Date: Wed, 21 Jan 2004 17:11:09 -0500
Subject: [SCA-AS] Links: What's In A Name?

Greetings! This Links List is about Names: Names of many cultures. How can you choose an historical name with any accuracy? Well, if a web-driven search engine is your tool of choice, it will be well-nigh impossible to find historically appropriate naming advice. Nearly all the sites I found on my own through web-searching were, well, BAD. They cite no sources. They reference no texts. They give spurious or out and out unbelievable information in some cases. There is no way to check their information. Thus, I have had to rely upon the previous work of a great many brilliant people (most of whom are SCA Heralds), and follow *their* links to good advice on naming practices in various cultures. Not all the articles by these brilliant folks are listed below, but if you go to the SCA Heraldry Webpage listed below, you'll find a great many Terrific articles. And If you go to the Academy of St. Gabriel, you'll find more terrific articles. I hope you enjoy the following links, and will pass them along to those who will find them of interest.

It is alsomy wish that you will forgive any formatting errors you may find in this list as I struggle to learn a new mail system. The old one is dead, and thus my poor skills may take a while to come up to par.


Aoife (Lis Herr-Gelatt)

Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
Rive Rouge

A Brief Introduction to the History of Names
Dame Cateline de la Mor la souriete
(Site Excerpt) Many early names were compounds. For example, the following Frankish names are compounds: Sigibert (victory­shining), Childeric (battle­powerful), Fredegund (peace­battle) and Radegund (counsel­battle). Sometimes such compounds in pagan societies referred to their gods. For instance, the ancient Norse had many names which were compounds containing the name of the god Thor. Among the male names were Thorbjorn, Thorgeir, Thorkell, Thorsteinn and Thorvald, and among the feminine names were Thordis, Thorgunna, Thorhalla, Thorkatla and Thorunn. See also: A Survey of the History of English Place­names, Dame Cateline de la Mor la souriete

found in the imprints of books printed before 1801 and their vernacular equivalents in AACR2 (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules) form
(Site Excerpt)
Aberdoniis*Aberdeen (Scotland)stk
Aboae*Turku (Finland)fi
see Alentopholi
Alentopholi*Fictitious imprint. Refers to Amsterdamit

(Site Excerpt) With few exceptions there were four ways surnames or permanent family names were adopted. They were: 1. Patronymics - The father's name with "son" immediately after it, example Peterson, Adamson, Woodson 2. Place Names - Words that identify where a person or family lived or came from, example Hill, Lake, Wood, Glades, March 3. Occupational names - What a person did for a living, example Miller, Butcher, Baker, Tailor, Butler 4. Nicknames - Usually based on a persons personality or characteristics, example Short, Long, Savage, White, Brown. For centuries female children were considered the property of their father and carried his last name until they married, at which time became the property of their husbands and adopted the last name of their husband. This long standing practice is now changing as more women have chosen family and careers and want to retain their own surname and identity. Another sign of changing times is the number of children who are given hyphenated last names at birth.

Index of German-Polish and Polish-German names of the localities in Poland & Russia.
by Anna Sluszkiewicz
(Site Excerpt) Index contains Polish and previous German names of localities situated in Poland and Russia useful for research, history, genealogy, numismatics, philatelic etc. Please excuse lack of Polish and German letters. Index contains also some names of places from former Saxony now in Poland and Silesien now in Germany.

The History of Anglo-Saxon Names By Percival de la Rocque
(Site Excerpt) Early by names were drawn from many varied sources but were still not typically what we now look upon as family or hereditary names. In some cases even these names would not typically be assigned until adulthood as a person came into some trade or physical attribute similar to the prepositions used before this to add meaning to a given name. A child would possibly have not been given any by names at all if there were few other people with a similar given name or if this multiplicity was not perceived as a problem. If this was a problem chances are the child would receive a by name that was in some way descriptive of his status compared to the other holder or holders of the given name, Small, Little or something similar or possibly a form of patronymic name to show his parentage. Names that combined Dotter for Daughter and Sone Sune or Sonne for Son being the most common were added to the name of a parent and then added as a Patronymic such as Adamson, Thorsdotter or other variations came out of this practice. So John Adamson would be the son of Adam and thus easy to tell apart from John Davidson for instance.

by Modar Neznanich
(Site Excerpt) A persona is the fictional person you wish to have been, had you lived during the period of time the SCA covers (600 A.D. to 1600 A.D.) Deciding who to be is the single most important process you will go through when first joining the SCA. This will be the name you are known as to all your SCA friends. To be able to select a SCA name for yourself and begin creating your persona story, you must first decided what culture you desire to be from. There are many means useable to determine what culture you should choose. Some people look at the clothes worn by many cultures throughout various times and establish a selection based on what clothes they want to wear. Other people will think about what activities and crafts they are interested in and base a decision on the cultures known for expertise in those areas.

Academy of Saint Gabriel Medieval Names Archive
(Site Excerpt) This collection of articles on medieval and renaissance names is intended to help historical re-creators to choose authentic names. These articles were gathered from various places, and some of them appear elsewhere. In all cases, the copyright on each article belongs to its authors.

SCA College of Heralds Website
See also What is an SCA Name? and Names Sources to Be Avoided in Documentation

Annotated Name Book List-- Jaelle of Armida--Argent Snail Herald
(Site Excerpt) The purpose of this article is to acquaint you with a number of books on names and naming practices. This is by no means every book available on the subject, not even every good one. I have deliberately, to save space, left out some esoteric name books that would not be useful to the average herald. I have left some books in, even if they were not very good for several reasons. Firstly, they may be the only, or one of the only, books that we are aware of on names of that particular culture. Or, secondly, as a warning NOT to use them. There are, unfortunately, many poor books out on names, especially the ones of the "Name Your Baby" school. I have not, however, mentioned many of the poor books; space prevents this. A good rule of thumb is that if it doesn't have dates and citations, it probably isn't a reliable source. If in doubt, ask your principal herald or look at the list of bad name books at the Laurel web site
( However, if you use a name from one of the recommended books, and the name is dated as to being pre 1600, it will not be returned for being out of period. It might get returned for other reasons (conflict, presumptuous, a mistake having been made by the author etc.), but not for being out of period.

On the Documentation and Construction of Period Mongolian Names by
Baras-aghur Naran
(Site Excerpt) Before going into specifics, there needs to be some background given on the subject. Most interest in Turco-Mongol personas usually stems from the time of the Mongol empire. During the Mongols' period of conquest, many peoples came under the rule of the Mongols. Most of these did not speak the language now known as Mongolian, even in its older forms. The Mongols' neighboring tribes spoke various dialects and languages of Turkic origin. Mongolian itself is a separate language of Turkic origin, and shares many of the same words as Turkic or Turkish. Many names from our time period have both Turkic and Mongol elements, as well as influences from the spread of Buddhism.

Personal Names of the Aristocracy in the Roman Empire During the Later Byzantine Era
"This article is entirely the fault of Berret Chavez, whom some in the SCA might know as Bardas Xiphias"
(Site Excerpt) Personal names in the Byzantine era of the Roman Empire consisted of a given name followed by one or more surnames. Surnames came in three varieties: inherited family names, patronymics, and by-names. As the empire grew older, it became increasingly common to find more and more inherited family names included in the personal name. As typical in medieval Europe, the sample of women's names is much smaller than the sample of men's names. When a woman's name is found, the inherited family name or names are in feminized form.

Common Czech Names of the 15th and 16th Centuries by Walraven van Nijmegen
(Brian R. Speer)
(Site Excerpt) The names in this list were found in: Frantis^ek Kopec^ný, Pruvodce Nas^imi Jmény, 2nd ed. (Praha: Academia, 1991) Unfortunately, this book is in Czech (which I can't read), but there is a general discussion of the history of Czech names to introduce the book. Pages 14-15 include a summary of the most common names from several sources of the 15th and 16th century, and it is this material which is summarized here. English equivalents are given in square brackets after some names.

Brass Enscription Index (Names)Based on data provided by the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology at Oxford University.
(Site Excerpt) This index into the Ashmolean Museum's brass rubbing collection is divided into three sections: surnames, male given names, and female given names. After each name appears a list of all the counties in which the name may be found, using the county abbreviations listed below. The abbreviations are linked to the original WWW pages at the Ashmolean. The date for the earliest use of that name is included in the index next to the county in which it accurs. In front of each name is a number representing the total number of occurences of the name prior to 1600. In the list of surnames, that number is followed by another number in parentheses representing the number of different parishes in which the name was found. Multiple occurences of a surname within a single Parish often indicates a family grouping. The list of surnames also includes some place and titular names, with a note in parentheses showing how the name was referenced in the original text, e.g. "Athol (countess of)." Only names which are dated prior to 1600 are included in this index.

Occupational By-Names in the 1292 Tax Role of Paris
(Site Excerpt) By the end of the 10th century what little there ever was of the Roman tripartite naming system of forename, clan name, and family name had disappeared in Northern France. Even though there were far more forenames in the Germanic name treasury of the Franks than the 11 that made up 95% of the Roman patrician forenames, they sufficed only in small villages. In cities, more identification than a given name was required for tax purposes. The byname might be descriptive, locative, relational, or occupational. By 1292 a few of the bynames had begun to harden into family names; however, the specific intent of this index was to identify the occupational bynames - male and female - that were used to help identify different taxpayer - not to identify which occupational bynames had already coagulated into a family name.

Medieval German Given Names from Silesia Talan Gwynek Copyright 1998 by Brian M. Scott.
(Site Excerpt) This is a compilation of the given names found in Hans Bahlow 's Mittelhochdeutsches Namenbuch nach schlesischen Quellen (Neustadt an der Aisch: Verlag Degener & Co., 1975). The title may be translated Middle High German Name Book from Silesian Sources. The book is a study of personal names from medieval Silesian records, especially those of the towns of Legnica (Liegnitz), Wroclaw (Breslau), and Görlitz. Most of the book is devoted to the bynames, but there is a short final section on given names, and most of the byname citations also include given names. As is usual in medieval records, the overwhelming majority of persons named are men, but the book is still a rich trove of the given names used in Silesia in the 14th and 15th centuries.

Hungarian Names 101by Walraven van Nijmegen
(Site Excerpt) And the First Shall Be Last? Hungarian Name Order In Hungary, it is common practice to write your family name first, followed by your given name (which for obvious reasons is not called a "first" name, as it is in America!). This practice is a result of Hungarian grammar and the way in which family names originated. Since family names were originally descriptive phrases used to identify people, these phrases functioned like adjectives. In Hungarian adjectives precede the noun, just as they do in English, so these descriptive phrases are placed before a person's name in speech and in writing.

by Da'ud ibn Auda (David B. Appleton) © 2003
(Site Excerpt) The following names lists consist of period (pre-1600 A.D.) Arabic names and name elements, having been selected from names of people who lived during that time. These lists are not designed to be exhaustive, only to be large enough to give a reasonably wide selection of provably period Arabic names. I have tried to avoid, as much as possible, names with other than Arabic origins, such as Persian, Mongol and Turkish (e.g., 'Umar al-Khayyami [Arabic] rather than Omar Khayyam [Persian]).

100 Most Popular Men's Names in Early Medieval Ireland compiled by Heather Rose Jones
(ska Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn)
copyright c 1998, all rights reserved
(Site Excerpt) The following list contains the (slightly less than) one hundred most common masculine given names in M.A. O'Brien's Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976), a collection of Irish genealogical material from the pre-Norman period (i.e., roughly pre-12th century). While O'Brien's collection includes some legendary genealogies, the "popularity" requirement for this selection should filter out any questionable names.

Italian Renaissance Women's Names
by Rhian Lyth of Blackmoor Vale (Jo Lori Drake)
(Site Excerpt) Below is a list of Italian feminine names from Florence in the 14th and 15th centuries, part of the list compiled by Lady Rhian Lyth of Blackmoor Vale. The names were compiled from The Society of Renaissance Florence: A Documentary Study (ed. Gene Bruckerm New York: Harper Torchbooks, Harper & Row, Inc.), which is a collection of diaries and documents of the period, and from The Autobiography of Benevenuto Cellini, as published by Penguin Books. Some of these names are diminutive forms or nicknames derived from other name, but all were used independently in formal legal documents. Most names occur once or twice in these sources; the names which occurred four or more times are in bold face.

Jews in Catalonia: 1250 to 1400
by Juliana de Luna (Julia Smith)
© 2002 by Julia Smith; all rights reserved.
(Site Excerpt) This article describes the names used by Jews in 13th and 14th century Catalonia (the area around Barcelona, in modern Spain), as found in a series of wills written in Latin. Wills are especially useful for studying names because many female family members are mentioned, receiving at least small bequests. Thus, this is a great place to look at women's names.The names from this source are divided into two lists. The first gives names in their Latin spellings as they were found in the document. One hundred and fifty three names like this were found. The second list gives names that the editor modified to give underlying Catalan forms. One hundred and forty-four names like this were found. Both lists are used to generate frequency counts; only the first is used to examine spelling variations. A complete list of given names is found below.

A Dictionary of Period Russian Names
(and some of their Slavic roots) Being a compilation of over 25,000 Russian names Taken from period sources by Paul Wickenden of Thanet
(Site Excerpt) For example, the reader will notice the greatly expanded grammar section and particularly the alphabetical listing of name roots which (theoretically) will allow the careful user to create a period-sounding Russian name in "Chinese-menu" style by mixing and matching elements. All of these changes are in addition to approximately 10,000 more entries and a section of place names that has been nearly doubled. Another improvement has been the replacement of many secondary (and unreliable) citations with more accurate and primary sources wherever possible.

A Simple Guide to Creating Old Norse Names
by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (Sara L. Friedemann)
© 1998, 1999 Sara L. Friedemann; all rights reserved
(Site Excerpt) There are two ways of forming Norse names; the most common is using a given name with the addition of a patronymic byname, or a byname based on relationship. To create a patronym, the suffix -son 'son' or -dóttir 'daughter' is added to the genitive form of the father's name. The guide below, taken from G. Fleck's book, shows how this can be done.
-ir>-is: Grettir>Grettison~Grettisdóttir

A Simple Guide to Constructing 12th Century Scottish Gaelic Names
by Sharon L. Krossa
©1997 by Sharon L. Krossa. All rights reserved
(Site Excerpt) The information in this guide is taken from The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer, by Kenneth Jackson. The Book of Deer is a 9th century illuminated manuscript, written in Latin, of the Gospel of St. John and parts of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Book of Deer gets its name from six Gaelic "notes", and a Latin charter of David I, concerning grants of land to the monastery of Deer that were written into various blank spaces of the manuscript circa 1130 to 1150 AD. These notes are the earliest known examples of Gaelic written in Scotland. The Gaelic used in the notes is "Middle Gaelic", also called "Middle Irish", which was the form of Gaelic common to Ireland and parts of Scotland from, roughly, 900 to 1200 A.D. The names included in this guide from the Gaelic notes are those of people who lived in Scotland, primarily in the north east of Scotland, in the 11th and early 12th centuries.

Basque Feminine Names
by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (Sara L. Friedemann)
© 1999 Sara L. Friedemann; all rights reserved
(Site Excerpt) The following is a list of Basque feminine given names and bynames found in various medieval sources. Not all of the names are of Basque linguistic origin--in fact, many of the names were popular throughout all Iberian cultures--but they were all used by Basque women. Each name is listed as a header, followed by the dates it was recorded. I have used MC to indicate names that were found in undated medieval cartularies. A number of the names were found more than one time in the sources. For names where this is the case, I have included in brackets the number of times it was found in place of dates. These names were found in the 10th-13th centuries.

Late Sixteenth Century Welsh Names
by Talan Gwynek
(Brian M. Scott,
© 1994 by Brian M. Scott; all rights reserved.
(Site Excerpt) Early in the course of compiling the data for my article on late sixteeen century English names, I was struck by a number of Welsh names of what seemed a very traditional nature and began to keep a separate record of Welsh names. Had the distribution of names in Wales been my primary interest, I should have recorded every name for which a Welsh address was given. I was more interested in noting the names that seemed to be characteristically Welsh, however, so my data are undoubtedly incomplete. I recorded all names containing ap, including those in which it appears fused with the patronym, e.g., Powell (for ap Hywel), and all names containing verch and its variants. I recorded names containing elements clearly of Welsh origin, like Griffith, Meredith, Lloyd, Tydder, and Vaughan; in almost all cases these were associated with one of the Welsh counties or with neighboring Herefordshire or Gloucestershire.