Abbildungen der Seite

a conclusion which is strongly supported by the position of Sutton and Eastham. For from Willaston as a centre, the early colonists threw out a branch station towards the east and called it the East ham, from which they extended their borders in a southerly direction to Sutton. With their first settlements towards the Mersey bank, they would naturally regard that as their front, and an extension to the rear is appropriately named Hinderton. To this primitive period, when there was practically but the one settlement, and the various appendages did not need to be distinguished from similar appendages belonging to a neighbouring settlement, we may relegate the establishing of Burton, or the Rick yard, as we should call it, which would be simply an outlying homestead from the parent settlement.

It is possible that we may also put down, as belonging to the same period, Chorleton,—a name which has scarcely altered at all from its original form, Ceorla-tun, the village of the churls or peasants— and the Ley, a village a mile from Chorleton, which means the clearing, afterwards pasture.

But that the colonists had dangers to meet in their early enterprise, we find from Stoke, or the stockaded place, which, situated as it was, on the borders of the wild meres and fens of Ince and Frodsham, would need the protection of its fortifications against the wild beasts, which made their lair in the surrounding waste, if not against the unsubdued Britons, who may still have held the marsh-bound islands of Ince, Elton and Thornton.

It is possible also that Capenhurst may represent the common brushwood or thicket where the early settlers reared the juicy capon. And, finally, Lydiate— the gate of the enclosure—is certainly close enough to Willaston to have marked the entrance into the common enclosure into which the early settlers would drive their cattle for safety.

But having rapidly sketched this somewhat fanciful picture, let us examine the names in detail.

Willaston {Wylaston, 1325, frequently spelt Willaueston) probably contains the family name of the first settler in Wirral, just as an American squatter to-day might call his clearing and log-hut Jonestown or Brownsville, should he happen to rejoice in the distinguished patronymic of Jones or Brown.

Sutton {Domesday Book, Sudtone) and Eastham {Domesday Book, Estham) bear their meanings on their faces.

Stoke, though frequently a stockaded place, a derivation which I think likely in the case of the Wirral Stoke, may also come from the simple fact that a stock or stump of a tree, remarkable for some trivial reason, struck the fancy of the early colonist.

Capenhurst would, without a question, fall into the category of pure English names, were it not for Domesday Book's remarkable spelling, viz., Capelles. I am inclined to think that this again must be an error on the part of the copyist, as in a large number of documents, transcripts of which I have seen, between the dates 1309 and 1350, the name is spelt Capenhurst, without a single variation. Anglo-Saxon, Capun = a capon, hyrst = a hurst copse or wood. The word hyrst most frequently occurs in compounds; e.g., knuthyrst, ceschyrst.

Both Mollingtons are mentioned in Domesday as Molintone; fourteenth century, Molynton and Mulynton, the village of the family of the Molls.

Great And Little Saughall {Domesday Book, Salhare; thirteenth century, Salghal), near Chester. Saughall = the Hall (usually a stone building, as opposed to a wooden one) of the willows. Saugh is still used in the South of Scotland for a willow.

Puddington (Domesday Book, Potitone; fourteenth century, Podynton) is probably the ton of the ing or family of the Pudds or Podds; doubtless a distinguished English family, though not conspicuous for the euphony of its name.

Leighton (Domesday Book, Lestone; fourteenth century documents, Leychtone, Legherton and Leghton).

Hargrave (Domesday Book, Haregrave; 1300, Hargrave): from Hara and graf, the hoar or grey ditch. The graf, from meaning the ditch which marked the boundary of a piece of land, came to mean the piece of land so marked off.

Stanney (Domesday Book, Stannei; 1278, Staney): the stony or rocky island.

Chorleton: Ceorla-tun, the village of the peasants.

Lydiate: Lid, an enclosure; gaet, a gate.

Hinderton: hinder, adv., back, or further side of, behind, down.

Ledsham (Domesday Book, Leuedesham; 1364, Leuedesham). It is interesting to note that in Domesday Book, the English owners of the neighbouring manors of Prenton and Barnston were Leuvede and Leuiett, possibly descendants of one of the early Northumbrian colonists, who planted the "ham" or home town of his family in the heart of Wirral, and called his land after his own name.

Going further up the Wirral, we find English settlements at—

Storeton {Domesday Book, Storetune). I am at a loss to suggest a derivation for this, unless it be connected with a M.E. word—stoor, provisions.

Bebington, the village of the family of the Bebs.

Prenton {Domesday Book, Prestune; thirteenth century Prentane).

Woodchurch: Anglo-Saxon, Wudu, wood. The church in the wood.

Oxton: usually spelt in early documents Oxon. Is this the town of the oxen? I doubt it, because why should one village more than another be distinguished by its oxen. I suspect rather that we have here a corruption or adaptation of some British name.

Claughton. Canon Taylor, when speaking of Claughton in Yorkshire, derives it from an Erse word cloch, a stone, more particularly a boundary stone.

The early forms of the word are Claghton,4 Claighton, and Clayton, and I wrote to Canon Taylor suggesting that it meant the clay-town, and pointing out that there were large beds of particularly stiff boulder clay in the township—just the kind of stuff that would impress itself on the mind of the early settler as he struggled through it behind his plough. In reply, Canon Taylor said—" Claughton must be a modern irregular spelling. A.S. clccg, clay, "would normally make claigh in M.E., but not "claugh; augh would come from cat, or at; how"ever, your spelling, Claighton, makes Clay-ton "the probable meaning."

Woolton: the town of the wolves, or the wool.

B1dston (earliest form, Byddeston, 1272): I am strongly of the opinion that this is simply Beda's or Bidda's-ton. Father Dallow suggests that since a stone with a Runic inscription was found at Overchurch—which Runic inscription one authority has read to contain the verb, Biddan, to pray—that therefore it is probable that this stone was once set up on Bidston Hill, and the village resting at its foot obtained the name of the Bidding Stone. The objection to this is that the Anglo

4 Cloclon in Pope Nicholas1 Taxation, 1272.

[ocr errors]

Saxon form would be biddende-stdn, so that to obtain Bidston it would be necessary to elide a very important syllable. Besides this, there is not the slightest proof and very little probability that the stone in question ever was in Bidston parish.

Wallasey, as mentioned above, is the Britons' or foreigners' isle, from the Anglo-Saxon Wealasieg. It is also an interesting example of the vitality of the old names. The Norse invasion and colonization, though it gave this place a new name—Kirkby—never quite eradicated the old one; and in due time the new name sank into disuse, and the old one has been once more reinstated. That Wallasey was ever a complete island is, of course, not the case; but to all intents and purposes it was, the only access being by the low-lying band of sandhills running between it and Meols.

Saughall-massey, mentioned in Domesday Book, I have no doubt, as Salghal (and in support of this view I would direct attention to Mr. Hance's remarks, in his paper on the Bennets of SaughallMassey in our Transactions, vol. xxxviii), seems to have been the centre of a smaller original settlement in North Wirral, since we have names denoting relative position occurring here again in Upton and Newton, and possibly Larton or the lower town, though this latter may refer to Greasby and Frankby.

With Overchurch and Moreton, two places to which I shall refer again immediately, I think we may close our list of English place names.

Wirral during the English times must have been a fairly flourishing and certainly populous neighbourhood; though the fact that Chester lay a waste for so long during this time, would naturally take away that source of strength and wealth. Wirral does not seem to have suffered from a lack of ghostly comfort. North Wirral enjoyed

« ZurückWeiter »