What’s in a Name? Part I

What's in a name? Part I

Browsing through more than 100 wills written by Hawkesbury folk from c.1544-1600 it as a surprise, and a delightful insight, to come across several instances of named cattle bequeathed to family members.

William Styffe had two daughters, Johanne (Joan) and Annes (Annys was quite a popular girls’ name). In October 1544 he gave Johanne "ii kyne, one called miss, the other called youthe" , whereas Annes was to have two red-coloured cows "one called fylpale & the other called pet".

Even an oxe was named in Joan Holborowe’s will of May 1571: her son Christopher was bequeathed "one oxe called whytthorne" and her son Henry was given "a cowe called gentle".

Towards the end of the century, in April 1596, John White wished his son Edward to have what we assume was a pale-brownish coloured animal "my fallowe cowe called cheerio" and his daughter Margaret "three kine that is to say by name, Burnett, Starlet & Nutte". Unfortunately he failed to name his "blacke heifer of two yeres olde" or his "baye mare" — both bequeathed to Edward.

[NB not only was spelling irregular, but also the use of capital letters. It all adds to the charm of reading these old documents!]