By P. H. Reaney, R. M. Wilson
This vintage dictionary solutions questions comparable to those and explains the origins of over 16,000 names in present English use. will probably be a resource of fascination to every person with an curiosity in names and their background.
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Extra resources for A Dictionary of English Surnames
Yet the only examples of the use of the name as a surname come from the south: Gilbert Robynhod 1296 SRSx; Katherine Robynhod 1325 CorLo; Robert Robynhoud 1332 SRSx. It would seem probable that these surnames must be connected with the famous outlaw, but no explanation for their presence in the south at this date can be offered. On the whole medieval feminine personal names were rather more varied than the masculine ones. g. Denis but Denise, Nicholas but Nichola, this was not the case in medieval England.
But surnames of the type Willelmus filius Johannis are common long after 1235. ’40 He does not explain why filius Radulfi becomes Rolle when the name is a man’s, but Rolles when it is that of a woman. ,42 is most unlikely. Such forms are rare in English and would not be employed for surnames which his own Latin examples prove were in the genitive. 44 Twenty other examples of this type in -es have been noted between 1100 and 1230, all names of men, formed usually from Old English or Scandinavian masculine names: Walter Ricaldes c1100 MedEA (Nf), Ranulph Godes 1186–1210 Holme, Edricus Keteles 1188 BuryS (Sf).
The name is usually taken to be derived from ON Birkibeinar, the name given to the followers of King Sverrir who fought his way to the throne of Norway in 1184. But it is found as a surname in England as early as the end of the twelfth century: William Birkebein 1199 Pleas (Nf); Rener Birkebayn 1232 Pat (L); Isabella Birkebayn 1297 SRY; John Birkebayn 1379 PTY. These would seem to indicate that it was probably an Old Norse nickname of a not uncommon type with -beinn as a second element, and not necessarily connected in any way with the Birkibeinar of Sverrlssaga.
A Dictionary of English Surnames by P. H. Reaney, R. M. Wilson