This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 23rd March 1998, 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 HULLAND?

A Reader has asked about this name. It is derived from "Hulland", a village on the A517 Ashbourne-Belper road. It means "the settlement overlooked by the long low hill". This hill is described in a popular guide book as "a fine ridge, having a magnificent outlook over the hills and moors". What is, however, more interesting is that the Reader refers to a stone in Brailsford Churchyard (4 miles south) bearing the name "Osbourne-Hulland" which he describes as "double-barrelled" and wonders if there is any ancestral link. However location-names were regularly shared by many people who had emigrated from their native places and therefore similarity of such surnames is no positive proof of any relationship. Detailed records would be needed to settle the point and it is doubtful if any have survived. As for the unit "Osbourne" - it is a first-name which was once extremely popular among our Mediaeval Ancestors but is now rarely conferred as such. Where it survives, it is derived through the corresponding surname it has generated. It means "the Man who fights like one of the Gods". It is of Saxon origin and is not to be confused with the place in the Isle of Wight. The Brailsford inscription is certainly not an example of "double-barrelling" since it is dated 1500 and doubled forms did not appear for another 200 years.

Although the "Peak Advertiser" endeavours to provide only the meanings of surnames, the Reader's question has suggested that perhaps a description as to how the doubled forms came about might be appropriate. Such a description can only be, unfortunately, heavily condensed and much fascinating information forgone. As a starter they are admittedly "aristocratic", and, until the expansion of Industry and Commerce, the aristocracy was inseparably linked with land-ownership and the incomes derived therefrom. Among such great land-owning classes, their family names were positively venerated since their bearers had, at various times been engaged in shaping the history of our country. Along with titles and armorial bearing there was an understandable anxiety to project one's identity as far as possible into the future, and most especially if there were chances that a name might die for want of somebody to inherit it.

A stratagem to combat this was to incorporate a direction in Wills and Settlements whereby gifts were made conditional upon the recipients assuming a given name. In most cases this condition was satisfied by simply tagging on the new name, with or without a hyphen as it seemed fit. Only in a few exceptional circumstances was it necessary to employ legal technicalities. For example, if a new name was added to a surname under which a Peerage had been conferred, a Royal License was needed - hence in 1795 the 4th Duke of Portland was permitted to add "Scott" to "Cavendish". The manoeuvre was devised during the turbulent times of the 17th Century. The earlier and comparatively simple laws of inheritance from father to son were replaced with elaborate Trusts into which these special condition could be incorporated if necessary.

During the 18th Century the practice seems largely to have been followed by the truly aristocratic families whose reasons (making due allowance for the ethos of that period) were understandable. Note: the characters in Jane Austen, drawn largely from the "lesser" gentry, all bear single surnames. As the 19th Century progressed however, people who were making money but had no inherited landed status noticed that compound surnames seemed to partake of something "aristocratic" and so without much understanding of the matter contrived fanciful names for themselves - and even adopted armorial bearings on the strength of nothing more than similarity of surname. Note how George Osborne cleverly side-steps a question on his antecedents: Vanity Fair, Ch.29.

The expression "double-barrelled name" first occurs in print in 1848 though it had applied to firearms since the beginning of the 1700's. It is used to pour scorn on a socially climbing curate who expands his name into the "Reverend Thomas D'Arcey Sniffle" Note too how in "Barchester Towers" (1857 Ch.9) Trollope expresses disapproval of the practice with reference to Madeline Stanhope. However, perfectly sensible reasons often account for such names. A son, for example, of a distinguished father who had died and whose mother had re-married might have wished both to honour his father's memory and show respect to his step-father by hyphenating the two surnames.

Here it is appropriate to mention that a hyphen is really a grammatical device and its applicability to surnames is doubtful. In 1891 a commentator on the social scene was provoked to censure the absurd aspirations of two sisters who bullyragged their Father into moving from Shepherd's Bush to Kensington and triumphantly marked their elevation in Society by hyphening their Mother's name and becoming the "Misses Robinson-Jones".

The custom of including a Mother's maiden name amongst those conferred upon children in baptism, etc. is observed on both sides of the Atlantic. But there is evidence of a divergence. Over here such first names have tended to move forwards and lend themselves to being hyphenated with a surname, whereas in the States surnames have been brought backwards and then transformed into first names - hence Grant, Scott, Wayne, Dale, Craig, etc. The motives which have led families to adopt double-barrelled names range no doubt from a natural desire to preserve the memory of a distinguished predecessor, to wanting simply to be "different". The last word on the subject rests with a remark in a Professional Review some 50 years ago: The "double- barrelled name has really no basis whatever beyond being that of a remote ancestor".

Site Index Site Index © Desmond Holden
From "The Peak Advertiser", 23rd March 1998.
[Ed: A further article on this surname was published in January 2001]
Are you called HULLAND?
(Part Two)

A new politico-regional expression has recently entered the scene: "Euroland". Among other things it illustrates the many meanings which can be attached to "land", but when it occurs in a place-name it is not always possible to determine why exactly it was applied in the first place. However in the case of "Hulland" (a place about one-third of the way between Ashbourne and Belper) it is confidently interpreted as "where the soil has been cleared for cultivation". The "soil" in this case was the moorland in the vicinity, from which gorse, furze etc. would have been uprooted to leave workable ground.

It is striking that Hulland is not the only place where this activity took place. Many sites bear names which indicate they have been reclaimed. Most interesting is "Swarland" in Northumberland (6 miles south of Alnwick) which signifies "the site cleared of heavy soil" and no doubt that led to the setting-up of a new habitation which is evidenced in another local name, "Newton-on-the-Moor". No doubt local historians would be able to cite corresponding instances to demonstrate the evolution of Hulland in a similar way.

The first unit of the name, ("Hul-") is derived from the Old English word for "Heel" (i.e. hela). It occurs in numerous place-names, frequently as "hough". It seems that our ancestors saw a fanciful resemblance between an outstanding spur of land and the human heel and conferred that name widely. The guide books describe Hulland as standing at the end of a fine ridge of high land and that it has a magnificent outlook over hills and moors. The Ordnance Survey shows a spot-height of 709 feet and, to quote from that guide book "from the top of the sturdy embattled tower of the church, we can sometimes see the Wrekin, in Shropshire, 40 miles away". The emphasis on elevation is rather important because the unit "Hul-" (or its variations) although repeated all over the country, is modified according to the general geography of the surrounding region. In low-lying areas, even a spur of 150 feet is noteworthy, as at "Hoo" in Suffolk (about 11 miles N.E. Ipswich). Whereas, in Northumberland, a similar spur has to attain at least 800 feet to be worthy of being distinguished as at Shaftoe, 9 miles S.W. Morpeth. In the case of Hulland, most of it lies within the 500 foot contour, so points significantly above that level would be noted.

While it is almost certain that local bearers of the surname "Hulland" can claim to have originated in this settlement, it should be remembered that there are altogether 8 places of a similar spelling elsewhere and they have tended to interchange. An obvious contender is "Hoyland" (West Riding, S. Barnsley) because the Derbyshire place was spelled that way in 1452 and actually appears as such on Ogilby's celebrated map which was issued in 1675. Apart from several places in Lancashire similarly named, that area in Lincolnshire (Holland) could most certainly have influenced the surname. In the Domesday Survey (1086) the Lincolnshire place is actually called "Holland" and this may be compared with the Derbyshire entry which is "Hoilant".

It is willingly conceded that all these similarities, while interesting, can throw little light on the origins of families not positively identified with our own "Hulland", and that the prevailing form of the surname (Hulland) is neither recorded before 1489 and that no location is indicated! Otherwise there is a reference to a person identified as "Huland" in Wiltshire (1545) and later to a certain Richard Hewland in Lincolnshire (1546). In the modern directories the only variations seem to be "Hulands" (1 entry) and "Hulance".

Taking all in all it would seem that people bearing the name can interpret it as being descendants of an ancestor who lived in a settlement on a ridge in the midst of moorland which had been cleared for more profitable uses. But: how many of them can confidently point to the site in Derbyshire must be left to individual research. The name is certainly cited as being special to Derbyshire and there are about 35 listed in the local directory.

A careful search through the Standard Biographies reveals that no personalities called "Hulland" or any of its variations, are mentioned. In fact Hulland itself seems to have been one of those fortunate places which have enjoyed a fairly quiet existence. The only incident mentioned in the guide books is that its original Manor House was demolished during the Cromwellian Wars.

Site Index Site Index © Desmond Holden
From "The Peak Advertiser", 22nd January 2001.
The first article on this surname was published in March 1998.

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