Posted By:Phil Moggridge
Subject:Mogridge/Moggridge spellings
Post Date:December 05, 1999 at 13:22:02
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Forum:Mogridge Family Genealogy Forum
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By Gerald Moggridge ( born Wandsworth, London, 1929)


It is generally agreed among genealogists that the family name MOGRIDGE or MOGGRIDGE is a " west country name ", with the largest early concentrations found in Devon and Somerset. Beyond that, however, there is precious little agreement. Some genealogist claim that the name is simply a diminutive of Margaret ( " Moggy ", " Mogga " ) ; other say that it is a place name ( " Mogga's Ridge " ) which begs the question, why is Mogga called Mogga ? Among a welter of definitions the one I favour is Henry Harrison's, in volume 1 of his book " Surnames of the United Kingdom " (1969). Harrison seeks to interpret both syllables of the name, thus:

" MOGGRIDGE " ( Eng. )

Dweller at the Great Ridge. ( Middle English; muk-el rigge, or muk-el rugge. Old English; myc-el hrycg ) ".

In simple terms, the MOG (G) RIDGE family were hill people. To me, Harrison's definition makes both topographical sense and linguistic sense. Topographically, my researches have always pointed to the fact that the early concentrations of the MOGRIDGE/MOGGRIDGE name have been found in the higher elevations of the west country - Exmoor (Molland, Exford, etc) in the Brendon Hills, in North Somerset (Minehead, Porlock, Selworthy ) and in the Mendips and Quantocks. Similarly, some of the earliest spellings of the name that I have come across carry a lot of the flavour of Harrison's Old English definition - especially the presence of the letter y ( MOGRYG, MOGGARYGGE ).

Earliest Known References

Although there are some references to the surname MOGG and MOGGE in the 12th century the earliest recognisably MOG(G)RIDGE names I have found from the 14th century. They appear in the book " Devon Place Names " ( Public Record Office) and the earliest of them all was in 1333:


The SR means that the source was the Devon Lay Subsidy Rolls for 1333. Significantly, the (p) means that this book goes on to give other 14th century spellings including MOGGERIGGE (1351) and MOGGARYGGE (1394) both from the Devon Assize Rolls. The earliest west country IGI ref. is " JOHN MOGGRYG, son of Philip. Molland, Devon 11 September 1541 ". The earliest London IGI ref. is " JOAN MORGRAGE married Tristram Blaby ( Minister of the Church) , St Mary Aldermary. 1 Dec. 1590 ".

Earliest Known "Quote" from a MOG (G) RIDGE

The earliest known statement attributed to a member of the MOG (G) RIDGE - family and referring to the history of the family - was that of a JOHN MAWGRIDGE in 1708. Tragically, JOHN (a soldier in the First Troop of Guards) was a convicted murderer and was on his way to the gallows when he made his statement - to the prison chaplain who accompanied him on the journey from Newgate to Tyburn.

After expressing his shame and remorse for the crime and describing the circumstances that had led up to it, JOHN told the chaplain, clearly with some pride, that "both my father and ancestors had had the honour to serve the Crown for above 200 years..." Sadly, JOHN MAWGRIDGE was executed that day (28 April 1708) but we can be grateful that his testimony has lived on to tell us that the "military branch" of MAWGRIDGE family (whom I had traced before I found the murder, but only as far back as, roughly, 1490. Few families can have been given such an authoritative glimpse back into the past as this!

Incidentally, while MAWGRIDGE/MAUGERIDGE were the favoured spelling of this " military branch " of the family in the 17th and early 18th centuries ( Westminster, Greenwich and Canterbury church records ) by the end of the 18th century the direct descendants of the branch were spelling it MOGGRIDGE. Which leads us neatly on to...........

Pronunciation = Spelling = Chaos !

Martin Mogridges excellent summary of the IGI entries gives us a vivid pictures of the vagaries of the spelling of our family name. In the face of over 100 different spellings the temptation to think harshly of our forebears ( and of the clergy ) of those days for making such a bog of it all is a powerful one. On the other hand, one need only think of the circumstances of those early years of church ( and other ) registrations to understand how inevitable it was that all these variants would arise, notably:

(a) At baptisms, marriages and burials, names were delivered orally to a clergy not all of whom were as literate as they claimed to be, by families few if any of whom could read or write. It was hardly surprising therefore that, in the absence of a family member able to correct an entry after the event - some extraordinary and often plain daft spellings were concocted - eg Thurloxton, Somerset:

" Mary, dau of John & Margreatt Mogridge 9 April 1687
John , son of John & Margoret Modgredg 26 May 1691
Jane, dau of John & Margret Modgridg 8 April 1696 "

( One family, one church. Three different spellings of Mogridge and three different spellings of Margaret ! )

(b) Nor were the clergy ( and other scribes ) as sensitive as they might have been to the phonetics of English names, especially when they were delivered in a dialect unfamiliar to them. It was almost certainly a family newly-arrived from the west country that presented their children to St. Margaret's Westminster for " MARRGRADGE " or " MARRGRAGE ". That was presumably the best that a puzzled London cleric could make of a broad Somerset/Devon delivery of MOGRIDGE.

(c) In addition, there is some evidence that phonetic problems of this kind were compounded by " fashions " in the spelling of names in some areas of documentation ( army records, rate books, Treasury papers, land indentures ). One suspects that these were dictated in part by a sort of linguistic elitism, or even snobbery.

For example, as noted above, military and Treasury scribes insisted on the MAW/MAUgeridge spelling. Parish clerks favoured MORGOridge in rate books, etc. It is my firm belief that the " Establishment " of the time (especially in London) thought it more proper or posh to pronounce the first syllable of MOG(G)RIDGE to rhyme with AWE rather than LOG, and spelt it accordingly. ( Even today, it is thought posher in some quarters to AWF rather than OFF and AWFICE rather than OFFICE).

Mercifully, these spellings of our name had almost totally disappeared by the early 19th century to be replaced by MOGRIDGE or MOGGRIDGE. As Martin Mogridge observed in his note, the only survivors of the MAU spelling are those families who emigrated to the US and are now marooned there: linguistically speaking, of course!

(d) Finally and obviously, it has to be said that some of the odder spellings are simply the result of good, old-fashioned misprints or error, either on the part of the church, the clerk, the IGI researchers, or the indexer. Most of us have a list of favourite howlers. Mine includes the marriage register of St Pauls Covent Garden which had a ROBERT MOGRUDGE marrying a MARY MILLS in 1765. Fortunately ROBERT signed boldly and clearly MOGRIDGE . St Marylebone Church had a ROBERT MOYRIDGE witnessing a marriage in 1772. No such man; it was MOGRIDGE again ! The IGI ( as well as repeating these errors) made one of its own when it listed a HENRY & ELENOR MOVERIDGE having a son ROBERT MOVERIDGE in Stepney St George's-in -the-East in 1734. The church register clearly shows the name as MOGERIDGE. A Treasury paper dated 1697 names a Mrs DOROTHY MORTGRIDGE petitioning for arrears of a pension granted to her following the death in action of her husband in the reign of Charles II. A few months later the Treasury records the payment of arrears to MRS MAWGRIDGE.

The important point about all this is that none of the names in para (d) should be regarded as " variants " in the true sense of the word. the fact is, there never was a MOVERIDGE family, or a MOGRUDGE family, or a MORTRIDGE family or a MOYRIDGE family. These " names " were born out of error and existed only fleetingly, on paper. They should always be accompanied by a pair of quote marks.

So I suppose the moral is ! " Don't get too hung up on the precise spelling of the surname, especially if you are researching a specific branch of the family in a specific location. In particular, don't let any differences you encounter in the spelling persuade you that you must be looking at two different families. If Thurloxton is any guide, you probably aren't ! "

FINALLY - Why the switch from MOGRIDGE to MOGGRIDGE ?

One phenomenon that is difficult to explain is the evidence I have come across that, for some reason, many MOGRIDGE families appear to change to the MOGGRIDGE spelling, in " mid-life " so to speak. In most instances the change seems to occur some years after the family's arrival in London from - in the cases I have examined - Somerset.

What is odd is that, so far, I have encountered no examples of a switch the other way - from MOGG to MOG.


WILLIAM MOGRIDGE. Son of Robert & Joane Mogridge of North Petherton, Somerset. Baptised 1683 (see IGI ). Entered Cambridge University in 1700 as William MOGridge. Emerged 1707 as William MOGGridge and became Vicar of Minehead and Rector of Porlock. Signed his Will as MOGGridge. Died 1763.

ROBERT & HENRY MOGRIDGE. Brothers of William ( above ). Baptised 1694 and 1700 ( see IGI ). Moved to London about 1730. Both initially recorded as MOGridge, MOGEridge or MORGOridge. Late a both are shown (in either wills, land indentures or church registers) as MOGGridge, and all had their children baptised as MOGGridge.

ROBERT MOGRIDGE. Date and place of birth not known. Appeared in marriage register in London as MOGridge in 1765 (see IGI). All six recorded offspring baptised 1769-1780 in London churches as MOGridge (IGI). But from about 1782 name began to appear as MOGGridge in street directories and rate books, and he signed MOGGridge as a marriage witness and on his Will. Died 1799.

Gerald Moggridge 30 November 1999