English Sign Names

by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada (Kathleen M. O'Brien)


© 2000, 2003, 2012, 2015 by Kathleen M. O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Version 1.3, updated 27 November 2015


Introduction

This article is a compilation of notes that I have made over the last year or so. As I have run across references to any type of "sign" names (inn, tavern, etc.), I recorded the location and the form of the sign name.

I have organized the sign names below by type.


Forms Seen in Sign Names:

Bibliography & raw data


Animals

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:Notes:
Bear
     Ursi1425-6Stonor, section i, p. 45; letter: 51This letter was written in Latin.
     Bear (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals 
Boar
     boore24 August 1485York, p. 734 
     boore31 March 1487York, p. 542 
     Boar (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals 
Boar's Head (in Southwark)
     Boreshed27 Aug 1458?Paston, vol. 3, p. 132; document: 370appears twice in this document
     Boreshed27 Aug 1458?Paston, vol. 3, p. 132; document: 370appears twice in this document
     Boar's Head (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 231 
Bull
     Bole1377Reaney & Wilson, p. 71 s.n. Bull 
     Bulle10 Aug 1470Paston, vol. 5, p. 80; document: 753 
     Bull6 August 1476York, p. 52This document was written in Latin.
     Bulle6 August 1476York, p. 53This document was written in Latin.
     Bole1478 ?Stonor, section ii, p. 51; letter: 214 
     Bull (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230 
     Bull (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals 
Lamb
     Lamme1320Reaney & Wilson, p. 269 s.n. Lamb 
     Lamb (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals 
Lion
     Lyon1522Rutland, p. 83 
     Lyon (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230 
     Lion (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals 
Ram
     Ramme14 Edw. IIBardsley, p. 9 
     Ramme1307, 1339Reaney & Wilson, p. 371 s.n. Ram 
     Ramme1320Ewen, p. 230 
     Ram (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals 
Roebuck
     Robuck1313Bardsley, p. 551 
     Roebuck (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals 


Birds

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:
Cock
     Cok1327Ewen, p. 230
     Kok9 Edw. IBardsley, p. 189
     [Le] Cok (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2
     Cokken.d.Bardsley, p. 8
     Cock (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
Crane
     Cranebef. 1468Stonor, supplementary, p. 8; letter: 345
     Cranes (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230
     Crane (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
Eagle
     Hegle1273Bardsley, p. 8
     Hegle1275Ewen, p. 230
     Egle1522Rutland, p. 93
     Eagle (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
Pie (for "magpie")
     Pye1339Ewen, p. 230
     Pye1340Reaney & Wilson, p. 350 s.n. Pie
     Pye1347Reaney & Wilson, p. 350 s.n. Pie
     Pye (may be standardized spelling)1374Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 109
     Pye (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
Raven
     Raven1344Reaney & Wilson, p. 372 s.n. Raven
     Raven (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
Swan
     Swan2 Hen. IVBardsley, p. 730
     Swan1337Ewen, p. 230
     Swan1344Reaney & Wilson, p. 435 s.n. Swan
     Swan1364Reaney & Wilson, p. 435 s.n. Swan
     swanc. April 1487York, p. 547
     Swan (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230


Mythological Creatures

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:
Dragon
     Dragon1374Reaney & Wilson, p. 141 s.n. Dragon
     dragon24 October 1484York, p. 311
     Dragon (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
Mermaid
     marmayd12 May 1476Stonor, section ii, p. 6; letter: 165
     Mermaid (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 120, note 15.


Other Items

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:Notes:
Angell
     Angell06 Feb [1502/3]Plumpton, p. 160; document: 173 
     Angel (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230 
Bell
     Bell1307Bardsley, p. 92 s.n. Bell 
     Belle1332Reaney & Wilson, p. 37 s.n. Bell 
     BellI Edw. IIIBardsley, p. 92 s.n. Bell 
     Bell1479Paston, vol. 6, p. 11; document: 943 
     Bell (may be standardized spelling)1516Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 3 
     Bell1522Rutland, p. 83 
     Bell (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230 
     Bellen.d.Bardsley, p. 8 
Bow
     Bowe9 Edw. IIBardsley, p. 122 s.n. Bow 
     Bowe1403Bardsley, p. 122 s.n. Bow 
     Bowe1579Bardsley, p. 122 s.n. Bow 
     Bow1580Bardsley, p. 122 s.n. Bow 
Castle
     Castell1522Rutland, p. 93 
Crown
     Attecroune1420Reaney & Wilson, p. 119 s.n. Crown 
     Crown (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2 
Garland
     [Le] Garland2 Eliz.Ewen, p. 230 
Hamer
     Hamere1426Reaney & Wilson, p. 214 s.n. Hamer 
Harp
     HarpI Edw. IIIBardsley, p. 361 s.n. Harp 
     Harpe1361Reaney & Wilson, p. 218 s.n. Harp 
     Harpe1388Bardsley, p. 361 s.n. Harp 
     Harpe7 Hen. VBardsley, p. 361 s.n. Harp 
     HarpeI Edw. IIIBardsley, p. 361 s.n. Harp 
Hat
     Hat1273Bardsley, p. 365 s.n. Hatt 
     Hat1273Bardsley, p. 365 s.n. Hatt 
     Hat1273Bardsley, p. 365 s.n. Hatt 
     Hatten.d.Bardsley, p. 8 
Horn
     HornI Edw. IIIBardsley, p. 398 s.n. Horn 
     HorneI Edw. IIIBardsley, p. 398 s.n. Horn 
     Horns (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230 
Rose
     Rose1242Reaney & Wilson, p. 383 s.n. Rose 
     Ros1273Bardsley, p. 654 s.n. Rose 
     Rose1273Bardsley, p. 654 s.n. Rose 
     Rose1273Bardsley, p. 654 s.n. Rose 
     Rose1305Reaney & Wilson, p. 383 s.n. Rose 
     Rose (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Ewen, p. 231 
Runcy
     Ralph de la RunceHen. III-Edw. IBardsley, p. 660 s.n. Runcy(Runcy = porter/carrier 'beast of burden')
Ship
     Shippe1423Reaney & Wilson, p. 406 s.n. Shipp 
     [Le] Schippe (may be standardized spelling)n.d.Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2 
Star
     Sterre1322Reaney & Wilson, p. 425 s.n. Starr 
Sun
     the Sonne06 Sep 1461Paston, vol. 3, p. 308; document: 481 
Sword
     [Le] Swerd (may be standardized spelling)1380Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 115, paragraph 3 
     Swerdec1470Stonor, section i, p. 110; letter: 106 
     Sworde09 Oct 1476Stonor, section ii, p. 12; letter: 170 
     Sworde16 Jan [1480]Stonor, section ii, p. 98; letter: 260 
Tabard
     Tabard1371Reaney & Wilson, p. 438 s.n. Tabard 
Wain
     [Atte]wayne1327Reaney & Wilson, p. 471 s.n. Wain 
Windmill
     Wyndemylne1522Rutland, p. 93 


Color + Animal

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:
Grayhorse
     Grayhorse2 Hen. VIIBardsley, p. 334 s.n. Grayhorse
Grayhound
     Grayhound1522Rutland, p. 83
White Hart (in Southwark)
     Whyte Harte1450 (written in 1465)Paston, vol. 2, p. 155; document: 126
     White Hart1450 (written in 1465)Paston, vol. 2, p. 155; document: 126
Whitehorse
     Whithors2 Edw. IBardsley, p. 807 s.n. Whitehorse
     Whytehors1285Ewen, p. 230
     Whytehorse1312Ewen, p. 230
     Whithors1358Bardsley, p. 807 s.n. Whitehorse
Whitelamb
     Whitlambe1379Bardsley, p. 807 s.n. Whitelamb
     Whitelomb1428Bardsley, p. 807 s.n. Whitelamb


Number + (Other Item)

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:
Sevenstar
     Sevensterre1355Reaney & Wilson, p. 401 s.n. Sevenstar
     Seuesterrys1379Reaney & Wilson, p. 401 s.n. Sevenstar
     Sevesterre1384Reaney & Wilson, p. 401 s.n. Sevenstar


References to Humans (incl. "head")

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:
Black Boy
     Black Boye1522Rutland, p. 92
Maid's Head (in Norwich)
     Maydes Hedde22 Nov 1472Paston, vol. 5, p. 163; document: 815
Maiden's Head
     Maydenhede1522Rutland, p. 93
Saracen's Head
     Sersyns hed1522Rutland, p. 93
[Paul or Pole]'s Head
     Poules Heed (may be standardized spelling)1405Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 193, paragraph 1


Personal Names

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:Notes:
[Saint] George (located at "Syndyngburne")
     George1522Rutland, p. 83 
[Saint] George (located at Lombard Street, London)
     George05 Jun 1472Paston, vol. 5, p. 144; document: 804appears twice in this document
     George05 Jun 1472Paston, vol. 5, p. 144; document: 804appears twice in this document
     Jorge1479Paston, vol. 6, p. 11; document: 943 
     Jeorge17 Jan 1506Paston, vol. 6, p. 172; document: 1078 
     George (may be standardized spelling)1516Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 3 
[Saint] George (near Paul's Wharf, London)
     George25 Jul 1474Paston, vol. 5, p. 206; document: 850 
     George20 Nov 1474Paston, vol. 5, p. 214; document: 857 
     George05 Feb 1475Paston, vol. 5, p. 223; document: 864 
     George13 Jun 1475Paston, vol. 5, p. 235; document: 873 
     George10 Oct 1475Paston, vol. 5, p. 238; document: 876 
     George23 Oct 1475Paston, vol. 5, p. 239; document: 877 
     George23 Jan 1476Paston, vol. 5, p. 247; document: 883 
     George03 Feb 1476Paston, vol. 5, p. 251; document: 885 
     George21 Mar 1476Paston, vol. 5, p. 258; document: 889 
     George06 May 1476Paston, vol. 5, p. 259; document: 890 
     George30 Jun 1476Paston, vol. 5, p. 261; document: 892 
     George09 Mar 1477Paston, vol. 5, p. 274; document: 904 
     Goorge19 Nov 1477Paston, vol. 5, p. 304; document: 921 
     George01 Mar 1478Paston, vol. 5, p. 313; document: 927appears twice in this document
     George01 Mar 1478Paston, vol. 5, p. 313; document: 927appears twice in this document
     George20 May 1478Paston, vol. 5, p. 320; document: 932 
     Georg30 Jun 1479Paston, vol. 6, p. 13; document: 946 
Saint Lawrance
     Saint Lawrance1522Rutland, p. 93This location may have been named for the street ("Saint Lawrance lane") it was on, rather than the saint himself.
Wolsig?
     Wolsak? 1463Stonor, section i, p. 66; letter: 71This letter was written in Latin. This name may be a corruption of an older personal name which survives in the modern surname Wolseley.


(Possibly the owner's byname) + Inn (Tavern)

Several names listed in this section in a previous version of this article have been removed. Gray's Inn and Lincoln Inn are Inns of Court and Davis's Inn (better known later as Thavies Inn) is an Inn of Chancery. In all three cases, their names are not sign names.

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:Notes:
Bosom's Inn (this is the same location as the Saint Lawrance listed above)
     Bosoms yn1522Rutland, p. 93 
Mitford Tavern
     Mitford taverne28 March 1489York, p. 643Note: it is possible Mitford refers to a location instead of a byname.


Unidentified

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:
Unidentified:
     Eden Berys14 and 15 February 1483York, p. 707
     Lodyn Proche (may be standardized spelling)1516Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2
     Choker (may be standardized spelling)1516Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2


Inns/Taverns which I have only found dated to temp. James I

Inn or Tavern Name:Dated To:Source:
     Bear and Harrow (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230
     Bull Head (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230
     Croskeyes1610Bardsley, p. 220 s.n. Crosskeys
     Talbot (may be standardized spelling)temp. James IEwen, p. 230


Inns/Taverns for which I have found a listing, but no dates

Some of these names likely date from the 17th-19th centuries. But without dated examples, it is impossible to determine when each name came into use for an Inn or Tavern.

Inn or Tavern Name:Source:
     Alfred's Head (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Anchor (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Ape (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Badger (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Ball (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Board (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Brock (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Buck (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Bush (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Bushce (may be standardized spelling)Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2
     Catt (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Camel (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Cleaver (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Coney (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Crab-tree (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Cross (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Crow (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
     Deer (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Devil (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Doe (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Dove (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
     Druid's Head (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Eliphant (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Falcon (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
     Fox (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Griffin (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Hare (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Hart (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Hedghogg (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Heron (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
     Hind (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     King's Head (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Leopard (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Oliphant (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Peacock (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
     Pigeon (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
     Prince (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Red Lyon (may be standardized spelling)Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2
     Rook (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230-231, s.n. Birds
     Squirrel (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Stagg (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals
     Tankard (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Turk's Head (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 231
     Vine (may be standardized spelling)Hanawalt (Of Good and Ill Repute), p. 108, paragraph 2
     Wolfe (may be standardized spelling)Ewen, p. 230, s.n. Animals


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