Great Cornard: Historian studies county surnames

WHAT’S in a name? Well, if you ask best-selling Suffolk author Charlie Haylock, a great deal of the county’s history.

Mr Haylock, who is also known as the Hysterical Historian, has just released a new book, which focuses on the origins of surnames peculiar to Suffolk.

Called Sloightly on the Sosh, the work contains findings from research of numerous sources including The Domesday Book, Poll Tax records, court rolls and land dispute records.

He said: “There tend to be four kinds of surnames. They are based on either place names, trades, nicknames or family connections, such as the son of the father.

“Some Suffolk surnames come from Anglo-Saxon personal and nicknames, while Suffolk has also evolved its own variations of more common surnames.


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“In some cases, surnames started in several places but have fizzled out except in Suffolk and surname distribution records also show surnames appearing in Suffolk but nowhere else.”

The groundwork for this insightful read was carried out as preparation for Mr Haylock’s regular show on Radio Suffolk. The weekly slot, called Haylock’s Half Hour for Forty Minutes, has become a hit with listeners since it started in the spring, and its popularity spurred him on to produce a book.

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“I was getting over 300 hits a week on my website from people who wanted to find out more about surnames, so I soon realised there was a demand for a book like this. As far as I know, this is the largest collection of Suffolk-only surname origins around.”

However, this latest book from the historian, who hails from Great Cornard, only contains the origins of surnames starting with the letters A to L, with the remainder being held back for another book he is planning.

The tome also offers a variety of Suffolk-centric humour including a nostalgic look back at outside toilets, musings on the Suffolk dialect and a few tales related to Suffolk-Norfolk banter.

Away from his writing desk Mr Haylock remains a hugely popular figure on the entertainment circuit. He has a busy schedule of after-dinner speeches, lectures, and one-man shows with bookings already being taken for December 2013.

But he has found time for a number of book signings in the coming months including this Saturday in Bury St Edmunds’ Waterstones store, where he will be from 11am-3pm.

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