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The naming of the town.

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Author Topic: The naming of the town.  (Read 3684 times)
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« on: July 27, 2008, 12:33:09 pm »

another extract from Jims research. those who understand will realise the years that have been spent putting this together. all Jims work is by copy right.

The origin and meaning of the name Featherstone

There appear to be only three Featherstone’s in Britain.
Featherstone….the west riding…. Yorkshire
Featherstone Castle, Northumberland.
In addition to the above there are at least 2 similarly named places.
Featherstone near Kroonstad in the Orange Free State, South Africa and
Featherstone a district in the North Island, New Zealand.

In matters of antiquity the places overseas can be ignored, but it is certain that directly or indirectly, if named after some settler, they owe their designation to one of the English Featherstone’s.

Featherstone. What does the word mean? How was it derived? In any study of place names it is essential to examine the various forms of the words used at different periods, and to see how the modern spellings have developed.
The following list of various spellings of Featherstone, (Yorkshire West Riding), no doubt incomplete, is given with the date and source from which they were obtained.

1086   Fredestan     Domesday Book
1086   Ferestan       Domesday Book, - Yorkshire Deeds
1122   Fedrestana    Pontefract Chartulary
1155   Fedrestana    Pontefract Chartulary
1166   Fetherstan    Pedes Finium – Pipe Rolls
1166   Friestane       Red Bookof the Exchequer
1190   Federestan    Pipe Rolls
1192   Fethirstana    Pontefract Chartulary
1215   Fetherstan     Calendar of Charter Rolls
1244   Fethirstan      Pontefract Chartulary
1246   Fetherstana    Pontefract Chartulary
1299   Fethirstan      Yorkshire Inquisitions
1307   Fetherston     Wakefield court Rolls
1367   Fedarstan       Yorkshire Feet of Fines
1379   Ffetherstan     Poll Tax Return
1392   Fedystan         Index of Wills in the Yorkshire Registry 1389/1652
1428   Federstan       Early Yorkshire Charters
1458   Federston       Dodsworth Notes
1466   Fetherstan      Yorkshire Cartulary
1487   Federston       Calendar of Inquisitions Post Modern
1487   Federstan        Calendar of Inquisitions
1488   Fetherestan     Yorkshire Cartulary
1535   Federston        Valour Ecclesiasticus (RC) London 1810/34
1562   Fedderstone    Yorkshire Feet of Fines
1591   Featherston     Yorkshire Feet of Fines

    Other names to be found which refer to Featherstone are Fodorstan and Featherstaine but like some of the other names are probably due to faulty spelling and never the usual form at all.

FEATHERSTAN is very common being found also in the Kirkby’s Inquest, The Yorkshire Deodands for 1324-1325, The Cartulary of Nostel Priory, The Pipe Rolls, Rotuli Chartorum, Pontefract Chartulary, The Registers of the Archbishop of York, Feudal Aids London 1899/1920, and the Yorkshire Feet of Fines.

FETHERSTON is still more common from the beginning of the 14th century. It can be found in the 1478 records “of the Cellarer” of the monastery of Saint Oswald at Nostel, in the West Riding Sessions Rolls, on tombstones in the Parish church, and in the Parish registers.

Conclusions as to the meaning of the place names are not always satisfactory and there often seems to be a certain amount of speculation as to what the names really mean. There are many books on the subject. The following are a selection from those that have been consulted, four of which give the same meaning of the word Featherstone.

Castleford and district in Olden Times. Lorenzo Padgett. 1904
Anciently Fetherston, Fredaston, that is Fredas town, from “Feade” or “Freda” a common Danish appellation. A general of that name is mentioned serving under Hardicanute about 1042.

Place names of the West Riding of Yorkshire. FW Moorman 1910
The Domesday Book spelling Fredestan is probably a “metathesised” form of Fredrestan which appears as Fedrestana in an early entry in the Pontefract Chartulary, and as Fetherstan in the Pipe Roll. The first element is clearly a personal name, and this may well have been (old English) Feader, which appears as the name of a house-Carl of Hardicanute who was killed at Worcester in 1041. This is identical, or cognate with the Old Danish Fathir, which appears in the Danish place names, Fatherstorp, and Fadestrup. The termination is the Old English stan,…. a stone.

Place Names of South-West Yorkshire. Armitage Goodall 1914
Goodall agrees in this book that the termination is from the Old English stan…a stone and not the Old English tun…. a farmstead and that Fether of Feather need not be a personal name. He thinks that there is a possibility that the first element is Celtic and means woodland but states quite plainly that the meaning is uncertain.

Could the meaning therefore be …. Stone in the Woodland…. Or Woodland Stone?

Place Names of England and Wales. Johnston. Published 1914 by John Murray.
FEATHERSTONE. The two Domesday spellings only, Ferestan and Fredestan are given. The writer therefore “Stone of Father” or “Fathers Stone.”

Place Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire. Part 2. A.H.Smith 1961
The author states that “the most satisfactory explanation of Featherstone is that it is a combination of Old English feoder and stan, denoting four stones and doubtless referring to a cromlech or tetralith with three standing stones surmounted by a fourth.”
Although not completely happy with this interpretation he feels that no better answer has been offird and believes that Featherstone means “four stones”.

The Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names. Eilert Eckwell 1974
Here again we find agreement as to the termination Old English stan…. a stone, but we have a slightly different explanation for the first element. The Old English fether means four. Thus Fetherstan signifies four stones. A tetralith, or cromlech, which consists of four stones, three upright ones with a headstone..
Suggesting the meaning is “Four Stones”.

Readers Digest Complete Atlas of the British Isles
FEATHERSTONE West Riding of Yorks. Tetralith (four stones).
Brief but to the point, again suggesting the same.

A Dictionary of British Place-Names. AD Mills 1991
FEATHERSTONE, (place at) the four stones, i.e. a tetralith. Old English feather +stan
From the above we have a choice. Does the word Featherstone mean:
 Fredas Stone…. The Woodland Stone…. Feaders Stones…. Farthers Stone….or Four Stones
Although the doomsday book seems to be the first written record of the village, we know that the Romans and the Britons were no strangers to this locality. There were settlements in the area. Before the Roman occupation the Druida may have had a “CAIRN” or even a cromlech on the hill where the church now stands. Did the first Anglo Saxon settlers find the four there and call the place Old English Fetherstan, written Feoerstan? (o = th)
The final “e” to the name began to appear in the 17th century, but the vowel “a” does not seem to have been inserted, and then not generally as tombstones show, until the 18th century. While there seems to be justification for writing “stone” there seems to be none what so ever for “feather” and it would be extremely interesting to know exactly when and how this practice arose.
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