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from the common orthography, simple “ devices to turn the vulgar to the genteel by the change of a letter;"* and modesty itself when compared with such changes as Gomery to Mont-gomery, Skidmore to Scudamore, Morgan to De Morgan, Wigram to Fitz-wigram, Wyatt to Wyatt-ville—" by which good common English is transmogrified into bad French, to be mis-pronounced by the ignorant and laughed at by the wise, the deserved and inevitable fate of pretension, ridiculous in everything, and most of all in strange names." Hayward, as if ashamed of his plebeian appellation of “cattle-keeper," has metamorphosed himself into Howard, whereby, no doubt, he thinks to pass as a connexion of the greatest of ducal houses. Upjohn has become Ap John, Bullcock, Belcombe, Pedlar, Shield !
The name of Huddlestone is undoubtedly local, yet some of its bearers are foolish enough to think that they are descended from King Athelstan! Huddleston is a small parish in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Swift, in the “Examiner (No. 40, 1711), says, “I know a citizen who adds or alters a letter in his name with every plum he acquires; he now wants only the change of a vowel to be allied to a sovereign prince in Italy, and that, perhaps, he may contrive to be done by a mistake of the graver upon his tombstone.” This was Sir Henry Furnese, whose surname underwent the following transformations : Furnace, Furnice, Furnise, Furnesse, Furness, Furnese.t Whether he actually became a FARNESE, posthumously, I never heard.
Almack is supposed by the family bearing it to be an inversion of the Scottish Mac-All.
Many JEWISH FAMILIES have assimilated their sur
* Miss Mitford's · Our Village.'
+ Boys' Sandwich, p. 485.
names to others of English origin, as Abraham to Braham, Moses to Moss and Moseley, Soloman to Salmon and Sloman, Jonas to Jones, Levi to Lewis, Barugh to Barrow, Elias to Ellis, Eliason to Elliotson, Emanuel to Manuel. How several of the Barnetts, and a few of the Barnards and Brandons, came by their Christian surnames it is difficult to conjecture. Lyon and Myers (“meier,” farmer) are German-Jewish names naturalized among us.
THE GIPSEYS, who, in several of the main features of their character and history, exhibit a striking resemblance to the Jews, came into England in the fifteenth century. What kind of nomenclature they possessed previously to their advent it is now impossible to ascertain. It is probable that they had no surnames, since at the present day they uniformly borrow those of English families. Their principal clans are those of Baker, Barnett, Bosville, Buckland, Broadway, Buckley, Blewitt, Carew, Carter, Cooper, Corrie, Draper, Eyres, Fletcher, Glover, Jones, Lee, Light, Loversedge, Lovell, Mansfield, Martin, Plunkett, Smith, Smalls, Scamp (!), Stanley, Taylor, Williams.*
There is one other circumstance under which, according to Camden, names were changed, namely when servants took the Surnames of their masters. In the absence of all evidence, I very much question if this was ever at all usual. If it was, the knowledge of the fact inflicts a “heavy blow and great discouragement on our plebeian Seymours, and Lovells, and Pierpoints, and Sinclairs, and Spencers, † and Tyrrells,
* Crabb's Gipsies’ Advocate, London, 1832.
† In any case the Seymours and the Spencers may entertain a doubt of the nobility of their origin, since the former name is far more likely to proceed, in the majority of cases, from the old English seamer, a tailor,
who fancy themselves descended from noble blood; for they may, after all, be nothing but genuine Smiths, and Browns, and Joneses, and Robinsons, with changed names. Alack-a-day for such pretensions !
My reason for rejecting the hypothesis, however, is founded on the pride which characterises great and antient houses. This would have prohibited the adoption of the cherished family appellative—which had been for ages regarded as a distinctive mark of the high-born and noble—by humble dependents and neighbours. An excellent illustration of this feeling occurs in a recent publication on Esthonia, where it is mentioned that on the enfranchisement of the serfs on a certain estate, which took place a few years since; ago the nobleman, their former proprietor, advised them to assume surnames ;
but would not, on any account, allow them to bear that of his own family, notwithstanding their earnest and oft-reiterated entreaties. The system of clanship in Scotland may be urged in defence of Camden's assertion, as the members of the clans generally assumed the surnames of their lords and protectors; but the circumstances under which clans were originally formed had no parallel in feudal England. We have not space to enter minutely into the question how the most illustrious and aristocratic of names have come to be diffused among all classes of the community; but it may suffice generally to remark, that the fact may be accounted for by the
than from the St. Maures of Norman times; and albeit the first of the noble Spensers was dispensator" to royalty, I strongly suspect that many of our second and third class families might trace with much stronger probabilities to certain ignoble dispensators whose functions were limited to certain " old buttery hatches” of certain “ old English gentlemen" of later times.“ SPENS, a buttraye, despencier.” (Palsgrave.)
mutations to which families as well as individuals are subject in the common course of events. Families seldom remain at a stationary point in worldly prosperity for many successive generations; and instances of the rapid advancement of some families to fortune, and of the equally speedy decay of others, must be familiar to all. Hence it is that the near kindred of the most exalted individuals are often found in stations exceedingly humble. The story of Lord Audley and shoemaker Touchet is well known: and the claim of a trunk-maker to the earldom of Northumberland, and the honours of the illustrious house of Percy, is a matter of history. There is now living in a southern county a rat-catcher whose near consanguinity to a noble earl representing one of the most antient houses in England would not be questioned, on investigation, by the most fastidious member of the Heralds' College. With such instances before us, it ceases to be a matter of surprise that the proudest names of English history have, in the lapse of ages, descended to the very “basement story of society.
Suetonius mentions “that it was thought a capital crime in Pomposianus for calling his base bond-slaves by the names of grand captaines."*
Finally, women, at marriage, change their surnames. How many wish in this manner to change them : how many regret they have ever done so !t
t In Spain, the wife does not change her name at marriage. The son uses the paternal or maternal name, as he thinks proper. The choice generally falls upon that of the best family, in accordance with the proverb:
“ El hijo de ruyn Padre
Toma el appelido de la Madre.”
OF SCOTTISH FAMILY NAMES.
NCIDENTALLY, the family nomen
clature of Scotland has frequently been mentioned in these pages, and many Scottish names have been accounted for Substantially, the sur
names of that kingdom are English, with some few dialectic peculiarities, the only exceptions being those which come from the Gaelic language which formerly pervaded, and is even now extant in, the northern and western districts of the country. Possessing no knowledge of that antient tongue, I am unable to illustrate this branch of British nomenclature; and as the Lowland names present no features of remarkable difference from those of England, I have no lucubrations on the subject to present to the reader.
A humorous arrangement of the surnames of the families resident in Edinburgh, authenticated with the addresses and occupations of the persons introduced, was published in that city in the form of a brochure, in 1825. These names are here reproduced as a fair sample of Scottish nomenclature.
Criticism is scarcely applicable to such a collection, intended as it is to amuse and not to teach ; otherwise it might be necessary to remark that many of the juxta-positions are false ones, and many of the implied etymologies, erroneous. I have added a few footnotes by way of illustration.