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John Shattock's Etymological Transliteration of the Shattocke Name into Olde English

by John Shattock

An eald Englisc way to spell Shattocke 

It was the words that end in “e” in the early modern English that I saw in 16th century manuscript that got me wondering. Why did so many words have an “e” on the end that no longer do in later English e.g. olde, longe, oake, folke (originally folc), meeke, bee (verb be not the insect) and of course Shattocke? 

 I discovered that this was due to conversion from old English to early modern English of the 16th century. In old English every letter in a word was pronounced and there were no silent letters. The monks and other scribes added the “e” to compensate for this and to create the final “uh” sound 
that follows these letters. This carried on well into the 16th Century. 

Say the word “old” -  you can’t not stop the “uh” breath sound after the “d”. Similarly with the “k” at the end of the word “oak” or the “g” at the end of the word “long”. The “e” was added to allow for this because they had never previously had letters in words that didn’t have a sound.   

Old English – Eald Englisc 

The English we speak and read today does not look anything like old English (eald Englisc) which was a germanic tribal language that is equally unrecognisable to the modern day German language.  There are similar words in both languages and also to celtic Welsh. There are words that are 
completely different and there are those with different spellings that maybe unrecognisable until we pronounce them as they would have been pronounced in the day IF we know how to pronounce the letters from old English. 

 I speak a little Welsh and to most English speaking people the words can look completely un-pronounceable until the reader knows how the letters are pronounced in this language rather than in modern English eg cwm = sounds like coom – bedd is pronounced beth (with the “dd” sounding like “th” in “the”). My sister had a friend called Buddug – it’s pronounced something like Bith-ick (th as in “the”) and nothing like the way it looks to someone speaking modern English.  

Old English was in use from the 9th to the 12th Century but still continued to be used in part until early modern English was started to be used from about 1480 AD.  

The alphabet is different and so are the letters. For example, there is no “k”. “C” takes a hard sound equivalent to the letter “k”. Vowels include the letter “Y”, as they also do in current Welsh. The letters are pronounced differently. The “f” is pronounced as a modern “v” if it falls between two vowels, like it does in German and Welsh. They also used diphthongs and special letters like these Æ Ð Ȝ S Þ Ƿ Ā Ǣ Ē Ī Ō Ū Ȳ æ ð ȝ ſ þ ƿ ā ǣ ē ī ō ū ȳ to reproduce different sounds. 

So how would Shattocke be spelled working backwards? 

It has been established that there would be no “e” on the end. There would also not be a “k” because there isn’t one in the alphabet. The “k” would be just the “c” with the same hard sound. Ciecen is the old English word for chicken and has the same pronunciation.  

We now have Shattoc - still pronounced the same.  

When I was looking at old English spellings I noticed a translation of the word “shaft”, as in a pole or handle to say an axe. The old English spelling is "sceaft” but with the same pronunciation. In old English the “Sh” sound is produced from a combination of “Sc” hence Englisc.  If we replace the “Sha” in Shattock with “Scea” as changed from modern shaft to old English sceaft, it will read Sceattoc. 

We now have a complete old English spelling of the name Sceat toc - still pronounced the same as Shattocke.  

Sceattoc – does it mean anything in old English? 

I was surprised to find out that it does. It’s a combination of two words – a noun and a verb - “scéat” (pronounced shatt) and “toc” (pronounced tock).  


This is a strong masculine noun. It can have a number of similar meanings.  

Main old English dictionary interpretation of scéat: 

Scéat - a surface; a district, or region - scéatt – property goods wealth treasure; of property which is paid as a price or a contribution payment price gift bribe tax tribute money goods reward, money on mortgage or paid in rent, rent, mortgage, money (hé gebóhte mid his ágenum sceatte he bought with his own money téoða ~ a tithe); a piece of money, a coin money, payment. 

It can be simply translated as a word for wealth or property.  


This is the preferite, or past, tense of the old English verb “tacan” = to take or seize. So “toc” is “took” or “seized”. There is no future tense in old English.  

Interpretation of Sceat toc (Shattocke) 

It could be “took land or property or wealth” or something similar.  Surnames were descriptive of a person’s looks, location, trade, parentage, nick name or some other description of their status etc.  


Surnames were first became used in Britain after 1066 AD but were not in common use until after about 1400 AD when most people had an hereditary surname. In Germany, surnames were also not used until the late middle ages or around 1400 to 1500 AD. Originally they were used to distinguish one person from another with similar personal names. Their basic origins were the same in Britain and Germany.  They identified a Thomas, whose father may have been George from another Thomas whose father may have been William or George the Carpenter from George the Fletcher, by identifying the trade of an individual. Similarly they may have been derived from a nickname, a physical attribute, or a location from where they originated. Locations could be very local or further afield - Flemish immigrants were known as Flemings.  

If we put the two Shattocke terms together in the format of a Saxon name of the time we could get something like: 

Thomas Shattocke – Tomas Sceat toc - Tomas [who] took wealth or Tomas [who]  took property or land 

Scéat coin or Scéattas (pl) 

A sceat was also the name of a thick silver Saxon coin of the time (sceattas plural). It was also a term used to describe wealth in old English or treasure in the German equivalent. The scéat coin is very Celtic, and dare I say, usually has a horse and rider on one of its faces that looks similar in style to coins of the La Tène period and coins of the Parisii tribes from Gaul. It’s pronounced shatt (although some metal detector coin buffs might pronounce it skeet because they don’t understand the old English pronunciation).  
Modern Germans pronounce it shatz and use the term as a form of endearment  “Du bist ein shatz” or in modern English “you are a treasure” or in old English  “Þu bist scéat”. 

Click on the links to hear the pronunciation: SCEAT or SCEATTA  
This is a late example of an English scéat   

 Parisii celtic gold coins 

Sceat celtic silver coin from Northumberland England 

Gold la Tène celtic coin