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CHAPTER IV.

OF FOREIGN SURNAMES NATURALIZED IN ENGLAND, WITH

THEIR CORRUPTIONS.

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ARIOUS causes might be assigned for

the great variety that exists in the nomenclature of Englishmen. Probably the principal cause is to be found in the peculiar facilities which our

island has for many ages presented to the settlement of foreigners. War, royal matches with foreign princesses, the introduction of manufactures from the Continent, and the patronage which our country has always extended to every kind of foreign talent-have all tended to the introduction of new names. It would be a vain and hopeless task to attempt anything like a classification of these names by the various countries whence we have received them. I shall therefore confine myself to the mention of a few, my principal object in the present Chapter being to show that many very usual names, generally supposed to be English, are merely corruptions of foreign words, and therefore unintelligible even to the families who are designated by them.

Of French names I have already incidentally said much. The proximity of Normandy, and the fact of our country having been politically subjected to that duchy at a period when surnames were of recent intro

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duction, sufficiently account for the vast number of French names which have become naturalized in England. The names already mentioned, and those included in the Roll of Battel Abbey, given in the Appendix, must suffice for French surnames. I shall therefore only allude to names corrupted from the French, which are sufficiently numerous. I may quote, by way of example, Molineux, La-Ville, De-Ath, and De-Ville, which have been scandalously transformed to Mullnicks and Mullenax, Larwill, Death, and Devil !

St. Leger, has become Sellenger ! Mombray, Mummery; and Butvillaine, Butwilliam. The last-named family flourished in early times in Northamptonshire under the designation of Boutevilein, which was contracted first into Butvelin, and then to Butlin. Between a nosegay and a pail there exists no great analogy, but this has not prevented Bouquet from becoming Buckett! Scardeville has fared still worse ; for while on one hand it has been anglicised to Skarfield, on the other it has been demonized (shall I say?) to Scaredevil !! The Americans are, if possible, worse than ourselves in respect of this torturing of names, for F. Lieber tells us that “in Salem, Massachusets, there is now living a family of the [vile] name of Blumpay, a corruption of Blancpied (Whitefoot), their original name;" but more of the Americans presently.

The readiest corruption from the French is that which turns ville into field, as Blomfield for Blondeville, Summerfield for Somerville, Baskerfield for Baskerville. The late Lord Orford used to relate that a dispute once arose in his presence, in the way of raillery, between the late Earl Temple and the first Lord Lyttleton, on the comparative antiquity of their families. Lord Lyttleton concluded that the name of

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Grenville was originally green-field ; Earl Temple insisted that it was derived from Grande-ville. then," said Lord Lyttleton, “ if you will have it so, my family may boast of the higher antiquity, for Little Towns were certainly antecedent to Great Cities; but if

you will be content with the more humble derivation, I will give up the point, for Green Fields were certainly more antient than either."* It may be remarked that the place in Normandy which gave name to Lord Temple's family is now a ville anything but grande, if we may trust a certain proverb which affirms that it contains only a church and a mill:

“ Granville, grand vilain,

Une église et un moulin,
On voit Granville tout à plein !" +

In some cases VILLE has been changed to well, as Rosseville to Roswell, Bosseville to Boswell, Freshville to Fretwell! Among other corruptions may be given Darcy from Adrecy, Mungey from Mountjoy, Knevett from Duvenet, Davers from Danvers, Troublefield from Tuberville, Botfield from De Botville, Manwaring and Mannering from Mesnilwarin, Dabridgecourt and Dabscot from Damprecourt, Barringer from Beranger, Tall-boys (!) from Taille-bois.

The greatest importation of French names and families since the Conquest, was at the revocation of the edict of Nantes : hence date the Ducarels, Bernonvilles, Chamiers, Palairets, Guardots, Laprimaudayes, Tessiers, Barrats, Romaynes, and many others.

Many of our family names are of German birth, a fact easily accounted for when we remember that our

* Brady's Dissertation.
† Wright's Essays on the Middle Ages, vol. i, p. 134.

present royal family springs from Germany. Others, again, are from Holland, between which country and our own, relations of the most friendly character, religious and commercial, have for a long period subsisted. Hence the familiar names of Bentinck, Dunk, Goldsmid, Boorman, Rickman, Shurman, Hickman, and many other mans', Vanneck, Vansittart, Vanderberg, Vandergucht, Vandersteen, Vandervelt, and many other vans.'

The ludicrous names of Higginbottom and Bomgarson are corruptions, it is said, of Ickenbaum, an oak-tree, and Baumgarten, a tree-garden or orchard ;* but I suspect that the latter would be more naturally derived from 'Bon-garçon,' a French compound as natural as our own Good-lad; to which it might stand in the same relation as does Monsieur · Bonhomme' to Mr. Goodman.

Many Jewish names are German, as Rothschild, Hart (herz, heart). Those in -ER, with the name of a German town or district, denote the same extraction, as Friedlander, Dantziger, Hamburgher. Having no settled family nomenclature of their own, the German Jews often assume surnames from their places of abode with this suffix. Rusbridger and perhaps) Rusbridge, seem to be derived from the town of Rousbrugge in Belgium.

I may observe, en passant, that the Germans, like ourselves and the French, borrow many of their surnames from localities. Their prevailing family names of this class have the following terminations :

BERG, mountain. Stolberg, Altenberg. The town in Belgium now called Mons is really Berg St. Winox. STEIN, stone. Walstein, Hermanstein.

* Gent. Mag., Oct. 1820.

It was

said at Vienna, that the Emperor Ferdinand II had, among his courtiers, three very lofty mountains and three very precious stones, viz. Questenberg, Verdenberg, and Eggenberg; and Diectrichstein, Lichstenstein, and Vallenstein.*

FELD, field. Mansfeld, Benfeld.
Bach, (beck,) river. Steinbach, Lauterbach.
DORFF, (thorp,) village. Puffendorf, Altendorff.
HAUSEN, house. Schaffhausen.
Holtz, (holt,) wood. Berholtz.
Thal, (dale,) valley. Kaldenthal.

STAT, town. Bernstat. It will be seen from this list, that several of the topographical terms entering into the composition of German surnames are cognate with those which form parts of many of our own, and spring from the same Teutonic stock (e. g. 'feld' with field; "bach' with beck): hence a difficulty sometimes arises as to whether a surname is indigenous to England, or is of German or Dutch original.

Other European nations have furnished us with a few names; thus from Italy we have Boffey, Cæsar, Castilian, Fussell, Bassano, and Montefiore ; from Spain, Ximines, Mendoza; from Portugal, Lousada, Lindo; from Denmark, Scrase, Isted and Denis, &c.

The An final denotes an Irish extraction, as Egan, Scogan, Flanagan, and Doran.

If foreign names have been liable to corruption, it must not be imagined that names originally English have escaped deterioration. Such corruptions were excusable in times when few besides learned clerks could write their own names, and when the spelling of words was governed by the sound, whether truly

* Salverte.

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