By Georgiev H.
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Cf. Henricus homo Vicarii 1297 SRY. Malyna la Roperes (1311 ColchCt), described as a servant, was either the servant of the roper or of a man named Roper. , are not uncommon, so that, whilst Gilbert le Potteres, Richard le Cokes (1327 SRWo) may mean ‘son of the potter or of the cook’, they might also denote his servant. ) must be ‘servant of a man named Rede’. Thus, too, John Pastons (1327 SRWo), John Byltons (1327 SRC), where the surname is local, ‘servant of Paston or of Bylton’. (ii) William atte Personnes 1327 SRSf, again elliptic, ‘(servant) at the parson’s (house)’, etc.
It was a common practice in Scotland for a laird to take his name from the estate, which itself was often named from its owner. The lands of Hugh de Paduinan (1165–73) were called from him villa Hugonis or Huwitston ‘the estate of Hewitf, a pet-form of Hugh. His descendants took hence their surname, Fynlawe de Hustone (1296 CalSc), now Houston. Similarly, the modern Symington derives from Symoundestone (now Symington, Lanarkshire), the barony once held by Symon Locard (c1160). Owing to the frequency of such territorial names, lairds and farmers were often called by the name of their estate or farm and signed their letters and documents by their farm-names.
William le Pinour ‘maker of combs’ was also called le Horner from the horn he used. Adam le Marbrer who paved part of St Paul’s and Peter the Pavier who paved St Stephen’s Chapel, Westminster, both followed the same occupation. William Founder cast both bells and cannon. Surnames of occupation are more common than the modern forms suggest. Many surnames, previously regarded as nicknames difficult to explain, are really occupational. Apart from mere shortening by which Cofferer and Coverer became Coffer and Cover, the name of the article made or the commodity dealt in was used by metonymy for the maker or dealer.
Dictionary of word meanings by Georgiev H.