Beecroft or, What's in a Name?

Lynn H. Nelson (lhnelson@UKANAIX.CC.UKANS.EDU)
Tue, 5 Sep 1995 03:38:08 -0500

A "croft" is only very rarely a storage place; in those instances when it is, it is derived from the Latin "cryptum," and denotes a cave or cellar.  In the overwhelming majority of instances, a croft is an enclosed piece of land. Often enough, it is a fenced plot next to a village dwelling used as a garden. In such cases, it is roughly, but only roughly, equivalent to "messuage."

When searching for the etymology of a word, one must go with the earliest form one can find and then see whether that form could reasonably have developed into the later forms one encounters. The earliest form we are given for this name is "bigcraft." Although pronunciation differed widely from place to place in medieval England, the word was probably pronounced "beek'-krawft," and the merging of the "g" and "c" together with the orthographic substitution of "o" for "a" is only to be expected.

Thus "bee-croft" was almost surely "big croft," and was probably the name of a house in the village distinguished by the size of its croft. I would suggest that it is unlikely that the name "Becroft" has anything to do with bees.

University of Kansas