An Index to Occupational Surnames in A Dictionary of English Surnames,
with special consideration of female names of occupation.
May 2003: Data entry completed. Needs proofreading. Watch out for "[verify]" comments. Those are the items I know about but am catching others as I go through. --RdA with caution.
compiled by Senhora Rafaella d’Allemtejo, GdS, JdL
(Friday K. Valentine, email@example.com)
[with thanks to Dame Zenobia Naphtali and Master Talan Gwynek for explaining the scribal abbreviations issue. –RdA]
The goal of this index is to provide access to occupational names for use in historical recreation, most notably the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). I have included names when it was obvious they are found prior to 1600 CE. Names in the “grey area” of 1600-1650 are also included.
Please consult with your local herald if you are unfamiliar with SCA naming practices. I have not included names that would not be registered under the SCA Rules for Submissions, such as “Master” or “Knight” as both these names are restricted titles in the Society. Names that may be problematic are noted as such. This index does not constitute “documentation” for purposes of registration, but the original source is an Appendix H book and you/your herald should be able to create a proper citation from the information given.
The following is an index to the occupational names found in A Dictionary of English Surnames, (3rd ed. Revised) by P. H. Reaney, with corrections and additions by R. M. Wilson, New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. There are two texts that provide a better synthesis of medieval English occupational names:
Fransson, Gustav. Middle English Surnames of Occupation, 1100-1500. Lund: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1935.
Lund Series in English #3 [University of Oregon call#: CS2505.F7]
Thuresson, Bertil. Middle English Occupational Terms. Lund: Håkan Ohlssons Boktrycheri, 1950.
Lund Series in English #19 [University of Oregon call#: PE662.T4]
However, these two texts are expensive/hard to find (or you can request them through Interlibrary Loan). Reaney & Wilson (as it is known in the SCA) is widely available through booksellers. At the time of this writing (Oct. 2001), it is available from Barnes & Noble for $17.05USD.
The Dictionary of English Surnames is arranged alphabetically by modern surname (i.e., “header” spelling). Within the description of each entry, the names taken from primary sources are listed in italics. This index lists surnames found under each header spelling that were in italics in the Dictionary. I have included surnames when it was obvious (to me, with certain caveats that I am not a linguist, but amateur historian/herald) that the name was used as a surname. I have tried to retain the descriptions as presented in Dictionary, with some normalization for repetitive type descriptions (both “worker at the farm” and “farm-worker” will be noted as “farm, worker”).
The meaning of names changes over time, so some names will list more than a single meaning. Please consult the dictionary to sort out which meaning/spelling is best for you. In many names there is no difference given between someone who works in that profession and someone who lives near the place where the profession occurs.
The letter case has been retained as in the dictionary (example: le capeller 1216-20; le Capeller 1270). Abbreviations in the dates have been retained. Some names are not dated (or I could not determine a date) and these have a question mark. I’ve retained them but direct you to the source for further research.
Medieval scribes often abbreviated words (including names) and they used an apostrophe to note the abbreviation. The scribal notation apostrophe has been retained in this index when italicized as part of the name entry (example: Glosur’ 1279). The SCA doesn't register scribal notations or scribal contractions but wants the full form of the name. If you like a name with an apostrophe at the end of it, you may need to do more research or get help from a highly competent names herald.
When I could tell that the given name was feminine, I have included it as part of the names listing. Some occupational surnames have specifically feminine endings, though the gender lines are not hard and fast. Men sometimes used these spellings also. It was interesting to me to see the wide range of occupations women might have had and that’s the primary reason for including the feminine given names.
Additionally, I have added a “subject category” field. This enables the searcher to browse names within an occupational area. The subject categories closely follow those found in Fransson and Thuresson. Sometimes more than one category may apply in which case the category that best applies to the first meaning given in the Dictionary has been chosen (or my best guess where the primary materials used in the occupation are in question). I have included names where the name is derived from the object/service being described (“metonymic” names). I have also included names where the name is derived from a nickname.
First Header Spelling
needles, maker of
le Aguiller 1221; Aigillier 1206; Laguiller 1188
In the dictionary under the name “Aguila” the names and dates “le Aguiller 1221; Aigillier 1206; Laguiller 1188” are given. The meaning is noted as “maker of needles”. I have assigned the subject category of “Metal” to this heading, though “Pastoral” might also be given for a maker of bone needles. No clues as to the material of needles are given. When in doubt of primary materials for the occupation, I’ve used my best guess, so others might assign different categories. I hope the “category” field will be used to help show the breadth of names available to individuals in any particular field (perhaps that gentle wanting to be John Archer might prefer John Bendebow).
Any comments, questions, concerns should be addressed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally created: October 2001
Last update: May 14, 2003
© Friday K. Valentine, 2001, 2002