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Change in the by-names and surnames of the Cotswolds

Parkin, David Harry

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David Harry Parkin


This thesis builds on previous studies of English by-name and surname history. Many have identified the regionally specific nature of name development in England (McKinley, 1990: 20; Hey, 2000: xi; Redmonds, 2004: xiv), yet most of our knowledge comes from national name surveys (see Reaney, 1967; McKinley, 1990), or research carried out at county level (see Redmonds, 1973; McKinley, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1988; Postles, 1995, 1998). While it has been recognised that our understanding of by name and surname development ‘will need to be focused on particular parts of the country, looking at how groups of names were formed at different times in particular local communities’ (Hey, 2000: xi), there have been no studies of this kind.

By carrying out a diachronic study focused primarily on the influence regional identity has had on surname development in the Cotswolds, a region with its own distinct cultural, economic and topographical history, it has been possible to reach a greater degree of accuracy on the causes of regionally specific name development than previously achieved. The names from a time when hereditary surnames had only recently been established, 1381, have been compared with those from a period of greater surname stability, c1600, showing that there had been considerable change in the names of the Cotswolds between these two periods. Often, this change can be related to the regional wool trade. Within the Cotswolds, changes in name distribution, name frequency, the names of migrants, dialect lexis in naming and the incidence of inherited surnames can all be linked with the change in focus from raw wool exportation to cloth production, as well as other historical factors.

Through this research project, it is clear that there had been major changes in the names of the Cotswolds between 1381 and c1600, many of which have not been identified in previous research. This suggests that there are some aspects of English by name and surname history that are not yet fully understood, such as the precise period when hereditary surnames became more common than non-hereditary by-names, and any regional variation. The national significance of these changes cannot be known without further regional studies for comparison, and it is hoped that such research will be carried out in response to the findings of this thesis.


Parkin, D. H. (2014). Change in the by-names and surnames of the Cotswolds. (Thesis). University of the West of England. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2019
Keywords onomastics, anthroponomastics, surnames, by-names, Cotswolds, regional identity, regional history
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