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We are not to suppose that all families bearing English names are of English extraction. “ Sometimes," says the author of the 'Stranger in America,' and the remark applies equally well to England, "sometimes they are positively translated; thus I know of a Mr. Bridgebuilder, whose ancestors came from Germany under the name of Bruckenbauer. I have met with many instances of this kind. There is a family now in Pennsylvania whose original name was Klein; at present they have branched out into three chief ramifications, called Klein, Small, and Little; and if they continue to have many little ones,' they may, for aught I know, branch out into Short, Less, and Lesser, down to the most Lilliputian names. A German called Feuerstein (fire-stone-the German for flint) settled in the west when French population prevailed in that quarter. His name, therefore, was changed into Pierre à Fusil; but in the course of time the Anglo-American race became the prevalent one, and Pierre à Fusil was again changed into Peter Gun!”
I shall wind up this chapter with a curious anecdote,* which gives an antient and well-known Grecian philosopher a regular English Christian and surname, in a manner precisely similar to that by which the poor Spanish sailor, Benito, became Benjamin Eaton.
In the Bodleian Library at Oxford there is a MS. by Leland, the topographer, written temp. Henry VIII, by whose permission he was enabled to visit the dissolved monasteries, to collect such manuscripts as he deemed worthy of conservation. It is entitled “Certayne Questions, and Answeres to the same, concernynge
* Obligingly communicated by the Rev. S. Isaacson, M.A., from the Christian Remembrancer, vol. xx, p. 301 (edited by that gentleman).
the mystery of Maçonrye, writtene by the hande of Kynge Henrye the sixthe of the name, and faithfully copied by me Johan Leylande, Antiquarius, by the commande of his Highnesse.”
“Quest. (4) How comede ytt yn Englonde ?
“Answ. Peter Gower, a Grecian journeyedde ffor kunnynge yn Egypte and in Syria, and in everyche londe whereat the Venetians hadd plauntedde maçonry; wynnynge entrance yn all lodges of maçonnes, he lernede muche, and retournedde and woned yn Grecia Magna, wacksynge and becommynge a mighty wyseacre, and gratelyche renowned, and here he framed a grate lodge at Groton, and maked many maçonnes, some whereof dyd journey yn Fraunce, and maked many maçonnes, whereoffe comme yn process of time the arte passid in Englonde.”
“ The meaning of all this is, that one Peter Gower, a Grecian, travelled in the east, where the Venetians had introduced the art of masonry, and obtaining entrance into the masonic lodges learned many of their mysteries; that on his return to the west he settled in Italy, at Groton, some of whose members introduced the art into France, from whence in process of time it passed into England. It is well that poor Henry the Sixth tells us that Peter Gower was a Grecian, for otherwise, the name being so thoroughly English, great might have been the bewilderment and battling of our antiquaries therein. How a Greek should come by it was puzzle enough in Leland's time, for concerning it he died and made no sign. The royal cacography is so evident in giving Venetians for Phoenicians, and Groton, which is the name of a town in England, for Crotona, a place in Italy, that we may safely presume Peter Gower to be only an approximation to the real name of the great founder of European masonry, who was doubtless PYTHAGORAS ! For the French, who, it appears, introduced masonry into England, spelt his name Pytha-gore, and pronounced it Peta-gore, which is as good English for Peter Gower, from a Frenchman, as could reasonably be desired.”
OF CHANGED SURNAMES.
LLUSION has already been made to
the changes which frequently took place in our family nomenclature from the substitution of one name for ano
ther; but I consider those changes sufficiently interesting to form the subject of a short separate chapter.
The practice of altering one's name upon the occurrence of any remarkable event in his personal history, seems to bave been known in times of very remote antiquity. The substitution of Abraham for Abram, Sarah for Sarai, Israel for Jacob, Paul for Saul, &c., are matters of sacred history; but the custom prevailed in other nations as well as among the Jews. Codomarus, on coming to the kingdom of Persia, took the princely name of Darius. Romulus, after his deification, was called Quirinus. Some persons adopted into noble families substituted the name of the latter for their own original appellations. The practice of changing names in compliance with testamentary injunctions is also of antient date; thus Augustus, who was at first called Thureon, took the name of Octavius. Others received a new name when they were made free of certain cities, as Demetrius Mega, who on becoming a free citizen of Rome was designated Publius Cornelius. Slaves, who prior to manumission had only one name, received, on becoming free, the addition of their master's. Among the primitive Christians it was customary to change the names of persons who left Paganism to embrace the true faith. The popes, as all know, change their names on coming to “the holy apostolical see" of Rome; a practice said to have originated with Sergius the Second, because his previous name was Hogsmouth! One pope, Marcellus, refused to change his name, saying, “Marcellus I was, and Marcellus I will be; I will neither change name nor manners."* Το him the conclave might have quoted Virgil, in a soothing tone like that employed towards a wilful spoiled child :
“ Tu Marcellus eris !” Ļ In France it was formerly customary for eldest sons to take their fathers' surnames, while the younger branches assumed the names of the estates allotted them. This plan also prevailed in England some time after the Norman Conquest. Camden gives several instances. “If Hugh of Saddington gaue to his second sonne his mannour of Fridon, to his third sonne his mannour of Pantley, to his fourth his wood of Albdy, the sonnes called themselves De Frydon, De Pantley, De Albdy, and their posterity remooued De. So Hugh Montforte's second sonne, called Richard, being Lord of Hatton in Warwickeshire, tooke the name of Hatton. So the yongest sonne of Simon de Montfort, Earle of Leicester, staying in England when his father was slaine and brethren fled, tooke the name of Welsborne, as some of that name haue reported. So the name of Euer came from the mannour of Euer, neare Uxbridge, to yonger sonnes of L. John FitzRobert de Clauering, from whom the Lord Euers, and Sir Peter Euers of Axholme are descended. So Sir
+ Æn. vi, v. 883.