Chapter 2.


      The origin of the name Daggett, Dagget, Daget, Dagat, and all its other variants, (including perhaps Duggett and some Doggetts under which even some modern events have been erroneously recorded - see General Registry Office and the Mormon I.G.I.) has received little attention from historical philologists. Over the centuries there have been considerable changes in the pronunciation of our language and so any attempt at standardising spelling had to await some degree of literacy among the common people. In a single ancient document one sometimes finds a proper name spelt in two or more ways, even though written by the same scribe, at the same time. Nowadays this practice is described as "printers' errors" - but it still occurs quite often, though more often as a result of carelessness rather than innocent ignorance!

      During the 19th century our family name seems to have settled down into three main orthographic groups. The spelling "Daggatt" is to to be found chiefly in districts around Manchester, and is said to have migrated from Scotland about 1800. Perhaps this is a corruption of McTaggart. Be that as it may, this particular family is unconnected with the Daggetts of the same city, descendants of "our" Jason who was born in York in 1846. "Daggitt" occurs most often in the region around Hull. Its connection with the North Yorkshire Daggetts may, perhaps, be found in some early documents relating to land at Beverley.

      The commonest form of the name, ending in -ett or -et, accounts for the majority of these families in the parts of Yorkshire near to Ripon, Thirsk and Boroughbridge, later spreading to more distant parts of the country.

      It has been suggested that Daggett = Duckett = Dukat or even D'Aget and various other names of Norman-French origin such as le dague = dagger. I subscribe to the alternative theory that the word is of Scandinavian or North German origin. "Dag" is similar to the German "Tag" or the Icelandic word for "day". Bearing in mind the history of the Saxon and Norse invasions of the country in the 9th and 10th centuries, resulting in the colonisation of the north-eastern provinces, it is not surprising to find a persistence of Danish and North Saxon placenames in present-day Yorkshire, Northumberland and elsewhere. For example, the ending "by" signifies a small farm or hamlet in Denmark. It is to be found in dozens of places in the area, from Whitby via a profusion of Kirkby's to Baldersby and Wetherby. It is tempting to accept the theory that many northern surnames were similarly introduced.

      I must not cross swords (or daggers!) with my former Latin master, Dr.P.H.Reaney, who published his "Dictionary of British Surnames" in 1958. He says that Daggett = Dagger = Daggers. He quotes Henry Daget of Yorkshire in 1219, Peter Dagard in 1279, Richard Dagun of Yorkshire (1203), John Dagenet of Hertfordshire (1185) and William Dagenet or Dagunet (1210). He believes all these are derived from the old French Dagon, Dagot, Daguet, Dagonet and Daguenet signifying the "carrier of a dagger". Dr.Reaney recognises that Doggett is connected with the word "dog" and that Duckett is a diminutive of the old French "duc" (Latin "dux"), a leader.

      Incidentally, I have just discovered that in parts of Yorkshire, the dialect word "dagger" used to refer to the wooden part of a fold-bar or sheep-pen.

      The earliest record of a Daggett is in 1219, at Aughton in South Yorkshire. Later the Lay Subsidy Rolls tell us that in 1297 Willelmo Daket of Beverley was taxed ninepence, while Alan Daget had to pay twelvepence at Kirkby Moorside in 1301. In 1315-1317 we find a William Dagge being fined twopence for allowing a horse to escape. Robert Dakett of Cramham (this place cannot be identified, unless it is Crambe between York and Malton) made his will in 1446. And there are records of various Daggetts in Baldersby (Topcliffe parish) and Ainderby (Pickhill parish). They were farmers and tenants of land owned by Fountains Abbey during the 1450's.

      From the middle of the 16th century the evolution of our family becomes clearer, although there are still a number of stages where some confusion may occur. The Topcliffe registers contain more than 150 Daggett entries between 1570 and 1800, while Pickhill has nearly 250 for the same period. Topcliffe has a number of early wills such as John Dakitt (1528), Mawde Dagget (1536), Thomas Daggett (1541) and Lancelot Daggat (1547).* There are records of the family name in London from 1629 onwards, probably resulting from a southward migration from Yorkshire a little earlier. John Daggitt of York City left a will dated l620 and there are various others in the Ripon-Thirsk vicinity from about 1540. Scarborough was the home of John and Katherine Daggett in 1598 and there have been other groups on the East Yorkshire coast since then.

* see pg. 19/1

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