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Interesting Name Facts with Julie Hackett

First Names from Occupational Surnames

First Names from Occupational Surnames - Name Stories

Back in the day - around the 11th century - as the concentration of given names grew denser, the monarchy needed a way to distinguish among the many Johns, Roberts and Williams in a village - so that he could tax them properly. So, men were given identifiers, one of which was their occupation. That way, everyone knew who John (the) Baker vs. John (the) Miller.

Surnames began to be used as given names around the 17th century, usually as a way of carrying forward an important family name of power and prestige. In America, the southern states have the longest tradition of using surnames as first name. This trend went mainstream in the late 20th century, and now the Top 100 name lists for both girls and boys are filled with surnames.
๐— ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ผ๐—ป (ranked # 11) - The mason was a ๐˜€๐˜๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ who built castles, churches and cathedrals.
๐—–๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 33) - The carter ๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐˜€๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ด๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐˜ƒ๐—ถ๐—น๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐—ป ๐—ต๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐˜.
๐—›๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 69) - this surname was actually given to both men of the aristocracy (those who ๐—ต๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐—ฏ๐—ถ๐—ด ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ for sport and recreation) as well as a working-class man who hunted small game for food.
๐—–๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 74) - The cooper ๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ฒ ๐—ฏ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—น๐˜€ used in the preservation of dry goods and liquid products -- especially ale, a staple of every Englishman's diet ๐Ÿป
๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 95) - the parker was basically a medieval ๐—ณ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜ ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ. He oversaw large tracts of land set aside by the monarchy or wealthy landowners for the sport of hunting.
๐—ฆ๐—ฎ๐˜„๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 116) - the sawyer was a ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—ฑ-๐—ฐ๐˜‚๐˜๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ. It took two sawyers to cut a giant felled log. One who cut from above, and the other who had the dirtier job of cutting from the hole dug underneath. They gave us the terms ๐—ง๐—ผ๐—ฝ ๐——๐—ผ๐—ด and ๐—จ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ด.
The ๐—ฃ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 423) was the ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ of the Middle Ages. It was his job to guard the gate of a large castle or fortified town. The first known surname-bearer (Milo Portarius) guarded the gate at Winchester Castle 1,000 years ago!
๐—”๐—ฟ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 160) โ€“ ๐—” ๐—ฏ๐—ผ๐˜„๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป. In medieval times, those who were skilled with the longbow were greatly valued as protectors of their countrymen.
๐—ฅ๐˜†๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 108) โ€“ This was a surname given to an English knight, โ€œone who rides,โ€ used specifically for a ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜€๐—ฒ-๐—บ๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฑ ๐˜„๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ฟ (it was later replaced with Olde English cniht โ€œknightโ€).
๐—›๐—ผ๐—น๐—ฑ๐—ฒ๐—ป (ranked # 228) โ€“ this medieval Anglo-Saxon surname described a man whose job it was to watch over animals, particularly a ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ฑ, from Olde English ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ฅ โ€œto guard.โ€ Thanks to J.D. Salinger's 1951 coming-of-age novel, ๐˜›๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜Š๐˜ข๐˜ต๐˜ค๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜™๐˜บ๐˜ฆ, multiple generations of readers have taken this name into their hearts forever.
๐—–๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ๐—น๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 569), the ๐—•๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—Ÿ๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜, was a โ€œmaker or seller of candlesโ€ (also someone who managed the lighting of an estate, castle or monastery). Super critical job since candles were the only light source of the Middle Ages!
๐—–๐—ผ๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ป (ranked # 282) โ€“ this common Jewish surname means โ€œ๐—ฃ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜,โ€ which is a hereditary title passed down from father to son, all of whom are descended from Aaron (it is different than a rabbi). God calls the whole of Israel cohens: โ€œAnd ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests.โ€ (Exodus 19:6).
Traditionally, โ€œsurnames-as-first-namesโ€ were used for boys. However, that all changed in the 21st century. Surnames are increasingly more common for girls โ€“ hereโ€™s a look at some of the most popular occupational ones.
๐—›๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 10) - Harper is an artistic surname, from a musical occupation. The โ€œ๐—ต๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฝ ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฟโ€ held a lofty position because the small pluck harp was a favorite of all the instruments. Its use has been influenced by ๐—›๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐—Ÿ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ, author of the iconic American novel ๐˜›๐˜ฐ ๐˜’๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ ๐˜ข ๐˜”๐˜ฐ๐˜ค๐˜ฌ๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜จ๐˜ฃ๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜ฅ (1960).
๐—ฆ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜ (ranked # 21) โ€“ interestingly, the surname Scarlet(t) signified one in the trade of โ€œ๐˜€๐—ฒ๐—น๐—น๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ฐ๐—น๐—ผ๐˜๐—ต,โ€ from Old French escarlate, โ€œtop-quality fabricโ€ (itโ€™s also used to describe a brilliant color of red). Katie ๐—ฆ๐—ฐ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜ ๐—ขโ€™๐—›๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ, the heroine of ๐˜Ž๐˜ฐ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ธ๐˜ช๐˜ต๐˜ฉ ๐˜ต๐˜ฉ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ž๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฅ (1936), made it a household name.
๐—ฆ๐—ธ๐˜†๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฟ (ranked # 63) โ€“ This is an anglicization of the Dutch surname Schuyler โ€œ๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜€๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ผ๐—ผ๐—น;โ€ given to a scholar or schoolteacher. It was popularized by Revolutionary War hero Philip Schuyler (1733-1804).
๐—ฃ๐—ถ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 91) โ€“ The โ€œ๐—ฝ๐—ถ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—ฒ๐—ฟโ€ is another musical occupation, evolving from Olde English ๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ข๐˜ฏ โ€œto play on a pipe,โ€ borrowed from Latin ๐˜ฑ๐˜ช๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ, quite charmingly, โ€œ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ, ๐˜๐—ผ ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ฟ๐—ฝ.โ€ Everyone follows the enchantment of her music.
๐—ง๐—ฎ๐˜†๐—น๐—ผ๐—ฟ (ranked # 161) โ€“ The โ€œtailorโ€ comes from Anglo-Norman ๐˜ต๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฐ๐˜ณ โ€œcutter;โ€ the job for one who cut, altered and repaired clothes. It was this occupation that gave birth to our concept of โ€œ๐—ณ๐—ฎ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ปโ€ (mid-14th century), since it was the tailor who gave form and shape to a person through the cutting and design of clothes.
๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ (ranked # 128) - - the parker was basically a medieval ๐—ฝ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ ๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ด๐—ฒ๐—ฟ. They oversaw large tracts of land set aside by the monarchy or wealthy landowners for the sport of hunting.
Here are three more girly occupational surnames that started out as masculine.
๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ฒ: ranked # 273. In Medieval England, a Page was essentially a "๐—ž๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ต๐˜-๐—ถ๐—ป-๐—ง๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด," from Old French ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ฆ, literally, โ€œyouth preparing to be a knight;โ€ from Medieval Latin ๐˜ฑ๐˜ข๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ถ๐˜ด โ€œservantโ€ and Greek ฯ€ฮฑฮนฮดฮนฮฟฮฝ โ€œlittle boy, lad.โ€ A "page" was a young boy who, starting around the age of seven, served a lord or knight for seven years before being promoted to a โ€œsquireโ€ and eventually achieving the lofty position of a knight himself. Today, a page is used with gender-neutrality, describing an errand boy or girl (usually in a legislative capacity). Despite its rather masculine origins, this occupational surname came into regular use as a female first name in the early 1950s and it got as high as #47 on the charts in 2003.
๐—ง๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ด๐—ฎ๐—ป: ranked #192 - an anglicization of an Irish-Gaelic clan name ร“ ๐˜›๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฉ๐˜จรก๐˜ช๐˜ฏ, from Old Irish ๐˜›๐˜ข๐˜ฅ๐˜ฉ๐˜จรก๐˜ฏ, quite charmingly, โ€œ๐˜†๐—ผ๐˜‚๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฒ๐˜.โ€ As custodians of all ancient oral traditions, the poets and storytellers were among the highest ranking members of early Irish societies (it was the role of such esteemed poets to guide and sustain Irish society through the wise and magical power of their words). Though most of the poets were male, ancient Celtic law did allow women to participate in all the same professional occupations as men, such as warriors, law-givers and poets.
Bailey: ranked #171 - From the occupation of a ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ณ, from Old French ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ญ๐˜ญ๐˜ช โ€œmanager;โ€ from Latin ๐˜ฃ๐˜ข๐˜ช๐˜ถ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ถ๐˜ด โ€œofficial in charge of a castle.โ€ Prior to the Norman Conquest of 1066, the Anglo-Saxonโ€™s word for the bailiff is found in the Olde English ๐˜ด๐˜ค๐˜ช๐˜ณ๐˜จ๐˜ฆ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ง๐˜ข (โ€œ๐˜€๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ณ๐—ณโ€) describing a representative of royal authority in a shire, โ€œa kingโ€™s officer.โ€ The term was replaced with bailiff post-Conquest after the Normans introduced the feudal system into England, when the role changed to โ€œan agent of a lord, overseer of an estate.โ€ As a female forename, Bailey came into familiar use in the 1980s and reached as high as #60 on the charts in 1998.

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