Wes Hál!

Greetings! I am Lord Hubert de Stockleye (aka Wulfhere of Eofeshamme), a Herald at Large in the Kingdom of Calontir which is part of the medieval research and re-creation group the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA). My legal name is Berry Canote. Let me tell you about this blog. When I returned to the SCA a couple of years ago I did something I had not done my previous times as a member. I designed and submitted a device (called a coat of arms by those not in the SCA). In the process of coming up with different designs, seeing what could be done, and what could not be done I developed an interest in heraldry. This blog highlights many of my designs as well as gives tips on name research. For more information please read the About this Blog Page. There if you are a SCA member you can learn how to register one of these designs as your own device as well as get acquainted with what I do. Finally, feel free to browse the links list. A note of caution, I am still very new to this so you are encouraged to consult another herald. In the time since I have started this blog I have begun writing on other topics of interest to me so expect to see other topics on the Middle Ages. Note: This is not an official Society for Creative Anachronism site. The views expressed here are my own.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Online Sites for Name Research for English and Anglo-Saxon Personas in the SCA

At one time in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) English and Anglo-Saxon personas were very common. They are becoming less common, but still many SCA members opt for an English or Anglo-Saxon persona. Finding a period English or Anglo-Saxon name may sound easy. After all we speak English so how hard should it be to come up with a name in English? The problem is naming conventions have changed over the past 1600 years. Names were not constructed in 800 CE the way they are now.  And many names have fallen out of use while some names in common usage now simply did not exist. Surnames did not become common until the 13th century in England. Prior to that folks generally went by their given name and a byname of some sort either a name telling where they were from (locative), a name describing them (descriptive), or a name based on what their occupation was (occupational). Too, the language itself has changed. One cannot simply name their early period Anglo-Saxon persona Edwin because the name would not have been spelled that way (in the early Anglo-Saxon period it would have been Eadwine). Even in later periods it would be difficult using Modern English for a name. Like Old English the spellings of the Middle English versions of given names, the names of locations, and words for occupations are most often different. With that in mind, here are some online resources to help in developing a name for your English or Anglo-Saxon persona in the SCA. Online resources are generally searchable making it easier to locate a name. You may still need to pick up a book to document an Anglo-Saxon or English name for the SCA, but these sites will generally point you to where you can find a name in print, and in some cases the sites themselves can be used for documentation.

SCA College of Arms - Name Articles

This is the site to go to to learn how to document a name. Even if you have a herald do all the work for you this will give you an idea of what it takes to register a name. It should be the first stop for anyone wanting to register a name.

Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary

This dictionary is helpful for those wanting an Anglo-Saxon name. Some villages and towns are listed and these would be useful for creating a locative byname. And while occupational and descriptive bynames were rare in the Anglo-Saxon period this dictionary can be used to create those as well.

Old English Translator

This site is handy for translating Modern English words to Old English for Anglo-Saxon names. For example if one were to enter the word "weaver" in the search box and press on the button that says "Modern English > Old English" you would see Old English words meaning "weaver" like "webba." It can also be used for locations. For example entering "Evesham" into the search box will result in entries for the Old English spellings of  "Eofesham" and "Euesham."

Middle English Dictionary at the University of Michigan

This dictionary can be used for creating a byname for an English persona in the period from 12th to late 15th centuries. By that time descriptive and occupational bynames had become common so this dictionary is very helpful. One can find the Middle English equivalents of Modern English words by using the search function which searches definitions as well as Middle English words.

Authentic Names: Anglo-Saxon, Viking

This is nothing more than a list of names, and one has to document the names elsewhere. Still, it is handy for those that just want to look at a list of names, and pick one out. There are a lot of Anglo-Saxon names listed here giving one plenty of choices.

The Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England

A database of Anglo-Saxon names drawn from sources of the period it can be used to document Anglo-Saxon names. Using the search engine on the site one can search for an Anglo-Saxon name and find period sources for the name that can then be used to document the name.

The Domesday Book Online

The Domesday Book Online is just that. It is the 11th century Domesday Book searchable online. It is good for finding period spellings of Old English names, Anglo-Norman names, as well as Old English place-names. It even has a map of England with the various shires of the 11th century. Click on a shire and you are given all the place names in the Domesday Book for that shire with a link to a list of all the locations in that shire. You can then click on the location and it will take you to the entry in the Domesday Book. This is handy if you want your persona to be from a particular part of England.

Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum; a List of Anglo-Saxon Proper Names from the Time of Beda to that of King John

This is not actually a website, but an ebook that can be read online. The Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum by William George Searle is the go to book for Anglo-Saxon names. Compiled from many, many Anglo-Saxon documents you will find many names here you will not find elsewhere. Not only that it gives name elements that allow you if you are so inclined to construct your own name.

Studies on Uncompounded Personal Names in Old English

Another ebook handy for finding Anglo-Saxon names it gives the names as well as the primary sources the names are taken from. It is compiled from many Anglo-Saxon documents. The book is also handy for learning how Anglo-Saxon names were constructed.

Old English Occupational Bynames at the Viking Answer Lady Site

Occupational bynames were rare in the Anglo-Saxon period, but not unheard of. This is a list of some of the occupational bynames that were used.

The Historical Gazetteer of England's Place-Names

This site has over four million place-names from England. These names range from names for villages to fields to streets. The search lets you search for a modern or historical name giving you all the places for a given name by type (settlement, parish, street, and so on), and the entries for a name gives you the names of the documents the name can be found in. It is then a simple matter of locating a document to document a place-name. This resource is invaluable for creating a locative byname. It is very useful for both Anglo-Saxon and English names.

SCA College of Arms - Name Articles (England)

Most of these articles are on names from what I consider the late period (15th to 17th centuries) that the SCA covers. Still there are articles that are helpful for anyone wanting an English name anywhere from the 13th to 17th century. Given names and surnames are covered by the numerous articles listed here.

The Medieval Names Archive: English, Old English, and Anglo-Norman Names

This site has articles for every period the SCA covers for English names as well as links to other sites that cover English names. It is perhaps one of the best resources for finding an English name from any period.

Calendar of Patent Rolls

An excellent place to find and document medieval English names the patent rolls are documents that expressed the will of the various English kings of the era,

English Surnames: Their Sources and Significations

An ebook useful for finding English surnames.It lacks dates for many of the names, so you may have to document a name from elsewhere, but it is still great for getting leads.

English Given Names from 16th and Early 17th C Marriage Records

Parish records from the 15th and 17th centuries a great source for finding names from those centuries.

A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames with Special American Instances

An ebook that can be read online it is an excellent source of English surnames. Dates are given with the names so you should be able to use this book for documentation.


Some records on FamilySearch can be used to document names for the SCA. Many of the parish registries for England have been made available some as early as 1440 CE. If one is wanting a late period persona this site can be very helpful. You will have to see the SCA College of Arms section on documenting names as to how to use these records.

There are no doubt other online resources for Anglo-Saxon and English names and as I locate them I will add them to this list. Documenting English names for the SCA is actually fairly easy. If a name existed in the medieval period it is likely it was recorded somewhere. If you need any help in documenting an English name for use in the Society for Creative Anachronism feel free to contact me and I will see what I can do. However, with these resources it should not be a difficult task for one to do his or herself.

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