Saturday, 9 February 2013



'Boterel' was the original spelling. The spelling changed partly because people were often illiterate, so the priest would register the spelling at the christening as best he could. 
But we didn't have the name to begin with. In 1066AD, people didn't have surnames. You might be called Alan Rufus or Hamo Le Strange or John of London (nick-names), but generally you would just have one name. In battle, it was difficult to recognise who was who. William the Conqueror had to take off his helmet at the Battle of Hastings to dispel the rumour that he had been killed. Knights began to see the sense of carrying a shield with a device to identify them.
Similarly, people in general could see the sense of having a second name - Michael Tanner, Thomas York etc. - indicating what you did, or where you came from.  And when the Poll Tax came in later, you had to have a surname for identification.
Alan Rufus, brother of Geoffrey Boterel, was called 'Rufus' because he had red hair (Rufus is Latin).  Surnames were often physical - Robin Hood's companions, John Little (Little John) and Much Miller, for example, though no account tells us exactly why they were called that - perhaps just as well.

1 comment:

  1. Love the Family Crest,this is promising to be interesting, I love history, never know what skeletons will be thrown up.