Re: [tied] S(h)ibboleth

From: richardwordingham
Message: 14467
Date: 2002-08-22

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: guto rhys
> To: cybalist@...
> Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2002 7:16 PM
> Subject: Re: [tied] S(h)ibboleth
> If I remember correctly Wrexham is derived from 'Recce's (a
personal name) ham'.

--- In cybalist@..., Piotr Gasiorowski <piotr.gasiorowski@...>
> Is it? As far as I've been able to check, the earliest recorded
version (12th c.) is Wristleham, with byforms like Wrettesham or
Wrechcessam; at any rate the <wr-> appears to be historically
justified. Doesn't it come from OE wrecca 'exile, adventurer, outlaw'
(with palatal <cc>), as in Ratchwood < wreccan wudu? It was a weak
noun, to be sure, so one would expect OE *wreccan ha:m > *Wretchenham
with possible further telescoping (cf. Wretham in Norfolk), but the
the replacement of *wrecchen by <wrecches> in early Middle English is

... and indeed fairly common, as I recall!

According to the 1911 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (as
reproduced at ),
Wrexham was referred to as Wrightesham in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
This does not look right to my limited knowledge of Old English.
Moreover, I can find no trace of the name in Ingram's translation of
the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as transcribed at
etext96/angsx10.txt or in the four versions in the original (the
Parker Chronicle, the Abingdon Manuscripts, Worcester Manuscript and
the Laud Chronicle) transcribed at . (I searched
for 'wr' and visually scanned the whole of the translation. I was
half-way through the translation when Piotr's report popped up.) The
nearest I could find was in the Laud Chronicle entry for 792, which
has the phrase 'æfter wræcsiðe ham'. But that is translated
as 'after his exile'.

Pigot's Directory of 1835 (as reproduced at
wxm.html ) also gives the Anglo-Saxon form as Wrightesham, but that
proves little. says:

"WREXHAM (Clw) Gwregsam (1292). Earliest record: Wristlesham (1161).
Meaning: Wrytel's OE hamm `land in the bend of a river'. OE wryhta
meant `workman'."

I'm not surprised that many say 'meaning unknown'! Is 1161 early
enough to distinguish ha:m and hamm?

The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica gives the Welsh name as 'Gwrecsam',
which looks much more natural than 'Wrecsam'.