Behind the Name – Metcalfe
Following on from my last blog on the Scottish Montgomery surname, this month I am writing about the Metcalfe surname.
In 2016, there were 16 babies born in Scotland with the surname Metcalfe according to the National Records of Scotland.
Although the surname appears in Scottish genealogy, its origins lay elsewhere. In particular, it is strongly linked with Yorkshire in England. However, the Metcalfe families did spread in numbers into other parts of neighbouring counties and eventually established themselves in Scotland and in other countries.
The Origins of the Metcalfe Surname
Surnames became necessary in the 13th century when governments introduced personal taxation. Since then, surnames have evolved into different variations of the original spelling. In fact, it is likely that the Metcalfe surname Metcalfe was a nickname originally from the old Medieval term ‘mete-calf’. This term referred to a calf that had been fattened up for eating.
The surname can now be spelled in various ways: Metcalfe, Metcalf, Medecalf, Midcalf, Medkaff, Meadcalf and Medcalf.
Early Examples of the Metcalfe Surname
Early examples of the surname appear in old English medieval charters. Such as in:
- 1301, the Subsidy Rolls of Yorkshire recorded Adam Medecalf.
- 1463, the Freemen of the City of York register mentioned John Medcalfe.
- 1498, John Metcalf was Lord Mayor of York (so was Richard Metcalfe in 1674, and Sir Gilbert Metcalfe in 1695).
- 1555, Sir Christopher Metcalfe, high sheriff of Yorkshire, was attended by 300 horsemen, who shared his surname to meet the judges of assize.
- 1596, William Metcalf married Margaret Stansfield at Kippax, Yorkshire.
The Metcalfe Society
The Metcalfe Society was established in 1980 to encourage individuals to research Metcalfe ancestors. New members are given assistance to check their known family history against their vast sources of Metcalfe records. Of interest, they have published a book ‘Metcalfe – The History of the Clan’ which includes a history of the Metcalfe families.
The Metcalfe Tartan
Although this tartan was recorded before the launch of The Scottish Register of Tartans, it still exists as a recognised Metcalfe tartan.
The Metcalfe Coat of Arms
A Coat of Arms was used to help identify your family from other families or your enemies, especially in battle.
The Coat of Arms for the Metcalfe family have been held since Medieval times. They were first described in 1530 as ‘three black calves in a standing position on a silver field’. In essence, the calves are a reminder of the early medieval term ‘mete calf’.
Have you enjoyed this?
Look out for future articles on Scottish surnames. Let me know if you want me to write about your Scottish surname…
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