THE THEORY OF THE CHEESE
SOME THOUGHTS ON THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME "CALLAWAY"
(Copyright: Dr Bruce Callaway)

In the search for the origins of a name it must constantly be born in mind that the name is a survivor. We exist, the name exists and it has there been handed down through the centuries. Although a truism, this is important because when research discourages, we must remember that you would not have had the name if someone had not given it to you. This truism (like other truisms) only holds good up to a point, and it is at that point that research must centre viz. the first recorded, unequivocal record of the name, accepting that transitions and alternatives can occur with translation.

In England, family names were first introduced by the Norman Barons. Thus whilst bynames both English and Scandinavian are found in England before the Conquest, old English personal names were rapidly superseded by new Christian names introduced by the Normans.

It was not until the development of the Feudal system in England post-conquest, that it became important for individuals to have a distinguishing label. Only then did it become essential that the King should know exactly what services each Knight owed, and payments to the Exchequer required that debtors and creditors be particularised. The lawyers required that parties to transfers to land or those concerned in criminal proceedings could be definitely identified. Monasteries drew up surveys with details of tenants of all classes, and their services. Later the net was thrown wider in the lists of those assessed in the Subsidy Rolls.

Up to 1200, the Peasants had no fixed surnames. There are signs of development in 1225 and they were in general use 100 years later.

The Welsh as matter of interest, had no hereditary surnames until as late as the 16th century. They clung tenaciously to their ancient system by which a man’s name gave his pedigree for several generations eg (from Reaney) “Morgan ap Llewelyn ap Jevan ap Jenkins” (1454). The Registrar General in 1853 reports that hereditary surnames were not in use even amongst the gentry of Wales until the time Henry VIII. It is fair to say that Welsh surnames appear in the border counties from the 12th Century but their surnames were patronymics from ancient Welsh personal names.

From research it becomes clear that there are no CALLAWAY’s in Viking History and there are no CALLAWAY’s in the Domesday Book. The earliest resembling name is that of one Philip de CHAILEWAI recorded in the Pipe Rolls of Gloucestershire in 1165 (At this time it was customary not to write a single “C” but rather “CHA” having the same pronunciation as the former.)

Harrison in his “Surnames of U.K.” (1969) improbably, having found one Walter CALEWEY in the Hundreds Rolls presumed that the name originated from the Anglo Saxon “CALWIG” (Wig = war, battles). He went on to more accurately dissociate Callaway from GALLOWAY (The land of the Stranger Gaels). The Stranger Gaels were actually Galls or foreigners (from the new Latin GALWETH).

This has been detailed to show that GALLOWAY was originally pronounced “GAWL” whereas a distinct group of names were prefixed CAL as in “Shall”. Galloway incidentally is a locality near Kirkcudbright and it is thus that Barber in his “British Family Names” dismisses the origin of Callaway.

Clues to the origin of the surname come from the Penguin Dictionary of Surnames thus: (Local name) ‘CAILLOUET’ (= pebbly place) an old French place in Eure. This is confirmed by P.H. Reaney one of the most authoritative of the many authors on the origin of English names. As Reaney points out, after the Norman Conquest there were difficulties in communication between Normans who knew no English and Englishmen who were ignorant of French. Consistently the scribes translated what they heard of what they thought they heard phonetically, and as the parson was frequently dealing with illiterates, and there was no previous spelling of the name to guide him, it is easy to see how one Philip de Caillouet became Philip de Chailewai.

The clear evidence arising from Reaneys genealogical researches which linked Norman names into the English name system is beautifically expanded in his book “The Origin of English Surnames” published by Routledge & Kagan Paul LONDON.

To find out why ancestor Philip was in Gloucestershire in the middle 12th century, 100 years after the Conquest, it is necessary to examine the history of Eure. The village of Caillouet still exists.

The medieval province of Eure originally belonged to France, but was gifted to ROLLO the Viking who occupied Normandy in 960 AD. The gift was from Charles the Simple, the King of France, to entice Rollo from his marauding ways and to effect his conversion to Christianity. It is reliably recorded that at the hand over ceremony following the custom of the day, Rollo was to kiss the foot of the King, but this strapping Viking in his enthusiasm lifted the King’s foot high in the air and the unfortunate Monarch took a very heavy fall. Rollo of course became the first Duke of Normandy and was the ancestor of the Sixth Duke William who 100 years later was to become William the Conqueror of all England on that fateful day in 1066.

Eure, the Province, now Eure the Department of France lies North of Paris and stretches to the English Channel as it did in medieval times. Its capital is Evreux and is drained by the lower Seine. It is remembered that it was severely damaged during the German sweep across France (1940) and after the allied Normandy invasion (1944).

Whilst there was commerce with Britain by the Normans prior to the Conquest in the time of Edward the Confessor and indeed Normans were resident in London at Court, they were traders, and property holders and were thus reasonably well recorded. It was not until much later in the 12th & 13th century that travel between Middle France and Britain became easily possible, and then only for a relatively short time. (Rise & fall of the Plantagenet's)

If one accepts that there is a high probability that our ancestor therefore originated from Normandy it is possible to fairly accurately assess his arrival date from the following facts.

It must be remembered that in his invasion across the Channel, William took amongst his 7,000 troops mainly residents of the original Normandy (including Eure), Bretons from Brittany and some residents of Flanders. Although Harold and his troops were decimated at Hastings, William lost more than half of his troops. The rewards for the invaders, including the fresh arrivals from Normandy find their way into Domesday Book, a Record notable for the absence, as has been said, for any name resembling Callaway.

A peaceful invasion by the Industrial and Trading classes of Normandy followed quickly on the conquest of the Norman soldiers. As Greens History of the English People puts it. ‘Every Norman Noble as he quartered himself upon English land, every Norman abbot as he entered his English Cloister, gathered French artists or French domestics around his new Castle or his new Church.’

Thus we have a period from around 1070 until Philip was recorded into existence 95 years later. Many questions arise. Was he a descendant of an earlier arrival from Caillouet, was this his first visit to England. The answers would narrow that 95 years considerably. The answers must await further research.

Once again accepting that Caillouet is the origin of the name, what then is the origin of the former? Here we must turn to A. Dauzat’s authoritative DICTIONNAIRE ETYMOLOGIQUE DES NOMS DE FAMILLES ET PRENOMS DE FRANCE (Paris 1951) ‘CAILLOUET the diminutive of CAILLOU (X) which in Normandy/Picardy refers to flint, pebble or stone. Hence the place of the Little Flint etc.

However Philip was in England under the reign of Henry II (1154-1189) who married Eleanor of Aquitaine and commerce and travel was equally brisk between the South of France and England in these 35 years.

Dauzat indicates that the name CALLAVET in the South of France (a place in the Department of GERS ca. 40km west of Toulouse), could have a similar origin from “CAILLOU” (broken pebbles or stones) or alternatively “CAILLOUTEAUX” (to curd or clot).

Most French names beginning with CAIL are considered to derive from “LAIT-CAILLE” (milk curds) and hence, with its variations became the surname of the milkman or the cheese maker.

Further research now being undertaken may prove or disprove if our Philip was indeed a common medieval ancestor to the Callaway Family of the world. Still to be resolved then would be the interesting question was he Philip of the Pebbly Place or Philip the Cheese Maker.