- Nov 4, 2005In their excellent book _The Lord of the Rings: A
Reader's Companion_, Wayne G.Hammond and Christina
"haywards -- The term _hayward_ originally referred to
one who protected the fences around lands enclosed for
growing hay (Old English _hegeweard_), later more
generally applied to one who prevents cattle from
breaking through into enclosed fields with growing
crops." (p. 35)
There are two words _hay_ in English, of distinct
hay(1). Dried grass. AS. _hieg_ [i with a macron],
cognate with _hew_.
hay(2). Hedge, enclosure. AS. _hege_ ... Survives in
name _Hayward_, official protecting enclosures.
(Weekley, _Concise Etymological Dictionary of Modern
English_. Other etymological dictionaries say
basically the same, e.g. Skeat,
The dictionaries would seem to agree with the first
part of the definition as given by Hammond & Scull:
"one who protected the fences around lands enclosed".
What I am curious about is the "for growing hay" part.
To me, it sounds suspiciously like folk etymology, as
the OE word _hegeweard_ would have had no particular
connection to ModE _hay_ 'cut grass'.
Isn't the more general application--the "later" one
according to Hammond & Scull--in fact the older one?
[I can't answer this definitively myself, since Hammond
& Scull may have been citing a reference work to which
I don't have access. I will note that the OED appears to
support Fredrik's interpretation -- it gives the first element
in _hayward_ as hay(2) 'a hedge, a fence', and glosses the
word as 'an officer of a manor, township, or parish, having
charge of the fences and enclosures, esp. to keep cattle
from breaking through from the common into enclosed
fields; sometimes, the herdsman of the cattle feeding on
the common'. This makes no mention of any connection
with hay(1) 'dried grass'.
Wright's _English Dialect Dictionary_ and C.T. Onions'
_Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology_ are both in
accord with the OED on this point. Perhaps Wayne or
Christina might be able to comment? -- PHW]
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