type of repeating rifle used in the American Civil War, 1863, named for U.S. gunsmith Christopher Spencer
, who, with Luke Wheelock, manufactured them in Boston, Mass. The surname is attested from 1275, earlier le Despenser
(1204) and means "one who dispenses or has charge of provisions in a household." M.E. spence
meant "larder, pantry," and is aphetic for O.Fr. despense
) "expense," from despenser
"to distribute" (see dispense
). Another form of the word is spender
, which also has become a surname.