by a more extended commeree, and by the ransom sovereigns, princes, and peers, of knights and gentlemen; that the wealth so obtained, dispersed itself amongst all orders and degrees of his subjects, and that it became necessary to distinguish every individual, that the laws might be the better obeyed surnarnes were not only recommended, but commanded to all orders, ranks, and degrees; every family therefore adopted something by which to distinguish itself.
The surnarnes we have are every thing good and bad; for the
grossness of the minds of some common people made them soinetimes adopt names, which neither decency nor good inanners, ought to suffer; most of these have by a little change in the orthography, very properly been so altered, that they no longer offend.
We have erery dignified distinction such as could not be adopted from having been born, as King, Prince, Duke, Earl, Pope, Bishop, Abbot, Prior, and some of less degree as Knight, &c. &c.—Sometimes we have the qualities of the mind ; at others those of the body used for a surname. Every thing in nature, that was then known to the English was used. Our ancestors dearly loved their wooded tracts; perhaps as attracting them to the delights of hunting, hawking, and shooting. We have the surnames, Forest, Chuce, Parke, Wood, Hurst, and Shaw
and many foreign families amongst us have Du Bois. We have most quadrupeds from the least to the greatest, from the Lion, the bol. dest, to the Lamb, the meekest. Nor are we without the smaller four-legged creatures, the Mole and Mouse. We have all the
Origin of Sirnamet.
birds, from the emperial Eagle down to the little Wren ; from the gaudy Peacock to the homely Sparrow. The Cuckow, the Owl, and the How'ed, the Goose and the Goslin are not omitted. We have from the Whale to the Sprat, and froin the Pike to the Minnow. The insect tribe affords us names from the Pas pillion, the Butterfly, down to the biting Gnat. The very crawling creatures are not exempted, as we see by the surname of Grub.
Surnames at present are very stationary; they were not so formerly. Judges on the bench had an alias to their family designation, which is now one of the most suspicious circumstances to the criminal before them.
To go a littie back in chronology we must be surprised to see what a height the greatest subjects of a duchy in a few centuries attained in this island. All our nobility owned them as their progenitors.Our old Anglo-Saxon fainilies flying to Scotland and Ireland, laid the foundation of many noble houses in these kingdoms, but even here the Normanic families prevailed, and the royal houses of Baliol and Bruce in Scotland, were originally from Norinandy.
If we view the names of old families we shall see that before orthography was established, they varied in a very extraordinary
The same surname will appear very differently spelt in the same page, if transcript is made from an old deed, or grant, a will, or court roll
, but generally the orthography has followed the usual mode of writing, from the æra of printing downward.
I cannot help regarding the name as a valuable piece of intelligence. If it is of a place, I naturally consult the indices of our topographical books, and generally I can give a shrewd guess at the place whence the family carne, unless it should happen that is the name of a place which is to be found in several parts of the same county; then indeed other helps are required. The best auxiliary is armorial bearings. If we are to trace the origin farther than our island, a map of France is necessary; Normandy, Anjou, Poitou, Guienne, and some other provinces on the western side of the kingdom, will lead us to the spot from whence such families emerged.
There is one circumstance I would wish to press upon the minds of my countrymen.
I allow that a name which has given birth to character, eminent for piety, valour, talents,
or in any way, should be regarded with veneration : à maternal descendent obtaining leave to adopt such is honourable to them
Cornucopia-A Retort Courteous.
selves: but when I see vanity devising estates conditionally, that they assume the name and arms of an inferior family; of a name that is to obliterate that of a much better in point of antiquity, splendour, and respectability in other respects, I own I feel disgust.
The sons of affluence, whatever be their origin, little regard ancestry; and the families long lost in penury and abjectness, can form no idea of any charm in their name ; a name which was once pronounced with respect, esteem and admiration. It is a peculiar happiness, that the humblest of Britain's sons, by praiseworthy actions, by industry, by careful frugality, mas raise a family to independence, perhaps to affluence; they may even to honour; and it should be strongly impressed upon the minds of those of rank and fortune, that, without consistent conduct, they may sink themselves and their posterity to the lowest degree of abjectness.
A Retort Courteous.-When Mr. Orme the historian of India presided in the export warehouse of Madrass, one Davidson who acted under him, being asked by Mr. Orme of what profession his father was, Davidson replied that he was a saddler, “ And pray,” said he, “ why did he not make youřa saddler ?” “ I was always whimsical,” said Davidson, “and rather chose to try my fortune, as you have done, in the East India Company's service. but pray Sir, continued he, “ what profession was
“My father,” answered the historian, rather sharply, “was a gentleman." “ And why,” retorted Davidson with great simplicity,“ did he not breed you up to be a gentle.
your father ?”
Self-Confidence abashed by Simplicity.—A simple rustic boy trudging along with a loaf of bread under each arm, met the squire of the parish, who being offended at the want of an obeia sance, sternly said, “Sirrah! I think you might move your hat."