People of Medieval Scotland
1093 - 1371

Some considerations on metonymic by-names and surnames (2013)

Metonymic occupational surnames are presented as normal surnames, but in some cases special title/occupation factoids have been added with an (M) following the name.

Barley: the name of Thomas le Barl’, inhabitant of the burgh of Berwick (PoMS, no. 22047 (; accessed 11 February 2013), if it refers to Barley, may be a metonymic for a barleyman or maker/ seller of barley bread. See Reaney and Wilson, 28. Due to the uncertain nature of the unique reference, a title/occupation has not been added at this time.

Bell, Belle: probably most usually from French bel, belle (‘beautiful’), or shortened form of ‘Isabel’, but in some cases may be metonymic for ‘bellman’ or ‘bell-ringer’. Reaney and Wilson, 37. As this possibility is somewhat unlikely, title/ occupation factoids have not been added.

Burrell: a maker of ‘burel’, a coarse wool cloth

Cachepol (Catchpole): from Old Norman French cachepol, ‘chase fowl’, initially a person who chased poultry in default of money, for a tax gatherer or ‘petty officer of justice, especially a warrant officer who arrests for debt’. Reaney and Wilson, 87. Reaney, Origin of English Surnames, 160, 281; Thuresson, Middle English Occupational Terms, 145. Title/ occupation factoid added.

Caperon: from Old Norman French capron, Old French chaperon, a ‘hood or cap worn by nobles’; a metonymic for a maker of such hoods or caps. Reaney and Wilson, 83. See also ‘Caperoner’, Fransson, Middle English Surnames of Occupation, 116; Reaney, Origin of English Surnames, 33. Title/occupation factoid added.

Chaunterel (modernised as Chantrell): possibly sometimes a diminutive form for a cantor or chanter (chaunteur, singer)

Cissor: see Scissors

Clogge: Middle English for a clog, ‘a wooden-soled shoe’. Reaney and Wilson, 101. Metonymic for a maker of clogs. See also Clogmaker, Thuresson, 219. Title/occupation factoid added under modern spelling, Clog.

Cochet: According to Peter McClure and David Rollason in Durham Liber Vitae, ii, ‘Section B. Surnames’, page 249, this name, which is found in France and Flanders, is ‘a nickname from a diminutive form of Old French coq (‘cock, rooster’), or that it is a patronymic from a diminutive form of a Middle English personal name Cok. This is all in contradistinction to assertion made by Reaney that surname is a metonymic for a maker of coket bread or a customs house official. No title/occupation factoids have been added.

Cockerell: According to Reaney and Wilson, p. 103, the use of this word in the sense of a ‘young cock’ is not recorded before the 15th century, and its use prior to that may in some cases be a metonymic from Old French cocherel or cokerel, a seller of cocks or roosters. However, this name appears twice in the Poms database, once apparently as a toponymic or locative surname, and the second apparently as a by-name or nickname. However, this case appears only once in a late antiquarian copy, so no title/occupation factoids have been added based on this shaky evidence.

Cockin: either a metonymic for a baker or a patronymic. Diminutive from personal name ME ‘Cok’, or nickname from French ‘coq’?

Cod: there are a number of options for this name

Treasure: from OFr tresor, this is a metonymic for a treasurer.


  • Richard McKinley, A History of British Surnames (1990)
  • P. H. Reaney and R. M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames. Revised edition (1997)
  • P. H. Reaney The Origin of English Surnames (1967)
  • Gustav Fransson, Middle English Surnames of Occupation (Lund 1935)
  • Bertil Thuresson, Middle English Occupational Terms (Lund 1950)
  • The Durham Liber Vitae, ed. David and Lynda Rollason, ii (2007), 258-262
  • George F. Black,  The Surnames of Scotland: their origin, meaning, and history (1946)
  • The Oxford English Dictionary (
  • The Anglo-Norman Dictionary (
  • The Dictionary of the Scottish Language (

By Matthew Hammond. 2013.