Nicknames – in Oswaldtwistle

April 16, 2014 at 11:01 am | Posted in Family History, Society, Ways of Living | 10 Comments
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A2Z-BADGE-000 [2014]

 

Nicknames were common usage in all parts of Lancashire in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, including around my birth town of Oswaldtwistle.

Many people were known by a nickname rather than by their own name. In my Grandfather Thompson’s family, some of his brothers and sisters were known as Jem (James), Lize-Ann (Elizabeth Ann), Math-Ann (Martha Ann), Telly (Elizabeth Ellen), Pee (Peter). The youngest was my grandfather Edward, who became known outside the family as Teddy Waffer.

strangenames

Many times people were also known, not by their official surnames, but in reference to their father’s nickname. Thus “Teddy Waffer” was Edward, son of “Waffer”, his father Peter Thompson’s nickname. Peter, a coke burner, got the nickname from his habit of calling water “waffer” instead of the usual dialect word “watter”.

Gobbin Tales, a book of stories told by Oswaldtwistle “elders” about their younger days, gives many examples of names like this around the place.

There was “Bet o’ Peyes” – Elizabeth, daughter of Peter, whose real surname was Tomlinson; “Jud o’ Jeff’s” was George, son of Jeffery. There was a chap in Ossie called Bill Holland. His dad was also Bill, and his grandfather was called Bill, but surname of Cunliffe. So the second Bill was known as Bill o’ Cuns’ – Bill, son of Cunliffe, and the youngest was known as “young Bill o’ owd Bill o’ Cuns”!!

Sometimes, through having the same first or surname, people were known by their occupation, or by a certain characteristic of manner or appearance. Three who shared the surname Johnson were, variously, “Knocker-up Johnson”, “One-arm Johnson” and “Mrs Deaf Johnson”. “Baccy Dick” was so called because he took snuff.

Christian names were often limited in number and ran in families. It was therefore sometimes difficult to work out who was who. It is no wonder nicknames became so prevalent. When researching, you have to double-check that the James or John or George that you’ve found is the right one and not a cousin or uncle.

Even Oswaldtwistle itself has its own nickname. It is usually shortened to “Ossy”. So I’m an “Ossy” lass who came to “Oz” and became an “Aussie”!

There&Back Again Lane sign

 

Do you have nicknames in your family? What are their origins?

© Linda Visman  16.04.14  (367 words)

 

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10 Comments »

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  1. My nickname was Poochie when I was little. I’m an A to Z minion/helper sauntering through the ‘net and checking blogs. Your blog looks wonderful. (I had such fun!)

    • Good to see you Helen! Thanks for dropping in.
      Love your child nickname, and pleased you’ve enjoyed the visit. 🙂

  2. Very complicated nicknames the originals are easier and shorter 🙂

  3. Hi Linda .. nick-names seem to be the thing sometimes don’t they – lots around normally … I called my brothers Fats .. after the cats which were called Fats too – why I’ve no idea!!!

    Interesting how names evolved though .. there were plenty of Hilary’s at school – so we became known by our surnames …

    Now .. I just go by whatever comes my way … Hils, Hil, Hilly … and the old family nickname from yore! Cheers Hilary

    • There seem to be periods of time when nicknames are common, yet others where they aren’t. Men are more likely to give and be given nicknames in Australia I think, but even my husband’s daughter is known be family & friends as Kez instead of Karen.

  4. And of course Linda .. I meant to comment on the Oswaldtwistle – lovely name and now Oz … and that lane on the road sign .. definitely appropriate for a dead end! Cheers Hilary

  5. My parents are now long deceased, but I well remember my father’s nickname for Mum. It was ‘Lucy’, after Lucille Ball. 🙂


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