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Institute for Name-Studies
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Peter McClure

Honorary Professor (Name-Studies), Faculty of Arts

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Biography

I was educated at the University of Nottingham (BA English Language and Literature), where I also conducted postgraduate research on 'The surnames of medieval Nottinghamshire'. I then spent twenty-five years lecturing in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Hull, where I also received my PhD by published work: 'Studies in the interpretation of Middle English personal names and surnames'. In 1977 I founded Nomina, the Journal of the Council (now the Society) for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland and remained its editor until 1985. I am former President and currently Vice-President of that Society and I am Vice-President of the English Place-Name Society. Since 2007 I have been acting as a consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary on English personal names and surnames. In 2016 I joined the Institute for Name-Studies at Nottingham as an Honorary Professor.

Research Summary

This is mainly focused on the etymologies and linguistic development of modern family names, as part of my editorial work for the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland (2016). A… read more

Selected Publications

  • PATRICK HANKS, RICHARD COATES and PETER MCCLURE, 2016. The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland Oxford University Press.
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2013. Explaining English surnames: linguistic ambiguity and the importance of context. Part I Nomina. 36, 1-33
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2010. Middle English occupational bynames as lexical evidence: a study of names in the Nottingham borough court rolls 1303-1455. Part 1, Methodology Transactions of the Philological Society. 108(2), 164-77
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1979. Patterns of migration in the late Middle Ages: the evidence of English place-name surnames Economic History Review. 2nd series 32, 167-82

2017. 'What's in a surname?', a presentation in London to the four Directors and 26 CEOs of INEOS, the multinational chemicals company, on British, Irish, European and American surname histories and the creation of the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland.

2013. 'Explaining English surnames', 2013 Cameron Lecture, University of Nottingham

2012. 'East Riding surnames', Holderness Rotary Club

2011. 'Cottingham surnames', given to the Cottingham Local History Society. The text was published in the Cottingham Local History Society Journal 29 (2011), 18-32

2007. 'Middle English surnames as lexical evidence', University of Oxford

2005. 'East Riding of Yorkshire place-names', Cottingham Men's De Luda Society

2003. 'East Riding of Yorkshire place-names', Cottingham Local History Society

2002. 'Etymology, lexicology and English personal names 1200-1700', University of Oxford

2001. 'The origins and development of English place-names and of surnames derived from them', at the 2001 annual conference of the Guild of One Name Studies

1984. 'Given names in post-Reformation East Riding as evidence of religious affiliation', given to the East Yorkshire Family History Society

1984. 'The field names of Ashendon and Pollicott, Buckinghamshire', given to the Ashendon Women's Institute

1982. 'Surnames as evidence of medieval migration' and 'The socio-linguistics of English nicknaming', the Universitites of Lund, Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Current Research

This is mainly focused on the etymologies and linguistic development of modern family names, as part of my editorial work for the Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland (2016). A second, revised and expanded edition is in preparation. Since modern surnames are often opaque or are only deceptively intelligible, I am also gathering data that reveals the phonological and morphological patterns by which Middle English surnames became misleadingly transformed in early Modern English. I have a long-term interest in medieval personal names and surnames as a source of information about the people who bore them, their origins, language, occupations and behaviour. With Jayne Carroll I am currently writing a chapter on 'Identifying migrants through names', for a co-authored book called Migrants in Medieval England, to be published by the British Academy.

Past Research

Most of my previous publications relate to the late medieval period, with a particular emphasis on the methodology by which people's names can be reliably exploited as evidence for social and economic history and for historical linguistics.

  • PETER MCCLURE, 2016. Personal and surname dictionaries. In: PHILIP DURKIN, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Lexicography Oxford University Press. 271-91
  • PATRICK HANKS, RICHARD COATES and PETER MCCLURE, 2016. The Oxford Dictionary of Family Names in Britain and Ireland Oxford University Press.
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2014. Explaining English surnames: linguistic ambiguity and the importance of context. Part II Nomina. 37, 109-41
  • PETER MCCLURE and GEORGE REDMONDS, 2014. The meaning of dinge in the names of buildings Journal of the English Place-Name Society. 46, 32-39
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2013. Explaining English surnames: linguistic ambiguity and the importance of context. Part I Nomina. 36, 1-33
  • PETER MCCLURE, PATRICK HANKS and RICHARD COATES, 2012. Methods for studying the origins and history of family names in Britain: philology meets statistics in a multicultural context. In: LARS-GUNNAR LARSSON and STAFFAN NYSTRÖM, eds., Facts and Findings on Personal Names: Some European examples 37-58
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2011. Personal names and the development of English OED Online. Available at: <http://public.oed.com/aspects-of-english/shapers-of-english/personal-names-and-the-development-of-english/>
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2011. Surnames as sources in the OED OED Online. Available at: <http://public.oed.com/aspects-of-english/shapers-of-english/surnames-as-sources-in-the-oed/>
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2010. Middle English occupational bynames as lexical evidence: a study of names in the Nottingham borough court rolls 1303-1455. Part 1, Methodology Transactions of the Philological Society. 108(2), 164-77
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2010. Middle English occupational bynames as lexical evidence: a study of names in the Nottingham borough court rolls 1303-1455. Part 2, Etymologies Transactions of the Philological Society. 108(3), 213-31
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2009. Etymological interpretations of Middle English Siveker, Tinker, and Tolker Notes and Queries. 254, 18-21
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2008. Names and landscapes in medieval Nottinghamshire, with particular reference to Lindrick and lime woods. In: O. J. PADEL and DAVID PARSONS, eds., A Commodity of Good Names: Essays in honour of Margaret Gelling Shaun Tyas. 395-409
  • PETER MCCLURE and T. GRUNDY, eds., 2008. The Cottingham Floods of June 2007: A portrait in words and pictures by Cottingham residents Cottingham Local History Society.
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2007. Changes in the personal name stock 1100-1300. In: DAVID ROLLASON and LYNDA ROLLASON, eds., The Durham Liber Vitae 2. The British Library. 13-16
  • PETER MCCLURE and GEORGE REDMONDS, 2007. Personal names from 1300 to the Dissolution. In: DAVID ROLLASON and LYNDA ROLLASON, eds., The Durham Liber Vitae 2. The British Library. 17-20
  • PETER MCCLURE and GEORGE REDMONDS, 2007. Surnames in the Liber Vitae after 1300. In: DAVID ROLLASON and LYNDA ROLLASON, eds., The Durham Liber Vitae 2. The British Library. 26-32
  • PETER MCCLURE, DAVID ROLLASON, PAUL RUSSELL and JOHN INSLEY, 2007. Personal names. In: DAVID ROLLASON and LYNDA ROLLASON, eds., The Durham Liber Vitae 2. The British Library. 35-246
  • PETER MCCLURE and DAVID ROLLASON, 2007. Surnames. In: DAVID ROLLASON and LYNDA ROLLASON, eds., The Durham Liber Vitae 2. The British Library. 247-354
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2005. The kinship of Jack: II, pet-forms of Middle English personal names with the suffixes -cok and -cus Nomina. 28, 5-42
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2005. Cottingham, 1900-35: the view from the Council Chamber. In: JOHN MARKHAM, ed., Cottingham in the Twentieth Century Cottingham Local History Society and Highgate of Bristol. 71-119
  • PETER MCCLURE, 2003. The kinship of Jack: I, pet-forms of Middle English personal names with the suffixes -kin, -ke, -man and -cot Nomina. 26, 93-117
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1998. The interpretation of hypocoristic forms of Middle English baptismal names Nomina. 21, 101-31
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1996. The names of merchants in medieval Dublin Nomina. 19, 61-78
  • PETER MCCLURE and ROBIN HEADLAM WELLS, 1990. Elizabeth I as a second Virgin Mary Renaissance Studies. 4(1), 38-70
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1984. A glossary and linguistic commentary on Best's Farming Book and related documents. In: DONALD WOODWARD, ed., The Farming Book and Memorandum Books of Henry Best of Elmswell, 1642 Oxford University Press for the British Academy. 273-323
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1983. The ME occupational term Ringere Nomina. 7, 102
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1982. The origin of the surname Waterer Nomina. 6, 92
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1981. Nicknames and petnames: linguistic forms and social contexts Nomina. 5, 63-76
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1981. The interpretation of Middle English nicknames Nomina. 5, 95-104
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1979. Patterns of migration in the late Middle Ages: the evidence of English place-name surnames Economic History Review. 2nd series 32, 167-82
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1978. Surnames from English place-names as evidence for mobility in the Middle Ages The Local Historian. 13(2), 80-86
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1974. Three plant names in ME place-names and surnames: "breme", "rounce", "bilbery" Notes and Queries. 219, 42-44
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1973. Lay subsidy rolls and dialect phonology. In: F. SANDGREN, ed., Otium et Negotium: Studies in onomatology and library science presented to Olof von Feilitzen Norstedt. 188-94
  • PETER MCCLURE, 1973. Gawain's mesure and the significance of the three hunts in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Neophilologus. 57, 375-87

School of English

The University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5919
fax: +44 (0) 115 846 7526
email: name-studies@nottingham.ac.uk