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

The name which DB spells Essocher defeated von Feilitzen (1937: 248), who marked it down as ‘obscure’, but in fact it probably represents the masculine Old England name Æschere, formed from the elements æsc (‘ash; spear, lance; ship’) and here (‘army’). That name occurs twice in DB in the regular form Ascere, for townsmen of Colchester and Ipswich alive in 1086. Elsewhere in DB, Æsc– appears spelled Ess– in the personal name Essul (Æscwulf), and in some place-names; –cher commonly represents the final element –here when preceded by an –h–; and one of the scribes involved in the various recensions of the Domesday materials inserted an unnecessary –o– at the same point in a similar name, spelling Æscræd as Ascored. These parallels do not constitute absolute proof that Essocher stood for Æschere, though no better explanation presents itself.

If the Normans did garble this name in Sussex, they showed themselves magnificently unaware of a name which, although uncommon in current use, may well have resonated with every member of elite Anglo-Saxon society: a fictional Æschere was an important figure in Beowulf, King Hrothgar’s best-loved follower, slain by Grendel’s mother in revenge for the loss of her son and a paradigm of thegnliness who was remembered by the grieving king as ‘everything the world admires in a wise man and a friend’ (Beowulf, lines 1231–44, 1417–21, 2120–8).


Beowulf: An Edition with shorter relevant texts, ed. Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1998)

Beowulf, trans. Seamus Heaney (London: Faber and Faber, 1999)

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: Æschere, Essocher

Spellings in Exon:

Forms in modern scholarship:

  von Feilitzen head forms: Essocher

  Phillimore edition: Essocher (TRE); Aeschere (1086)

  Alecto edition: Essocher (TRE); Æschere (1086)

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

List of property and lordships associated with this name in DB

People of this name

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