PASE: Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England


[Image: Excerpt from the Domesday Book]
[Image: Durham Liber Vitae, folio 38r (extract)]


Author: CPL
Editorial Status: unknown

Discussion of the name

Styrcar is a masculine name of Scandinavian origin (normalized in ON as Styrkárr) formed from the first element styrr (‘tumult, uproar’) and a second element which may be *kárr (‘curly-haired’). The name is well represented in Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia (Fellows Jensen 1968: 268). Its first appearance in England is as the name of a Danish jarl (dux) who was with Æthelstan’s court in Sussex and Wessex in April 930 (Styrcer 1). There were moneyers of the name at Leicester and York in the later tenth century and at York and Cambridge in the earlier eleventh (Styrcar 1–5), as well as two men in the Peterborough district in the 980s (Styrcyr 1–2). The name was also used in Normandy (Adigard des Gautries 1954: 416).

The name appears in a variety of spellings in DB. Björkmann (1910: 132) appears to have recognized them as the same name, but von Feilitzen divided them up strictly according to spelling, and as a result failed to acknowledge the possibility that they were related. Thus he assigned the spellings Starcherus, Starker, and Estarcher to a CG name Starcher, Stergar to ON Styrgeirr, and only Stercher, with some hesitation, to ON Styrkárr. He acknowledged the possibility (following Björkmann) that Sercar was an error for Stercar and thus also represented Styrkárr (von Feilitzen 1937: 357, 373, 377).

There are, however, good grounds for thinking that all six DB spellings stood for the same name, and that the name was Styrcar. First, Sercar is clearly a miscopying of Stercar, since the estate in question is only 10 miles from that assigned to Stercher, and passed to the same Norman. Secondly, as to the supposed CG name Starcher, von Feilitzen was always inclined to grasp for CG names to explain DB spellings which are better understood as Scandinavian, here relying on the ending –er. In reality there is no independent evidence that the CG name was used in Anglo-Saxon England, whereas Styrcar certainly appears with the spellings stircer and stircar for the same York moneyer active in the early years of Cnut’s reign (Styrcar 4). Thirdly, ON Styrgeirr is not on independent record, and spellings of Styrcar in –g– are also found on the coins (Styrcar 3, Styrcar 5). Finally it is more likely than not that all the DB entries discussed here in fact referred to the same person, Styrcar 10.


Adigard des Gautries 1954: Jean Adigard des Gautries, Les noms de personnes scandinaves en Normandie de 911 à 1066, Nomina Germanica 11 (Lund: Carl Bloms, 1954)

Björkman 1910: Erik Björkman, Nordische Personennamen in England in alt- und frühmittel-englischer Zeit, Studien zur englischen Philologie 37 (Halle an der Saale, 1910; reprinted Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1973)

Fellows Jensen 1968: Gillian Fellows Jensen, Scandinavian Personal Names in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire (Copenhagen: I Kommission hos Akademisk Forlag, 1968)

von Feilitzen 1937: Olof von Feilitzen, The Pre-Conquest Personal Names of Domesday Book, Nomina Germanica 3 (Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksells, 1937)

Forms of the name

Spellings in Domesday Book: Estarcher, Sercar, Starcherus, Starker, Stercher, Stergar

Forms in modern scholarship:

  von Feilitzen head forms: Sercar; CG Starcher; ON *Styrgeirr; ON Styrkárr

  Phillimore edition: Starker (Beds., Essex, Suff., Surr.), Stergar (Norf.)

  Alecto edition: Starcher (Beds., Essex, Suff.), Starher (Surr.), Styrger (Norf.)

Distribution map of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

Holder 1066

Shire Phil. ref. Vill Holder 1066 DB Spelling Holder 1066 Lord 1066 Tenant-in-Chief 1086 1086 subtenant Fiscal value 1066 value 1086 value Holder 1066 ID conf. Show on map
Bedfordshire 1,1b Leighton Buzzard Starcherus Styrcar, housecarl of King Edward Edward, king William, king - 7.00 4.15 4.15 B Map
Essex 41,9 Bensted Stercher Styrcar, housecarl of King Edward - Robert fitzCorbucion Nigel 'the man of Robert fitzCorbucion' 3.50 2.00 2.50 D Map
Essex 41,12 Tolleshunt Major Sercar Styrcar, housecarl of King Edward - Robert fitzCorbucion Mauger 'of Tolleshunt' 1.00 4.00 2.00 D Map
Norfolk 49,7 Saxlingham Stergar Styrcar, housecarl of King Edward Edward, king John nephew of Waleran - 0.25 1.00 0.65 A Map
Suffolk 40,2 Somerton Starker Styrcar, housecarl of King Edward Edward, king Robert fitzCorbucion Roger 'of Somerton' 1.00 1.50 2.00 D Map
Surrey 19,10 Tooting Bec Estarcher Styrcar, housecarl of King Edward Edward, king Richard fitzGilbert Anselm, abbot of Bec 11.00 5.00 5.00 E Map
Total               23.75 17.65 16.30  

People of this name

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