This post is part of a series on the vocabulary of the sixteenth-century Essex Wills. For an introductory overview, see The Words of Sixteenth Century Essex Woman and Man.
The Oxford English Dictionary contains a curious little entry for the word endware. Here it is:
† ˈendware, n. ? perhaps some error; Old English *ęnde-waru (collect. singular) would mean ‘the inhabitants of an end’ (compare END n. and -WARE suffix). Halliwell gives ‘Endware, a hamlet, Linc.’; but it is not in the Linc. glossaries.
? = ENDSHIP n.
1577 W. HARRISON Descr. Eng. (1877) ii. xiii. i. 261 The moonkes were authors of manie goodlie borowes and endwares neere unto their dwellings..But alas..they wrought oft great wickedness and made those endwares little better than brodelhouses.
Here we have two question marks, but really three or four questions.
- Is it really an error by a couple of antiquarians?
- Does it mean ‘endship’ (which itself means ‘a small suburb, a township’, and is used by Bunyan and Defoe, and so was once perhaps well known)
- Why is it not in Lincolnshire glossaries if Halliwell is right about it being found there?
- Could it be a compound of end and the suffix -ware?
On the basis of the Essex Wills, I believe we can confidently answer ‘no’ to question 1. It’s a real word! And on the same basis, I think we can assume that Halliwell was right in his definition ‘a hamlet’ (question 2), right in entering it as a regional word (question 3), but somehow mixed up his counties, and should have put ‘Essex’.
The Essex Wills contain at least six examples of endware, dating from 1563 to 1599, the right period for Harrison’s mention. They are very clear in their meaning, for example:
‘the hamlet or endware called Duck Street in [Saffron] Walden’ (1563 I. 214)
The actual townships referred to in this way are as follows:
- Duck Street near Saffron Walden (1563) (now lined with desirable detached houses)
- Finchingfield (1571)
- an unnamed place near Little Walden (1575)
- Boyton End (probably the one near Thaxted; the one near Sturmer is in Suffolk) (1585)
- Beazley End near Wethersfield (1591, 1599).
Now what is especially interesting is that these places are all within a small area, roughly north-west of Braintree. My map (from a 1950s road atlas) is by no means perfect (the large towns near the bottom left and right are Bishops Stortford and Braintree), but it should be possible to make out the pencilled boxes marking No. 1 to the left of the old A1, on the left, No. 3 on the B1052 near the top left of the map, Nos. 4 (on the B1051) and 2 (on the B1053) roughly in the centre, and No. 5 towards the right, near Halstead.
It is also worth pointing out that this part of Essex bristles with place names which end in end. Two of our endwares do, for a start, but there are the famous Audley End, Howlett End, Cornish Hall End, Duck End, Bran End, Puttock End, numerous Church Ends, and so on.
The next really gratifying thing is that William Harrison, the author of OED’s example, was Rector of Radwinter, in exactly the same area; on the map it’s on the B1053, just north of No. 4, and somewhat to the south-east of No. 3. In other words, writing in 1577, he was employing the same term for a small settlement that people living in the villages around him used in their wills.
Now for question 4. The terminal element –ware meaning ‘inhabitants of–’ was not uncommon in place names such as Old English Cantware Kent. However it seems to have ceased to form new words after the Old English period, and the compounds in which it occurred all became obsolete:
earthware (†13th century)
heavenware (†13th century)
hellware (†14th century)
Romeware (†13th century)
If the suffix ceased to be productive well before these words died out, *endewaru must have been coined in Old English. The word endware may be an unattested Old English word that survived for 500 years in a small corner of Essex.