Britannia, by William Camden


Big I I Had design’d here, to insert the order and succession of the Saxon Kings, as well in the Heptarchy as Monarchy; but because this may not be a proper place for them, and a heap of bare names may not be so acceptable; perhaps I shall oblige the reader more, by drawing up a short scheme of the observations I have made (especially out of Alfrick the Grammarian) concerning the force, original, and signification of their Names. Phoenicum Not that I pretend to explain every name, for that would be too laborious a Work; besides, that such barbarous names (wherein there is a great emphasis, a concise brevity, and something of ambiguity,) are very hardly translated into another language.Porphyry de Theolog. Phœnicum. But because most of them are compounds, the simples whereof are very few; I shall explain the latter, that so the signification of the former (which always implied something of good luck) may be more easily discover’d; and to shew that the Greek text nominum (the derivation of names) mentioned by Plato, is to be found in all nations.

Æl. Eal. Al. ÆL. EAL and AL. in compound names (as Greek text in the Greek-compounds) signifies all or altogether. So, Ælwinaelwin ael, is, a complete Conqueror: Albert, all illustrious: Aldred, altogether reverend: Alfred, altogether peaceful. To these, Pammachius, Pancratius, Pamphilus, &c. do in some measure answer.

Ælf, Ulf, &c. ÆLF. (which according to various dialects, is pronounced ulf, wolph, hulph, hilp, helfe, and at this day helpe) implies assistance. So Ælfwin, is victorious aid: Ælfwold, an auxiliary governour: Ælfgifa, a Lender of assistance. With which, Boetius, Symmachus, Epicurus, &c. bear a plain analogy.AElfwin AElfwold AElfgifa AELF

Ard. ARD. signifies natural disposition. As Godard, is a divine temper: Reinard, a sincere temper: Giffard, a bountiful and liberal disposition: Bernard, filial affection, &c.

Athel. and Ethel. ATHEL. Adel. and Æthel. is Noble. So Æthelred, is noble for counsel: Æthelard, a noble genius: Æthelbert, eminently noble: Æthelward, a noble Protector.AEthel AEthelred AEthelard AEthelbert AEthelward

Bert. BERT. is the same with our bright; in the latin illustris and clarus. So Ecbert, eternally famous or bright: Sigbert, famous conqueror: And she who was term’d by the Germans Bertha, was by the Greeks call’d Eudoxia, as is observ’d by Luitprandus. Of the same sort were these, Phædrus, Epiphanius, Photius, Lampridius, Fulgentius, Illustrius.Phaedrus

Bald. BALD. as we learn from Jornandes, was us’d by the northern nations to signifie the same as the latin audax, bold; and is still in use. So Baldwin (and by inversion Winbald) is bold conqueror; Ethelbald, nobly bold: Eadbald, happily bold. Which are of the same import, as Thraseas, Thrasymachus, Thrasybulus, &c.

Burh. ⌈BURH. is a Tower, and, from that, a defence or protection; so, Cwenburh is a woman ready to assist; Cuthburh eminent for assistance.

Ceol. CEOL. an initial in the names of men, signifies a Ship or Ciule, such as those that the Saxons landed in.⌉

Cen and Kin. CEN. and Kin, denote kinsfolk. So Cinulph, is a help to his kindred: Cinehelm, a protector of his Kindred: Cinburg, the defence of his kindred: Cinric, powerful in kindred.

Cuth. CUTH. signifies knowledge, or skill. So Cuthwin, is a knowing conqueror: Cuthred, a knowing counsellor: Cuthbert, famous for skill. Much of the same nature, are Sophocles, Sophianus, &c.

Ead. EAD. ⌈ ÆD.aed ED.⌉ in the compound, and Eadig in the simple names, denotes happiness, or blessedness. Thus, Eadward is a happy preserver: Eadulph, happy assistance: Eadgar, happy power: Eadwin, happy conqueror. Which Macarius, Eupolemus, Faustus, Fortunatus, Felicianus, &c. do in some measure resemble. ⌈Ead may also, in some cases, be derived from the Saxon eath, which signifies Easie, gentle, mild.

Ferth. FERTH, and FORTH. common Terminations, are the same as in English, an Army; coming from the Saxon-word Saxon: fyrth.⌉

Fred. FRED. is the same with peace; upon which our fore-fathers call’d their sanctuaries fred-stole, i.e. the seats of peace. So, Frederic, is powerful or wealthy in peace: Winfred, victorious peace: Reinfred, sincere peace.

Gar. ⌈GAR. in Saxon signifies a weapon; so Eadgar, is a happy weapon; Ethelgar, a noble weapon.⌉

Gisle. GISLE. among the English-Saxons signifies a pledge. Thus Fredgisle, is pledge of peace: Gislebert, an illustrious pledge: like the Greek Homerus.

Heard. ⌈HEARD, signifies a Keeper; and is sometimes initial, as Heard-bearht, a glorious Keeper, sometimes final, as Cyneheard, a Royal-keeper.⌉

Hold. HOLD. in the old Glossaries is mention’d in the same sense with wold, i.e. a governor or chief officer; but in some other place, for love, as Holdlic, lovely.

Helm. HELM. denotes Defence; as Eadhelm, happy defence: Sighelm, victorious defence: Berthelm, eminent defence: like Amyntas, and Boetius, among the Greeks.

Hare and Here. HARE. and HERE. differing in pronunciation only, signifie both an army, and a lord. So, Harold, is a General of an army; Hareman, a chief man in the army; Herebert, famous in the army: Herwin, a victorious army. Which are much like Stratocles, Polemarchus, Hegesistratus, &c. among the Greeks.


HILD. in Ælfrick’sAElfrick’s Grammar is interpreted a Lord, or Lady. So, Hildebert, is a noble Lord: Mahtild, an Heroick Lady: and in the same sense, is Wiga also found.

Leod. LEOD. signifies the people: ⌈or rather a Nation, Country.⌉ &c. Thus Leodgar, is one of great interest with the People, ⌈or Nation.⌉

Leof. LEOF. denotes love. So Leofwin, is a winner of love: Leofstan, the best belov’d. Like these, Agapetus, Erasmus, Erastus, Philo, Amandus.

Mere. ⌈MÆREMAERE . is derived from the Saxon Saxon: maer, famous, great, noted: so, Ælmere,AElmere is, all famous; ÆthelmereAEthelmere , famous for nobility.⌉

Mund. MUND. is peace; from whence our Lawyers call a breach of the peace, Mundbrech. So, Eadmund, is happy peace: Æthelmund, noble peace: Ælmund, all peace: with which these are much of the same import, Irenæus: Hesychius, Lenis, Pacatus, Sedatus, Tranquillus, &c.AEthelmund AElmund Irenaeus

Ord. ⌈ORD. signifies an Edge or Sharpness; as in Ordhelm, Ordbright, &c. and in the Islandish tongue Or signifies a spear or dart.⌉

Rad. red. rod. RAD. red. and rod. differing only in dialect, signifie counsel; as Conrad, powerful or skilful in counsel: ÆthelredAEthelred , a noble counsellor: Rodbert, eminent for counsel. Eubulus and Thrasybulus have almost the same sense.

Ric. RIC. denotes a powerful, rich, or valiant man; as Fortunatus has told us in those verses:

Hilperice potens, si interpres barbarus adsit
Adiutor fortis hoc quoque nomen habet

Hilp’ric Barbarians a stout helper term.

So, Alfric, is altogether strong: ÆthelricAEthelric , nobly strong, or powerful. To the same sense, are Polycrates, Crato, Plutarchus, Opimius.

Sig. SIG. was us’d by them for Victory; as Sigebert, famous for victory: Sigward, victorous preserver: Sigard, conquering temper. And almost in the same sense, are Nicocles, Nicomachus, Nicander, Victor, Victorinus, Vincentius, &c.

Stan. STAN. amongst our forefathers was the termination † Vid. Sax. Gram. de Adjectivis.of the superlative degree. So, Athelstan, most noble: Betstan, the best: Leofstan, the dearest; Wistan, the wisest: Dunstan, the highest.

Weard. ⌈WEARD. whether initial or final, signifies watchfulness or Care; from the Saxon Saxon: weardan, to ward or keep.⌉

Wi. WI. holy. Thus Wimund, holy peace: Wibert, eminent for sanctity: Alwi, altogether holy. As, Hierocles, Hieronymus, Hosius, &c.

Wig. ⌈WIG. being a termination in the names of men, signifies war; or else a Heroe, from Saxon: wiga, a word of that signification.

Wiht. WIHT. an initial in the names of men, signifies strong, nimble, lusty; which are imply’d in that word, being purely Saxon.⌉

Willi. WILLI. and Vili. among the English-Saxons (as Billi at this day among the Germans) signify’d many. So Willielmus, is the defender of many: Wildred, worthy of respect from many: Wilfred, peace to many. Which are answer’d, in sense and signification, by Polymachus, Polycrates, Polyphilus, &c.

Win. ⌈WIN. whether initial or final in the names of men, may either denote a masculine temper, from Saxon: win, which signifies in Saxon War, Strength, &c. or else the general love and esteem he hath among the People; from the Saxon Saxon: wine, i.e. dear, beloved, &c.⌉

Wold. WOLD. and Wald. with them, signify’d a ruler or governour. From whence Bertwold, is a famous governor; ÆthelwoldAEthelwold , a noble governour: Herwald, and by inversion Waldher, a General of an army.

But here let us stop; since others as well as my self, will think I have said too much upon so trifling a subject.

The name Britain renew’d. It may perhaps be more considerable if I tell posterity (supposing these papers to have the good fortune to live) what I my self am † Circ. Ann. eye-witness of; That as Egbert ordered this nearer part of Britain, then his own dominion, to be call’d England; so now, after about * * Now, about 900.800 years, while I am revising this work, King † Jac. 1.James being by the favour of heaven and his own hereditary title, invested with the Monarchy of this Island, to the general satisfaction of all good men (that, as the Island is but one, encompass’d with one sea, under one person, and one crown, with the same language, religion, laws, and judicial process; so, to settle it in lasting happiness, and to remove all old quarrels, it might be call’d by one name:) King * * Jac. 1.James (I say) in the second year of his reign, did by Proclamation assume the stile and title of King of Great Britain in all cases whatsoever, except in the Instruments of Law.

General Rules, whereby to know the Original of the Names of PLACES in England.

AB, in the beginning of names of Places, is oft-times a contraction of Abbot, and implies, either that a Monastery was there, or that the place belonged to some Monastery.

AC, AK, being Initials in the names of Places, signify an Oak, from the Saxon Ac, an Oak.

AL, ATTLE, ADLE, do all seem to be corruptions of the Saxon Saxon: aethel, Noble, famous; as also ALLING and ADLING, are corruptions of Saxon: aetheling, noble, splendid, famous.

AL, ALD, being initials, are derived from the Saxon Saxon: Eald, ancient; and so is oft-times the initial All, being melted by the Normans, from the Saxon Saxon: eald.

AL, HAL, are derived from the Saxon Saxon: healle, i.e. a hall, a Palace: So, in Gothick, alh signifies a Temple, or any other famous Building.

ASK, ASH, AS, do all come from the Saxon Saxon: aesc, an Ash-tree.

BAM, BEAM, being initials in the name of any place, usually imply it to be, or at least to have been, woody; from the Saxon beam, which we use in the same sense to this day.

BARROW, whether in the beginning or end of names of Places, signifies a Grove; from Saxon: bearwe, which the Saxons us’d in the same sense.

BRAD, being an initial, signifies broad, spacious, from the Saxon Saxon: brad, and the Gothick braid.

BRIG (and possibly also BRIX) is derived from the Saxon Saxon: bricg, a bridge; which to this day in the northern Counties is called a brigge, and not a bridge.

BRUN, BRAN, BROWN, BOURN, BURN; are all derived from the Saxon Saxon: born, Saxon: bourn, Saxon: brunna, Saxon: burna; all signifying a River.

BUR, BOUR, BOR, come from the Saxon Saxon: bur, an inner chamber, or place of shade and Retirement.

BURROW, BURH, BURG, are derived from the Saxon Saxon: burg, byrig, a City, Town, Tower, or Castle.

BYE, BEE, came immediately from the Saxon Saxon: by, bying, i.e. a dwelling.

CAR, CHAR, in the names of places, seem to have relation to the British Caer, a City.

CASTOR, CHESTER, are derived from the Saxon Saxon: ceaster, a City, Town, or Castle; and that, from the Latin Castrum; the Saxons chusing to fix in such places of strength and figure, as the Romans had before built or fortified.

CHIP, CHEAP, CHIPPING, in the names of places, imply a market; from the Saxon Saxon: cyppan, ceapan, to buy or traffic.

COMB, in the end, and COMP in the beginning of names, seem to be derived from the British kum, which signifies a low situation.

COT, COTE, COAT, are all from the Saxon Saxon: cot, a Cottage.

CRAG, is in British a rough steep rock, and is used in the same sense in the northern Counties, at this day.

DEN, may signifie either a Valley, or a woody place; for the Saxon Saxon: den imports both.

DER, in the beginning of names of Places, is generally to be derived from Saxon: deor, a wild-beast: unless the place stand upon a river, for then it may rather be fetch’d from the British dur, i.e. water.

ER, a syllable in the middle of names of places, comes by contraction from the Saxon Saxon: wara, dwellers.

ERNE, ERON, do immediately flow from the Saxon Saxon: ern, earn, a cottage or place of retirement.

EY, EA, EE, may either come from Saxon: ig an Island, by melting the Saxon Saxon: g into Saxon: y, which is usually done; or from the Saxon ea, which signifies a water, river, &c. or lastly, from Saxon: leag a field, by the same kind of melting.

FLEET, FLEOT, FLOT, are all derived from the Saxon Saxon: fleot, which signifies a bay, or gulf.

GRAVE, a final Syllable in the names of Places, is from the Saxon Saxon: graef, a Grove, or Cave.

HAM, whether initial or final, is no other than the Saxon Saxon: ham, a house, farm, or village.

HOLME, HOWME, whether jointly or singly, comes from the Saxon Saxon: holm, a river-Island; or, if the place be not such, the same word signifies also a hill, or mountain.

HOLT, whether at the beginning or ending of the name of any place, signifies, that it is, or hath been, woody, from the Saxon Saxon: holt, a wood; or sometimes, possibly, from the Saxon Saxon: hol, i.e. hollow, especially when the name ends in tun or dun.

HYRST, HURST, HERST, are all from the Saxon Saxon: hyrst, a wood, or grove.

INGE, in the names of places, signifies a meadow, from the Saxon Saxon: ing of the same import.

LADE, is the mouth of a river, and is derived from the Saxon Saxon: lade, which signifies a purging or discharging; there being a discharge of the waters, into the Sea, or into some greater river.

LEY, LEE, LAY, are all from the Saxon Saxon: Leag, a field or pasture; by the usual melting of the letter Saxon: g.

LOWE, LOE, come from the Saxon Saxon: hleaw, a hill, heap, or barrow; and so the Gothick hlaiw, is a monument, or barrow.

MARSH, MARS, MAS, are derived from the Saxon Saxon: mersc, a fenn, or fenny place.

MER, MERE, whether in the beginning, middle, or end, always signify the same with the Saxon Saxon: mere, i.e. a pool, or lake.

OVER, hath a double signification in the names of places, according to the different situations of them. If the place be upon, or near, a river, it comes from the Saxon Saxon: ofer, or Saxon: ofre, a brink, or bank: But if there is in the neighbourhood another of the same name, distinguished by the addition of Nether; then Over is from the Saxon Saxon: ufar, i.e. upper, and nether from the Saxon Saxon: nither, i.e. lower.

PRES, PREST, seem to be derived from the Saxon Saxon: Preost, a Priest; it being usual, in after-times, to drop the letter (o) in like cases.

RIG, RIDGE, seem to signify the top of a hill falling on each side; from the Saxon Saxon: hrigge, and the Islandick hriggur, both signifying a back.

STEAD, STED, being in the name of a Place that is distant from any River, comes from the Saxon Saxon: sted, styd a place; but if it be upon a river, or a harbour, it is to be derived from Saxon: stathe, a shore, or station for ships.

STOKE, STOAK, seem to come from the Saxon Saxon: stocce, signifying the stock or body of a tree.

STOWE, STOE, whether singly or jointly, are the same with the Saxon Saxon: stow, a Place.

THORP, THROP, THREP, TREP, TROP, are all from the Saxon Saxon: thorp, which signifies a Village.

TON, TUN, are derived from the Saxon Saxon: tun, a hedge, or wall; and this seems to be from Saxon: dun a hill; the Towns being anciently built on hills, for the sake of defence and protection, in times of war.

WEALD, WALD, WALT, whether singly or jointly, signify a wood or grove, from the Saxon Saxon: weald, a word of the same import.

WERTH, WEORTH, WYRTH, whether initial or final in the names of Places, signify a farm, court, or village, from the Saxon Saxon: weorthig, used by them in the same sense.

WIC, WICH, come from the Saxon Saxon: wic, which, according to the different nature and condition of Places, hath a threefold signification; implying, either a village, or a bay made by the winding banks of a river, or a Castle.

WIN, in the names of Places, implies a battle fought there; for so the Saxon Saxon: win signifies.

WOLD, whether singly or jointly, signifies a plain open Country; from the Saxon Saxon: wold, a plain, and a place without wood.


Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 13:06