Under the influence of the Puritans, the practice arose of baptising children with scriptural or pious phrases annexed to their last name. Hence there are church records of such names as Preserved Fish, Thankful Thorpe, Repentance Water, Kill-sin Pimple, and Humiliation Hinde. Conversely, other surnames of the period offer unflinchingly pithy descriptions of the condition of the bearer, including Blackinthemouth, Blubber, Mad, Measle, Peckcheese, and Hatechrist.
Many such examples would have begun as nicknames, a significant category in the origin of surnames. Gyldenbollockes was a popular name on the streets of medieval England, centuries before David Beckham ...
Once I had read the Spectacularlyboring's review
of What's in a Surname?: A Journey from Abercrombie to Zwicker
, adding it to my Amazon Wishlist with the no-brainer work of but a moment.
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