Archive:The Descendants of John Whitney, page 10

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The Descendants of John Whitney, Who Came from London, England, to Watertown, Massachusetts, in 1635, by Frederick Clifton Pierce (Chicago: 1895)

Transcribed by the Whitney Research Group, 1999.

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surnames. From the former we have the names Stout, Strong, Long, Longman, Longfellow ; and from the letter, Brown, Black etc. Some mental and moral traits were also used to denote surnames. Richard the First, of England, was better known as Richard of the Lion Heart. The next step would be to derive from this quality the surname Lion. A most remarkable fact is the changes in names, and the follow- ing is given as an example of the changes in one name." Next, he showed me, by the aid of a few family documents in his possession, that the original name of his ancestors had been Meredith, or, to write it Welsh fashion, Maredydd. Now, in Wales, the accent is always thrown on the last syllable but one- the penultimate, as we say, in Latin prosody. So Meredith is pronounced much as though it rhymed with 'weddeth'. A couple of hundred years ago, one of these Welsh Merediths set- tled in Staffordshire, England; but, as he kept close, apparently, to the original pro- nunciation of his name. It was Anglicized by his neighbors, not into the usual Meredith (which is formed on the regular English rule of throwing the accent back- ward), but into Meready. Careless utterance soon corrupted that sound to M'ready, and finally to Ready. The four stages-- Maredydd, Meredith, Meready, and Ready -- were all to be found consecutively in my friend's documents in the name "Ready." My thanks are especially due to Mrs. Silas A. PIERCE, Grafton, Mass.; Miss Lou M. PIERCE, Worcester, Mass,; Mrs. Louise R. ROGERS, Worcester, Mass,; F.L. ORA, of Chicago; Frances J. WHITNEY, Lebanon, Ill.; Luthera WHITNEY, Springfield, Vt .; Hon. William W. RICE, Worcester, Mass.; Henry W. MELVILLE, New York City,; H. W. BRYANT, secretary Maine Historical Society, Portland, Me,; Frank B. GAY, Secretary Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Conn,; and many others in persusing the following pages as I have in compiling them, is the sincere wish of yours very truly, FREDERICK C. PIERCE CHICAGO, ILL., July 30, 1895.

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