- Recorded in several forms including Pelcher, Pilcher, Pilchere, and the French Pelchaud, Pelcheur, and Pelchat, this is an Anglo-French surname. It has confusing origins, being either an occupational name for a maker or seller of pilches, or a nickname for a habitual wearer of one of these. A pilch was a kind of coarse leather garment with the hair or fur still on it, from the Olde English pre 7th century word "pylece" meaning a skin or hide. However to confuse the matter "pilcher" was a popular term of abuse, being associated with the directly unrelated "pilch", meaning to steal, and the equally unrelated noun "pilchard", a type of fish. Nevertheless some nameholders may originate from habitual use of these various terms. Recordings of the surname date back to the early 13th century and include Hugh Pilchere who appears in the tax registers known as the Feet of Fines of Cambridgeshire in 1275, and Henry le Pilchere in the Subsidy Rolls of Worcestershire in the same year. Church records list the marriage of Henry Pilcher to Jone Empsley on June 2nd 1572 in Borden, Kent, whilst in France Henri Pelchat appears in the town of Bourg L'Eveque, department of Maine-et -Loire, on July 26th 1708. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Mabilia Pullchare, which was dated 1214, in the "Feet of Fines of Essex", during the reign of King John, 1199 - 1216. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
Surnames reference. 2013.