Nearly an 800 to 1000 years ago in England, most people simply used one name, not a given or names and a surname. Today we find a surname even made up of a person’s father and mother’s surname. However, back in olde England with much lower population, people managed with one name. Generally, the name was based on a person’s occupation.
So what were some of those early names and what did they mean?
There was Baxter – it may surprise some hipsters to learn that in Old English the “-ster” suffix was used to form feminine agent nouns. A man who baked was a Baker; a woman who baked was a Baxter. Later, Baxter was used for either sex.
Fletcher – with the French influence with William the Conqueror in 1066, Fletcher comes from Old French ‘flecher’ or ‘flechier‘ and it means an arrow maker.
Fuller, Walker and Tucker – Three three related names: A fuller, known in some regions as a walker or tucker, trampled on cloth in water to clean and thicken it.
Kellogg – in America one remembers W. K. Kellogg, as a vegetarian who developed corn flakes as a healthful alternative to the traditional ham-and-egg breakfast. However, that surname derived from “kill hog” and referred to a butcher.
Spittle – This was someone who worked in a “spittle” (from Old French term for hospital). A spittle was a charitable house for the indigent or diseased.
Travers – the name meant a toll collector on a road, gate or bridge.
Wright – this was a builder or craftsman. One could make wheels, carts, barrel, wagon, and be a ‘Wright’.
Woodward – From the Old English words ‘wudu’, wood, and ‘weard’, guardian, so a woodward was a forester – caretaker of a forest.
Photos: A wheelwright, a chapman-merchant, palmer-traveling to the Holy Lands and a reeder-thatching roofs.
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