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Harry J. Fletcher




Location: Lost in Texas
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PostPosted: Thu 31 Dec, 2009 3:00 pm    Post subject: Fletchers- The Original Missile Guidance Specialists         Reply with quote

Having had to bear the name FLETCHER for several decades now, I had this nagging feeling that maybe I should learn what exactly the name means. I know that my family came from Scotland and all that and some relation of mine reputedly saved the life of Rob Roy from a menacing dragon (gads, Dungeons and dragons), but how did we get our name? Bakers, Smiths, etc. are obvious examples of last names that were derived from occupations but FLETCHERS?

Well, a fletch is the feather on an arrow and the FLETCHER is the person who selects the feathers and designs the fletch placement on the arrow as well as securing the fletchs. In short we FLETCHERS were the original missile guidance specialists! The blacksmiths made the arrowheads and...the arrowsmiths made.....yes you guessed it. the arrowsmiths got the SHAFT! However, I suspect that in the long run, the FLETCHERS finally got the shaft too while the blacksmiths still got the point.

Although I could add much more, I shall leave this topic open for others who wish to add more or detract if they wish.

Happy New Year

Master Fletcher, Missile Guidance Specialist and Grindstone Sales, LTD.

To Study The Edge of History
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Lin Robinson




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PostPosted: Fri 01 Jan, 2010 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is not a lot to comment on, since you seem to have a good grasp of your surname and its origin.

I doubt there were many dragons around in Rob Roy's time but there were a lot of "dragoons".

While Fletcher has been associated with Clan Gregor for a long time, as an occupational surname it was likely common in other clans as well. The bow did not go out of fashion as a weapon of war until late in the 17th c. among the Highland clans so most clans probably had someone who was making arrows.

Lin Robinson

"The best thing in life is to crush your enemies, see them driven before you and hear the lamentation of their women." Conan the Barbarian, 1982
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Adam O'Byrne





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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2010 12:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If the Blacksmiths always got the point and the Arrowsmiths always got the shaft.. would that not mean that Fletchers always got the tail?

The tail end of arguments between the Blacksmiths and Arrowsmiths of course, this is why a Fletchers house is much like an arrow, one must always 'nock' first.

Happy new year everyone!
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Glennan Carnie




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2010 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Common understanding, taken from the medieval ordnances, is that Bowyers made the bows, Stringers made the bowstrings and Fletchers made the arrows.

Thus, a fletcher was responsible for selecting, preparing and shaping the arrowshaft, then attaching the feathers. Arrows could be supplied 'with iron heads' (that is, with a bodkin of some - unspecified - type) or without. There is much less reference in the ordnances to arrowsmiths, who we presume were responsible for forging the arrowhead. There is no evidence that a Blacksmith had any involvement in the arrow making process. This could imply that Arrowsmithing was a 'sub-industry' of fletching.

This are the definitions still used today by the Guild of Bowyers and Fletchers. I am very privileged to be friends with several Master Bowyers and Master Arrowsmiths.


Oh, and while you're looking at the etymology of familial names, notice that any names ending '-ster' like Brewster or Sempster, would have been jobs traditionally done by women, rather than men.

Happy New Year!
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2010 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glennan Carnie wrote:
There is no evidence that a Blacksmith had any involvement in the arrow making process. This could imply that Arrowsmithing was a 'sub-industry' of fletching.


Oh, and while you're looking at the etymology of familial names, notice that any names ending '-ster' like Brewster or Sempster, would have been jobs traditionally done by women, rather than men.

Happy New Year!


Since I do home brewing (mostly ales), I applaud your knowledge on the original female aspect of it. About 75% of English brewers were women tavern operators around 16th to 17th century era.

I would guess that in dark age or early medieval period, many craftsmen had to be skilled in multiple areas in order to complete finished goods. However, by the 13th century era, most crafts producing weaponry related items are known to have been specialized.

My surname is undoubtedly shortened. (Technically all Smiths had additional clarification as to what kind of smith they were in period times.) I would be thrilled if it had some historical association with "fletching" and its guilds. However it is probably not likely since the fletchers were considered wood working and forest related, while the "XXXsmiths" were associated with preparing the coal and ores, or working the metals. A "smith" could have just have been just some guy that produced charcoal, as they were grouped with the metal fabricating class.

The makers of arrowheads were referred to as "arrowsmiths" in several English documents and classifications of craftsmen that I have previously read, although, I did not catalogue the information. Arrowsmiths pretty much specialized in mass producing just arrowheads during the age of the longbow. (See references to them on several pages of "Peasant Craftsmen in the Medieval Forest" including page 99, while fletchers are classified separately very close to the same years, and given separately in association with wood related crafts on pages such as 93.) http://www.bahs.org.uk/17n2a2.pdf Arrowmiths' guild association might have overlapped closely with the fletchers' guilds since the arrowsmiths I can recall being known historically operated at smaller forge operations located nearest the forests.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2010 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It seems there are at least 3 major types of last names for people of western European descent:

1) Trade. Name derived from the occupation of an ancestor: Fletcher, Cooper, Goldsmith, Bowyer, ______smith, etc.
2) Ancestral (for lack of a better word). These derive from an ancestor's name: Johnson (son of John), Robertson, MacDonald (son of Donald), etc. Mine apparently falls into this category, though less obviously. Arnau (the original Spanish spelling of my last name) comes from Arnal, the Catalan version of the Spanish first name "Arnoldo." So I guess all those people that misspell my last name as "Arnold" are just trying to be true to the original. Happy
3) Locational. having to do with where an ancestor was from: Englander, etc.

I find this stuff fascinating. Happy

Happy

ChadA

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Glennan Carnie




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2010 11:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's also a fourth group, which I suppose you could characterise as 'Anatomical' - that is, names based on some physical characteristic. So you'll find people named for their height, weight, hair colour etc; including some period names that were downright pornographic!
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James Head





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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2010 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glennan Carnie wrote:
There's also a fourth group, which I suppose you could characterise as 'Anatomical' - that is, names based on some physical characteristic. So you'll find people named for their height, weight, hair colour etc; including some period names that were downright pornographic!


Case in point...
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Steven H




Location: Boston
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PostPosted: Sat 02 Jan, 2010 6:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A related question then. Are the terms fletcher and arrowsmith applied for the makers of crossbow ammunition as well?

Thanks,
Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2010 3:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Not everyone gets a nice neat name.

M.

This space for rent or lease.
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Nathan Quarantillo




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2010 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mr Eversberg is right. Quarantillo. It supposedly means "Small group of 40" in Italian. anyone got any ideas where that comes from?
"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 03 Jan, 2010 8:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Probably a mercenary leader or the head of some kind of freelance group.

M.

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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jan, 2010 1:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steven H wrote:
A related question then. Are the terms fletcher and arrowsmith applied for the makers of crossbow ammunition as well?


I am interested in this question too. I have not found the answer.

What I can tell is that crossbows and bolts were ordered togather. (From Toulouse and other major production centers. These seemed to also produce ballista and similar equipment as well.) Usually about 200 to 300 crossbows were ordered at a time. Bolts in quantities of 20,000 to 100,000 bolts were also ordered at the same time from the same source. The English term for the crossbow maker was an "artilliar". But, the major crossbow production centers don't seem to have been in England. Names for related items such as "bolt" are different in French. So, I doubt terms like "Fletcher" were really common where most of the crossbow related production took place. You can identify English who repaired the crossbows, such as "Master Peter the Crossbow Maker", at Corfe/ Dorset, who evidently performed repairs during 1225 on wood and horn style bows. These seem to be counted as "armourers" rather than bowyers though.

David Bachrach has two historically researched academic papers involving the subject; "The Crossbow during the Reign of John and Henry III of England", and another one on 13th century military planning. Both identify French supply sources in English records of orders for crossbows and bolts.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Jimmy Reinstatler




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PostPosted: Mon 04 Jan, 2010 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mine comes from Rhine, or the Rhine River that flows through Germany and Stadt, city or place. So... City or place on the Rhine is the closest translation my family can come up with (anyone who speaks German feel free to correct me!). Any idea what this might mean? Beyond living somewhere along the Rhine river I've no idea.
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Nathan Quarantillo




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PostPosted: Sat 09 Jan, 2010 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Mr Eversberg is right. Quarantillo. It supposedly means "Small group of 40" in Italian. anyone got any ideas where that comes from?




Quote:
Probably a mercenary leader or the head of some kind of freelance group.


AWESOME! Big Grin Big Grin Big Grin now to find some documentation to hopefully support this..........

That would be pretty awesome considering Im going the Landsknecht way...... Following in the family tradition I suppose....

"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Eric Root




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jan, 2010 4:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jared Smith wrote:
Steven H wrote:
A related question then. Are the terms fletcher and arrowsmith applied for the makers of crossbow ammunition as well?


I am interested in this question too. I have not found the answer.

What I can tell is that crossbows and bolts were ordered togather. (From Toulouse and other major production centers. These seemed to also produce ballista and similar equipment as well.) Usually about 200 to 300 crossbows were ordered at a time. Bolts in quantities of 20,000 to 100,000 bolts were also ordered at the same time from the same source. The English term for the crossbow maker was an "artilliar". But, the major crossbow production centers don't seem to have been in England. Names for related items such as "bolt" are different in French. So, I doubt terms like "Fletcher" were really common where most of the crossbow related production took place. You can identify English who repaired the crossbows, such as "Master Peter the Crossbow Maker", at Corfe/ Dorset, who evidently performed repairs during 1225 on wood and horn style bows. These seem to be counted as "armourers" rather than bowyers though.

David Bachrach has two historically researched academic papers involving the subject; "The Crossbow during the Reign of John and Henry III of England", and another one on 13th century military planning. Both identify French supply sources in English records of orders for crossbows and bolts.


A guy named "Armbruster" was on the radio the other day; "armbrust" means "crossbow" in German.
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Sun 10 Jan, 2010 5:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Can't say I'm not happy with my last name Happy

Actually there are doubts as to whether it was attributed to actual knights or just to the guys that took care of the horses in the stable, but I'm allowed to dream at least Big Grin

I actually think a good part of my interest in all things swordy from an early age came from my name (I don't remember when it started...). Of course as a little boy when you start looking up what a "chevalier" was you find plenty of interesting things...

Regards,

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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