the surname blog

a selection of surname trivia

Wright

October 14, 2009

Wright appears both solo and as a suffix to many British surnames, such as Cartwright and so on. It means worker or perhaps craftsman. Usually, when it is appended to another word as a name, it’s a clue as to the nature of the work that led to the name – Cartwrights made carts, Wainwrights also made, er,  carts (wain being a name for an old cart-type vehicle – think of Constable’s The Hay Wain) and Arkwrights made biggish boxes or chests (it’s “ark” as in the Ark of the Covenant, the legendary box made famous by the Bible and Steven Spielberg…)
Not all names ending in -wright are necessarily associated with the division of labour, however. For example, the name Kenwright is actually more closely related to the other modern surname Kendrick, both coming from older names with the -ric or -ig suffix. However, with all the other Wrights around, it’s easy to see how that spelling would have come about.
Well-known British Wrights include footballer-turned-pundit-turned-unwisely-hatted-TV-presenter Ian Wright, or “Ian Wright Wright Wright” as he was once known on the terraces; Steve Wright the DJ who used to be in the afternoon, and the now-deceased Peter Wright, the M15 agent who wrote up his memoirs as Spycatcher, which the British government tried to have banned.
Wright is the 15th most popular surname on the published UK electoral roll.
Click here to find people with the surname Wright.

Wright appears both solo and as a suffix to many British surnames, such as Cartwright and so on. It means worker or perhaps craftsman. Usually, when it is appended to another word as a name, it’s a clue as to the nature of the work that led to the name – Cartwrights made carts, Wainwrights also made, er,  carts (wain being a name for an old cart-type vehicle – think of Constable’s The Hay Wain) and Arkwrights made biggish boxes or chests (it’s “ark” as in the Ark of the Covenant, the legendary box made famous by the Bible and Steven Spielberg…)

Not all names ending in -wright are necessarily associated with the division of labour, however. For example, the name Kenwright is actually more closely related to the other modern surname Kendrick, both coming from older names with the -ric or -ig suffix. However, with all the other Wrights around, it’s easy to see how that spelling would have come about.

Well-known British Wrights include footballer-turned-pundit-turned-unwisely-hatted-TV-presenter Ian Wright, or “Ian Wright Wright Wright” as he was once known on the terraces; Steve Wright the DJ who used to be in the afternoon, and the now-deceased Peter Wright, the M15 agent who wrote up his memoirs as Spycatcher, which the British government tried to have banned.

Wright is the 15th most popular surname on the published UK electoral roll.

Click the link to find people with the surname Wright.

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Cooper

October 13, 2009

One of the oldest English surnames, the name Cooper, like so many others, is based upon a profession. A cooper is a barrel-maker, a job with a long and noble history. There are not so many of them around in the 21st century:  indeed, the Daily Telegraph reported this year on the fears of the last master cooper that the profession would die with him.

The proliferation of coopers in the past, however, have left their mark on the distribution of surnames in the UK, Cooper being one of the top 50 UK surnames recorded on the publicly available electoral roll.

Notable British Coopers include the apparently hapless comic magician Tommy Cooper, the heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper, best remembered for flooring Cassius Clay with a left hook (although he lost the fight and a rematch), and blue-blood politician and author Duff Cooper, who held a number of ministerial and Cabinet posts in the 1930s and 1940s.

Click here to search the UK electoral roll for people called Cooper.

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