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Medieval Names

Medieval life and Times

Medieval Names - The introduction of Surnames
The introduction of Surnames in England. In the 13th century almost one third of the men in England were called either John, Richard or William. This obviously started to cause considerable confusion when people started to move away from their own villages. To ease the situation people were referred to as William the son of Robert which lead to the surname of Robertson.

Alternatively William could also be distinguished by his occupation for example William the baker leading to the surname of Baker, Richard the Gardner leading to the surname of Gardiner and John the smith being called John Smith.

Medieval Names - Meanings and origins
The meanings and origins of Surnames extended to places, described a profession, trade or status, were  connected to Nationalities or were highly descriptive reflecting a physical or characteristic attribute or have been derived from nicknames. Most people are familiar with the legend of Robin Hood and the names used in this story. Here's a reminder of some of them which provide some examples of the origins of Medieval names:

  • Robin Hood - A descriptive name from 'Robin in the hood'

  • Little John - A descriptive name describing a physical characteristic

  • Maid Marion - A descriptive name describing a characteristic i.e. Maid

  • Alan a Dale - First name combined with a place name

  • Friar Tuck - Name reflecting a status i.e. Friar

  • Much the Miller's son - Family name combined with a trade name

  • Will Scarlet - A descriptive name

Examples of Medieval Names - Male Medieval Names
The following examples details Medieval names for men:

Walter
John
Roger
Joseph
Geoffrey
William
Robert
Francis
Simon
Edmund
Benedict
Peter
Henry
Thomas
Arthur
Mark
Matthew
Luke

Examples of Medieval Names - Female Medieval Names
The following examples details Medieval names for women:

Alice
Ellyn
Eliose
Maud
Mary
Amelia
Catherine
Anne
Blanche
Hawise
Elizabeth
Hildegard
Beatrix
Eleanor
Isabel
Margaret
Matilda
Winifred

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