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.


Names that catch my attention (1)

Whenever I see a surname that is new to me, and whose meaning is not obvious, I try to find something out about it.
A couple of names that I encountered for the first time recently are Plint and Rudrum.
Although Rudrum looked strange at first it didn’t take long to work out that it was likely to derive from the place name Rotherham.
Sure enough a quick look in Reaney and Wilson’s “Dictionary of English Surnames” listed Rudrum under “Rotheram, et al., though no example of this spelling from the records was cited. Ekwall’s “Dictionary of English Place-Names, lists Roderham as a thirteenth century spelling of the place name. He also points out that Rotherham stands on the River Rother, which lasts he explains as Brythonic and meaning something like “chief river”.

The meaning of Plint is less obvious, but a map showing the distribution of the name showed that, though rare, it was best represented in Cornwall. A search of available literature on Cornish surnames yielded nothing, but a search online for a place of that name gave a clue. There is no Plint, but there is a village called Pelynt, pronounced Plint. Thirteenth century spellings of the name were Plenint and Plenent, and a suggested meaning is “parish of Nent” or Saint Nonna (Ekwall).

Catholics in Hull and District, 1778

On the 3rd July 1778 73 individuals attended a court hearing at the Hull Guildhall in order to swear an oath of loyalty. They were all Catholics and previously had not been able to take the oath as it involved swearing loyalty to the monarch as head of the church as well as head of state. The Catholic Relief Act of that year removed the requirement to acknowledge the monarch as spiritual ruler. The reason for this improvement in the condition of the King’s Catholic subjects is said to have been the need to obtain recruits for the army fighting in North America. The unwillingness of Catholics to take the original oath placed them under suspicion of disloyalty. In the case of the Irish Catholic population this may have been true in some instances, but the loyalty of English Catholics was not open to question. Of the 73 who took the oath in Hull, 64 were male and nine were female, these last possibly married to Protestant husbands. Some can be identified as of South Holderness, not the borough of Hull. I’m sure that not all Catholics in the district took the oath – there were said to be 78 Catholics in Hull and Sculcoates in 1780, ignoring those of Holderness. The need to take the oath may have been tied up with property rights, and to have held no attraction for the poorest. The following is taken from the list of the jurors in the city records. I have listed the names in alphabetical order of surname, not in the original order. People with the same surname need not have belonged to the same household though some (e.g. the Caleys) were no doubt related in some degree. Additional information from notes of my own is in square brackets.

“The following persons his Majestys Subjects professing the Popish Religion this day in Open Court took and Subscribed the Oath appointed to be taken by an Act passed in the Eighteenth year of the Reign of his present Majesty Intitled an Act for relieving his Majesty’s Subjects professing the Popish Religion from certain Penalties and disabilities Imposed on them by an Act made in the Eleventh and Twelfth years of the Reign of King William the Third Intituled an Act for preventing the growth of Popery.”

William Addison
[a Catholic family of this name in Hedon, 1735]
John Bigland
Thomas Bigland
[Catholic family of this name at Marton, 1735]
James Bird
Jerard Brigham
[of the Brighams of Wyton; Gerard Brigham and his brother William’s widow, Ursula, sold Wyton Manor in 1768]
John Brigham, junior
Cornelius Caley
Elizabeth Caley
George Caley
Henry Caley
John Caley
Leonard Caley
[Leonard Caley of Lelley, died 1803 aged 77]
Susannah Caley
William Caley (1)
William Caley (2)
[“The Caleys first appear at Atwick in Holderness … They became Catholics in 1620.” Aveling. The name appears in the Nuthill parish register 1774-1842]
Bartholomew Camplin
Anthony Chambers
[of Ryall, Holderness, 1776]
Edmond Chambers
[Catholic Family of this name at Burstwick and Paull, 1735]
John Chamney
Dorothy Champney
John Champney, junior
Teresa Champney
Thomas Champney
[Holderness family, the name is in the Nuthill P.R. in the 18th century]
Thomas Collinson
[A Thomas E. Collinson, master mariner, Dock Street, Hull, 1791. A Catholic family of this name at Halsham, 1735]
Mary Cottam
William Cottam
William Craggs
[Craggs in Nuthill P.R.]
William Dolphin
John Doning
[Duning, a Catholic family at Garton, 1735]
Joseph Dowthwaite
William Dowthwaite
[surname in Nuthill P.R.]
John Dresser
[surname in Nuthill P.R.]
Thomas Fawcitt
[Thomas Fawcitt and wife Joan, of Hull, had a son baptised at Nuthill chapel in 1774]
James Foster
Robert Foster (1)
Robert Foster (2)
[Forster a Catholic family at Burstwick and Paull, 1735]
Elizabeth the wife of Abraham Gray
Thomas Harker
[surname Harker at Marton, 1815]
George Harrison
Thomas Heptonstall
John Horseman
Charles Howard
[Charles Howard, priest, of Marton in Holderness, opened a chapel in Posterngate, Hull in 1778. Chapel was destroyed by fire in anti-Catholic riots, 1780.]
Mary the wife of William Iveson
[William Iveson, Non-Catholic and Mary, Catholic, of Hedon had a daughter Winifred baptised at Nuthill Catholic chapel in 1775]
Edward Jackson
John Johnson
Matthias Johnson
John Jones
John Kipling
John Moor
William More
Joseph Nut
Thomas Owst
Thomas Owst, junior
[Notes on this surname can be seen
here] Clare the wife of Richard Paget
William Pridgin
Leonard Robinson
[perhaps of the Robinson family of Newton Garth, Hedon, who, according to a pedigree in Poulson’s “Holderness” acquired the estate in 1620.]
George Robson
George Salvidge
Joseph Salvidge
[this surname in the Nuthill P.R., the name of a Catholic family at Marton, 1815]
George Shiers
[George Shires and wife Frances, of Hull, had a son George baptised at Nuthill chapel, 1774. A George Shires was a tailor in Whitefriargate, Hull, in 1791]
John Taylor
William Taylor
Mary the wife of John Thompson
William Wadforth
Michael Watson
[Michael Watson and wife of Burstwick]
Thomas Wiles
Reginald Williams
[“… Reginald Williams, an apothecary of Monmouthshire origins, who married Sarah Rand of Hull … in the early 1760s.” Aveling]
Thomas Wilson
James Winship
[James and mary Winship of Burstwick, son William baptised at Nuthill chapel, March 1775]
Matthew Henry Witham
David Wright
John Wright
[Catholic family of this name in Hedon, 1735]
Samuel Yates
[a “Mr Yeates” had a house in Hull where mass was celebrated after the Posterngate chapel was destroyed in the riot of 1780]

Sources for additional information are as follows – Dom Hugh Aveling, Post Reformation Catholicism in East Yorkshire (1960) Catholic Record Society, vol. 35, Catholic Registers of Nut Hill and Hedon in Holderness, 1774-1849.
Robert Carson, the First Hundred Years: a history of the Diocese of Middlesbrough, 1878-1978 (1978) Hull Directory, 1791


DECEMBER 1st Alexander Bryant, SJ, Catholic martyr (Butler, Lives …)
Blessed Richard Langley, d. 1586 – Richard Langley (sometimes Longley) of Grimthorpe, East Riding of Yorkshire, layman, martyr. “…hanged at York 1st Decmber,1586, for harbouring priests at his mansions.” Butler, Lives …)

12th Alexander (with Epimachus) compare 22nd August

13th Blessed Tassilo of Bavaria. Tassilo, a Bavarian male given name, has always puzzled me as to its meaning. I read somewhere that it has something to do with the badger (Dachs in modern German).

23rd Ronan Fionn, son of Aid of Achad Farcha, Co. Meath.
Blessed Hartmann of Brixen, d. 1164. Brixen is now Bressanone in Italy. In the 10th century it was in Bavaria. Hartmann is a German surname, hence my interest in the saint’s name.


THIRSK From the North Yorkshire place name, early spellings of which often reverse the I and the R, so also with the surname.

John Thirsk, merchant of York, was Mayor of York in 1442 and 1462, and represented the town in Parliament in 1448 and 1450
Robert Thirsk, chaplain in Hull, pre-1445
John Thirsk in Beverley, 1547-8
John Thriske in Beverley,1578
James Thriske at Bentley, near Cottingham, 1584
Elizabeth Thriske in Hull, 1695

W.G.Hoskins, “Local History in England” (third edition, 1984), references a study of this surname by a Mr. J.W.Thirsk –
“The Thirsks began moving from the North Riding to the East Riding at some unknown date, though some remained. A complete count of all Thirsk deaths from 1837 to 1947 shows that of the 492 deaths, no fewer than 185 took place in Hull and Sculcoates (now part of Hull) and 128 in other places in the East Riding, including York. The West and North Ridings contributed only 62 deaths; Lancashire and Cheshire 71; and the remainder of England only 46. Thus the Thirsks remained remarkably concentrated over a period of 110 years, four generations which one commonly associates with increasing mobility. About 63 per cent lived and died in the East Riding, most of them in a much smaller area than this.
Turning to the registration of births, and taking only the period 1837-87, there were 361 births of which 290 – exactly 80 per cent – were in the East Riding. After 1887 there is much more dispersal …”

The name Thirsk derives from the Old Scandinavian word Ƿresk, meaning either ‘lake’ or ‘fen’. Reaney and Wilson’s dictionary of surnames lists Trask as a surname from the name Thirsk.
[The Sandinavian letter Ƿ represents the -th- sound as in words such as the, this, that, not as in thin, thick.]

(I knew I’d slip up sometime in the year and not achieve my aim of posting each month’s calendar on the first of the month. Ná bac leis)

NOVEMBER 6th Saint Wynnoc (see 18th No.) This Wynnoc was a Welsh saint (d.717) who founded the Cornish church of Saint Wynnow, and later joined the monastery of Sithiu (St. Omer). There is also, it is said, a place in France called Bergues-Saint-Winnoc, to which his relics were translated.
(Information on this saint was garnered in the course of a search for the mysterious Saint Wynnen, of whom more later)

7th Saint Willibrord (d.739), reputedly born in the Holderness district of East Yorkshire; apostle to the Frisians and one of the patron saints of the Netherlands.

9th Saint Alexander of Salonica (4th century)

12th Nilus the Elder
(noted during my search for an explanation of the surname of the Russian forger, Sergei Nilus. I don’t think the saint’s name has any connection with the surname)

18th Saint Wynnen, bishop in Scotland c.579 (cf. Wynnoc above). I’m assuming he is the eponym of the Scottish place-name Kilwinning, in Ayrshire. According to George Calder (A Gaelic Grammar, Gairm Publications, Glasgow, 1990) Wynnen is from the Brythonic gwynn-en, a version of the Gaelic Finnen – fion-sean, “fair-old”, which itself is a variant of Findbar, an Irish saint who may be the individual behind the name Wynnen. (I reserve judgment).

East Yorkshire Place Names and surnames


ACKLAM There was an Acklam in the Old East Riding, now in North Yorkshire; and an Acklam in the old North Riding, now in Cleveland (Middlesborough). Either or both could be the source of the surname. Sir William Akelum, knight, is on record in Holderness in 1359, and Thomas Acklom was at Hunmanby in 1584.

ANLABY does not appear to have survived in this form, though there was a family of the name connected to Anlaby. The surname Umpleby is said to derive from Anlaby, as is Halnaby, if it is extant.

BENTLEY This place name occurs in several counties; there are three in West Yorkshire, and a Bentley near Cottingham in East Yorkshire. A John Bentley was assessed for the Poll Tax in the East Riding in 1381.

BEVERLEY As there is only one Beverley in England there is no doubt about the origin of this surname. Thomas de Beverley held land in Marfleet near Hull in 1359. The gentry families Beverley of Selby, of Ganstead, near Hull, and of Great Smeaton in the North Riding, all claimed descent from one John Beverley of Beverley (16th century?).