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Dialect plays a part

All those who today bear the surname of Goldstraw  will eventually be able to trace their origins back to an ancestor who bore the surname of Goostrey. Tracing a family history (genealogy) back through the generations using birth (baptism), marriage and death records has, for some, proved difficult if they were not aware of this fact. It has often been the case that a family researcher has attempted to trace a strict "Goldstraw" route and this has quite quickly thrown up a dead end. Once aware of the fact that during the nineteenth century the surname Goostrey began to evolve into the surname Goldstraw then the possibilities of further research once more open up. The fact that Goldstraw is (or was) Goostrey may seem strange to those who now live outside the family heartland of the north Staffordshire/Cheshire borders but to those who remain in that area it is no secret.

The following quote is from the book "Brittains of Cheddleton Paper Makers" written by Robert Milner [ISBN: 9781897949788] who is writing about the time the Goldstraws owned and managed the paper mill:

"By 1851, William Goldstraw (or Goostrey) and George Hulme were paper manufacturers at Cheddleton. Goldstraw was at that time living in London Road, Leek. It seems highly likely that he and Hulme took over the lease in the early part of 1849 but no evidence has yet been found to confirm this.

It is rather confusing that the name Goldstraw was known as "Goostrey" in the early years of the 19th century and the name is still commonly pronounced in that way. The Goldstraws connected with the paper mill were descended from Isaac Goostrey who was born at Cheddleton in 1780."

The following quote is from the book Distinctive Surnames of North Staffordshire [Publisher: Churnet Valley Books (1 Aug 2002) ISBN-10: 1897949804  ISBN-13: 978-1897949801 ]:

THE SURNAME Goldstraw is a local variant of the placename Goostrey near Holmes Chapel, which is recorded as Gostrel in the 1086 Domesday Book, Gosetre, Gorstre during the 12th and 13th century, and Goulstry in the 17th century.


The placename was originally taken by Ekwall in his Dictionary of  English Placenames as meaning the tree belonging to Godhere, an old Saxon name, but McNeal Dodgson in the Placenames of Cheshire proposes a hypothetical Old English word “gorst-treow” in the sense of  gorse bush or bramble.
The local pronunciation of Goldstraw probably developed along the following lines. Just as the word “cold” becomes the dialect “cowd”, and with the inclusion of the intrusive letter “l”, the initial part of the name would be easily associated with the word “gold” and the original form of the name just as soon forgotten.
Interestingly enough, the placename is still pronounced Goostrey, and hence, is closer to its original form.

Edgar Tooth

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