Clergy Education of the clergy Until the end of the 16th century, the standard of education of the average clergyman was low. Inadequate remuneration failed to attract an educated clergy. But by the 1630s the majority of parishes had a resident, graduate clergyman. Is this change in education/cultural background evidenced in the recording of surnames in parish registers? Moreover, the new graduate clergy would have been heavily influenced by Latin. In the 16th century, Latin influence caused words to be remodelled according to their real or supposed Latin etymology. Thus b was introduced into debt (originally dette), p into receipt, and c into indict. Not only spellings, but also pronunciation of individual words altered under Latin influence e.g. aventure (= at a venture) became adventure; verdict from verdit; perfect from parfit. One is left wondering whether the same happened with surnames? The clergy are usually seen as the honest interpreters of a surname, but could they have been consciously/unconsciously transmuting names? There is an intriguing reference in Pounds’ A History of the English Parish, p. 166: “A priest at St Ewe (Cornw) moved to another living because he could not understand the Cornish language, and there are other instances of inability to cope with the local patois.” This example came from the 14th century, and a study of the geographical mobility of priests (through locative surnames) at that time reveals that the majority remained in the same diocese, and not infrequently only moved a short distance from their place of birth. However, a significant minority (25%?) had a surprising degree of mobility, e.g. from the deanery of the East Riding of Yorkshire to Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Kent, as examples of the furthest interchanges. Are there any studies of the geographical mobility of parochial clergy in later centuries, and the difficulties they had in understanding? George Redmonds also gives examples in Surnames and Genealogy of the local clergy humorously altering surnames, deliberately misspelling as a kind of private joke. Wonderful… Another source for the creation of temporary variants could be due to hearing loss of an individual cleric. We tend to naturally assume that those recording events had perfect hearing. That is not necessarily so, although it could be argued that this particular defect was corrected through lip-reading. If it is a possibility, then research has been conducted into those consonants that become progressively confused due to hearing impairment. For example, the consonants d, g, b or v, th, z are indistinguishable to those with even a slight hearing loss.