Suffolk Surnames with Charlie Haylock

BBC Radio Suffolk – Lesley Dolphin Show – 08.03.12

Why we have Surnames & What makes it a Suffolk Surname

Only Four Types of Surname

Place Names
Local – William who lives down the Lane, or in the Wood, (Atwood, Attewood or Underwood) – Field and Hills likewise.
Villages and Towns -  Moving away from a village or town to live somewhere else – could end up – Richard from Hadleigh (Hadley), Robert from Finborough, (Finbow), Alfred from Debenham, (Debnam) – often spelled as it was said
Counties/Countries – the same - surname “Suffolk” originated in Essex, and Dutch in England

Fairly self explanatory – Will the Butcher, Alfred the Fletcher etc etc – these tend to be fairly widespread nationally eg Smith – but still get Suffolk based trade names eg Ashman and Botman,
explain when we get to the As and Bs.

Lots of surnames derive from nicknames – too many to mention but a few examples being Fairchild, Armstrong, Goodbody, Faires (good old Suffolk name that one) – all the colours – Black, White, Red, etc, Redhead. Both Greene and King of Greene King are – someone who behaved like a King, Monk, Priest  or Abbott etc
Anglo-Saxon legends about the elf, (noble and bold) and the wolf, (strong and protective) survive through many nicknames esp in Suffolk. Explain when we get to As, Es and Ws.

Sons of, Family of
Son, (Viking eg Leif Ericsson, Magnus Magnusson, Sven Goran Ericsson etc) - Robson, Wilson, etc etc  Even today, geographical distribution of surnames ending in son accurately reflect the extent of the Viking invasions 1,000 years ago – 50% Yorkshire surnames end in son, 45% N.E. England - 10% Suffolk and 1% Cornwall

Kin – family of – Wilkins – Adkins  sometimes extended later to Wilkinson and Adkinson

Cock – (A-S) as in Peacock, (Peter's son), Adcock (Adam's son) etc. -  Anglo-Saxon for “tap” is “cock”, as in stopcock and ballcock . Important for Anglo-Saxons to have male heirs – so when babies were born, first thing they looked for was the “little tap” to see if it was a boy. “Cock” was a normal everyday word in A-S times and became a pet word for “son”. Londoners still use it today when they say, “Watcha cock!” and even interpret it for us when they say, “Hello son”  - both mean the same. It was in the 1700s when “cock” became a vulgar word. Surnames ending in “cock”  are mainly East Anglia, Midlands and South England – not up North

Ett, Ott – (Norman) – meaning little as in cigar and cigarette, (little cigar). Bennett (little Ben instead of Benson), Willmott, (little William), Philpott, (little Philip), Kennett, (little Ken).
Fitz – Norman – from French “fils” meaning “son” – Fitzgerald, Fitzwilliam etc
aP – Welsh for son of - “a” is almost silent and P is hard - hence – Preece, (son of Reece), Probyn, (son of Robyn), Pritchard, Pugh, Bowen
O' – Irish – O'Neil instead of Neilson
Mac or Mc – Irish (grandson of) and Scottish (son of)

Before – Norman Conquest & Doomesday Book

Anglo-Saxons did not have surnames – it was all about recognising people and distinguishing theirselves  from each other and other people.

However the ruling or well-to-do classes may have a family name that was handed down – and to have one of these names registered afore the Doomesday Book is quite rare – eg Kemp
registered in A-S wills, land transactions etc etc

Norman Conquest & Doomesday Book

Two Doomesday Books – Great and Little) – The Little DB was for Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk only – explain in later programme

The Normans brought over the idea of surnames to be handed down to offspring.

The rich and well-to-do A-S caught on quick and adopted the idea – therefore in DB – lots of recorded Norman surnames and a number of A-S – if you are A-S with a name first registered in the DB, then you're quite somebody.

Still common for A-S couples to have several children all with different surnames, (scandal today)  - it was all about distinguishing each other. Also one person could have several surnames, eg. Alfred the Fairchild grows up to be a Carpenter who then moves away from his village of Debnam

 Anglo-Saxons gradually got the idea – and the next couple a three hundred years – surnames got registered through a variety of ways and by 1450 it was considered vulgar not to have a surname.
Pipe Rolls, the Assize courts, land transactions, Royal Charters – explain in later programme
Did cause some confusion when the baker was called Butcher and the butcher Baker

What makes it a Suffolk Surname

  1. Name first registered in Suffolk and has remained in Suffolk 
  2. Geographical distribution – Suffolk only


Why was East Anglia different?

Other parts of the country were taking on Norman Christian names and surnames but E. Anglia held on to it's Anglo-Saxoness and is reflected in many surnames, including Suffolk ones

What's Ahead?

If I read out the names of the school football team – Penhalligan, Pendragon, Trelawney, Poldark, Biddie, Davey, straight away – you'd all say Cornwall
Likewise – Arkwright, Higginbottom, Haythornethwaite, Ormorod, Ramsbottom – up north

Every county has it's own set of surnames – and Suffolk is no exception !

So the next few weeks we'll be doing an

“A to Z of Suffolk Surnames”