Author Topic: Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?  (Read 709 times)

Offline suffolksophist

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Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?
« on: Wednesday 25 March 20 16:30 GMT (UK) »
Hi all,

I'm wondering whether, in your experience, a surname could possibly have undergone a significant spelling change in one generation. Specifically, could the name "de Hauleye" possibly have become "de Bauleye" in one generation? For context, this would have taken place in a very nearby area, and it's the missing link in tracing the name in earlier years. I'd love it to be true but I'm just wondering how realistic this might be, keeping in mind how similar "b" and "h" can look in medieval script.

Thanks,
suffolksophist

Offline Vance Mead

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Re: Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 25 March 20 16:48 GMT (UK) »
When in medieval script? The shape of those letters changed quite a lot over the centuries. Most of the time, a capital H had a long downward loop on the right, so it wouldn't look like a capital B.


https://archive.org/details/englishcourthand01john/page/6/mode/2up


There might be more problems caused by the u and n: Hanley and Hauley/Hawley, Banley and Bauley/Bawley.
Mead - Herts, Bucks, Essex
Pontifex - Bucks
Goldhurst - London, Middx, Herts
Kellogg/Kelhog - Essex, Cambs

Offline suffolksophist

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Re: Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 25 March 20 16:51 GMT (UK) »
That's a fantastic resource -- thank you!

I see that h3-12 (pg. 22), and H7 (pg. 23) all look essentially identical to a b/B (to my untrained eye, of course!), which actually further confirms my suspicions. But of course I may be entirely out in left field here.


Offline Vance Mead

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Re: Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 25 March 20 17:01 GMT (UK) »
It's an excellent introduction to Medieval scripts, especially in combination with text from the various courts. For example here:

http://aalt.law.uh.edu/

Is there someone in particular that you are looking for?
Mead - Herts, Bucks, Essex
Pontifex - Bucks
Goldhurst - London, Middx, Herts
Kellogg/Kelhog - Essex, Cambs

Offline suffolksophist

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Re: Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 25 March 20 17:07 GMT (UK) »
In fact there is someone in particular I'm looking for. So far, I've been tracing the 'Bauly' family (in and around mid-Suffolk) back as far as I can go, and I've found a 'Bauleie' from Wetherden, Suffolk, in the 1381 Suffolk Poll Tax. I've now found an 'heir of William de Bauleye' from the next-door village of Elmswell in a tax record from 1283. In terms of 'William de Bauleye' himself, I've managed to find a 'William de Hauleye' from approximately 1260 in the next-door village of Hauleye (now Haughley), so the year and the location seem to match up. I want to believe this is more than a coincidence, and that there was a typo somewhere here (a switched 'H' and 'B') that would allow me to make this connexion.

Anything you could add would be greatly appreciated!

Offline Mike in Cumbria

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Re: Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 25 March 20 17:58 GMT (UK) »
Spelling was certainly more fluid in the past, but it must have always approximated to the spoken pronunciation. So, Hayley could be Hayleigh, Halley, Heyly, etc. It's hard to imagine how the pronunciation could change to Bayley, Bauley etc, even if the letters on the page looked similar.
Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid

Offline suffolksophist

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Re: Surname Spelling Variation: Can an "H" Become a "B" ?
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 26 March 20 09:11 GMT (UK) »
Thanks for your input. I'm afraid I tend to agree with you -- I certainly wanted it to be true but it does seem like a stretch for the first letter to totally change. Our mediaeval ancestors may not have known how to spell but they certainly would have known what their names sounded like!