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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


NOTE: See also the files: names-Scot-msg, Scot-fem-nam-lst, Scotland-msg, fd-Scotland-msg, haggis-msg, cl-Scotland-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: jacobus at sage.cc.purdue.edu (Kirsten Maloney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

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".


Given Names


Name:  Ihon, Ihone, Iohn, Iohne

Modern:  Ian, John

Frequency:  15


Name:  Vil3ame, Vil3ame, Vil3hame, Villiame, Wil3am, Wil3ame, Will3ame,

William, Williame, Wyl3ame(1)

Modern:  William

Frequency:  13


Name:  Roger

Modern:  Roger

Frequency:  7


Name:  Thom, ThomaB, Thomas

Modern:  Tom, Thomas

Frequency:  7


Name:  Gawter, Valter , Walter

Modern:  Walter

Frequency:  5


Name:  Gib, Gilbert

Modern:  Gil, Gilbert

Frequency:  5


Name:  Alexander, Alexandir, Alysandir

Modern:  Alexander

Frequency:  4


Name:  Dauid, Davy

Modern:  David, Dave

Frequency:  4


Name:  Eduard, Eduuard, Edward

Modern:  Edward

Frequency:  3


Name:  Neill, Nele, Neyll

Modern:  Neal, Nigel

Frequency:  3


Name:  Richard, Richarde, Rychard

Modern:  Richard

Frequency:  3


Name:  Sym, Symon(2)

Modern:  Simon

Frequency:  3


Name:  Alane

Modern:  Alan

Frequency:  2


Name:  Amer, Amery, Aymer


Frequency:  2


Name:  Androu

Modern:  Andrew

Frequency:  2


Name:  Gylmyne


Frequency:  2


Name:  Henry(3)

Modern:  Harry (not Harold), Henry

Frequency:  2


Name:  Iames, Iamys(4)

Modern:  James

Frequency:  2


Name:  Ingerame, Ingram, Yngerame

Modern:  Ingram, Ingraham

Frequency:  2


Name:  MoriB

Modern:  Morris, Maurice

Frequency:  2


Name:  Philip, Philippe

Modern:  Philip

Frequency:  2


Name:  Ralf, Rauf, Raulf

Modern:  Ralph

Frequency:  2


Name:  Robert

Modern:  Robert

Frequency:  2


Name:  Adam, Adame

Modern:  Adam

Frequency:  1


Name:  AnguB

Modern:  Angus

Frequency:  1


Name:  Archbald, Archibald

Modern:  Archibald

Frequency:  1


Name:  Blar

Modern:  Blair

Frequency:  1


Name:  Colyne

Modern:  Colin

Frequency:  1


Name:  Cristal, Cristall, Cristole, Crystall, Crystoll

Modern:  Christopher(!)

Frequency:  1


Name:  Donald

Modern:  Donald

Frequency:  1


Name:  DowglaB

Modern:  Douglas

Frequency:  1


Name:  Edmund


Frequency:  1


Name:  Ewmond(5)


Frequency:  1


Name:  FerguB

Modern:  Fergus

Frequency:  1


Name:  Gaudifer


Frequency:  1


Name:  Gelis, Gylys

Modern:  Giles

Frequency:  1


Name:  Hew

Modern:  Hugh

Frequency:  1


Name:  Lowrens

Modern:  Laurence

Frequency:  1


Name:  Mermadak

Modern:  Marmaduke

Frequency:  1


Name:  PeriB, Peris(6)

Modern:  Piers

Frequency:  1


Name:  Ranald

Modern:  Ronald

Frequency:  1





of Abyrnethy

of AngouB, AnguB

Ardrossane, de Ardrossane

de Argente

of Argile, of Argill, Argyle


the Balleol, the Balleoll


de Berclay, the Berclay, Breklay

Besat, Byset


the Boroundoun

of Bowme

Boyd, Boyde

Brechyne, of Brechyne, the Brechyne

Bretane, of Bretane

the BroiB, the BroyB, the Bruce, the BruB, the BruyB, the Brwce, the

BrwyB, the BryB



Bunnok, Bwnnok(8)

de Caleone,of Cal3eon, de Calion(9)

Cambel, Cambell, Cammel

of Carnavarane, of Carnavirnane

of Catcart

of Clair, of Clar, of Clare

of Cobhame

Comyn, Cummynm Cumyn, the Cumyn, Cwmyn, the Cwmyn, Cwmyne


off Crauford




Dicson, Dicsone

of Douglas, DouglaB, of DougleB, of Dowglas, of Dowglas, off Dowglas, of





Fi3waryne, Fyss Waryn



FrancaB, FrancoiB, FrancouB

Fraseyr, Fresale, Freser, the Freser

de FyniB

Le Fyss Thomas


of Gordoun


Harpar, Harper

the Hastyngis

de Hay, de la Hay la, de Le Hay

de Hennaut, of Hennaut

Herdclay, the Herdclay

off Hersildoune

of Herth

of Ile, the Lile, of Ylis


Ingerame, Yngerame

of Keth, of Keyth

of Lacister.  Loncastell

of Lambyrtoun

LedouB, LedowB, of the LedowB(11)


Logy, of Logy

of Lorn












Male-Erll, Mayle-Erll

of Mar


Mavndwell, Mawndwil


the Mobray, Mowbra, the Mowbra, Mowbray, the Mowbray

Moffat, Mufhet

of Murref, of Murreff

Nevell, de Nevell, of Nevell, the Nevell

off Normandy

Odymsy, Ydymsy

of Ogill

the Persy

Randale, Randall, Randell, Randol, Randole, Randoll

the RoB

of Saint Iohne, of Sanct Iohne

Sancler, de Sancler, Syncler

of Setoun, of Setoune, of Seyton, off Seytoun

Somerueile, Somerweil

de Sowlis, de Sowlis, the Sowlis

of Spaldyng(13)

Steward, the Steward, Stewarde, Stewart, Stiward


of Vallance, of Vallanch, of Walanch, the Wallang


Vmphravell, Vmphrevele, Vmphrevell, de Vmphrewell, the Wmfrawill


of Webitoune



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

include below:


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

  "burgeB" (townsman).

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.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org