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Stefan's Florilegium


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names-AN.art - 7/26/94

"A Short Treatise on Anglo-Norman Personal Names" by Mistress Nicolaa de
Bracton of Leicester.

NOTE: See also the files: names-msg, names-Ger-art, names-Essex-art,
names-Irish-msg, names-Norse-msg, names-Scot-art, Scot-fem-nam-lst.


This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set
of files, called Stefanšs Florilegium.

These files are available on the Internet at:

Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author.

While the author will likely give permission for this work to be
reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first
or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.

Thank you,
Mark S. Harris
AKA: Stefan li Rous

A Short Treatise on Anglo-Norman Personal Names
-- Nicolaa de Bracton of Leicester

It is a common misconception that medieval English naming practices
centred on a relatively small number of personal names. While this is
indeed true for the later medieval period, the Anglo-Norman period
(which lasted from the Conquest on down to the beginning of the
fourteenth century or so) provided a much larger variety of available
and relatively common personal names. While certain of these were
more popular than others, they did not dominate naming practices to
the extent that names such as John, Thomas, Richard, and William for
males and Anne, Elizabeth, Cecily, and Margaret for females did in
later centuries. Furthermore, the popular names in the 13th century
did not necessarily maintain their popularity in later years. The
male names Roger and Simon and the female names Juliana and Matilda
are good examples of this; while none of these names dropped
completely out of use (though Matilda nearly did), they became far
less frequent in later centuries after rivaling the Williams,
Richards, Cecilys and Joans for popularity in the Anglo-Norman period.

You will notice the popularity of saints' and Biblical names for both
sexes. Names of great leaders or heroes (Constantine, Alexander, etc)
seem to have also been used for males, though not as frequently as
saints' names. Women's names pose a few problems. When the names
were rendered into Latin in charters, often they were changed to make
them fit the language. You will note that many of the femine names
end in "a", which is merely the most common nominative feminine
ending. Whether these names all actually ended in "a" is another
matter, but it is clear that in many cases one may substitute "e" for
"(i)a" and still have just as valid a name: Felicia => Felice;
Amicia => Amice (and later, Amy), etc.

I will not say much about surnames except to note the two most common
forms. The first was used mostly by the upper classes and was
originally a place-name describing where the family lived: de Quincy
= "of Quincy", de Montfort = "of Montfort", etc. As families grew and
migrated, many of these lost their place-meanings and simply evolved
into family names. The other common type of surname was the
occupational name or descriptive name: for instance: le Ferrier =
"the smith", "Draper" = "The draper",etc. Anglo-Norman occupational
names evolved right alongside English ones; neither was completely
dominant. Eventually these, too, lost their original meanings and
became merely surnames. A look through a book of documents will give
you a host of different possible surnames.

The names given here are taken from four collections of legal
documents from around England: _Cartulary of Blyth Priory_, R.T.
Timson, ed. (London: HMSO, 1973) DA 670 N9B5; _Feet of Fines for
Essex _, R.E.G. Kirk, ed. (Colchester: Wiles and Son, 1899) DA 670
E7A12, _Feet of Fines for Somerset : Richard I-Edward I _, E. Green,
ed. (London: Harrison and Sons, 1892) DA 670 S49S5, and _Warwickshire
Feet of Fines v. I_ E. Stokes and F.C. Wellstood, eds. (London:
Oxford University Press, 1932) DA 670 W3 D9 v.11


Adam, Ailwin, Alan, Alard, Aldred,Alexander, Alured, Amaury/Amalric,
Anselm, Arnald, Asa, Aubrey, Baldric, Baldwin, Bartholomew, Bennet,
Bertram, Blacwin, Colin, Constantine, David, Edwin, Elias/Helyas,
Engeram, Ernald, Eustace, Fabian, Fordwin, Forwin, Fulk, Gamel,
Geoffrey*, Gerard, Gervase, Gilbert, Giles, Gladwin, Godwin, Guy,
Hamo, Hamond, Harding, Henry*, Herlewin, Hervey, Hugh, James, Jocelin,
John, Jordan, Lawrence, Leofwin, Luke, Martin, Masci, Matthew,
Maurice, Michael, Nigel, Odo, Oliva, Osbert,Norman, Nicholas, Peter*,
Philip, Ralf/Ralph*, Ranulf, Richard*, Robert*, Roger*, Saer, Samer,
Savaric, Silvester, Simon*, Stephan, Terric, Terry/Thierry, Theobald,
Thomas*, Thurstan, Umfrey, Waleran, Walter, Warin, William*, Wimarc, Ymbert


Ada, Adelina, Agnes*, Albreda, Aldith, Aldusa, Alice*, Alina, Amanda,
Amice/Amicia*, Amiria, Anabel, Annora, Ascilia, Avelina, Avoca, Avice,
Beatrice, Basilea, Bela, Berta, Celestria, Christian(a)*,
Cicely/Cecilia*, Clarice, Constance, Dionisia/Denise, Edith,
Ellen/Eleanor, Elizabeth, Emma, Estrilda, Eva, Felicia, Fina, Goda,
Golda, Grecia, Gundrea, Gundred, Gunnora, Haunild, Hawisa*,
Helen/Elena, Helewise, Hilda, Ida, Idonea, Isabel*, Isolda, Joan(na)*,
Julian(a)*, Katherine, Leticia/Lettice, Liecia, Linota, Lora/Laura,
Lucia, Mabel/Amabilia, Malota, Margaret, Margery*, Marsilia, Mary,
Matilda/Maud, Mazelina, Millicent, Muriel, Nesta, Nicola(a),
Parnel/Petronilla, Philippa, Primeveire, Richenda, Richolda, Roesia,
Sabina, Sabelina, Sarah, Susanna, Sybil(la)*,Wymarc

*denotes most common names
Copyright 1994 by Susan Carroll-Clark, 53 Thorncliffe Park Dr. #611,
Toronto, Ontario M4H 1L1 CANADA. Permission granted for
republication in SCA-related publications, provided author is credited
and receives a copy.

If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in
the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also
appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being
reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.

<the end>

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Copyright © Mark S. Harris (Lord Stefan li Rous)
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