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840Haywards

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  • F. Strÿfffff6m
    Nov 4, 2005
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      In their excellent book _The Lord of the Rings: A
      Reader's Companion_, Wayne G.Hammond and Christina
      Scull write:

      "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
      origin:

      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,
      http://www.etymonline.com.)

      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?

      Kind regards,
      Fredrik Ström

      [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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