Some occupational words or surnames


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Eilert Ekwall

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'Appendix: Some occupational words or surnames', Two Early London Subsidy Rolls (1951), pp. 354-359. URL: Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Appendix. Some occupational words or surnames.

In this list a number of words of disputed or doubtful meaning, which it was impossible to deal with sufficiently fully in the Commentary, will be discussed, but some words often occurring in the Subsidies, or mentioned in the Commentary, and not regularly explained there, have also been included.

MLat alutarius (from Lat aluta 'chamois leather') 'cordwainer'. A leatherseller is sometimes mercator alute (aluti).

Arblaster, OF arbalestier 'a cross-bowman'. As arblasters are stated to have had apprentices, it is obvious that the meaning of the word in the Subsidies is 'maker of cross-bows'. The English equivalent is bowyere.

Armurer occurs as a surname in both Subsidies. In some cases the meaning is 'linen-armourer', i.e. a tailor who made gambesons (tunics worn under the habergeon) and the like. Several words denoting armourers with various specialities are found in the Subsidies or the illustrative material, as gorgerer 'gorget-maker' [1292 S, CripI 57], Hauberger [1319 S], Plater [1292 S, Broad St 23], Plattour [1319 S, Bill 36], literally 'a plate-maker, a maker of plates for armour or of plate-armour'. An English equivalent of Armurer is Harneysmakyere [Farr E 23]. Heaumer (OF heaumier) 'a maker of helmets' often interchanges with Armurer as a surname in the illustrative material.

Avener, OF avenier 'oatmonger'.

Batour has been taken by Riley, Mem. xxi, to mean 'a beater of cloths, clothworker', while Fransson (p. 102) reckons with this meaning and also with those of 'gold-beater' and 'one who beats other metals'. The correct rendering is doubtless in the main that suggested by A. H. Thomas, Mayors 65 (foot-note 2), viz. "a coppersmith or dealer in baterie, i.e. beaten copper or brassware". Batour comes from OF bateor 'one who beats'. At Dinant batteur was used in the sense "a maker of dinanderie or battery, i.e. articles of metal, especially brass or copper", and exporters of brass-work of Dinant were known as marchands batteurs. See Pirenne, Histoire de la Constitution de la Ville de Dinant (Gand, 1889), Unwin, Finance and Trade, p. 31. Batour has generally been left untranslated. Coppersmith was also used of a lorimer in copper. There is one instance which shows that coperbeter was sometimes used as an equivalent of batour. Stephen le Coperbeter in Bassieshawe (1286 LBA 163) must be identical with Stephen le Batur de Bassieshawe (1291-2 ib. 137).

Blader, MLat bladarius, means 'cornmonger', not 'bladesmith'.

Bokeler, bukeler, OF bouclier, literally means 'buckle-maker', but was also used in the sense 'girdler'. Cf. 1319 S [Cheap 154]. Geoffrey de Bradele(e) is called 'girdler' 1303 LBC 125, but bokelarius ('buckle-maker') 1311-12 LBD 163.

Bracur, bracer, bras(o)ur, brazour, OF braceor 'brewer'.

Bureller, also buril(l)er, burler, MLat burlarius, is a derivative of OF burel 'a coarse woollen cloth', probably that known as cloth of Candlewick St. Burellers were no doubt originally makers of burel and are sometimes referred to as drapers (cf. 1319 S, Walbr 17), but about 1300 they seem to have been mainly middlemen who employed weavers to produce the cloth. See Consitt, The London Weavers' Company, pp. 7-32, A. H. Thomas, Mayors 106 (foot-note 2).

Calendrer 'one whose business it is to calender cloth' (ME calenderer, found from 1495 according to OED). Calender vb. (F calandrer) means 'to pass [cloth] through a calender, to press between rollers, for the purpose of smoothing, glazing' (1513, etc. OED). Besides Mone le Kalendrer [1319 S, ColemSt 7] and Pelle le Lombard [ib., Bish 11] London records mention Bartholomew le Chalaundrer or Calendrer (1301 Mayors 112, 1311 LBB 31), Salamon de Mareys of Luka, calendrer 1301 LBB 107, Paganel and Walter le Kalendrer (1311-12 LBB 34). Paganel was father-in-law of Pelle le Lombard or Pelli Chandelere, as he is here called (HMC 6th Rep, 409). The word calendrer was apparently new and was confounded with chandler. Mone, Pelle, Paganel and Salamon de Mareys were Italians (Lombards), and so may Bartholomew and Walter have been.

Ceinturer, OF ceinturier 'girdler'.

Chaloner, a derivative of ME chalon 'blanket', meaning 'a maker of blankets', is not found in the Subsidies, but occurs in the illustrative material. See further Tapicer.

Chapeler, OF chapelier 'hatter'.

Chardener [1292 S, CripE 42] seems to be F chardonnier 'one who gathered and sold teasels used in carding wool'. Only one further instance of the word has been found: Firmin le Chardener 1279 Pat, p. 353 (not a Londoner, and to judge by his font-name perhaps a Frenchman). On teasels and their importance in cloth-making, see Salzman, Industries, pp. 205ff. But it is possible that a chardener was a card-maker, one who made cards or implements for raising a nap on cloth, consisting of teasel-heads set in a frame (OED). Cardemakers are mentioned Lib Alb 737.

Cirger, OF cirier, *ciergier (ciergiere f.) 'wax-chandler'.

Cocus. See Keu.

Cossun, cossour 'horse-dealer'. Neither word occurs in the Subsidies, but several examples are found in the Commentary: cossun 1292 S [Walbr 75, BishI 12], coszoun 1319 S [FarrE 107], cossur, cossour, coszour 1319 S [Aldg 17, FarrE 89, FarrI 94]. The most common form is that in -n, as Robert le Marescal, Cossun 1280 LBA 31, Hugh Pope, cossun 1292-3 ib. 146, John de Kent, cozon 1306 LBB 171, Robert le Sauser, cossoun 1312 ib. 49. The only examples of the form in -r noticed are those mentioned supra, Robert le Ryder, cossour 1310-11 LBD 61, and Walter de Harwedon, Coseour 1332 S (FarrE). The latter is taken by Fransson (p. 111) to have been a tailor, but he is called a horsedealer 1353-4 CW 677 and in his will of 1361. - Cossun is identical with OF cosson 'a re-seller', It cozzone 'a horse-courser', Lat cocio 'a broker' (OED under coss vb.). The word was probably adopted from Italian, since the import of horses was apparently carried on especially by Italians (Lombards). Cossour will be a modification of cossun owing to influence from the synonymous corser (courser), which is written coursour by Lydgate (OED under corser).

Cotiler, cuteler, OF cotelier, coutelier 'cutler'.

Cu. See Keu.

Feliper, pheliper, feleper, F fripier, OF, MF frepier, ferpier, feupier, feulpier 'fripperer', 'a dealer in second-hand clothes or other articles'. The English equivalent was uphelder, sometimes found in the illustrative material.

Fener, fayner, feyner, feynour, OF fenier, feinier 'haymonger'.

Furbur, forebur, fourbour, OF forbeor, fourbeor 'furbisher of arms'.

Furmager, OF fro-, formagier 'cheesemonger'.

Fuster 'a saddletree-maker', from OF fu(y)ster 'carpenter, joiner'.

Gaunter, OF gantier 'glover'.

Haftere. See Mancher.

Heaumer. See Armurer.

Keu, cu, ku 'cook', as a surname in the sense 'tradesman who sold cooked food, keeper of an eating-house'. The same is the sense of the surname Cocus.

Kissere is held by Riley, Mem. xxii, to have meant 'a maker of "cushes" or armour for the thighs'. But A. H. Thomas, Mayors 61 (foot-note), is probably right in his suggestion that the kissers were leather-dressers or dealers. It is significant that John Tilli [1292 S, Cordw 42] is alternatively styled 'kisser' and 'cordwainer'. It is unlikely that there were two persons called John Tilli. We may also note Edmund Haringeie, leather-merchant (1385-6 Will), a brother of Ralph atte Brom, kissere (1348-9 CW 523). One would suppose the two brothers had the same occupation. - Kissere also appears in the forms Cussere (cf. 1292 S, BroadSt 48), Kiscere (1307 CW 191), kystere, no doubt for kyscere (1308 CW 202), Cissehers plur. (1298-9 Mayors 48).

Leyner, lainer, laner, OF lanier, lainier 'woolmonger'.

Mancher, a derivative of OF manche 'handle, haft', means 'a maker of hafts for knives' and corresponds to ME hastere. See Richard le Mancher [1292 S, BroadSt 32]. John de Ware, mauncher (1305 Mayors 174) is J. de Ware, hastere in his will of 1317. In Paris Rôles de taille a hafter is called enmancheeur, esmancheur, feseeur de manches (Michaëlson, I, pp. 124, 140). The meaning 'maker of sleeves' often assumed for mancher is erroneous.

Megucer (only in 1292 S), OF meg(e)issier, MF mesguchier, means 'whittawer'. In 1319 S only the English Whittawiere and Tawier are used.

Myre, ME mire, OF mire 'physician, surgeon'. Other instances of the word as a surname are Robert le Mire 1299 LBC 38, 1305 Mayors 185, John Mire, (draper) 1322 Will (often met with in records).

Orbatour, OF orbateor 'gold-beater'. The English goldbeter also occurs in the Subsidies.

Orfev(e)re, OF orfevre 'goldsmith'.

Orfrer [1292 S, BroadSt 19, 55]. The probability seems to be that orfrer is an occasional variant of orfevre, since both persons designated as orfrer can be identified with contemporary goldsmiths. William atte More, goldsmith, seems to have been of BroadSt ward and is thus very likely identical with W. atte More, orfrer BroadSt 55. But it is possible that orfrer meant 'a maker of orphrey or gold embroidery'. Orphrey comes from ME, OF orfreis, which is itself from MLat aurifrisium, a modification of Lat auriphrygium. The MF word for 'maker of orphrey' is orfroisier, but in Documents illustrating the history of St. Paul's Cathedral (Camden Soc. 1880), pp. 64, 78, is mentioned a person called Alicia aurifrigeria (apparently 13th cent.), whose surname must mean 'maker of orphrey'. Aurifrigeria presupposes a masculine aurifrigerius, which might have become orfrer.

Paternostrer, OF patenostrier 'a maker of paternosters or rosaries'.

Peleter, OF peletier 'skinner, furrier'.

Pessoner, OF poissonnier 'fishmonger'.

Pest(o)ur, OF pestor 'baker'.

Peverer, OF pevrier 'pepperer'.

Plastrer, OF plastrier 'one who plasters buildings, a mason'. Robert Pany [1319 S, Bish 59] is called alternatively mazeon and plaisterer.

Plater. See Armurer.

Poleter, polter, OF po(u)letier 'poulterer'.

Pottere, poter, OE pottere, OF potier 'potter'. The potters of about 1300 were workers in copper and brass. See Unwin, Finance and Trade, p. 31 f. A maker of earthen pots seems to have been called crockere (see 1319 S, Dowg 34).

Seler, seller, celler, OF selier, seller, Lat sellarius 'saddler' is very common in the Subsidies, and probably the surname Sel(l)er generally means 'the saddler'. But in two certain cases Sel(l)er represents OF seelleeur (cf. Michaelson, I, p. 125) 'seal-engraver'. Adam le Seller [1319 S, ColemSt 50] is alternatively called le Selgraver, and Robert Newecome [ib., FarrI 23] is styled alternatively seler and sigillarius. Cf. also 1319 S [Aldersg 38]. It is possible that Sel(l)er means 'seal-engraver' in some other cases.

Setter(e) is found as a surname 1292 S [Cordw 27] and 1319 S [LimeSt 11]; cf. also 1292 S [Cordw 8]. The word frequently occurs in London records as a surname and as an occupational term, e.g. Geoffrey Roger le Settere 1278 LBA 225 (a grantor in St. Mary Aldermary, Cordw), Clementle Settere 1299ff. LBC 38, 163, LBB 184, 1309 LBD 213 (witness Cordw), Reginald de Freestone, settere 1321-2 Cor 46 (dead in Broad St), William le Settere 1314 LBE 50, Albin le Settere 1343 LBF 260 (juror Cordw), Hereman (le) Settere 1343, 1344-5 ib. 76, 262 (juror Cordw), John Ledyard, settere 1381 ib. 270. Setter is taken by Riley, Mem. 60, to have meant 'an arrow-smith'. Fransson (p. 93) suggests the meaning 'silk weaver' and derives the word from OF saietier. The latter meaning possibly suits the five examples quoted from Hampshire sources, which show a form setere, -are, but hardly the London examples with their regular double t. Fransson draws attention to an entry of 1314 in LBE 50, where a silk-embroidered cope is stated to have been valued by John Heyroun, settere, and William le Settere. A still more important entry is found LBB 191 (A.D. 1306-7). Alexander le Settere [1319 S, LimeSt 11] came and received £10 in part payment of £40 due for an embroidered choir cope bought of him, and undertook well and befittingly to complete it <<of the same breadth around as a certain cord>>. This must mean that Alexander le Settere made embroidered copes himself, that he was an embroiderer. Settere must be a derivative of the verb set, ME setten. The meanings of set nearest that of 'embroider' in OED are nos. 15. "to put (an ornament, fitting, piece of furniture, &c.) in a place allotted or adapted to receive it; to fit, fix", and 63. "to fix (a stone or gem) in a surface of metal as an ornament; formerly also on a garment." Setters are mostly associated with Cordwainer ward.

Selkwomman, Silkewymman [1319 S, Bas 5, FarrE 71] probably means 'spinner of silk'. Cf. Jehanne filleresse de soie in a Paris Rôle de taille (Michaëlson I, p. 39).

Tableter has been explained variously as 'a sculptor of marble [tablets]' (Riley, Mem. xx), 'a maker of tablets or table-books' (LBB 1, note 5), and 'a maker of chess-boards, draught-boards, etc.' (Fransson 165). More likely the meaning is that of OF tabletier, viz. 'a pedlar'. Some Londoners are stated in records to have been tableters, as Peter de Dureme 1281 LBB 10, Simon Blak [1319 S, CripI 92], Nicholas de Thakkestede 1309 LBD 39, and John de Saham, probably identical with John le Tableter [ColemSt 27]. Walter le Tableter 1331 LBE 261 was a taverner. Two persons with the surname were mercers: John le Tableter [1319 S, Cheap 71] and Geoffrey le Tableter or de Wychingham, who was a sheriff 1344-5, an alderman, and Mayor 1346-7, called mercer in his will of 1349. This tells in favour of tableter having meant originally 'a pedlar'. A pedlar who set up a shop would become a mercer of the humbler sort and might eventually rise to being a mercer of the merchant class. John le Tableter [Cheap 71] had a tax of 8s. 4d. and was thus hardly a mercer in a big way of business.

Tapicer, from OF tapicier, 'a maker or weaver of figured cloth or tapestry' (see OED, Tapisser). The word is found once as a surname in 1292 S [John le Tapycer Qu 47]. It is missing in 1319 S, but several tapicers are among taxpayers. Tapicers are not very often mentioned in 13th cent. London records; examples are Ralph le Tapicer 1282 LBA 59 (perhaps R. le Tapiter 1274 Cl), Gilbert de Langham, tapicer ib. 67 (of Fancherche). In the 14th century they are frequently referred to. Chaloners (makers of blankets) are very often mentioned in 13th century records, thus several chaloners of Langbourn 1276 LBB 263 f., John le Braban, Walter de Stonrok and William de Bristoll, chaloners 1282-3 LBA 65. In the 14th century chaloners are more rarely met with. Now we learn from the Ordinances of the Tapicers of 1331 (Mem. 178f.) that the tapicers made tapestry, but also chalons. It therefore appears that the tapicers and chaloners had joined into one craft. One taxpayer of 1319 [Walter de Stebenhuthe, Langb 68] is referred to in 1310 as a chaloner, in 1338 as a tapicer, and he was a representative of tapicers in 1330-1. It is not very likely that he had given up his work as a chaloner and become a weaver of tapestry. More likely the word tapicer had come to be used so as to cover both tapicers in the original sense and chaloners. It is therefore quite possible that some persons styled tapicers were in reality chaloners. The English equivalent of chaloner and tapicer may well have been webbe. On tapicers see also Consitt, op. cit., pp. 68ff.

Teinturer, OF teinturier 'dyer'.

Vynour appears to be ME vinour, OF vignour 'vine-grower' (se OED Viner 1). When used as the surname of two butchers (see 1319 S, Ports 30), it would thus seem to be a nickname or an inherited surname. But it is possible there was another word vinour of different meaning. William de Gillingham is called textor 1297-8 Lib Cust 128, teler 1300 ib. 122, but vinour 1297-8 LBC 52 (in all three cases a warden of weavers), and Vincent le Vinur 1300 LBC 60 was a weaver. No suggestion can be made for this vinour.