BLOOD or PURDY

This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 24th February 2003, reproduced by kind permission of the author, Desmond Holden.

The "What's in a Name" series has been a regular feature in the Advertiser.
Articles are confined to the origins and meanings of surnames and Desmond regrets he is unable to undertake research into the genealogy, descent or family history of individuals.

Editor's Note: Articles are provided for general interest and background only. They are not intended to provide an exhaustive treatise for any individual family history - investigations of which may yield quite different results. Or, in Desmond's own words:

"In the end it must remain with individual bearers of the names to draw upon family traditions and to seek out such documentary evidence as is available to decide the matter for themselves."

WHAT'S IN A NAME … Are you called BLOOD or PURDY?

Shortly after a Reader in Cromford had written to the "Advertiser" asking for information on "Purdy", an inquiry followed from Derby concerning "Blood". Because the present writer could discern a link between the two surnames, he resolved to combine them in the one feature.

"Blood" as a surname is recorded as early as 1256 in the person of William Blood of Northumberland. But exactly how it was to be interpreted is not certain. There are some indications that it was used as a form of address to a "blood" relative. Hence Chaucer says: "Now be not angry, my blood, my niece". So calling the above-mentioned William as "Blood" served, perhaps, to distinguish him from another William who was not a relative. Even so, this suggestion is doubtful. Our ancestors had plenty of words to describe one's relatives - even down to son-in-law: e.g. Odham.

It was not used to describe a young and lively man (young blood). That term appeared first in 1562, long after surnames had become established. Could it have been an occupational name, applicable to a person who undertook the old medieval practice of blood-letting? People of that era firmly believed in it. Whatever the affliction, it was held that to lose a quantity of blood would go a long way to cure it! The procedures were relatively simple and were usually carried out by anybody who was willing to do the job. It might then be though that such a person who was a practitioner could have been dubbed "Blood" as an appropriate identity. While this explanation cannot be ruled out entirely, there are more specific surnames such as Waltere Bloodletere of Bury (1095) and Adam Blody (i.e. "blooder") of York (1441) and their presence suggests otherwise.

This pre-occupation with blood tends to obscure what is now deemed to be the most likely source of the surname. It is, in fact, Welsh in origin, and means "the son of Lloyd". That personal name (Lloyd) is now better known as a surname, but it was very well-established as a given name and was based on the Welsh word "llwd" which means "grey" or "fair-haired." The Welsh form describing descent is "Ap". (Compare the English "-son" and the Scots "Mac-"). This frequently modifies into "Ab". Hence "son of Lloyd" was "Ap Lloyd.". When Welsh names were adopted into English, there was a tendency to blend "Ap" with its personal name and create a new identity. So "Ap Even" (for example) became "Bevin" or "Beavan". Following this practice, "Ap Lloyd" modified into "Blood" (with slight variations as "Blood").

Records, though scanty, are convincing. The convention apparently prevailed well into the time of Queen Victoria. A newspaper report of 1886 carried an account of a woman appearing in Court for stealing. She was named as Bloodletere Megan Blud and the Reporter added, in parenthesis, that she was also known as "ap-Llud".

The notion that the name is Irish is also misconceived. It is not derived from the inhabitants of a district in County Clare called "Ui- Bloid". Merely by coincidence settlers names "Blood" (and who came from Derbyshire) made their new home there in 1595.

Turning now to "Purdy" it may be noted that it is among that small number of surnames which have originated as oaths - and of which our Medieval Ancestors had an inexhaustible reserve! Yet, although expostulations such as "God's Blood" were regularly uttered, "Blood" does not seem to have entered into a surname. Why? Who knows. Our forefathers were more robust in their choice of expressions than later generations. They hurled religious (and anatomical!) allusions around most freely. Diffidence over using religious names "in vain" came later when the Commandments had been re-vamped following the Reformation! If a man was noted for his fondness in using a certain oath, it became his nickname. But, curiously, "Bloody" was never a swear-word. Contrary to popular belief it cannot be a corruption of "By Our Lady!" because it is first recorded in 1676 and had only an intensive force. Maria Edgeworth, a very prim and lady-like author of moralising and evangelistic novels mentions that a man's unreadable writing is "a bloody bad hand." (1801). The utterance was outlawed by "respectable" society between 1850 to 1970 largely because it was too "working-class" - a point made by Bernard Shaw (Pygmalion: 1914). But: it is now acceptable - along with many other words as well!

Sadly however, most of the Medieval oaths have long since been discarded and the surnames they generated have become obsolete. The name "Purdy" is one of the very few survivors. It is a rendering from the Latin "de parte Dei" (in God's Name) which was first, in French, "de par Dieu" and then foreshortening to "Par Dieu" and, finally, "Purdy".

In Medieval literature it is rendered as "pardie". A Life of St. Thomas à Becket quotes him as saying, "Nay, par deu" (1290). Later a Life of King Arthur (1470) uses the words: "Perde, a year's soon gone!" The surname has taken on several spelling variations all of which may be readily identified. The earliest record is for Richard Parde (Suffolk: 1228) Then comes Robert Pardey from Sussex in 1296. John Purdy (1773-1843) of Norwich is well-known in marine circles for his contributions to naval hydrography. In Lafayette (Indiana, U.S.A.) there is the celebrated Purdue University which owes its foundation to a local business-man of the name (1869).

Site Index Site Index © Desmond Holden
From "The Peak Advertiser", 24th February 2003.

URL of this page: http://names.gukutils.org.uk/Blood.shtml
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