Anyone posting here who can trace their PICKLE or PICKEL[L] ancestors back to early English roots (Middle Ages) may be interested in this information.
Every month here is Nova Scotia, Canada, we have a phone-in radio program about genealogy and tracing your family roots.
The guest genealogist on the phone-in, Terry Punch, stated to one caller recently that it was his understanding the surname PICKEL or PICKLE likely came from the place name of Pick Hill, Yorkshire, England. He thought it evolved over time from 'Pick Hill' to 'Pickill' and into the natural form of 'Pickle'. Both spellings of PICKEL[L] and PICKLE made it across the Atlantic.
My own thought about Pick Hill is that it may - I stress 'may' - have originated with the meaning "hill where the Picts were found", the Picts being a tribe found by the Romans when they first occupied England around the time of Christ.
An interesting side note - most people in Europe did not have last names until the period 1250-1400, when the growth of bureaucracy (read 'tax collecting') demanded more than a name like John son of Edward or William the Carpenter. Many surnames came about from the occupation or trade of the individual - carpenter, cook, cooper, weaver, turner.
Other place names that evolved into family surnames were: Churchill, Riverside, Edgewood, Waterton, and names from the Vikings that ended with suffixes like -by and -wick or from the French (Beauchamp = fine field, or Beaufort = strong fort).
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