This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 11th June 2001, reproduced by kind permission of the author, the late Desmond Holden.

The “What's in a Name” series was a regular feature in the Advertiser over the period 1993‑2004, taking a refreshing look at the derivation of some typically Derbyshire surnames.

Articles are confined to the origins and meanings of surnames, and do not indicate any particular interest on Desmond's part in the genealogy, descent, or family history of individuals bearing the surnames featured.

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 HOPE?

This surname has nothing to with "expectation" or "trust". It is based on the Old English "hop" (Scots "houp") and can mean either "a stretch of elevated land in the middle of a marsh" or "a habitation in a valley". In extremely general terms, while "marsh" names are found mainly in low-lying regions such as the Fen district or the "Mosses" of Lancashire, the "valley" places are located among the hills of the north and the Welsh borders. The selection of a site in the midst of marshland was governed principally by the need for being protected against enemy attack while that in the case of a valley, shelter was the great consideration.

At first most of these sites began their existence under the simple name of "hop" but because there were so many, additional identities emerged. Hence, while there are about a dozen places which are still referred to under the old form of "Hop" (now modified into "Hope"), the remainder have attracted a qualifying name. This is particularly well- illustrated in Derbyshire. We have "Hope" standing at the tip of the valley through which flows Peaksdale Water, meeting the River Noe as it runs between Lose Hill and Win Hill (1000 feet). Here the significance of the name "Hope" is self- evident and it has borne the same name since it was first recorded in 926 A.D.

Our other "hops", of which there are nine, have all acquired specific descriptions. Starting with Rushup, it was originally "rush hop" or "the valley where rushes grow". It is near Chapel-en-le-Frith. Continuing briefly then comes Sydnope (broad valley); Lindop (lime-tree valley); Glossop (the valley of the man called Glott); Hassop (witch's valley); Ashop (ash-tree valley); Alsop (valley belonging to a man called Elli); and Hopton (farm in the valley). From the local directory we can see that they have generated the surnames: Lindop, Glossop, Hopton and Hopwell. There are no "marsh names" in Derbyshire but in Lancashire and Cheshire there are the notorious "mosses" and we find, just over the border in Cheshire, "Hope Green" (5 miles south-west of New Mills).

It is not certain how the Old English word "hop" came to acquire either of its meanings. A site in the middle of a swamp could possibly have been described in terms of material as being "heaped-up" and so "hop" could conceivably be related to "heap" (?). But no satisfactory source has been traced to account for why "hop" meant "a valley". Although the point is not perfectly settled a highly generalised explanation suggests that while the main valleys were termed "vales", the smaller side-valleys and branches were termed "hops". Possibly there might have been a fanciful resemblance between the sheltered site and a cup, which originated in an ancient language as "kupa" and meant a "cave" or "hollow", since the sound "c" or "k" in older languages regularly modifies to "h" and that "p", "b" and "v" interchange, this might provide the source for "hop".

The word "hive" (ie. the old-fashioned pattern, like an inverted cup) is known to have originated from this source, so as an explanation, it is at least persuasive.

"Hope" therefore is one of that class of surnames to which "Hill", "Brook" and other topographical terms belong. The only variations are "Hopes" and "Hopping".

Unless a particular family is able to point out a specific location, bearers of the name could have originated in any of the twenty or more sites specifically entitled "Hope" or from any of the fields or smaller settlements scattered across the kingdom and whose names were never carried beyond the immediate vicinity.

The earliest reference is dated 1225 and is to a Robert de Hope in Shropshire (A488 - 8 miles - south-Shrewsbury). Next is 1273 and is to a Roger de la Hope in Hereford (4 miles - south-Leominster) and in 1302 we find Robert del Hope in the North Riding (7 miles south-Barnard Castle).

In Scotland, the origins are similar. Mention is made of John Hope in Peebles (1296) and Symon de la Hope engaged in some political dialogue with Edward II in 1321.

The name prevails in Scotland where it is the family name of the Earls of Hoptoun and Linlithgow and most of the entries in the standard biographies relate to members of that family. Anthony Hope was a popular novelist (1863-1933) whose romantic story "The Prisoner of Zenda" is still read and has been filmed several times. The popular comedian Bob Hope was actually born in London in 1904 although he is often assumed to be American.

There are about 30 entries under the name in the local directory, and here in Matlock the name is known to many of us having, visited Matlock Glass and encountered Adrian Hope, the Managing Director.

Site Index Site Index © Desmond Holden
From "The Peak Advertiser", 11th June 2001.

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