1) Piebald; an alternative term for a badger.

Bawson Cliffe is a Gomersal place-name. It is listed by A.H. Smith but the evidence he gives is late and he simply draws our attention to the suffix ‘cliffe’ and offers no explanation of ‘bawson’. The earliest spellings that I have noted are Bawsoncliff in 1580 and Bawsincliffe in 1690. Bawson is not an obscure word for it was an alternative name for the badger, first noted in the OED as early as c.1325. The references quoted there make the identification quite clear: in 1496, for example, we have ‘a brok or a bawsym’ and in 1587 ‘the balstone or the grey’. Both ‘brock’ and ‘grey/gray’ were alternative words in England for the badger, and ‘brock’ is a common element in minor place-names such as Brockholes and Brockstones. Although ‘bawson’ has an Old French origin there is no evidence that it was used in France as a word for a badger. It meant piebald and was used of animals that had white spots or stripes on a bay or black background. In England there are references from the early 1300s when a horse could be described as bausand because of its colouring. Examples in Yorkshire include: 1451 de j alio equo, vocato Bausand, Strensall

1505 a bawsand stage

1538 the bay bausson geldinge

1578 one bawston baye mayre .

dates 1451 1505 1538 1578 1580 1690

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