Why They Came To London

I recently received the last copy of the book “Why They Came To London” by Michael Barefoot from his son. The book is “A study of five selected ancestors who came to London early in the 19th Century; eventually to be related, or their descendants to be related, by marriage. They had the surnames of BAREFOOT, MOSS, JAMES, McINTOSH & PEPPERELL”.

In Chapter 7 – A Tale of Many Parishes the story is told of the Pepperells of Slapton and Stokenham, detailing the direct line to the author, and their migration from rural Devon to London. The chapter contains a rhyme about the spelling of the Pepperrell surname. I am not sure where it originated or who the original author was; Michael Barefoot refers to it as “an ancient little ditty!” but does not mention it’s origins.


Would writers learn to rightly spell
The Ancient name of Pepperrell
Then please these easy lines recite
And one will surely have it right
Of letters four make ten from these
of p’s and r’s and l’s and e’s
Begin with p and e and then
Use all the letters that you can
That is to say in Pepperrell
Use doubles p and r and l


Seems like the ancient scribes and clerics had the same problem spelling the Pepperrell surname as people do today.