Modern Domesday

The Domesday book, also known as the “Great Survey”, was just that, a survey completed in 1086 covering much of England and parts of Wales by order of King William the Conqueror.

The purpose of the Domesday book was likely to assess taxes and determine what was “owed” to the king after the Norman conquest.

The book is also the genesis of surnames. People back then went by their first names plus a unique description of their occupation or town of birth. Bob the baker became Bob Baker and so on. Later, surnames might vary based on local customs or simply to be different. The surname Lee, Lea, and Leigh are all pronounced the same but are all common surnames that originated from the same source. I’m glad the Domesday Book was created when most occupations were trades. Had it been written today, our friend Bob might have an unusual surname derived from his work as a computer programmer, a photographer, or an HVAC technician, jobs that did not exist in 1086. HVAC surnames do exist. Some people will remember actress Betty Furness, an obvious reference to the furnace that makes the H in HVAC. Comic strip dog Snoopy from “Peanuts” had an alter ego named Joe Cool that may have come from some involvement from AC. Whenever I pay a visit to my dear departed relatives, I notice the name “Dyer” on headstones. Most of them had short lifespans which made me think their surname was a reference to DIYer. They may have passed because they dared to make a DIY repair on their HVAC systems. The surname of my HVAC serviceperson is Goodacre that I hope is a sign that he is a good AC technician. I’ll avoid his competition, Mr. Sweatbrow for obvious reasons.


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