names-Scot-art - 9/15/95
Article on medieval Scottish names. "Names in Barbour's Bruce, A collection of 13th and 14th century men's names" by Bryan J. Maloney
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Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: jacobus at sage.cc.purdue.edu (Kirsten Maloney)
Subject: Names, take two
Date: 12 Aug 1995 00:15:55 -0500
Organization: Purdue University
Keywords: Names, History, Research
I recently posted to the Rialto, through my wife's account as my own
news feed is very crochety about posting files, a short article I wrote on
names found in the 14th century (A.D. 1375) epic, _The Bruce_.
Should any newsletter or magazine upblisher wish to do me the honor of
actually publishing the following, they need merely ask (bjm10 at cornell.edu).
I can mail either the ASCII version below or a word processor format
document, with proper non-ASCII characters, neat tables, and other such
Names in Barbour's Bruce
A collection of 13th and 14th century men's names.
Copyright 1995 Bryan J. Maloney
(SCA: Symon Freser of Lovat)
All Rights Reserved
I have culled out the personal names of historical figures mentioned in
John Barbour's Scottish National epic _The Bruce; The Book of the most
excellent and noble prince, Robert de Broyss, King of Scots_. This work was
completed in A.D. 1375. My specific source is the Early English Text
Society edition, published in 1870 from a manuscript dated A.D. 1487. I
used the EETS edition's index of proper names as a guide to hunt the text.
If this list is used as a source for persona names, I suggest in the
strongest possible terms that a medieval spelling of a name be adopted.
Although I have listed modern equivalents for many names, it was to provide
examples of how names have evolved in the last 500 years. When designing a
medieval persona and a medieval name is available, it is the height of
mental laziness (dare I say stupidity?) to insist upon a modern spelling.
If you are doing a Scottish persona set after 1400, I would consider
knowledge of the salient high points of _The Bruce_, at least, to be _de
rigeur_. So far as I know, the Early English Text Society is still extant.
The EETS edition is excellent, with a complete glossary, extensive
annotation, and several indexes. Not only would it let you experience an
original 14th century epic, but it would be an excellent source for
familiarizing yourself with Middle English.
_The Bruce_, like all "historical" epics (Barbour, himself, called it a
Romance: "Lordingis, quha likis for till her,/The Romanys now begynnys
her."), concentrates on the powerful. Thus, this list gives a fairly good
cross-section of names popular among the nobility and gentry of late 13th-
century/early 14th-century England and Scotland (The work covers events from
A.D. 1286 to A.D. 1332). It would not be a good indicator of Highland
Scottish practices, nor necessarily of the lower classes. In addition,
very, very few women's names appear. Nevertheless, Barbour's Bruce is a
primary source, from a specifically verifiable period.
I give "Christian" or "given" names first. The names are listed in order
of greatest to least frequency, with variations for each name. When several
variants appear, the names are listed by the first to appear alphabetically.
Thus, "Walter", appears under "Gawter". I also list the "frequency" of that
name in _The Bruce_. I determined this by counting the number of different
people who bore a specific given name. The total number of "living people"
(as opposed to saints, Greek philosophers, or King Arthur) whose given names
appear in Barbour's Bruce comes to 113. Two of them are women.
Isobel/Esobel (Isabel) was the wife of Edward of England. Iohane of the
tour (Joan of the Tower) was a prize to be married to Robert _The Bruce_'s
son. Their names do not appear in the table, since they appear here.
I then list "surnames", in alphabetical order with variations upon a
single name grouped together. Again, a single person could be referred to
by several variants upon a name. Barbour violates what is considered in
some (SCA) circles to be an airtight restriction on surname usage. I refer
to the practice of restricting a name like "The Bruce" to the head of a
lineage or holder of a peerage. Barbour violated this principle and
referred to "Eduard The Bruce", for example, even though it was Robert who
was, strictu sensu, "The Bruce". Eduard was not Robert's heir, nor did he
later turn out to inherit the Scottish crown.
Barbour would even refer to "The Bruce" without a first name, and the
particular Bruce in question must be deduced from context. I conclude that
restricting "the" to a family head or title holder was a great deal less
restricted in the 14th century than among amateur medievalists.
To further bolster my opinion, Barbour appeared to use "the" as a synonym
for "de", in names like "de Sowlis/the Sowlis". Thus, "the" in Scottish
14th-century usage might be considered another eponymic particle, much as
"of" is used in southern and later English dialects.
It was not unusual for Barbour to use more than one spelling of a name to
refer to the same person. This only makes sense, since the practice of
insisting upon a single spelling for a specific name was a modern innovation
in English. Upon reading the book, it is also quite obvious that it was
very possible to have to people with effectively identical names. For
example, "Robert The Bruce", the king-to-be of Scotland, had relatives named
"Robert The Bruce". One wonders where the omniscient, omnisapient SCA
College of Heralds was to tell them they couldn't do that.
Modern readers of English appear to have a great deal of trouble with
some spelling conventions. Specifically, the use of "i", "u" and "v" to
denote the modern letters "j", "v" and "u". The separation of "u" and "v"
was just beginning, and "j" was hardly used, if at all, in the late 14th
century. Readers should keep this in mind when they see something like
"Vmphraville" or "Dauid". Modern spelling would have these names
"Umphraville" and "David", just as it would render "Iames" as "James".
There are several letters in Middle English that are no longer in use.
Three are important for our purposes. The "yogh" looks like a subscripted "3"
except with a tail rather than a bottom curl. It was often pronounced like
a voiced German "ch" found in "nach". This letter often appears in modern
English as "gh" or "y", but I have chosen to use "3" below. Finally, Middle
English used a "long s" to represent what is usually now rendered "ss".
Since the German "ess-tset" is virtually identical in form and function, I
have adopted "B" (ASCII's closest character to the ess-tset) as a close
equivalent. Thus, when you see "B" at the end of a name, the modern rendering
would be "ss".
Name: Ihon, Ihone, Iohn, Iohne
Modern: Ian, John
Name: Vil3ame, Vil3ame, Vil3hame, Villiame, Wil3am, Wil3ame, Will3ame,
William, Williame, Wyl3ame(1)
Name: Thom, ThomaB, Thomas
Modern: Tom, Thomas
Name: Gawter, Valter , Walter
Name: Gib, Gilbert
Modern: Gil, Gilbert
Name: Alexander, Alexandir, Alysandir
Name: Dauid, Davy
Modern: David, Dave
Name: Eduard, Eduuard, Edward
Name: Neill, Nele, Neyll
Modern: Neal, Nigel
Name: Richard, Richarde, Rychard
Name: Sym, Symon(2)
Name: Amer, Amery, Aymer
Modern: Harry (not Harold), Henry
Name: Iames, Iamys(4)
Name: Ingerame, Ingram, Yngerame
Modern: Ingram, Ingraham
Modern: Morris, Maurice
Name: Philip, Philippe
Name: Ralf, Rauf, Raulf
Name: Adam, Adame
Name: Archbald, Archibald
Name: Cristal, Cristall, Cristole, Crystall, Crystoll
Name: Gelis, Gylys
Name: PeriB, Peris(6)
of AngouB, AnguB
Ardrossane, de Ardrossane
of Argile, of Argill, Argyle
the Balleol, the Balleoll
de Berclay, the Berclay, Breklay
Brechyne, of Brechyne, the Brechyne
Bretane, of Bretane
the BroiB, the BroyB, the Bruce, the BruB, the BruyB, the Brwce, the
BrwyB, the BryB
de Caleone,of Cal3eon, de Calion(9)
Cambel, Cambell, Cammel
of Carnavarane, of Carnavirnane
of Clair, of Clar, of Clare
Comyn, Cummynm Cumyn, the Cumyn, Cwmyn, the Cwmyn, Cwmyne
of Douglas, DouglaB, of DougleB, of Dowglas, of Dowglas, off Dowglas, of
Fi3waryne, Fyss Waryn
FrancaB, FrancoiB, FrancouB
Fraseyr, Fresale, Freser, the Freser
Le Fyss Thomas
de Hay, de la Hay la, de Le Hay
de Hennaut, of Hennaut
Herdclay, the Herdclay
of Ile, the Lile, of Ylis
of Keth, of Keyth
of Lacister. Loncastell
LedouB, LedowB, of the LedowB(11)
Logy, of Logy
the Mobray, Mowbra, the Mowbra, Mowbray, the Mowbray
of Murref, of Murreff
Nevell, de Nevell, of Nevell, the Nevell
Randale, Randall, Randell, Randol, Randole, Randoll
of Saint Iohne, of Sanct Iohne
Sancler, de Sancler, Syncler
of Setoun, of Setoune, of Seyton, off Seytoun
de Sowlis, de Sowlis, the Sowlis
Steward, the Steward, Stewarde, Stewart, Stiward
of Vallance, of Vallanch, of Walanch, the Wallang
Vmphravell, Vmphrevele, Vmphrevell, de Vmphrewell, the Wmfrawill
Appendix: The name "Wallace" does not appear in the preceding lists
(Vallance is not a version of Wallace). This is because William Wallace is
never mentioned by family name in _The Bruce_. In fact, the full accord
given to the hero of Mad Max IV: Beyond Haggis-Dome is short enough to
Thus-gat levyt thai, & in sic thrillage;
Bath pur, and thai of hey parag.
For off the lordis sum thai slew;
And sum thai hangyt, and sum thai drew;
And sum thai put in hard presoune,
For-owtyn cauB or enchesoun.
And amang othri, off dowglaB
Put in presoun schir Wil3am was,
That off dowglas was lord and syr;
Off him thai makyt a martyr.
Fra thai in presoune him sleuch,
Hys landis that war fayr Inewch,
Thai to the lord of clyffurd gave.
The above stanzas are from Book I, verses 275-287. "Schir Wil3am off
dowglaB" was the William Wallace of the recent movie. Lest you still have
an inflated sense of Wallace's importance to the work as a whole, Book I has
630 verses and is only the first of twenty books of around 600-800 verses,
each. For the modern English-only reader:
Thus they lived in such thrallage,
Both poor and they of high peerage.
For of the lords, some they slew,
And some they hanged, and some they drew.
And some they put in hard prison
Without cause or good reason.
And among others, of Douglas,
Put in prison, Sir William was,
Who of Douglas was lord and sire.
Of him they made a martyr.
For they in prison him slew.
His lands, that were fair enough,
They, to the lord of Clifford gave.
Reference: Barbour, John. 1375. The Bruce; or, The Book of the most
excellent and noble prince, Robert de Broyss, King of Scots. Early English
Text Society. London. 1870 edition edited by Walter W. Skeat.
1 One of the men named "William" was identified as a farmer rather than a
knight or peer.
2 While "Sym" is generally accepted as a diminutive of "Symon", the two men
mentioned specifically as "Sym" were identified as a craftsman and a
3 Pronounced Harry--it's a Saxon spelling of the Norman Henri, in which the
"n" was not pronounced.
4 Either spelling pronounced with two syllables, according to the scansion.
5 The possessor of this name was identified as being from Gascony, in France
6 The possessor of this name was identified as being from Gascony, in France
7 There is some evidence to suggest that this is a misrendering of "de
8 Identified as a farmer
9 Identified as a Gascon.
10 Identified as Flemish
11 Identified as a ladder-builder by trade.
12 Identified as a Gascon.
13 Identified as a townsman.