This is a copy of an article published in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 24th November 1997, 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 LOCKHART?

A "Rebus" is a type of puzzle which frequently appears in children's comics. Usually it takes the form of a letter in which the sounds of words are represented by diagrams. It is a device often encountered in Heraldry, especially in the Middle Ages where the Bearers' names were reproduced through many ingenious graphic designs: "Castle" and "Lyon" are obvious examples. Sometimes, however, the arrangement miscarried. People lost sight of the true significance of a symbol and contrived fanciful explanations of their own. The Arms of the City of Liverpool are a case in point. They feature a bird (popularly called the "Liver Bird") and no end of versatile and ingenious narratives have been woven to account for it. The fact is that is was originally based on the Eagle of St. John, as was adopted as a compliment to King John who conferred a Charter in 1207.

A similar mishap has befallen the family called "Lockhart". The name was depicted on their Shields as a padlock encompassing a human heart. Out of this simple rebus evolved a legend that some Crusading Ancestor had died in the Holy Land and that his heart, enclosed in a locked casket, was brought home to this Island by his grieving followers, hence the surname. More acceptable explanations for the name "Lockhart" are, sadly, decidedly less romantic.

The first unit of the name, "Lock-" has only the slenderest connection with padlocks and fastenings. It is based on an Old English word "loca" which means "enclosed space" in the sense of "fenced around". It is to be found in many place-names, of which "Locko" in the neighbourhood of Pilsley and of Derby are interesting local examples. (Note: the same unit in "Matlock" is however based on "oak").

It is an extremely old word and its origins are inextricably mixed up with several other Germanic words of similar form and the sources cannot easily be separated out. It is no longer in general use to describe an enclosed area, although the sense survives with reference to locks on waterways.

The second unit "hart-" is another old word, which, after over 1000 years has settled on the spelling "herd". The old form still appears in the Modern German equivalent, "Hirt".

The earliest usages occur several centuries before 1000 A.D. King Alfred himself tells about "our early forefathers who were sheep herds" (897). Here it might be noted that originally the expression "herd" stood alone and it was only later that descriptive words were attached to it so as to indicated what it was that was "herded". Hence, beginning, (as in the case of King Alfred) with "sheep herd" and "cow herd", the combined forms followed, especially, "shepherd" and "swineherd". There are also "cow herd" but this seem somewhat to have been avoided because of its unpleasing similarity with "coward" which has a completely different origin.

In passing, it is interesting to note that "shepherd boy" had a counter-part in "cow boy" long before it became identified with the "Wild West". And, incidentally, the American word is a corruption of the Spanish "caballo" (pronounced more or less as "cah'bowoo") and which signifies a "horse-rider").

Putting the two units together one comes up with an occupational name which signifies: He who supervises the enclosures where individual herdsmen drive in their respective animals. As might be expected it is first recorded amidst the rolling pastures of the Midlands. There we find "Uray de Lockhert" in Cambridge for 1203.

In just as many cases, the unit "hart" could have been derived from the Germanic "Hard" - as also in "Richard". It means "hardy", "brave" etc. The other unit, "Lock-" takes on a slightly different connotation and refers to a strategic site on a river across which barriers could be thrown thus creating an "enclosure" as a form of defence. Possibly during hostilities somebody achieved fame through repulsing there attacks of an invader and was subsequently identified as "The gallant defender of the lock". Not surprising the earliest references occur amidst the water-ways of Eastern England where both Symon Locard in Suffolk (1153) and Jordan Locard in Norfolk (1203) could be found.

Contrary to a popular notion, the name became established in Scotland though Norman infiltration round about the 13th Century and therefore it is not exclusively Scottish. Its presence in place-names such as Craiglockart and Drumlockhart is accounted for in that the surname was appended to "Craig" (hill) and "Drum" (ridge), in much the same was as the surname "Zouch" and "Mowbray" were tagged on to "Ashby" and "Melton". It has, of course, become strongly identified with Scotland, and there are over 200 entries in the Edinburgh and District Directories. The name also crossed over to Ireland in the Northern Part of which there is a corresponding concentration. Otherwise the name is pretty evenly distributed across the Country, with no special weightings, even in the London Area.

The most distinguished bearer of the name was John Lockhart (1794-1854) who was the son-in-law of Sir Walter Scott and whose biography of the celebrated Scottish writer is a classic. Here in Bakewell the name is well-known to us on account of our own Dr. Lockhard at the Medical Centre.

Site Index Site Index © Desmond Holden
From "The Peak Advertiser", 24th November 1997.

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