|The six basic
spellings used in the title for this One Name Study are
the most commonly found around the World. Spellings based
on Causer and Corser occur most frequently in England, Australia
USA, while in Scotland the basic forms Corsar and Corsair are
also common. In addition to the associated variants
a variant based on Causier and sometimes interchangeable with
Causer appears in the West Midland area of
England. This spelling
is similar to instances in Samuel Bartlett Gerrish
based on the French derivation.
Many of the variant spellings in Britain, found in the IGI and parish registers, occur in the period before wide-spread, if not universal, literacy was the norm. In cases where an illiterate candidate for baptism, marriage or burial appeared in church, it would fall to the clergyman, vicar or minister to decide on the spelling used in the record. Up to the 18th century spelling generally was not standardized, and the problem of how to spell the name offered would be made more difficult when it was pronounced with a strong regional accent. In Staffordshire, in the Midlands of England where my branch originates, the name was and is pronounced "caw-zer"; a softer sibilant can give rise to different spellings, as can the emphasis placed on either the first or second syllable. Scotland produces many variants, possibly because "lallans", or Lowland Scots, in its written form shows many spelling differences to English. The Scots seem to have been particularly inventive in spelling the names.In the 19th century, when censuses started to be taken, another potential source of error was introduced. The census enumerator who interviewed the householders might have to contend with unfamiliar accents and unfamiliar surnames. One hundred years later, when the census comes to be transcribed the transcriber has to cope with handwriting much different to that used today, and further errors are introduced. The Guild of One Name Studies calls mis-spellings of this type, and those outlined in the preceding paragraph, deviant spellings, as opposed to variant spellings. It can be at times problematical to tell if a particular example is truly a variant or a deviant spelling, or a transcription error, particularly if it is a common occurrence. I have identified some 14 common transcription error spellings (not included below). Mis-transcriptions often found include the "U" in Causer being transcribed as an "N", and "R" can become an "N", "S" a "V" or even "X", and "C" an "O" or a "V", while a "V" can become a "W"!
The IGI contains some instances of variants of the names in Europe - in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Estonia and Finland. Here the spellings often include a final "E" and mirror the spellings shown by SBGC in his book, on the early derivation of the name Corser.
The name can be broken into three elements, each of which can give rise to variant or deviant spellings. The first, the "caw" sound, can be spelled CAR, CAU, CAW, CO, COAR, COR, COU, COUR, COW etc. The middle sibilant can be S, SS, SZ, Z or ZS, or SH in the case of Causier, and the final "er" sound can be any of the vowels, singly or in combination, with or without a final W, R or E. Then you can always start the name with a K ....
| Kosier Kuyzier
interested to hear of other spellings from new sources.
1. Samuel Bartlett Gerrish Corser, Genealogy of the Corser Family in America Embracing Many of the Descendants of the Early Settlers of the Name in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, with some Reminiscences of their Trans-Atlantic Cousins, Printed by I.C. Evans co., Concord, N.H., 1902.
There is an excellent wide-ranging discourse on how and why name spellings have changed on the Modern British Surnames web site.
For an article
on the way deviant spellings and transcription errors occur see "From
Your Ancestor’s Mouth to Your Computer"
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