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Re: Early English Yearwoods
Posted by: Bob Yarwood Date: November 27, 1999 at 14:59:36
In Reply to: Re: Early English Yearwoods by Andrew Yearwood of 519

Oh dear - this could be a marathon - nothing useful published but I'll keep it rather brief (and put it here rather than e-mail you as it may be of interest to others?):
1. Surname conforms with one of four main types (occupational, nickname, place-name, relationship) - in this case from the place Yarwood. Represented today by Yarwood Heath (still a farm of that name there), it lies in the township and parish of Rostherne in county of Cheshire (U.K.) at (U.K.) National Grid Reference SJ 746 855 or more universally at 2deg.22min.53sec. W, 53deg.21min.51sec. N. This is c. 400 yds SE of the main Manchester - Chester road and c. 2 miles SW of the town of Altrincham, in rural Cheshire.
2. Cannot find any other place of this name in U.K. that has given rise to the surname (there ARE other places with Yarwood (Yarwood House, Farm etc) but these are named after owners/occupiers - not vice versa). Researchers after Yarwood are thus fortunate in having only one origin for their name (except for those of course who may have adopted the name for less common reasons).
3. Taking early spellings into account, J.McN.Dodgson (The Place-Names of Cheshire, vol II, p.58; English Place-Name Soc. Vol XLV) derived the name from the Anglo-Saxon/Middle English 'earn' + 'wudu' = eagle wood (with loss of n in the consonant cluster -rnw-. The initial letter, in 14th - 15th centuries often appears as a 'yogh' (can't write this with keyboard - see, e.g. T.Pyles, J.Algeo, 1993 (4th edn) 'The Origins and Devpt of the Eng.Language', pp.137-8), which, for the sound it represented, changed naturally to a 'Y'. The numerous variant spellings (c. 50) are summarised as permutations of the following variations in individual letters or sounds:
a) initial 'Y' or 'yogh' or nothing
b) vowel/diphthong A or E or EA
c) consonant R (or RR or RE?)
d) (consonant - supposed N but lost before written records - see above)
e) consonant W
f) vowel/diphthong O or OO or U
g) consonant D
h) vowel E or nothing

So variants like Yerwod, Yearwoode, Yarwud etc all occur. There appears, however, to have been generally no confusion or conflation with similar but distinct names such as Iorworth, Yoward et al., which is also remarkably lucky for us. Erwood is very uncommon in U.K. as a variant but I note a bundle of these in U.S. (?different development of the language??). Most common spelling of first syllable in 17th century is 'Year...'.
4. Cheshire was a palatine county and, as such, had its own administration and does not appear in many (but still some) national rcds (Tax lists etc) until 1540. Also, Yarwood was never more than a single farm or small hamlet in another township (Rostherne) and is not as likely to crop up in written rcds as, say, Rostherne itself. It is not too surprising therefore that the earliest reference is as late as 1384 when it appears to be of quasi-manorial status - a small holding (held free of heavy duties or rents). One may speculate that it was in origin an assart of the 12th - 13th centuries by one family who took on the name of the place, but it IS only speculation.
5. The earliest instances of the personal name I have yet found are c. 1400 - 1415, but earlier ones may well appear in the voluminous Palatinate records of the 14th century.
... Where should I stop ... Ask more questions as you wish.

POSTSCRIPT to my message of 26/11/1999 - I should add that my index records are fullest for U.K. Yarwoods and most deficient for U.S. Yarwoods. I am therefore unlikely to be able to help with other than 1st generation migrants directly from the U.K. I welcome queries along these lines as they may help explain hiatus/sudden stops in my records.


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