Friday, September 2, 2016

What's In A Name?

It's pretty amazing how some companies want to tell you exactly what your surname means and where it comes from.  I laugh very frequently when I read all the many different responses I get regarding my maiden name - Nocks.    While growing up, I never thought to question my father about his knowledge of his surname.  He frequently told me that his mother's maiden name was Lancaster, and that her family could be traced back to the Lancaster family from the War of the Roses in England.  (DNA testing has shown that's not true, recently.)  But he was never very vocal about the name Nocks.  There was some speculation that it was an Americanized version of the Scots Knox, or that it was a garbled version of the German Nachts.  But there was no surety.
   I've been told by various "surname research" companies that the name is from the Scots, is  from the German, is from Dutch, French and Danish. And that it's changed with time....
   In doing my genealogy research, I've been able to trace my father's family name, from father to father to father, back to the man who arrived from England.  His name was Thomas Nock.  His church records state that he was born on 12 November 1617 in England; that he had a residence and family in Dover, New Hampshire by 1652; and that he died in Dover in late October of 1666.  Several researchers say that Thomas Nock was from Shropshire;  I have been unable to verify this. After three or four generations in North America, the family name had an "s" added to the end.  Parts of the family stayed Nock, and parts were Nocks.  Then there was a large influx of Scots settlers into the northeastern colonies, and, suddenly, because of the learned scrivners, Nock and Nocks had Knox added to the spellings.  In looking at Dad's lineage, we start with a Nock, which becomes Nocks, then switches to Knox for two generations, then switches back to Nocks....   It can make you crazy...
   And what does Nock or Nocks mean?  In doing my own research on Old English and Anglo-Saxon names, I have two distinct possibilities.  Since the original spelling of "nock" was just that,  I, personally, believe that the name was from the Anglo-Saxon - a nock was a small rounded hill, and having that surname meant that you lived beside a small rounded hill.  The other meaning, which has been thrown at me with great intensity (to the point that I resent it) is that Nock is a corruption of "Noke" or "Nokes."  Noke and Nokes is derived from Old English, and means "near the oaks" or "near oak trees."  -  And that is a quite plausible take on my surname...  but I just don't like it; which is silly.  
   The meaning of Nock, or Nocks, is actually unimportant.  What matters is that I know that Thomas Nock was born somewhere in England in late 1617.  Now I just need to find out where, in all of England, that was - and I mean something that is without question - not a "he might have been the third son of so-and-so, but we don't have his Christian name..."

No comments: