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«P.H.REANEY Litt.D., Ph.D., F.S.A. Third edition with corrections and additions by R.M.WILSON M.A. LONDON AND NEW YORK First published as A Dictionary ...»

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Litt.D., Ph.D., F.S.A.

Third edition with corrections and additions





First published as A Dictionary of British Surnames 1958

This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2006.

“To purchase your own copy of this or any of Taylor & Francis or Routledge’s collection of thousands of eBooks please go to www.eBookstore.tandf.co.uk.” Second impression (with some corrections) 1961 Second revised edition 1976 Third edition published 1991 by Routledge 11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada, by Routledge a division of Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc.

29 West 35th St., New York, NY10001 © University of Sheffield 1958, 1961, 1976, 1991 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

ISBN 0-203-99355-1 Master e-book ISBN ISBN 0-415-05737-X (Print Edition)









THIS edition of A Dictionary of English Surnames contains some 4,000 additional names with their variants, and constitutes a third edition of P.H.Reaney’s A Dictionary of British Surnames. The change of title reflects a concentration on surnames of specifically English rather than Celtic origin, which has been increasingly apparent in successive editions. As a rule, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish names are only included when forms for them are found in English sources, or when they coincide in form with specifically English surnames. Scottish surnames have been adequately dealt with by G.F.Black, Irish names by E.Maclysaght, and Welsh border names by T.E.Morris, and there seemed little point in reproducing information which could be found in their works.

So far as English surnames are concerned, the coverage of the various counties is inevitably uneven. For some of these counties, mainly the more northern ones, early records are comparatively rare. For others, although the records are more abundant, few of them have as yet been published. This is the case for Cornwall, where there is little in print, apart from the 1297 Ministers’ Accounts for the Earldom of Cornwall, and especially for Hampshire where few of the official documents appear to have been published. As a result comparatively few specifically Hampshire names are included. To a lesser degree, that is true also of Cheshire, Herefordshire, Norfolk, and some of the Midland counties.

In general the additional entries follow the same plan as those in the second edition, practically the only difference being that the new entries, when dealing with the origin of surnames derived from local names, give abbreviated forms of the county names, as found in the ‘List of Abbreviations’.

Some of the material used in this volume comes from the files of P.H.Reaney preserved in the Library of the University of Sheffield, but most is from my own collections. Similarly the etymologies suggested are usually my own, and from the nature of the surnames included tend to be either obvious or highly speculative, but experience has shown that as many enquiries are received concerning the former type of surname as for the more difficult ones.



SOME seven hundred names have been added to this second edition, mostly fairly common ones omitted from the original edition from considerations of space; the list of abbreviations has been rewritten; and various necessary corrections have been made.

Some of the corrections, and many of the additional names, had already been included by Dr Reaney in his own copy of the book in preparation for a new edition. In addition much of the material for the other names has been taken from Dr Reaney’s extensive files, now in the Sheffield University Library, though other sources, not at the time available to him, have also been used. The additional entries follow the pattern of those in the first edition, and it is hoped that their inclusion will make rather more comprehensive a work which has already become the standard book on the subject.



OF previous Dictionaries of Surnames, Lower’s Patronymica Britannica (1860) is obviously out of date, Barber’s British Family Names (1902) is a mere collection of guesses unsupported by evidence, whilst Harrison’s Surnames of the United Kingdom (1912–18) only very occasionally gives any evidence and a large number of his etymologies are clearly based on the modern form. Still the most reliable is Bardsley, whose Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, published posthumously in 1901, firmly laid the foundations on which future study of surnames must be built. He insisted on the need for the collection of as many early examples of the surname as possible, dated and localized, on which the etymology must be based. These principles he put into practice, so far as he could, but he has suffered the inevitable fate of all pioneers. The last fifty years have seen an enormous increase in the material available in the publications of the Public Record Office, the Pipe Roll Society, county Record Societies, etc., much of it earlier than Bardsley’s basic source (the late thirteenth-century Hundred Rolls), with a steadily improving standard of editing. The same period has seen, too, a marked advance in our knowledge of the English language, particularly in the history of its dialects, personal names and place-names.

The earlier literature of surnames has been adequately discussed by Weekley, Ewen and Tengvik. Whilst subscribing to the only sound principles, Weekley, in his published works, seldom gives the evidence on which his etymologies are based, and even then, usually an undated reference to the Patent or the Close Rolls. For many names he clearly had no evidence. He fails to distinguish between Old English, Scandinavian and continental Germanic personal names and is uncritical in his use of Searle. Ewen attempted an impossible task. Generalizations on surnames are valueless if an unimpeachable etymology has not been established. He fails to distinguish between sound and spelling, and postulates impossible forms of Old English names. Worst of all, he rejects sound etymologies which do not fit in with his preconceived theories.

The present work is based on an independent collection of material begun in 1943 to beguile the tedium of the quieter periods of fire-watching. A complete Dictionary of Surnames cannot yet be produced, partly because for many of the large number of surnames surviving material is at present scanty or lacking, partly because of the high cost of such a production. This has meant a strict economy in examples and in exposition and the elimination from the first draft of some 100,000 words and 4,000 names. All surnames included are known to survive. The great majority of those eliminated are local surnames such as Manchester, Wakefield, Essex, etc., which can easily be identified from the gazetteer. When a local surname has been traced to its source, the surname-student’s task is finished. The meaning of the place-name is a problem for others and those who wish for further information should consult the Oxford Dictionary of Place-names or the county volumes of the English Place-name Society whose latest publication, A.H.Smith’s English Place-name Elements (2 vols, 1956) is a comprehensive treatment of the subject.

The most valuable modern work on English surnames has been produced in Sweden.

Olof von Feilitzen’s book on the pre-Conquest personal names in Domesday Book has been invaluable. Tengvik has dealt with Old English bynames, Löfvenberg with Middle English local surnames, Fransson and Thuresson with Middle English occupational names. Ekwall, too, turning aside from English place-names, has already made valuable additions to our knowledge of surnames, particularly those of London. Here I would take the opportunity to express my appreciation of a very generous gesture which I still regard as a private act indicative of national sentiment. Shortly after the war, I mentioned casually to Dr. Gösta Langenfelt, on one of his visits to London, that all my books had been destroyed. Later I received from ten or more Swedish scholars signed copies of their books. With these constantly at hand, work on this book has been greatly facilitated. I am also indebted to the Librarian of the Royal Library, Stockholm, for depositing temporarily in the Library of the University of London certain inaccessible books; to Dr.

von Feilitzen, who first suggested the transfer and has kept me informed of new Swedish publications likely to be of use; to E.H.Brandt, for access to his collection of surname material and for many useful discussions; to J.E.B.Gover, for forms from unpublished MSS; and to F.G. Emmison, of the Essex Record Office, for a copy of his unpublished transcript of the 1662 Hearth Tax Returns for Essex. To Mr. Gover and to Professor R.M.Wilson of the University of Sheffield my grateful thanks are due for the time they have spent in reading the proofs. Their comments and criticisms have been invaluable in eliminating errors and inconsistencies. For those that remain the responsibility is mine alone.

P.H.REANEY Hildenborough January 1958


THE purpose of a Dictionary of Surnames is to explain the meaning of names, not to treat of genealogy and family history. The fact that Robert le Turnur lived in Staffordshire in 1199 and that there was a William de Kouintre in London in 1230 does not mean that they were the ancestors of all or any of the modern Turners or Coventrys. To establish this, a fully documented pedigree would be required and very few families can carry back their history so far. Throughout the Middle Ages surnames were constantly changing.

William Tyndale was known as Huchyns when living in Gloucestershire. Oliver Cromwell was a Williams and David Livingstone was a McLeay. Even today families change their names. Blackden has become Blacktin, Hogg has been changed to Hodd and Livemore has superseded Livermore—all within living memory.

The modern form of many of our surnames is comparatively recent, often preserving a phonetic spelling found in a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century parish register. When some of the Sussex Bourers migrated to Kent in the seventeenth century they adopted the form Bowra. Pharaoh is a reconstructed spelling of Faro, originally Farrer, found also as Farrey, Farrah and Farrow in the seventeenth century. The Suffolk Deadman is a corruption of Debenham and Tudman of Tuddenham. Each surname has its pedigree which must be traced before the meaning can be discovered, and even then the true origin cannot be decided unless the family pedigree can be carried back far enough to fix definitely the original medieval form. A modern White may owe his name to an ancestor bearing the Anglo-Saxon name of Hwīta, or to one nicknamed ‘the fair’, or to an original home in the bend of a river. The original Howard may have been a ewe-herd or a hayward, or he may have borne either the French name Huard or the Old German name Howard. The modern forms often conceal rather than reveal information.

The English language lacks terms corresponding to the French sobriquet and nom de ƒamille. Today, surname means an inherited family name; originally it meant simply an additional name and it is used in this sense in this book.1 Only very occasionally can early medieval surnames be proved to be hereditary, and any attempt to distinguish them would end in inaccuracy and confusion.


Celts, Anglo-Saxons, and Scandinavians, all originally had a single name for each individual, e.g. Welsh Llewellyn, Gaelic Donald, Anglo-Saxon Cuthbert, Scandinavian Gamall. So, too, had the Normans who were ultimately of Danish descent. Already in England before the Norman Conquest we find a number of bynames, and these were increased after the Conquest by those used by Normans. In the twelfth century we have an unsettled and varied type of nomenclature, often by way of description rather than of an actual name, as in the Holme Cartulary, where we find men named by their font-name alone, or by this plus (i) their father’s name in full, (ii) their father’s christian name, (iii) the name of their estate or of their place of origin, or (iv) a byname, descriptive of office, occupation, or a nickname, e.g.

Odo balistarius, arbalistarius, or de Wrthstede Osbernus decanus (de Turgetona), presbiter (de Turgertona), de Turgartona, de Tweyt, filius Griffini (de Tweyt) Guarinus minister noster, Gwarinus dispensarius noster, Warinus dispensator, Warinus de Thoftes Willelmus filius Hermanni, Willelmus Hermannus, Willelmus de Caletorp, Willelmus de Hobosse Similar descriptions are found in other twelfth-century documents, the most common being a variation between the name of the father and a place-name or byname. The names of clergy varied with a change of incumbency or office, or as they rose to higher orders.

From twelfth-century Danelaw charters:

–  –  –

The following names of freemen of York are so entered on the roll:

Thomas le Walche, de Selby, girdeler (1329) Alan Hare, de Acastre, carnifex (1332) Rogerus filius Johannis de Burton, de Eton in le Clay, boucher (1343) Johannes, filius Roberti de Gaunt, de Duffeld, mercer (1356) With the fifteenth century such names become less common, but variation of surname

continued and is found sporadically until the seventeenth century or later:

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