Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion : Foldout

Patronymic Surnames


Contents:

The use of the father's name as a surname for his children is found in many cultures.

In England, this initially took the form of

Robert son of John

which evolved into the surname

Robert Johnson

In the late 12th/13th century, the full names of men of families who owned land, were in transition, changing from

son of

to

de .... (name of estate)

Generally, in this period, a man was called son of while his father was alive, or until he reached a mature age, and then de ..... after that. In a number of cases, the old tradition of son of continued to be used right through life, as appears to be the case with John de Stansfeld, who still appears in the late 1260s/1270 as John son of Elias de Stansfeld.

English surnames

This form of surname was common in the Danelaw. A great many surnames have this origin, including

South and west of the Danelaw, the form was simpler, just adding an S, as with

Norman-French patronymics use fitz, a form of the French fils de = son of, followed by the father's name. For example

Welsh surnames

In Wales, a similar process took place using the Welsh word for child, map or ap. This initially took the form of

Wyn ap Richard

which evolved and became anglicised into the surname

Wyn Pritchard

A great many Welsh surnames have this origin, including

Surnames ending in S – as discussed above – are also found in Wales

Scottish surnames

In Scotland, a similar process took place using the Gaelic word for child, mac. This initially took the form of

John mac Donald

which evolved into the surname

John Macdonald / John MacDonald

The female equivalent – nicdaughter of – is also found:

Siobhan nic Gregor

which evolved into the surname

Siobhan NicGregor

Irish surnames

Gaeilge, the form of Gaelic spoken in Ireland, is very much like the Scottish form. Some minor differences for our present purposes are



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© Malcolm Bull 2017 / calderdale@aol.com
Revised 10:34 on 4th April 2017 / x2090 / 10