Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/835

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
809
INDUSTRIAL FAMILY NAMES.

our ancestors had much intercourse with the Normans, and, in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, French was daily spoken by the better class in the British Isles. Our Bakers may be readily traced back to their floury-handed ancestors, but the Baxters must be followed for generations before we find that they were of the same family, being the descendants of the Bagsters, who were the off-spring of the Bagesters, who acknowledged that they were the children of the Bakesters, who were feminine bakers. Of the bread-making tribe were also the Breaders and the Whitbreads, the latter perhaps once priding themselves on the color of their stock in trade, while nearly related to them were the Mills, the Millers, and the Mealers. The large and respectable family of the Boulangers came from the French bakers who carried on their trade in England during the ages when family names were growing, while Mr. Lowe suggests that the Bollingers and the Bulliners are of the same origin.

Few points in Great Britain are more than a hundred miles from the sea, and in all ages fish has formed one of the staple articles of British diet. Catching the fish was therefore an important industry, and Fish, Fisher, and Fisherman doubtless had their origin in the occupation of the men who first assumed these names, of which fact there is abundant record. It is quite possible also, as Max Müller suggests, that men may have made a specialty of taking or of selling a particular kind of fish, and thus Salmon from Robert le Salmoner, Hering from John le Heringer, and Trouter from Roger le Trowter, may have arisen without violence to the laws of philology. Bardsley, in his book on English names, derives Possoner from le Poissonier, another relic of the French occupation of England. The selling of fruit was, in the three centuries after the Norman conquest, a special occupation, and mention of John le Fruiterer occurs in the Golden Roll, the conclusion being drawn by philologists that Fruter, Frooter, and several similar names thus had their origin. Cheese was furnished by Roger le Cheseman in the twelfth century, whence our Cheesemans and Chesmans, while condiments of various kinds came from a special store where nothing else was kept and the owner known as le Spicier, no doubt the ancestor of some of our Spicers. Fowls were sold by the poulterer, from which word, it is believed, Polter is derived; while Grocer, as a family name, needs no explanation beyond the statement that in mediæval England his assortment of goods, while not so extensive, was quite as varied as at present.

The preparation of food for immediate consumption gave rise to another occupation and other names. The Cooks we still have with us, also the Cokes, the latter being the more common spelling of the word in the thirteenth century. From these, by natural