April 21, 2017

Tanner or Barker

Samples of leather
The Anorak made a recent trip to a wonderful museum in the West Midands town of Walsall, dedicated to one of its traditional trades - leather making. There's a fascinating display there about the surnames that have developed from various skills involved in producing and using leather. Were any of your ancestors employed in leather making and use?

1 Leather production
There are lots of processes required in the production of leather and each one has resulted in surnames to identify the jobs. Such as:
Skinner - who skins the beasts
Tanner - who tans leather
Barker - another word for tanner
Currier - a leather dresser

2 Boots and shoes
Footwear is probably one of the commonest uses for leather, even today. It's given rise to a few names too.
Boot - one who made boots
Chaucer - a shoe maker: from the French word chaussure, meaning shoe

3 Other leather goods
And there are lots of other leather goods that all had their own specialist skills. For example:
Glover - who made gloves
Gant or Gaunt - another name for a glover, from the French gant
Bracegirdle - a belt maker
Purser - who made purses
Badger - a bag maker (and nothing to do with black and white animals at all!)

4 Saddlery
Making saddles and associated horse harness and tack was a very skilled job with lots of different styles for racing, hunting, and even side-saddles for the ladies.
Sadler - obviously one who made saddles
Burrell - less obviously a saddler, from the French bourrelier
Sellers - also from the French, sellier, or saddler

5 Associated metalwork
And to hold all the leather harness bits together you need lots of specially shaped metalwork, collectively known as lorinery. Walsall had plenty of associated lorinery factories that supplied the leather workers. Their skills also gave us some associated surnames.
Lorimer - a maker or dealer in lorinery
Buckler - made buckles
Sperrin - made spurs

And there you have it. Lots of hidden information in your name!  Now go across to Tricky's FAST blog to see other fives this Friday.


  1. A very interesting Five. I learn so much from your posts and find the names fascinating. It is interesting how many come from the French and wonder if some of the skills were brought over from France originally. Have a good week.

  2. Fascinating reading about the origins of names. Enjoyed your post. Cathy

  3. Well I found a family name in there, Glover, but it must have come from way back as I understand that they worked in the iron mines. Interesting.


  4. That is a very interesting museum to visit.. I also love to visit museum.. Thank you for visiting my blog..I want to follow you, but I didn't see any option in your blog.. please tell me how can I follow you..

    Also will you please follow me back?


  5. As always, full of interesting information.

  6. Loved learning the words related to the skill. My husband's grandfather was a saddle maker and did boots later on. He would be about 120 now if he were still alive, so we're talking back in the real horse and buggy days!

  7. I do so love your posts, never a dull one! Surname origins and family crests are fascinating, as are family trees when people get enough information together. Hope you have a wonderful week, thanks for joining in :)

  8. Fascinating! It is wonderful to learn about these things isn't it.


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