Heading up Silver Street….

12 September 2015

…. it sure is a common street name in England. There is also railway station in London between Edmonton Green and White Hart Lane (home of Tottenham Football Club) of the same name and apparently, the station takes its name from Silver Street where the silversmiths lived back in the seventeenth century. But seriously, Silver Streets are all over the country!

The Internet Surname Database – which, in my humble opinion, is to be taken with a pinch of salt at times – states that the surname Silver is recorded “in many forms including Silber, Silbermann, Silver, Silvers, Silverman, Silvermann, Zylberman, Zylberdik and Silversmid” … and it goes on to say that the “surname is mainly English, Scottish, German and Hebrew“. Well, that’s fairly loose….!

There are supposedly three possible distinct sources (again, details sourced from the Internet Surname Database): (a) a metonymic occupational name for a silversmith, (b) a nickname for a rich man, or (c) a locative name from places on watersides where the water gives a silvery appearance. Examples of these places include the village of Silverstone (Northamptonshire), Silverley (Cumbria) and Silverdale (Lancashire). All perfectly viable and sensible suggestions…. but why would someone have Silver as a first name?

Well, 41 people did in the 1881 census (see the Surname Atlas distribution map of forenames, left)! We are currently working on an intestate case where the deceased’s first name was Silvery – there were four of those in 1881 – and a few variations on a theme, including Silverry. FreeBMD highlights further eccentric first names including Silveria, Silverius, Silverton, Silvera, Silverwood, Silverstone and many more…. I do wonder why these were used as first names!

There are numerous ‘famous’ people with the Silver surname and Wikipedia rather helpfully lists them all although, if I am totally honest, I have never heard of even one of them! Either I have been living under a rock for 37 years, or maybe they are not all that famous, in the greater scheme of things? I guess that sometimes we remember the silver medal winners  – those teams/individuals who came second – and sometimes we forget….? I know Justin Gatlin took two silver medals in the World Championships – in the 100m and 200m sprints – but that’s because of the story behind the man. Dafne Schippers (from the Netherlands) won silver in the women’s 100m event, with a National Record time. But, who won silver in the women’s 800m race? I could look it up but I don’t remember it….

Silver – it’s a peculiar first name and a mighty fine medal to win. Let’s remember the silvers of the world….

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