Winsham cartoon village map showing the church, primary school, jubilee hall and community shop with fields, cows and sheep. Created by Bethany Fowler as the header banner for the Winsham Web Museum.
Home Researching Your Family What’s in a Name!

What’s in a Name!

Orginally published Aug 2020
Last updated Aug 2021

An interesting perspective on Winsham history from Sue Fielding, an experience genealogist, who moved into the village in 2019 with her husband Dave. Her interset is in names - those of people and places...

What's in a name!

 As a complete newcomer to this ancient village I do not have the privilege or knowledge gained by many as part of just living in the village for a long time. Because of this, as a genealogist for many years, I decided during these difficult corona virus days, to try to “uncover” Winsham of earlier years from a different angle, rather like peering at the needlework of a great tapestry to find the colours and textures of the threads on the canvas beneath.

A settlement since Saxon times, mentioned in 1086 in the Doomsday book, the first real records available for us to easily peruse, start in the parish register of St. Stephen in 1558 followed much later with the Non-Conformist Chapel active in 1703 and records from 1772.

My initial interest began in Back Street where I live and which had had a very active community particularly with the busy terraced cottages bordering the street up from Colham Lane to Ivy Cottage before they were demolished to make way for the lace mending shed and the cider house. In my mind’s eye I enjoyed the memories of Back Street without tarmac when the lane was surfaced with slivers of compacted flint, of the lack of any modern sewage disposal which was channelled down into the nearest field below Cobblestone Cottage, while household rubbish was dumped in the extinct lime quarry beyond High Street.

So I am captivated exploring Winsham and its families, not only during the seven decades of the National Census years, 1841-1911 but much further back too. I am well aware that other, fully professional folk have researched back in village time but maybe I can offer a few glimpses at some rather curious and interesting facts to, hopefully compliment those earlier studies which will narrow the gap of family life back then.

A list of Winsham surnames during those years will have heads nodding in recognition and several are still here today I am sure, but I wonder how many will marvel at the unusual Christian names prevalent in many of those families. John Gapper in his research, wrote of the constantly popular Elizabeth, Mary, Anne, John, William, George, Henry and James, these other names, all interwoven through the families within one village, leave me completely fascinated.

As for the surnames, many reverberate right back through the Parish Church documents and records with the Latin entries of the mid 1500’s. To transcribe some of those in detail was incredibly achieved by Liz James, Judy and Ted Hodges but I would like to offer a few tantalising snippets. For some reason my curiosity became fixed on the Stuckey family of Stuckey’s Farm at the top end of Fore Street because I have not actually found them yet within the census returns so, naturally, I wondered when they lived here, when the farmhouse was actually built, why the name has stuck so fast, if and after they moved away. At this point I turned to the Select Marriages in Winsham Parish Registers beginning in 1535, including Baptisms and Burials What a voyage of discovery. Winsham is blessed with the rare survival of these extraordinarily early church registers.

I shall start in 1571 with the marriage on 8th. July, of Joannes (Johannes-John today) to Joanna Wallis, followed next by Thomas Sturkey marrying Dorothea King 24th. Sep. 1587 sadly buried 6th. Oct. 1608 just a few years after baptising their son Marcus on 2nd. Feb. 1590. Mark Sturkey in turn married Elenora Battin 5th. June 1615 and so on through the centuries. At the same time I recognised more village names from the census records of 300 years later: Trenchard, Paull, Chick, Aplin, Singleton, Meech etc. were all there.

Here is a gem:-

The Last Will and Testament of one Thomas Stuckey of Winsham was Signed, Sealed, Published and Declared on the 15th. day of March 1705. Riveting stuff but forgive me, I have deviated (perhaps to tempt you to more) and must leave this for another occasion perhaps.

So back to the all important census returns, starting with a selection of surnames, 1841-1911:-

LOURING, SPRAKE, BISHOP, DUN, COX, CHICK, CROUCH, HODDER, SINGLETON, TRENCHARD, PAULL, CROSS, HARDYMAN, FORSEY, RAISEN, BRIDLE, PERHAM, HAYBALL, BENNETT, JEFFREY, GAPPER, WARREN, MEECH, HALLETT, PYE and GOOD. I have particularly extracted these names because they all appear within the church register in the latter half of 1500. There are, of course, still many more!

Now the pattern changes completely, not by just half a dozen names but here are one and thirty for both sexes. Why is there such a dramatic emphasis on Hebrew Biblical names? All suggestions welcome!

The Christian male names first:-


Now for the girls:-


Here is a question which I am hoping some wise person can answer:-

In the 1841 census, there are only two family groups listed for Church Street. It is not quite clear whether the seven inhabitants all occupied one large house but if they did, which house was it? The three men were Drapers, plus three women and one young servant. Three of them were very elderly.

High St. Fore St. and Back St. are properly named, Front St. I deduct was the earlier name for most of Church St.

The Parsonage and Pools Lane are clearly identified while West St. was surely the future Western Way but, please, can anyone identify East Street?

Finally, if I may, I shall close with little quirk - a play on spelling and dialect perhaps:-
1851......... CHILKWAY
1861......... CHULKWAY
1871......... CHAULKWAY
1881......... CHALKWAY

Sue Fielding

Sue Fielding, Old Yardhouse, Back Street. 23rd. August, 2020.