Friday, January 31, 2014

Where do I find sources for award texts?

Several people have asked me whether there is a database of places to look for sources for award scroll texts.  As far as I know, there is not yet such a thing, but I am definitely looking into creating one now.

Meanwhile, I am going to put down in one reasonably accessible place the various on-line sources where I look for texts.  I welcome anyone who has additional sources, either in book form or on-line, to add them into the comments.  I'll be speaking to the Tyger Clerk of the Signet about creating a Wordsmith Resource page.

The Internet Medieval Sourcebook from Fordham University (  This site contains links to a huge number of texts of various kinds, including secular legal documents, cannon law documents, chronicles and fiction.  Nearly all of the documents have been translated into modern English but some are available in the original text and language as well.

The Avalon Project website from Yale Law School (  The documents are all in modern English translation.

The Florilegium Urbanum (, a collection of primary source material relating specifically to urban life in the medieval era.  The documents are all in modern English translation.

Epistolæ: Medieval Women's Letters from the 4th – 13th Centuries  (  In many instances, the site provides both a modern translation and a transcription of the Latin (usually) original.

Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 (  The site provides modern English and transcriptions of the original manuscripts in Latin, Scots and occasionally French.

Anthology of Chancery English (  Primary source documents with no modern translation.  The documents are in Middle English and occasionally Middle French.

British History Online (

The On-Line Reference Book for Medieval Studies (

The On-Line Medieval and Classical Library (

The Anglo-Norman On-Line Hub (

Hanover Historical Texts Project (

Gallica (  This searchable website contains over 2.5 million documents, primarily in French, from the medieval period through the present.

The Richard III Society, American Branch, in their on-line library (  The texts here are narrowly focused on a specific time, but many are in the original language.

The Consortium for the Teaching of the Middle Ages page (  Numerous Middle English texts of various kinds (prose and poetry).

The Works of Queen Elizabeth I (  Good for getting a feel for Renaissance language

Letters of Philip II, King of Spain, 1592–1597 (  Many of these letters are transcribed, but not translated into English.  My Spanish is not good enough to use these, but someone else's might be.

EuroDocs: Online Sources for European History (

On-Line Calendar of Medieval Saints ( How to tell which saint’s day it is, based on the medieval liturgical calendar.

Notes on Name Formation in Scots and Latin Renderings of Gaelic Names

            This article is intended to provide guidance on the formation of Gaelic names rendered in either Latin or Scots.  There are many reasons why a submitter might prefer a Scots or Latinized spelling.  Scots is generally easier to spell and pronounce than Gaelic.  Scots spellings also are closer to the modern spellings familiar to submitters. 
Examples in this article were extracted from The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 (RPS), a fully searchable database containing the proceedings of the Scottish parliament from 1235 to 1707. The RPS database provides transcriptions of the original documents with the original language and spelling intact. 
Part I: Mac-, Mak- and Mc-
Gaelic uses literal patronymics in the form [mac] + [genitive form of the father’s given name].  When Gaelic names are rendered in non-Gaelic forms, the patronymic takes a variety of spellings. 
In Latin records, the patronymic marker appears as Mac-, Mak- or Mc-.  There is no space between the patronymic marker and the father’s name.  For example:
Maldoueni Mackenedi
Lawemundum McGreghere
Malcolmi McIuyr
Fergusium Mcdowale
Alexandro Makcane
Andream Macnayr’
            In Scots records, the patronymic marker appears as Mac-, Mak- or Mc-.  There is no space between the patronymic marker and the father’s name.  For example:
Fergus McDowell
Donald McNachtan
Robert Makillwitty
Molay Makill
Willie MacMorrin
Alexander MacClellan
There does not appear to be any clear rule for when Mc- or Mac- will be used by the author of a document.  In both Latin and Scots, Mak- appears most frequently before vowels, hard ‘g’ or ‘c’ sounds.  For example:
Molay Makill
Nicholl Makintailyeour Mauto
Alexandro Makcane
Ewino Makkymmyng de Stracardill
Alexandro Makcloyd de Danwagane
Johanne Makclane de Lochboy
Jacobus Makgill de Rankelour Nether
Robert Makillwitty
Nevertheless, there are instances of Mak- being used before other consonants as well:
Makrendald’ Wan’ de Large
Morphe Makphe de Colwinsnay
Ivor Moir alias Makthomas
            The College of Heralds’ current rule is that Mc- is a scribal abbreviation that must be expanded to Mac- for registration.  The data from the RPS supports this rule.  I found examples in both Scots and Latin records of Mac- and Mc- used interchangeably for the same name. 
Name Forms
Record Date
MacDuf and McDuf
9 Feb 1293
Macnayr’ and Mcnayr’
25 Mar 1392
MacClane and McClane
Makphe and McPhe
MacQuhirrie and McQuhirrie
1 Dec 1585

Part II: Name Patterns
A.           Mac- Style Bynames With Locatives
The RPS provides numerous examples of Mac-style bynames combined with locative bynames, both in Latin and in Scots, from the late 15th century onwards.  In Latin, the form is de + [place name].  Scots examples use of, off and in before the place name.
Latin examples:
Johanne MacClane de Lochboy (1505)
Torculo Makloyd' de Lewis (1505)
Alexandro McCloyd de Dunwagane (1531)
Hectore McClane de Doward (1531)
Jacobus Makgill de Rankelour Nether (1572)
Scots examples:
Archbald McCoulach of Ardwele (1483)
Vchtre McDowell off D[er]regill (1494)
Lauchtlane McClane of Dowart (1504)
Thomas McDowel off Makcarstoun (1560)
James McKill of Rankeloure (1570)
Andro MacBrum in Kirkbein (1585)
Andro Mackynnay in Skinfurd (1585)
All of the examples of in + [place name] come from a single series of documents.  This formation may represent a scribal quirk.
B.           Mac-Style Bynames With Descriptives
Scots renderings of Gaelic names show a variety of descriptive bynames being used as part of the name.  Descriptives appear as stand-alone bynames, as well as in combination with other byname elements.  Where a Gaelic equivalent is available, I have provided both the Gaelic descriptive and the meaning.  Where no such equivalent could be identified, I used the translation provided by the RPS.

Name Found in Document
Record Date
Probable Gaelic Form
Allane McKintailyeour Roy
Roy = Ruadh (red)
Donald Dow
Dow = Dubh (black)
Donald Moire McMorich
Moire = Mór (big, great)
Jhone Doue McKinglas
Doue = Dubh (black)
Keuer Beg
Beg = Beag (small)
Donald Fuktoure McFadzane
Fuktoure = “the waulker”
Jhone Cannonocht McMorich
Cannonocht = “the cannon”
Nicholl Makintailyeour Mauto
Mauto = “the stammerer”
Donald McFinlay Roy
Roy = Ruadh (red)
Donald McDonald Greasiche in Teannachcraige
Greasiche = Ghreusaiche (shoemaker)
Donald Oig
Oig = Òg (young, junior)
James McDonald Roy in Culkairne
Roy = Ruadh (red)
Johne Croy McEayne
Croy = Cruaidh (callous, harsh)
William McEayne roy in Keanlochglass
Roy = Ruadh (red)
Donald Gorme McDonald
Gorm = Gorme (blue)
Donnald Glas McRonnald of Keppoche
Glas = Glas (green/gray)
Duncane Roy in Downy
Roy = Ruadh (red)
Johne dow McGillie Chouneill in Keanadrochen
Dow = Dubh (black)

I found far fewer Latin examples with descriptive bynames.  The same individual is found in a series of 1505 Latin documents as:
Donaldo Macrannaldbane
Donaldo Makranald' Bane
Donaldo McRanald Bane
Donaldo McRanald' Bane
Donaldo McRannald' Bane
Donaldo McRaynald' Bane
The byname appears to be a form of the Gaelic Bán meaning “fair, white.”
I also found several examples of what may be descriptive bynames.  However, additional research is required to confirm these name elements.
McDonald' Gallich' de Dunskawich' (1531)
Makrenald' Wan' de Large (1531)

C.           Multi-Generational Bynames
The RPS gives numerous forms of multi-generational bynames.  One of the two Latin examples uses both the Latin patronymic marker filius (in the accusative form in the documentary example) and the Gaelic patronymic marker Mc-.  The other Latin example uses the Gaelic patronymic markers.
Scots multi-generational bynames appear primarily during the grey period.  The grandfather’s name is found marked with both vic and Mc-
Name Forms
Record Date
Anneesium filium Duncani McGregere
Lochmani Mckilcoli’ McErewer
Alexander McEayne, vic Alister
Finlay McFinlay, vic Eayne
Finlay McWilliam vic Gillimichaell in Belnacoull
Johne McDonald, vic Rorie
William McEayne, vic Conill
William McFinlay, vic Alister in Achnagall
Alexander McDonnald alias Colkittoches sone
Coill McGillespike McDonald
Donald McInnes McAlexander of Glengarie
Angus McEane McPhoull
Donald McAlaster McWilliam McAllaster
Donald McGeorge McReich
Hutcheoun McAllaster McCondochie
Hutcheoun McCondochie McEan
William McHame McEanroy
William McWilliam McThomas Abrach
Rorie McEan McNeill

Award text: Fergus Macrae's Baronial Investiture

Another of my personal favorites, done in 16th cen. Scots:

Kenric, kynge of the Oryent, and Avelina our quene, to all guid men to quham the theis present lettrys sall cum, gretings.  Knaw that, in the presens of certane lordis of the thre  Estates of the Realme, publickly gathered for the utilite of the kingdome, and withe the avice of the lordis of our consell, We have chosin Fergus MacRae as Baroun of Carolingia, quha hes acceptit the said office in and upoun him and hes sworne that he sail lelely and trewlie minster in the said office efter his wit, cunnyng and knawlege like as utheris barouns hes done and usit in the said office in tymes bigane, and the kynge and queene and lordis of consell thocht him hable thairfor.

We thairupoune ressavit and admittit the said Fergus to the said chairge and regiment of the said barouny of Carolingia as principall maister thairof, withe all immuniteis, privilegeis, commoditeis and dewiteis belangand to the same, siclyk as ony utheris barounis of the said barowny usit and broukit the same of befoir; and ordanes him to be answerit and obeyit thairin in tyme cuming.

And in signe and takin thairof, in presens of the kyngis majestie and the quenis grace and the lordis forsadis, deliverit to the said Fergus siche merks, sygnes, seles and insignatis as in all tymes heirtofore have bene borne by Barounis of Carolingia.

Maid under testimonye of our grete sele at Carolingia the xii day of May in the fourty-seventh year of the Societe, fyrste of our reygne.

Award Text: Brunissende's Writ

Here's another text I'm particularly proud of.  It is based on a French-language document written by the King of Scotland in 1304, with additional guidance from contemporaneous French-language sources.

Edward Roi et Thyra Reyne a Brunissende Dragonette de Broceliande, saluz. Nous vous mandoms, fermament enjoignnant en la foy que vous nous devez, que vous soiez a notre cour a la baronie Iron Bog a ce prochain Epiphanie, en totes manieres, pour estre eslevee au ranc de membre de l'Orde du Pellican. Donees le trezime Octobre, l'an de nostre Regne premiere, A.S. 47.

And the English translation, for those whose Middle French is a little rusty:

Edward the King and Thyra the Queen, to Brunissende Dragonette de Broceliande, greetings. We command you, strictly enjoining you, by the faith which you owe us, to be at our Court in the Barony of Iron Bog upon the next 12th Night by all means, to sit vigil for elevation to the Order of the Pelican. Given the 13th October, in the first year of our reign, A.S. 47.

Award Texts: Rowen's Augmentation of Arms

The creation of this one was a little interesting.  There was no actual English text that spoke to me; so I went to Scotland's charters via the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 website (  The source text is a charter of James I of Scotland of 13 May 1426; its recounting of how the recipient had worked for various prior kings, those deeds having been confirmed by review of the "rolls of accounts" seemed precisely right for the situation.  The original text was in Latin; I worked off of the transcription of the text and translated it from modern English into Middle English to fit Rowen's persona.

Edward Rex & Þyra Regina, to Owr Brigantia Herault: For as muche as owr rolles of accountes, diligently ouer-sayne & enspected by oure mandement, make fully clere to us þat in þe tyme of Kyng Gryffith of honourable memory, & of Kyng Lucan owr eldefader, & of Kyng Gregor, owr graunt-sire, & of wele belouyd Kyng Kenric, Kyngs of þe Este, owr illustres predicessours, Rowen Cloteworthy did fully, honourably, rightwisly & worshipfully serue þe Crowne of þe Este as Vox Regis Herault; & for as muche as þe aforeseyd servise is preysful & dere-worthy; þefor we ordeyne & comaunde ye, iustily & withoute delaiement, to graunt to þe sayde Rowen a Royalle Augmentacioun of Armes. In testificacion of which we send yow þis oure royalle chartre. Yeuen at Iron Bog upon þe Feste of Twelfþe Nyght, 5 Januarie, in þe first yere of oure reigne & in þe fourti-sefnthe yere of þe Sociate.

Þe which chartre havyng bene red fully, & þe resouns & instruciouns of þeir Majesties herd & understonden, I, Rian Brigantia, decree vnder þe grete seel of oure souerayne lorde & ladye þe present Kyng & Quene þat Rowen Cloteworthy schall beare and use in warr & peace hense foreward a Royalle Augmentacioun of Armes vpon þe termes aforeseyde.

Award texts: Frasier's Silver Crescent

Written in 16th cen. Scots, thanks to the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 ( and the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (

Forsamekle as it is thocht expedient be the Crownis majestie, with thair esteatis and counsale present, in respect of the manifald and woorthie labors of Frasier MacLeod in support of the arte of defence ouer thaise twentie yeres and more, to inducit the samyn Frasier into the Ordoure of the Silver Crescent, We, Edward and Thyra, thairfoir ordanis lettrez to be directed to mak publicatioun heirof to all and sindrie our liegis be oppin proclamatione at the mercat croceis of the heid burrowis of the schirefdomes; and do forthermoir commandit and chargit all and sindrie erllis, lordis, baronis, fewaris, freehaldaris and landit gentilmen, togidder with the inhabitantis of burrowis within the haill boundis of this realme to acknawlege the foyrsaid Frasier as a member of the Ordoure beforsayd, with all richtis, previleges, and prerogatyffis appertinent thairvnto; and do forthermoir ordanit and commandit the foyrsaid Frasier, under the pane of tynsall of lyff, landis and guidis, to weir upoun his persone hereft and in perpetuitie the takenis and ensenyies of the Ordoure of the Silver Crescent, quhairthrou nane pretend ignorance of the samine.  Done 9 Fabruari A.S. 47 at l'ile Du Dragon Dormant.

Award text: Eleanor Callaghan's Silver Crescent

Edward the Kyng and Thyra the Queene, to Eleanor Callaghan, right trusty and right welbiloved, we greet you well. By the contentes of suche letters, instruccions and reapourtes as we have receyved and herd, we understande to our singuler consolacion and comfourte the right, grete, honourable and diligent servyces you have rendered unto our Barony of Settmour Swamp, and in greteful acknowledgement of the labours, payns and travailes you undertake for the benefit of all, and willing and desiring you to persever and contynue accordingly, we do now by these letters advaunce you to the stacion of a Companion of the Silver Crescent, with all privileges, rights and liberties appertaining theretoe. The whiche thyng we have doon and caused to be doon on this 23 March, A.S. 47 in the first year of our reygn in Settmour Swamp.

Based on a letter of Henry VII to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, 1520 (original spellings preserved)

Award text: Alana's Silver Crescent

I plan to start putting more and more of my texts, both past and ongoing, here, as well as talking about how I came to prepare them.

The text here was written by me for Alana O'Keeve's Silver Crescent.  For those playing along at home who may not be from the East, the Silver Crescent is our Kingdom-level service award.   The source for this one was a 15th century letter by Queen Margaret of England (Margaret of Anjou), which I found through  This was a great source because it actually talked about rewarding someone for service done to the Crown and Kingdom.  The book containing this letter was particularly wonderful because it preserved the period spellings of the terms.  Where a specific term I wanted to use did not appear in the period source, I used the on-line Middle English Dictionary ( ) to find spellings contemporaneous with the original source.

Because the original source was a letter, rather than a public charter, I opted to follow the source and address the text directly to the recipient.  So, instead of addressing the text to the public and speaking of Alana in the third person, it is written as if the Crown were speaking to Alana directly:

By the Kynge. By the Quene. Unto Alana O’Keeve, right trusty and welbelovyd, we grete you oft-tymes wele. It is wele knowen to oure wisdome, throwe the testimony of good and reliable personnes, that yowe have rendered suffissant, effectuel, and vailable service unto this oure Eastern reaulme, in which thinge yowe not onlye desserve of us ryght especial thankes, but further owght of law, right and good conscience be recognized in such wise as falls within oure lawfull authority.  Therefore, we, Gregor and Kiena, having consideracion unto the good service yowe do dayly and unto the rights and dewties belonging to us in suche matters, do by these oure lettres and befoure witnesses invest and endowe yowe with the Order of the Silver Crescent with all rights, dewties, privyleges and appurtenances thereto to be enjoyed by yowe hereafter and in perpetuity. And we do further instruct, wol and ordeyn that ye shal bear upon youre personne the emblem of the aforenamed Ordre in ryght tendre remembrance of oure good grace. Given at Owlsherst on 11 May, in the forty-eighth year of the Society.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Alys's Guide to Picking and Documenting an SCA Name

Updated 9/27/2016

The SCA allows you to register names that were or could have been used by real people in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.  You do not have to register a name.  It is optional.  Putting your name on your membership card is not the same as registering a name.  

Registration requires that the name be submitted to the Society College of Heralds and vetted for conflict and a reasonable degree of historic plausibility.  This process takes about 8-9 months.    There is an $9.00 administrative fee for each item submitted to the College of Heralds for registration.

 This article is designed to help you identify and select reasonably authentic period names.

The SCA Rules:

To be registered by the Society College of Heralds, a name needs to follow the SCA's rules for naming.  Those rules are found in the Standards for Evaluation of Names and Armory (SENA), which can be found here:

A name needs to have two elements: a given name and a “byname” – what we call a family name.  There are various types of bynames appropriate for different cultures.  

  • You can find out whether a particular kind of byname is appropriate for the culture you want by checking Appendix A of SENA.

The SCA requires evidence that the name was actually used by humans or follows a pattern of names used by humans.   The name can be used by literary characters.  There is a documented pattern of real people using names from the Arthurian stories and other works of literature.   However, the name cannot have been used only by supernatural figures.

The spelling of the name needs to be the one used in period or a reasonable variation on the spelling used in period.

Both elements of the name need to be in the same language or two closely compatible languages.  Compatible language groups are listed in Appendix C of SENA

Both elements of the name should be documented within 500 years of each other, if part of the same language group; within 300 years if part of compatible language groups.

You cannot register a name someone has already registered unless that person has given permission to conflict.

You cannot use a name that implies a relationship with another person who already has a registered name unless you have written permission from that person.

How to Research A Name:

Most people start with history books.  This is a fine place to start, but history books generally put names into standardized modern spellings.

For example, history books call the medieval Queen of Jerusalem “Melisande.”  However, period sources call her Milisandis, Milisendis, Milisende, Melissent or Milessenz.

If you find a name in a book, how can you tell if it reliable as documentation?

  •  You want a book that preserves period spellings – for example, showing a document in the original Latin or the original Middle English spellings. 
  • You want a book that has specific dates for names.  Phrases like “traditional” or “typically” are warning signs

 Ideally, you can find the name in a book specifically devoted to the study of names, such as Reaney, P.H. and R. M. Wilson. A Dictionary of English Surnames.   

Genealogy websites vary very highly in their degree of reliability.  They may be good places to look for ideas, but they are not “documentation” for SCA purposes.

Wikipedia is not accepted by the SCA as sole documentation for the existence of a name in period.  (12/2005 Cover Letter:

Using the Web:

There are a lot of bad name sources on the Internet; this is particularly true if you are searching for a Gaelic name.  How to tell if the website is reliable:

  • Does the website give specific dates for the name?
  • Does the website use period spellings or has it modernized spellings?
  • Does the website identify its sources?

Fortunately, a lot of excellent name resources are also now available to everyone on the Internet:

The SCA Heraldry Page:

The Medieval Name Archive:

The Academy of St. Gabriel:

The Viking Answer Lady:

PASE Database (Anglo-Saxon and Old English):

PBW Database (Byzantine):

Bardsley, Charles. Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames:

Hitching & Hitching.  References to English Surnames in 1601 and 1602:

Family Search Historical Records (formerly the IGI Parish Records):   
When using Family Search, note that only extracted records beginning with B, C, J, K, M (except M17 and M18), or P are acceptable as documentation.  Records without a Batch number, but where the original record is visible, are accepted on a case-by-case basis.

So I Found My Name, Now What?

Once you find a name you like in a reliable source, and if you decide to register it, the next step is to contact a herald for help in preparing the necessary paperwork.  You don't have to use a herald, but your submission has a greater chance of passing without problems if you do.

The easiest way to contact a herald in the East Kingdom is to contact the Blue Tyger Herald for assistance:

How To Prepare Your Documentation:

Whether working with a herald or not, when you send a name in for registration, you need to be sure to provide the heralds with full and complete documentation, and a summary of what the documentation says.

At a minimum, documentation must include:

  • The name of the article or book where you find the name;
  • The author of the article or book;
  • The url for any on-line source;
  • The date given for the name in the source; and
  • Proof of the name formation pattern, particularly if it is in a language other than English.  Common name formation patterns can be found in Appendix A of SENA.  Any patterns not found in Appendix A must be documented.

If documenting a name from the Family Search Historical Records (, at a minimum, you must include: 

  • The name; 
  • The gender; 
  • The date when the name was found; 
  • The country where the name was found; and 
  • The Batch number.  
Lillia Pelican has stated that she finds it useful for the url of the specific record(s) used to be included as well.

Examples of Good Documentation:

For the name Eoin Ó Mathghamhna

"Quick and Easy Gaelic Names (3rd Ed.)" by Sharon Krossa ( sets out the pattern for clan affiliation-style bynames as: 
<single given name> Ó <eponymous clan ancestor's name (in genitive case)>

Eoin is an Early Modern Irish Gaelic name with 58 Annals dates between 1246 and 1600, appearing in "Index of Names in Irish Annals" by Kathleen O’Brien (

Mathghamhain is also found in “Index of Names in Irish Annals” (, with Annals dates of 1255, 1266, 1271, 1314, 1461, 1472, 1483, 1489, 1588.  Mathghamhain is the nominative form; Mathghamhna is the genitive form.

For the name Mergery Potticary

Mergery is found in “English Given Names from 16th and Early 17th C Marriage Records” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael ( s.n. Margery dated to 1583.

Potticary appears in Bardsley, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames, p. 617 s.n. Potticary, with this spelling dated to 1591.

This naming pattern for English names is found in Appendix A of SENA.

For the name Meliana Trinidad de Valero

The pattern given + byname + de + locative for Spanish names is found in Appendix A of SENA.  All elements are found in the Family Search Historical Records:

Meliana Lopez; Female; Marriage; 12 Nov 1599; Nuestra Señora De La Consolación, Ballesteros De Calatrava, Ciudad Real, Spain; Batch: M86466-1 (

Ana Trinidad; Female; Christening; 30 Jan 1564; San Juan Evangelista, Villafrades de Campos, Valladolid, Spain; Batch: C02523-2 (

Gonzalo De Valero;  Male; Christening; 22 Sep 1567; San Andrés, Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain; Batch: C87100-1 (

Note that Family Search capitalizes all prepositions, regardless of whether they would have been capitalized in period, so refer to Appendix A for the usual patterns for the time and place.