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This name has its antithesis—Beauvesyn, 'good neighbour,' referring probably to the kindly disposition of the first bearer of it.
Tradition is at best but "an uncertain voice," and many of the foregoing stories are probably mere “ figments of fanciful brains.” Such, doubtless, is that which follows, as TYRWHITT is a local name. A knight of Northumberland, who lived in the time of Henry I, being severely wounded in defending a bridge singlehanded against a host of assailants, fell exhausted the moment he had forced them to retire, amongst the flags and rushes of an adjacent swamp, where he would probably have perished had not the attention of his party, who in the mean time had rallied, been directed to the spot where he lay by the vociferations of a flock of tyrwhitts or lapwings, which had been disturbed by his fall. Hence, says the story, the wounded Sir Hercules received his surname. This tradition possibly originated in the canting arms borne by the family, which are, Gules, three tyrwhitts or lapwings or, and the crest, which represents an athletic human figure defending himself with a club.
The next anecdote is about as true as the foregoing, with less point in it. At a remote period (that is to say, “once upon a time") the head of a certain family having quarrelled with another gentleman, they agreed, as was the fashion, to settle the dispute by single combat in the pound-fold at Alnwick; and such was the deadly hate that influenced them both, that having procured the key of the inclosure they locked themselves in, determined not to quit the spot until one should have slain the other. The gentleman first referred to having come off victorious, to escape the vengeance of his enemy's partisans, leaped over the
wall of the fold, and escaped to Newcastle-upon-Tyne. From the affair of the key he was afterwards called Key or Cay, the name still borne by his descendants. A lame story truly !
Some few surnames have originated from absurd and servile tenures under the Norman kings. Thierry says, “Those among the Saxons who after much servile crouching succeeded in preserving some slender portion of their patrimony, were obliged to pay for this favour by degrading and fantastic services. One woman is left in the enjoyment of the estate of her husband on condition of feeding the king's dogs. And a mother and son receive their antient inheritance
a gift, on condition of their offering up daily prayers for the king's son Richard. “ Hoc manerium tenuit Aldene teignus R. E. et vendere potuit, sed W. rex dedit hoc m. huic Aldene et matri ejus pro animâ Ricardi filii sui."* From a similar tenure originated the name of PATERNOSTER. In the time of Edward the First, Alyce Paternoster held lands at Pusey, in Berkshire, by the service of saying the paternoster, or Lord's prayer, five times a day, for the souls of the king's ancestors; and Richard Paternoster, on succeeding to the same estate, did not present the fee usual on such occasions—a red rose, a gilt spur, a pound of pepper, or a silver arrow--but went upon his knees before the baronial court and devoutly repeated the 'Pater noster qui es in cælis, &c. for the manes of the illustrious dead before mentioned ; and the like, we are told, had previously been done by his brother, John Paternoster of Pusey.t-Among the surnames
* Thierry, Norm. Conq., Edit. Whitaker, p. 123. Doomsday, fol. 1, ver. 141.
+ Vide Blount's Tenures.
of this kind we have that of AMEN, which, I suppose, originated in some equally absurd and irreligious custom. Delicacy almost forbids the mention of another name, PETTOUR, which was given to Baldwin le Pettour, who held his lands in Suffolk “ tum, sufflum, et pettum, sive bumbulum,” that is, as Camden translates it, “ for dancing, pout-puffing, and doing that before the king of England in Christmasse holidayes which the word *** signifieth in French.”
In a royal wardrobe account, made towards the termination of the thirteenth century, and preserved in the British Museum,* is the following curious entry :
1297, Dec. 26. To Maud MAKEJOY for dancing before Edward, prince of Wales, in the King's Hall, at Ipswich, 28."
Here the surname evidently took its rise from the pleasure which the saltations of this antient figurante afforded the royal personage.
As this name does not occur in modern times it is probable that the lady lost it in marriage.
Camden relates that a certain Frenchman who had craftily smuggled one T. Crioll, a great feudal lord of Kent about the time of Edward II, out of France into his own country, received from the grateful nobleman a good estate called Swinfield, and (in commemoration of the finesse he had displayed on the occasion) the name of FinEUX; which became the surname of his descendants—a family who attained considerable eminence in England.f
In the late Mr. Davies Gilbert'st ‘History of Corn* Addit. MSS. 7965.
+ Remaines, p. 117. | This venerable, learned, and much-lamented gentleman paid considerable attention to Surnames. Among other conversations which the humble writer of these pages had the honour of enjoying with him, within a week of his somewhat unexpected demise, these formed the topic of a very agreeable colloquy.
wall,' is an anecdote of a pretty Cornish maiden, the daughter of a shepherd, who by a concatenation of fortunate circumstances, almost without parallel, became (by three several marriages) the richest woman in England, and a connexion of several of its most dignified families. On this account she received the appropriate surname of BONAVENTURA or Goodluck. She was born about the year 1450.
Alfray (or Fright-all) was the surname of a Sussex worthy, who died in the reign of Elizabeth. As he was in point of rank a gentleman, and as no mention occurs in his pedigree of any progenitor bearing the same name, it has been conjectured that the surname was adopted by him in reference to some extraordinary strength of limb he possessed. Though there is great improbability in the supposition of so recent an assumption of a surname, it receives partial support from his epitaph on a brass plate in the choir of Battel church. The quaintness of this memorial may render the full inscription acceptable to those who admire the curiosities of tombstone literature.
“ Thomas Alfraye, good courteous frend,
Interred lyeth heere,
As none was found his peere !
One Ambrose Comfort's child,
A virtuous spouse and mild ;
Behind alyue he left,
Death hym of lyfe bereft.
Which was just eighty-nine,
Loe here of flesh the fine.
But then his wooful wyfe, of God
With piteous praiers gann crave,
Might ioine in darksome graue,
Amongst the saints aboue,
Her long desired loue ;
To her of Marche the last,
One yere and more was past."
There is a tradition that a certain gentleman' was compelled, during some popular commotion, to quit his residence in the north of England and to seek safety in flight; but so sudden was his departure that he was unable to provide himself with money, for want of which, in his journey southward, he might have perished, had he not fortunately found on the highway a glove containing a purse well stored with gold. How the purse came there, or how the finder satisfied his conscience in appropriating its contents, the tradition does not state. It merely adds, that deeming an alias to his name necessary, he, in allusion to the circumstance, adopted the surname of PURSEGLOVE, which is not yet extinct. What credit can be attached to this story I know not : certain it is that many years before the event is supposed to have occurred, there was a Thomas Pursglove (or Purslow, as his name was sometimes spelt), bishop of Hull.
There are certain compound surnames which may with great probability be referred to this class, although the circumstances from which they originated have, in the lapse of ages, been lost sight of. Of this order is POINDEXTER, which, however, does not signify right