Back in 2007 I wrote about what was then the earliest known occurrence of the protean word fuck, in the late-15th-century macaronic/cipher line “Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk”: ‘They are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely.’ Now, in breaking profanity-related news, Medievalists.net reports:
An English historian has come across the word ‘fuck’ in a court case dating to the year 1310, making it the earliest known reference to the swear word.
Dr Paul Booth of Keele University spotted the name in ‘Roger Fuckebythenavele’ in the Chester county court plea rolls beginning on December 8, 1310. The man was being named three times part of a process to be outlawed, with the final mention coming on September 28, 1311.
Dr Booth believes that “this surname is presumably a nickname. I suggest it could either mean an actual attempt at copulation by an inexperienced youth, later reported by a rejected girlfriend, or an equivalent of the word ‘dimwit’ i.e. a man who might think that that was the correct way to go about it.”
You can see a nice clear reproduction of that section of the rolls, as well as further discussion, at the link; all I can say is, Fuck yeah!
Update. Piotr Gąsiorowski says The Middle English Dictionary Needs a Fucking Update and gives what to me sounds like a very convincing PIE etymology of fuck. Don’t miss it.