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Sounding the Double Consonants

There have always been theories as to how the spelling and pronunciation of the name came about. I don't think we will ever find out the answer. However, here is what I personally think...

Back in the early centuries in Europe most people never traveled outside their immediate village. They were mostly serfs beholden to the lord. Surnames were not in use other than "Robert Of Lancaster". Most families that ended up with "son" in their names were called "Robert, son of Matt". Down the line it became "Robert Mattyeson" ie, Robert Matt the Son". If you follow the way the germanic and other european languages use syntax even today where we would say "the blue chair" they would say "the chair blue". Keeping that in mind "Robert, Mattyeson" would properly be assumed to mean "Robert the son of Matt". It is also possible that "son" was actually "sun" having some profession having to do with the sun or the color yellow/orange. Maybe an ancestor made sun-dials for all we know.

In the 12th century a monk named Orm introduced the concept of double consonants to words in order to make spelling and pronunciation a bit easier. If a person wanted to stress the pronunciation of his name a certain way the double consonant would help.Example:

Matteson= Matt would get a short vowel sound and both of the "t's" would be stressed so the name would be pronounced MaT Teson.

Further evidence that Henry came from Scotland can be found in the fact that the scots often used "th" for the double stress on the "t". So, Mathewson would be pronounced exactly as Matteson. If a person of similar Scottish ancestry was recording the name it would be spelled Mathewson. If they were of English descent it would have been Matteson. Perhaps this is how the name changed so much in this country...One would have to know the ancestry of the person scribing the name onto a document or ledger or school roster. Assuming that the person who gave their name couldn't spell they learned to spell it the way someone spelled it FOR them the first time.

But, these are just my theories. I think the "e" got dropped from some lines because the handwriting was not very clear and it got missed so the person "copying" the spelling just started writing it that way too. The Matson line seems to never have had the other spellings. I have an internet contact that has been researching that line and they have never once seen the line cross into ours. But, I strongly feel that the dropping of the connecting vowel no matter which spelling was the result of "run-together" penmanship.

By Marge Matteson

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Last modified on: Sunday, February 10, 2019

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