HIC EST WADARD (Here is Wadard)
Or what's in a name?
by Brian Goddard, Newbury, England, January 2003
The Bayeux Tapestry is not strictly a tapestry, which is made with the patterns woven in during the manufacture of the cloth like a carpet, but is embroidered needlework. It is made of woollen thread, in eight colours, worked on canvas or linen cloth 70m (230ft) long by 50cms (19.5ins) wide. This large panorama represents events leading up to the invasion in 1066 and the subsequent conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy. The original is preserved in the Museum of Queen Matilda in Bayeux, northern France, while a copy made in Victorian times is in Reading Museum in Berkshire and can be seen there or on their website. Traditionally it was thought to be the work of Matilda of Flanders, wife of William the Conqueror (they married in 1053 at the cathedral of Notre Dame d'Eu, Normandy), but it is more likely that it was made in Kent for Bishop Odo of Bayeux, to be hung in the cathedral at Bayeux, possibly for the consecration of the new cathedral there in 1077. Bishop Odo (Eude in Norman French) was the Count of Kent and the half-brother of William. The tapestry is said to show 626 characters, 202 horses, 41 ships and 37 buildings in more than 70 scenes, some with identifying Latin inscriptions. The decorative borders consist of hunting scenes, foliage and fabulous animals. The tapestry shows in detail the costumes, arms and habits of the Normans at the time of the Conquest and shows that several of the knights are still dressed in the older Viking armour.
The tapestry was made with the intention of telling a moral story and to be a religious document. It depicts the events leading up to the invasion, with the actual invasion and the subsequent death of Harold as Acts of God. This was the consequence of Harold's action in claiming the throne of England, having previously promised support for Duke William's claim. It purports to show that the perjury, following an oath taken over religious relics, drew retribution on that person and his kinsmen. As there is little contemporary literature about the invasion, the tapestry is a valuable source of detailed information of the events immediately after the invasion of 1066.
The scene from the tapestry shown above depicts one of the strategies of the Normans in the initial stages of the invasion, with the marauding and pillaging that followed the landing at Pevensey Bay. Sheep, oxen and pigs fall prey to the Norman soldiers in the countryside around Hastings. The Duke hoped to provoke King Harold into an immediate battle, while the Norman supplies held out and before the English forces could rest and recoup from their recent battle with the Vikings at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire and their 200 mile forced march back to the south coast.
There have been claims by some Goddard researchers that the above section proves that their ancestors were amongst the leading lights in the Norman invasion. However, an equally legitimate claim is made on behalf of the Woodward family by their genealogy researchers, as their website proclaims: "Here is a section of the Bayeux Tapestry which refers to our Woodward ancestor, Commander Wadard. He is pictured on his horse with the caption above him reading `Here is Wadard'. The caption to the right reads 'Here meat is being cooked'." A less focused interpreter would probably consider that the name Woodward was derived from the Old English term 'woodwarden' meaning a forester. As a name Woodward is common in Worcestershire and the adjacent medieval Forest of Arden area of the Midlands. The Goddards, of course, would claim that the Norman scribes would not know their Ws from their Gs!
Wadard is the last of the 478 knights listed on the plaque in the church at Dives-sur-Mer, Normandy, where William the Conqueror and his knights said mass before setting sail to invade England. It is thought that he was one of Bishop Odo's followers. This plaque is said to give the names of all the knights who took part in the invasion. However, historians think that there were probably between 2,000 and 3,000 knights, of whom 1,200 were Norman, supplemented by 3,000 to 4000 infantrymen in the invasion force. So it is likely that the list is only of the most influential barons, bishops and knights.
The Normans are frequently but mistakenly assumed to be of French origin, but they are more accurately of Viking origin. Thorfinn Rollo, the descendant of King Stirgud the Stout – the Viking who landed in the Orkneys and northern Scotland about the year 870 –landed in northern France about the year 940. The French king, Charles the Simple, finally conceded defeat after Rollo laid siege to Paris and granted northern France to Rollo. Rollo became first Duke of Normandy, the territory of north men. Duke William, who with his invasion force defeated the English army in 1066, was descended from this first Duke.
Edward the Confessor, the last Old English king, died in January 1066 without an heir. Harold, Earl of the West Saxon earldom (Earl of Wessex), and William Duke of Normandy had about equal claims to the throne. William expected to be king. He was capable, ambitious, forceful but, because lie was perceived to be a Frenchman, the English distrusted him. They were afraid he would show partiality to his own countrymen, so they preferred Harold. William brought troops and invaded. Harold was killed in the Battle of Hastings on 14 October 1066; the following Christmas Day William was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey. It took about four years for William to complete a series of merciless campaigns against the English nobility, most of whom did not accept him. Ninety percent of them were wiped out and replaced by a new French nobility. French was introduced as the normal language of the government, but English was still spoken by the masses; it became the language of the lower class. England was a conquered land. The Normans were here to enrich themselves, not to become a part of a culture that they considered inferior. Most of them owned property in France as well, and residence in England was often just a political and economic necessity, not a matter of choice.
With this change of management of the country, the language of names started to change; but progress was slow and, significantly, surnames did not come into common usage until about the 1400s. The Anglo-Saxons used only personal names, sometimes with nicknames and patronymics, so it was not until after the Norman Conquest that inherited surnames were adopted. In most cases they either took the names of the villages whence they came, although remarkably few of these names have stuck (this would generally be the case of those starting with a 'de'), or else the surname was a sort of nickname depicting certain characteristics e.g. Alain le Roux (Alain of the red hair), Raoul Vis-deLoup (Raoul Wolf-face) etc. And then of course we have poor Robert le Bastard…. In other cases it could be the father's name, in the formal fill de ( = son of …) This, in later years, became Fitz as in such names as Fitzjohn etc.
The nobility and wealthy Norman landowners were the first to use surnames. There are some who believe that the family name of Goddard originated from the small town of Goderville in Normandy. This provides some possibility that the soldiers with the various spellings of Goddard and persons with the attachment of 'de Goderville' may have come to England with William the Conqueror in 1066 and fought at the Battle of Hastings, if not as knights at least as foot soldiers. Regardless of this possibility, the family name of Goddard was recorded before the Conquest and the name is much older and its origin further afield.
The names from the Norman-French of the invasion period underwent significant change in the centuries after the Conquest. The spellings were often different then. For example, the modern family name of Bunker comes from the French Bon-Coeur (Good-Heart). This would actually have been written 'Cor-bon' in Norman-French of 1066. Also, the Bishop of Bayeux, who is normally known by the name of Odo, is listed under the French spelling of 'Eude' on the plaque in the church at Dives-sur-Mer.
When Saxon invaders came to this country in the fifth and sixth centuries they brought with them their own language. Although they did not kill all the native Britons, they almost destroyed their language and replaced the native Celtic language with their own Germanic tongue. With the new language and government system came new place names, many of which survive to the present day. The existing settlements were not destroyed, but the Saxons found the names difficult to pronounce, so they renamed them in their own language. Three centuries later the places raided and settled by the Vikings changed names again. The deepest raid into the English countryside and furthest from the coast was probably that when Tamworth in Staffordshire was burnt to the ground in 876, attacked from bases in the east. Today there are noticeably more Viking names of inhabited areas ending in thorpe and 'toft' to the east of the rebuilt Tamworth, and Saxon town names ending in 'ton' to the west.
When the Viking invasions started a new language appeared – Old Norse. Since the Vikings came from different parts of Scandinavia, they all used their own dialect of Old Norse although the basic language was the same (much like modern English, American and Australian). Old English and Old Norse were in many ways similar since they had both developed out of the same language (like modern English and German); in fact, the language spoken in Denmark at this time was mostly understandable by the Anglo-Saxons and vice versa. This meant that there were many words that were similar in both languages. For example, Old English had several words for child: two of these were 'cid' and 'bearn'. The commonest Old Norse word for a child was 'barn'. In the southern parts of Britain, where the Vikings hardly settled, child has become the normal word; however, in the north of Britain, where there was heavy Viking settlement, the dialect word for a child is bairn. This is because it was a word both peoples could easily understand. Sometimes this gives us two meanings for the same word today. The Old Norse word 'gata' and Old English word 'geat' are both words originally meaning 'a way through'. In English it came predominantly to mean a way through a wall or fence, so we get the word gate. Gate is seen in street names in the north of England, but generally does not refer to an opening. The Vikings used their word to mean a way through a settlement, so it came to have the meaning of street e.g. Coppergate – the street of the cup makers (still found in both Canterbury and York). Other words were introduced into the language with no similar word in Old English, so we have words in modern English which are Norse in origin such as: take, call, die, rugged, flat, tight, kid, steak, anger, awe, bait, boon, crooked, law, them, wand, wrong, freckle etc. Despite these introductions, the basic language of England did remain Anglo-Saxon or Old English or at least a dialect of it.
Although much of our modern language comes from the mixture of the languages of the Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, very few Christian names do. There area few, such as Alfred, Agatha, Agnes, Cuthbert, Edgar, Edmund, Edward, Edith, Edwin, Godfrey, Harold, Hilda, and Matilda from the Anglo-Saxons, and a few such as Erik, Freda, Harald, Helga, Jon, Karl and Neil from the Vikings; but most Anglo-Saxon and Viking names sound very strange to modern ears, names such as Aethelberht, Offa, Wulfstan, Godwin, Beorhtweard, Cyneric, Leofwine, Aelgifu, Ealswith, Wulfwyn, Arnbjorn, Guthrum, Halfdan, Grimketil, Snorn, Arnbjorg, Gerd and Gudrun. However, when you look at surnames there is much more evidence of our Saxon and Viking past. As was said earlier, the Anglo-Saxons distinguished between two people with the same name by adding to their first name either the place they came from or the job they did – for example, a man named Edward who was a tailor would be known as Edward the Tailor or just Edward Tailor. Many of our modern surnames are actually occupational names – Bowyer, Baxter Baker, Weaver, Fisher, Fowler, Hunter, Farmer, Fletcher etc.
The Vikings had a different way of distinguishing between people of the same name – they added the name of the person's father or mother, so Harald, the son of Erik, would be known as Harald Erik's son or, as we would say it today, Harald Erikson [name] [father's name] son for a man and [name] [father's name] dottir for a woman. Although names ending in -son are fairly common today, the women's equivalent - dottir is not, although it would have been at the time. Often Viking families alternated the name of the eldest, so that Arn Gunnarsson might be the father and son of Gunnar Arnsson, and the grandfather and grandson of Arn Gunnarsson ! Had they had postmen in Viking times, they'd never have known who the letter was actually for!
Many Vikings also had a nickname which was used instead of their family name. Giving a nickname was like naming a new-born baby; it created a special tie between the name-giver and the name-taker. The newly named person could claim a gift from the name-giver, either a present or a favour, even if the name was derogatory, which many of them were. Nicknames sometimes went by contraries: a man with a swarthy skin might be called 'the fair', and an unusually tall man might be called 'the short' (much like 'Little John' in the Robin Hood stories). Other nicknames included Wise, Fox, Fool, Grey Cloak, Hairy Britches, Flat Nose, Seal Head, Short, Stout, Forkbeard, Bald, Blood-axe, Blue Tooth, Fine-hair, Iron Side, Smooth Tongued, Deep Minded, Boneless and many more. Few Viking women appear to have had nicknames, and most of those described the woman's wisdom, beauty, wealth or speech habits. (Perhaps the less complimentary names never made it into the sagas for fear of litigation of the physical sort!)
The translation of many of the Norse sagas show that there were many Viking names of wide variety and complexity. Here is just a short selection of some starting with the letter G: Gardar Svafarsson, Gauk, Gauk Trandilsson, Geirniund, Geirolf the Warrior, Gest Oddleifsson, Gisli Sursson, Gizur Teitson, Gizur the White, Glum, Gnupa-Bard, Grani, Grim, Grim Kamban, Grjotgard, Gudbrand of the Dales, Gudlief Arason, Gunnars Holt, Gardar, Gaut, Gauti, Gautrek, Geir, Geirrod, Geirthjof, Gellir, Gest, tailing, Gish, Gizur, Glammad, Godfred, Godi, Godmund, Godord, Gold-Thorir, Gorm, Grettir, Grimkell, Grubs, Grundi, Gudlaug, Gudrod, Gudrodar, Gurd, Gusir, Gust, Guthfrith, Guthorm, Guthrum. These are just a few of those Gs that made it into the Viking sagas worthy of translation; there must be many more lost in history. As maybe seen, even on this minute selection, there are several contenders for the origin of the name Goddard, without the contortions of spelling and misinterpretation offered by several of the name researchers.
The Vikings were venturesome seafarers. From Denmark, Norway and Sweden they spread through Europe and the North Atlantic in the period of Scandinavian expansion (800-1050) known as the Viking Age. Although they are often thought of primarily--a-'s' faidefg, Vikings were also traders, explorers and settlers. Behind them they left a legacy not only of archaeological remains, but also of family names, place names and field names. Their 'remains' can be found in local dialects and customs, in folk tales and oral traditions, and of course in the genetic make-up of the local people themselves. The Vikings influenced a larger area of the globe than ever the Roman Empire did in its day. Vikings occupied land from Kiev and Novgorod in Russia, parts of Turkey, throughout the north Mediterranean countries and the Iberian Peninsular. They crossed the Atlantic where they colonised the Vinland settlement on the coast of North America for fifteen years, they colonised and Christianized both Iceland and Greenland and conquered Ireland and the rest of the British Isles and Norway.
The raids by the Vikings of Denmark, and therefore the Viking influence on the British Isles, started in 789; they founded the city of Dublin in 840, and by 1013 the Danes had conquered England. In 1016 the Danes under Cnut (Kraut or Canute, as you will) ruled England. In 1028 Cnut, who was then king of both England and Denmark, conquered Norway. Following the death of King Cnut in 1035, his illegitimate son, Harold I (Harefoot), reigned over England as regent until 1042 when Edward the Confessor was crowned and ruled England with the support of the Danes. Edward the Confessor married Edith, Earl Godwin's daughter, in 1045. Such was the influence of the family of Godwin, Earl of Wessex, after this marriage that, following his death and then the death in January 1066 of Edward the Confessor, his second son, Harold Godwinson (so named following the Viking tradition) now Earl of Wessex was crowned King Harold II on 6 January 1066. Previously in 1064, this selfsame Harold Godwinson Earl of Wessex had sworn an oath to aid the succession of William Duke of Normandy to the English throne; but on the death of Edward the Confessor he reneged on this promise. On 25 September 1066 Harold, now King of England, defeated and killed Harald Hardrada, the King of Norway, and also his own exiled brother Tostig, Earl of Northumberland, at the Battle of Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire, only to be killed himself at Hastings on 14 October after a reign of less than ten months.
The two market towns of Goderville in Normandy and Godarville in Belgium, and the following extract from the Catholic Encyclopaedia gives some idea to the extent to which the Goddard name, with only minor language variations, was established by 1000: "Godehard, also known as Godard, Gothard, Godehard the Bishop, Godehard vescovo. Memorial: 4 May (Saints Day). His father worked for the canons of Niederaltaich. Godehard joined the canons and became their provost. Helped reintroduce the Benedictine rule at Niederaltaich, which then sent abbots to Tegernsee, Hersfeld and Kremsmunster to revive the Rule of Benedict. Bishop of Hildesheim in 1022. Born about 960 in Bavaria. Died 4 May 1038. Canonized by Pope Innocent II in 1131".
However, apparently, there is no documentary evidence to support claims that a Goddard, in any spelling variation, took part in the invasion of 1066, and even the name Wadard disappears soon after, not to appear again in England for nearly a thousand years and then only as a pseudonym. Wadard possibly either died in the fighting in the first crusade of 1095-99, as did his mentor Bishop Odo in 1097, or he slipped quietly off home as soon as possible afterwards. The Domesday Book, drawn up in 1086, is dedicated to the wealth of the nation and only lists the names of the most senior persons who held the land for the king. No Goddards, but two Wadards are named, Rainald Wadard (Wadard or the Bayeux tapestry), and a "son of Wadard" (it is said in the twelfth century Eynshaai Cartulwy that they were probably not related to each other!) who sub-leased plots of land, mostly north of Oxford, from Bishop Odo and others. Rainald Wadard is the Wadard who had a small part of this land, about 250 acres, in Swindon. However, it is doubtful if Wadard did more than visit this Swindon land occasionally, because an entry in the Wiltshire Geld Rolls of 1084 shows that "Waddards man" had defaulted on his dues for this land. Before, or soon after 1097 when he died, Bishop Odo's lands were dispersed, with those in the tenancy of Wadard forming the basis of the barony of Arsic with Cogger at its head. "Wadards son" was probably the Walchelin Wadard or Waard, who had leased several small plots of land, some sublet to a man called Lewi. However, according to the Victoria County History for Oxfordshire, this Wadard had only one child, a daughter, and thus the name of Wadard would have disappeared also from this area north of Oxford when she married a Cheyney in about 1130.
Apart from the de Godervilles of King John's time (also documented as de Godarville, or de Gardeville), who may or may not have been so named before they came to Britain in the twelfth century, Sir Hugh and Hugh (father and son'?) in the Chester area, Sir Walter of Wiltshire and Ireland, a cleric Eustace presented to the living at Wendlebury, north of Oxford, by Sir Walter (were they brothers?), and Robert, a treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral, the Goddards are notable by their absence from written documents. Even these Godervilles were probably not related to each other as no document has been found that mentions a relationship between any of them. Of the other Goddards of this period John Goddard of Accrington in his article for Newsletter 13, June 1989, discusses several from the Isle of Man and the North East of England, but here again John reports that the records for the name of Goddard in the northern area are also few in number before the sixteenth century.
Until the ending of the feudal system there was little requirement for surnames for any but the highest in the land and indeed they were usually known by their titles. By the end of the fourteenth century the military justification for "feudal tenure" had declined and the development of "royal justice" contributed to the decline of the private jurisdiction of the feudal lords. With the introduction of this remote rule of law came the requirement for better identification of individuals; this was answered by the introduction of surnames. By the sixteenth century still more personal accountability was required which was made possible by the enforced introduction of the Parish Registers using the fixed surnames which in England (not required by law in Wales until 1850) had already become normal practice. Until surnames were fixed, direct taxation and control could only be carried out by those who knew the individual by sight. This meant that taxatlan and justice, both criminal - and ctvM, bad until then to be dictated by a feudal lord of the manor or, in their increasingly frequent absence, by his stewards.
The introduction of the parish records, registering names at the birth, marriage and death of individuals, allows the genealogy of the Goddards and others to be traced back to the early seventeenth century (lie said laughingly!). The surprising thing is the large number of Goddard families, in unrelated groups, that are found in the earliest of these records dotted throughout Britain. These families have, in many cases, obviously been established here for centuries. The lack of contemporary documents of the eleventh to fifteenth centuries naming individuals can only mean that virtually all entering the country were of the foot soldier level, retainers, colonisers, tradesmen or domestic staff and others possibly seeking asylum when they arrived in Britain. In the time since the Norman invasion a stream of Goddards have entered Britain from many European countries and Ireland, and over the centuries a few Goddards have made the upper echelons of society, but only by hard work, the acquisition of land, or by luck. With a name like Goddard there is a vague chance that you can trace your family tree back to the early parish records, but not beyond. However, if you had the surname of Jones, there is no chance that you could decide from which Viking son of Jon your line descends.
This surname system has stood us in good stead for over 600 years. However, there are too many people with too few names and with that the importance of the traditional surname is diminished. Just try to count the number of John Goddards alive today; probably well over one thousand. So we have come a full circle; only by attaching an address again to the name of a person and then possibly the additional rank of age, Snr. etc. can we get close to identifying a person uniquely. In this age of mass communication a more effective identification method is urgently required to replace the present naming system with an individual and unique personal identity system. The replacement being offered by the government and service industries, for all but family and day to day business, is a unique 'computer friendly' personal number unrelated to any other individual — try doing genealogical research on that, in a thousand years time!