Origin of Anglo Saxon Surnames

Book 2, Chapter 8, Edwy the Fair from 955 AD to 975 – Edwy the Fair

This word by being constantly added to his name became a kind of secondary name, but did not descend to his posterity, nor become the surname of his family. Sometimes a particular person was distinguished from others of the same name, by adding the name of the place where he dwelt, or the name of his father, and by several other ways. It may however, be observed that those words which in this period were used as nicknames to distinguish particular persons of the same proper names from each other, in the next period became family names, and descended to the posterity of these persons, who probably resembled them in these particulars, and from these words many of our modern surnames are derived.  By such slow and insensible degrees are the most prevailing customs established.

Edwy was unfortunate from his quarrel with Dunstan, and the consequent enmity of a powerful party in the church. Some historians have spoken favourably of his character. The greater part describes him as a vicious prince, who merited his fate by his misconduct, but while they agree in representing him as a monster of wickedness and impurity, they contradict one another fatly when they descend to the particulars of his life. All agree that his connexion with a lady, Elgiva, had a principal share in the calamities of his reign, but of the nature of that connexion, different and inconsistent accounts appear to have prevailed at a very early period. Some describe her as his wife by an uncanonical marriage, others consider her his mistress, and some pretend she was the wife of another man.

Chapter 8, Edwy the Fair


Origin of Anglo Saxon Surnames

Conflicting Testimony Concerning Edwy

Incident on His Coronation Day

Treatment of Elgiva

Edgar the Pacific

Chapter 8, Origin of Monasteries in England

Introduction of Celibacy

Their Rules and Practice

The Benedictines

Chapter 8, Dunstan

Sketch of Dunstan

His Alleged Visions and Miracles

Becomes Abbot, Bishop and Archbishop

Chapter 8, Archbishop Dunstan and the Clergy

His Character and Policy

Aided by Bishops Oswald and Ethelwald

The Secular Clergy Supplanted by the Monks

King Edgar’s Private Life

The Worth of the Eulogies Pronounced on Him by the Monks

The Canons of Edgar

His Position Among the Anglo-Saxon Kings

Policy Towards the Danes of Northumbria


Categories: Book 2

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