Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic]
[merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

HE illustrious Camden, "Nourice of Antiquitie," has been happily termed the common fire whereat all after-coming British antiquaries 'have kindled their little torches." The Britannia, one of the finest literary projects ever carried into execution, is the basis of all British topography, and needs no commendation; but there is another of his works which, though trivial in bulk, and held in much less consideration than the "Chorographical Description," is of greater positive value, as containing the germ of all modern antiquarianism. I allude to the "Remaines concerning Britain." This comparatively small volume consists of some fourteen essays on various branches of archaeology, which are not only highly curious and original in themselves, but most suggestive of more elaborate enquiries and illustrations; in fact each essay is a brief upon which large pleadings maybe based—the foundation whereon a spacious structure may be reared. For example, the essay on "Money" is the first attempt that was made to illustrate the coinage of these realms, long before such a science as numismatics was dreamed of. Again, the dissertation on "Apparell" is the groundwork of subsequent treatises on British costume. The chapter on "Languages" is a curious piece of philology; and the rest all serve more or less as themes upon which many volumes have since been written. One of the best of these protrusions is that on "Surnames," extending in the 'sixth impression,' 1657, to more than fifty pages. It shows great and original research, and it has been extensively made use of by all subsequent writers on the subject. The great antiquary, after a sketch of the history of second or *ar-names in different ages and countries, traces the first appearance of settled family names in England about the time of the Norman Conquest. He next treats of local names in the two classes of which they consist; namely, first, those which are derived from the names of specific localities, towns, villages, manors 4c.; and, secondly, those which allude to the situation of the residences of the original bearers, such as Field, Clifle, Wood, &c. Then follow remarks on surnames derived from Occupations and Professions; from Offices and Functions, civil and ecclesiastical; from "Qualities of the Minde;" from "Habitudes of Body;" from Ages and Times; from the Weapons of War borne by the first of the name; from Parts of the Body; from Costume; from the Colours of complexion and clothing; from Flowers and Fruits; from Animals, whether Beasts, Birds, or Fishes; from Christian Names; from Nicknames or ' Nursenames;' from By-names (sobriquets); and from Signs of Houses. All these are illustrated by examples and curious anecdotes; and the dissertation is wound up with remarks on Changed and Corrupted surnames, Latinizations of surnames in ancient charters, and references to analogies in classical nomenclature. As a whole, there are few essays of the period more readable or instructive than this of Camden on Surnames.

The next illustrator of the subject is Veretegan, who, in his Restitution of Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities concerning our Nation, published in 1605, devotes a Chapter to the enquiry " How by the Surnames of the families in England, it may be discerned from whence they take their Originals, to wit, whether from the ancient English Saxons, or from the Danes and Normans." This Chapter is mostly based upon Camden, and has little value, either historical or philological. A few of his definitions will sufficiently demonstrate this:—

"Bolt, of the straightness of his body. "Cole, of his blackness.

"Dod, of that thing anciently so called which groweth in the sides of waters among flags, and is of boys called a fox-tail. "Gowbr, of a certain kind of cake. "Rows, of his making a noise! "Russel, of his fatness. "Stone, of some cause concerning it! "Yong, of his fewness of years."

After Verstegan, I am not aware of any British writer who undertook to illustrate this curious subject, except in the most desultory manner, until a comparatively recent date. N. Bailey, in his English Dictionary, gives definitions of many surnames, and there are detached articles in many of the Magazines of the last century. The best of these are the Essays which appeared in the Gentleman's Magazine for 1772. These were written by the Rev. Dr. Pegge, F.S.A., under the pseudonym of T. Row. Some time in the last century was printed Buchanan On Ancient Scottish Surnames (re-printed 1820): but the title misleads, as the subject of the book is the history of some Scottish clans. In 1804 the Rev. Mark Noble, F.S.A., published A History of the College of Arms, in the preliminary dissertation of which, there are some good incidental remarks on family names.

In Archaologia, vol. XVIII. pp. 105, 111, James H. Markland, Esq., D.C.L., F.S.A., printed a valuable paper, entitled "Remarks on the Antiquity and Introduction of Surnames into England." This appeared in 1813.

In 1822, Mr. J. H. Brady published a small duodecimo volume called A Dissertation on the Names of Persons, which, among much amusing, though irrelevant matter, contains several ingenious remarks on English surnames; and the Rev. Edward Duke's Halle of John Halle, furnishes some illustrations of the subject.

Such were the materials at the command of the student of our family nomenclature when, about the year 1836, my attention was first directed to its investigation, though at that time my residence in a village, remote from libraries, rendered these materials all to me as if they had not existed; and, indeed, my own researches were conducted in total ignorance of there having been any labourer in this field before me.

Some years before that, in my early boyhood, I had accidentally met with Horne Tooke's Diversions of Purley. Attracted by the title, which seemed to promise

« VorigeDoorgaan »