Two names that I’ve seen in the news recently, which I’d never heard before –  Brokenbrow and Shoemark.A simple explanation for their unfamiliarity is soon found: both are rare, and both belong to the South-West of England. Luckily both surnames are explained in the Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames.  So I quote.

Brokenbrow  “Place-name Brokenborough in Gloucs [Gloucestershire] and Wilts[hire] OE ‘broken/uneven hill’. A scarce surname, found mainly in these two counties.”

Shoemaker/Shoemark/Shoemack  Occupational term for a shoemaker OE. Rare in any form: Shoemaker is a Glamorgan surname and Shoemark/Shoemack are strongest in Somerset.”

OE is for Old English.


Boynton the village of Boynton near Bridlington was originally Bovington, “the farm of Bofa’s clan”, Bofa being an old English male given name. The spelling Boynton for the place name is recorded in 1275, though Bovington was still in use.
Reaney’s “English Surnames” lists a Walter de Bovington in Yorkshire, 1210-1226; a Thomas  Boynton, Freeman of York, 1408. Other Bovingtons he lists probably take their name from southern locations.
The Boyntons of Barmston, East Yorkshire, were a landed family. Of them Barbara English writes:
“The Boyntons held a compact estate … on the northern boundary of Holderness … which they inherited through marriage c. 1497.” They maintained their position among the great landowners of the East Riding into the late eighteenth century.
(“The Great Landowners of the East Riding of Yorkshire”, 1580-1930)
Nathaniel, son of Mr Francis Bointon, was baptised at Holy Trinity, Hull, 14th May, 1644.
Boynton is a mainly Yorkshire surname, and best represented in Hull and district.

BRIGHAM the village of Brigham lies to the south-east of Driffield. There is another Brigham in Cumbria, but the East Yorkshire village seems to be the main source of the surname.
A.H. Smith (“The Place-Names of the East Riding of Yorkshire and York” 1970) writes:
“Brigham is on a small hill about half a mile from Frodingham Beck which is crossed by Frodingham Bridge. The name may refer to an older bridge at this point and would mean ‘homestead near the bridge’.”
William Brygham and his wife at ‘constabularia de Bartholme’, 1381
Edmund Brygham and his wife at  Cottingham ‘cum toto dominio’ (lordship of Cottingham?)  1381
(poll tax) A.H. Smith describes ‘constabularia de Barliholme’ (note spelling) as a  lost Beverley place name.
A pedigree of the Brighams of Brigham and Wyton is in Poulson’s “Holderness” vol. 2. The Brighams were recusants (Catholics) in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Ralph Brigham, recusant, 1604, was born 1583, the son of Francis and Mary Brigham.
He had sons, William, Francis and Henry, daughters Mary and Margaret.
In Hull and district:
George Brigham married Elizabeth Baxter at Holy Trinity, 1722
Isabel Brigham, spinster, buried at Sculcoates, 1738
William Brigham, mariner, 16 Charles Street, Hull, (1823 directory).




LIMBRICK I first heard this name mentioned a couple of days ago when Grimsby Town signed Anthony Limbrick as assistant manager. It looked a lot like the Irish place name Limerick, of which more later.
The name is noticed in Basil Cottle’s edition of “The Penguin Dictionary of  Surnames” as being from a minor Lancashire place name, i.e., the hamlet of Limbrick near Chorley. This name is explained as meaning ‘lingen-brook’, the first component of which is elsewhere explained as meaning ‘clear water’.
The distribution of the surname creates some difficulty in accepting Dr Cottle’s explanation, it belonging chiefly to the county of Gloucestershire. There is near Bisley in that county a place called Limbrick’s, which was once called Limericks, apparently, named after a former owner.  Cottle suggests that this name alluded to the owner being from Limerick in Ireland.
Interestingly, Edward MacLysaght’s “Surnames of Ireland” list a surname Limerick,  which he describes as “a toponymic taken not from the city of Limerick but from a French place. This rare surname is found in Co. Derry.”
Which brings me to this article online –
This adds more possible sources for the surname without providing a solution. However it does list some historical notices of the name(s), the earliest being from the year 1580.


BEAN Argent, a chevron between three goat’s heads erased gules.
Arms of James Bean (d. 1767) on a monumental inscription in Aldbrough church. Bean was a former plantation owner in Jamaica who purchased Wentworth House in Aldbrough . He may not have been of local origin.
I have seen no other arms for the surname Bean, and have found no authority for the arms of James Bean.


This is a very rare category of surname. I have only been able to identify a few. The earliest Irish surnames were based on the names of a male ancestor; O’Neill ( Ó Néill, descendant of Niall), McCarthy (MacCarthaigh, son of Carthach). Some of these names were very old, dating back as far as the late ninth century, but adoption of hereditary names was a lengthy process among the Irish. Some names only date back to the 16th century, a result of septs dividing and new branches taking new surnames.
It is my belief, though, that the adoption of place name surnames took place after the English invasion and occupation of parts of Ireland, beginning in the late 12th century.
At that time most English people had not adopted hereditary surnames. The same could be said of many Irish, but the clan system in Ireland meant that many who didn’t have an inherited surname of their own would be counted as being of the sept, and therefore the surname, of their recognised king or chief.
The English saw the clan system as a barrier to the complete subjugation of the Irish and the imposition of the feudal system. So they set about breaking the link between chief and clan, and the surname became a target.
The Statutes of Kilkenny of 1367 introduced by the English ordered all Englishmen and “Irish dwelling among them” to use English surnames, speak English and adopt English customs. By that time some English settlers were becoming more like the Irish and some had Irish as well English names, Bermingham became MacFheorais,
d’Exeter MacShiúrtáin, Mandeville MacUighilín.
So where the English were able to impose their rule English surnames became de rigueur, while elsewhere Irish clan names and hibernicised English names were unaffected.
In adopting English style surnames some Irish may have opted for place-names they were associated with. It’s also possible that English settlers chose  new names from their new homes, so such names cannot tell us anything of the origins of their bearers, English, Welsh, or Irish.
I think it’s important to establish that some Irish county names, usually imposed by English administrators, might appear to have been adopted as surnames, but surnames such as Louth and Mayo can usually be shown to be English imports with other meanings.

So, on to some examples of this rare type of Irish surname. Irish language versions are in brackets

Athy (Ataoi), from the town of Athy in Kildare, though the surname now belongs in the main to Galway. The Athys were one of the fourteen “tribes” of Galway, families that dominated the economy and politics of Galway City.

Corbally (de Corbaile), the name of townlands in twenty Irish counties, though Dublin, Meath and Louth are where the surname is mainly found. Corbally means “odd townland (no further explanation). Corballis, a variant, is found as a place name in County Meath, and as a surname in County Louth.

Craughwell (Ó Creachmhaoil), there is a village of the name in East Galway, where the surname is found. However, the Irish language version of the name takes the form of a patronymic (Ó meaning ‘descendant’). Ó Creachmhaoil would be pronounced “Oh Crahweel”. So identification of Craughwell as a toponymic-type surname is not beyond doubt.

Dease (Déise), from Deece in Couny Meath, “in which county the family has been continuously since the thirteenth century” (MacLysaght, “The Surnames of Ireland”).
I remember reading that this name was adopted by a branch of Anglo-Norman family of Nugent (originally de Nogent), but I can’t remember where I read it.

Dromgoole, Drumgoole (Dromgúl), was a place name of County Louth (Dromgabhail), and a surname of Louth, Dublin and Meath.

Finglas (de Fionnghlais), a place name of County Dublin, meaning “clear stream”, and a Dublin surname.

Galbally (de Gallbhaile), place names in five counties, meaning “foreign townland”, i.e. held by settlers of non-Irish origin. MacLysaght (loc. cit.) tells us the name is in Kildare since 1359.

Santry, (de Seantraith) Santry is in Dublin but the surname belongs to County Cork.

Slane (de Slaine), there are places of this name in Meath and Antrim. The surname belongs to Northern Ireland. Slaney, which, as a surname is found in Waterford, may be a variant or a lost place name.

Trim (de Truim), a place name of County Meath, the surname belongs mainly to County Wicklow with some of the name in Monaghan.

Finally, an Irish surname that MacLysaght suggests is locative –
Powderley which he posits as deriving from Powerlough, County Meath. He writes (loc. cit.), “My suggestion … is supported by the fact that references to the surname since 1750 are nearly all to Co. Meath and Louth. I have not met it earlier than that date.”



In the year 1670 a petition was presented to the Mayor and Aldermen of Hull by the parishioners of Holy Trinity, requesting a new assistant minister to replace the ailing Mr Ainsworth.
John Cook, in his “A History of the Charterhouse” (Hull 1882), gives the petition in full and adds that the signatories were “Men of some influence in Hull in their day, and many having descendants still flourishing in the town”.
A list of petitioners is below. I have reorganised them in alphabetical order of surname. I have also filled out the abbreviated fornames, apart from that of Jo. Blansherd, as it was neither Jno (John) or Jos (Joseph).
I shall, in time, add information on the individual signatories if I have anything on them.

The petitioners were –
James Atkinson, Robert Barnard, Richard Barnes, Jo. Blansherd, Thomas Broadley, Guy Brown, Robert Carlill, Thomas Coates, John Crowther, Nicholas Dewicke, George Dickinson, Joseph Ellis, William Everingham, Christopher Fawthropp, John Field, George Frogatt, Richard Gray, William Halam, George Healah, Thomas Heaton, Daniel Hoare, Edward Hodgson, Thomas Holtby, Anthony Iveson, Edward Johnson, Matthew Johnson, Thomas Johnson, William Lawson, Samuel Lightfoot, Richard Lindall, George Logan, Abednego Longbone, Henry Maister, Henry Metcalfe, Thomas Moxon, Timothy Pattison, Edmund Popple, Thomas Popplewell, Robert Raikes, Edward Ranson, John Rogers, Arthur Saltmarsh, William Shires, Matthew Smith, John Stockton, Richard Stockton, Will Tailer, Richard Vevers, Thomas Warcop, Thomas Watson, Thomas Weeton, Thomas Wrigglesworth, Robert Wright.

Some notes –
Robert Barnard – “merchant” 1695.

John Blansherd – “mercer” 1657; “gent” 1682 (1). Blansherd “an old East Riding family”. ‘Blaunchard’ in the East Riding in 1379.

Thomas Broadley This Thomas heads the Broadley family pedigree in Burke’s Landed Gentry of 1914.

Robert Carlill Robert Carlill, merchant, 1654. Robert Carleill, senior, merchant, 1670. Robert, son of Tristram Carleill of Sewerby, buried at Holy Trinity, 1670. Alderman Robert Carlill, buried at Holy Trinity, 1707. We may have a father and son here, almost certainly members of the same family. Carleill and Carlill are the same surname, and the Carleills of Sewerby were an old East Riding family.

Thomas Coates A Thomas Coates, master mariner is on record in 1679; a Thomas Coates, tailor, is on record 1680.


A name that has been in the news of late, and one I’d never heard before. I thought that it looked similar to the Irish Minogue, but the ending looked too English, very like Pinnock. A search of the literature on English surnames produced nothing. So I turned to Edward MacLysaght’s “Surnames of Ireland”, and there it was. Minnock, according to this source is a variant of Minogue, Irish Ó Muineóg. Minogue is found mainly in its original homeland, East Clare, and in neighbouring Tipperary where there is a townland called Ballyminogue. Minnock belongs to the County of Offaly, with some bearers in neighbouring Leix.
The meaning of the name is unknown, Presumably Muineóg was a male given name.
I would add that, according to George Fraser Black (“Surnames of Scotland”) there is a place in North Ayrshire called Minnock, which I have yet to locate. Black suggests that this is the origin of a Scottish surname, Minnoch. A connection to the Irish Minnock seems unlikely.


SPOWAGE someone of this name was on my TV today, a Scots lady. I’d never heard the name before but I didn’t think it looked Scottish. Still one never knows.
I checked the literature and found an entry in John Titford’s “Penguin Dictionary of British Surnames” (2009). The following words are his.

A distinctive surname, one that has been ignored by compilers of surname dictionaries, and one which seems determined to elude capture. The suffix -age is a familiar enough element in place-names, though no place called Spowedge, Spowich, or the like comes readily to hand. It might alternatively suggest a French origin, but no such name is featured in French surname dictionaries. The existence of an obscure and now obsolete dialect term spouch (used of wood which is sappy), which is confined to Norfolk and Suffolk, may only be of passing interest. One theory has it that the origin may be a topographical term for a man who dwelt in a place where a plant known as spurge (O[ld] F[rench] espurge), characterized by an acrid milk juice possessing medicinal properties grew in abundance. The surname Spurge can be found in parish register entries as early as the sixteenth century in Berks, Essex, London, Leics, Norfolk and Surrey. But Spowage is a different kettle of fish: by the time of the 1881 census it was very much a Notts surname, a concentration reinforced by an examination of parish register entries, where Notts predominates once again, putting a handful of Derbys and Yorks references in the shade.

The fact that five individuals in the 1881 census named Spourge are living in Notts (four) and Derbys (one) might take us back to a Spurge surname after all?
Spowages alive today have the good fortune to be the proud possessors of an intriguing surname, but the bad fortune to be uncertain of its exact origins

EAST YORKSHIRE PLACE NAMES AS SURNAMES (2) BINNINGTON the name of a hamlet in Willerby Parish in the old East Riding, now in North Yorkshire. Binnington is near Filey. The meaning of the name is said to be “farm of Bynna’s people (or clan), Bynna being an old Anglian male given name. The spelling Benitona is recorded in 1144 (Ekwall, “English Place-Names”) It’s possible, but unlikely, that some of this surname take their name from Long Bennington in Lincolnshire. Bennington is also found as a surname. The Binningtons belong mainly to East Yorkshire, particularly Hull and district. Early examples spell the the name Benyngton. Richard de Benyngton was a landowner in Helperthorpe, near Binnington, 1303 Robert Benington was a mariner in Hull, 1457, also Robert Benyngton, Hull, 1464-5 (same Robert?) Thomas Binnington of Hull was sentenced to transportation, 1817

Names that catch my attention (2)

BASGALLOP I came across this name in an interview with the actor David Threlfall. The actor’s latest TV appearance is in a series written by one Tony Basgallop.
What sort of a name is this? I wondered.
Dictionaries gave no clue. I could find nothing in the surname websites on line, apart from the fact that the name is concentrated in Somerset.
So a further search combining the surname with the county name was made, which led to this website –
There was a an enquiry about the Italian surname Bacigalupo. The writer tells of his ancestor from Liguria settling in Somerset where his surname became Basgallop. I see no reason to disbelieve this account, and can imagine that the pronunciation of the strange name became bassi-gallop-o, and was eventually shortened and made more manageable for English speakers.

An Italian surname site informs us that Bacigalupo is a surname of Genoa, which is in the Liguria region. The lupo part of the name is the Italian for ‘wolf’, the meaning of baciga is less clear. One possibility is that it is from an old Ligurian dialect word meaning ‘to beat with a club or stick’. So Bacigalupo could be a nickname meaning ‘beat wolf’, perhaps recalling some incident in the original bearer’s life.