Kate Monk's Onomastikon

(Dictionary of Names)

Medieval English Names

As the spelling of English was not standardized during the Middle Ages, names can be found in many different forms in written records. The French diminutive endings which arrived with the Normans ('-et', '-in' and '-on' ) became less common and English forms such as '-cock', and '-kin' took their place. Double diminutives such as 'Hodgekin' (Roger) or 'Simcock' (Simon) existed. Few of these forms are still used but many are found as surnames as they were current during the surname formation period.

Many documents relating to the medieval period use a Latin written form ending in '-us' for men's names. It is not always certain what the actual spoken form would have been but it is probable that the Latin forms were not in daily use.

It should be remembered that the Latin feminine ending '-a' was usually added to male names only in the written form so Philippa and Juliana would actually have been called Philip and Julian. (The medieval mystic Julian of Norwich was a woman). The Latin '-ae' (feminine genitive) ending was often reduced to an '-e' in the Middle Ages so forms ending in '-e' are often versions of names which ended in the nominative '-a' in Latin. The letter 'u' often replaces 'v' in old spellings. Diminutives often take a French form with endings including '-ette', '-ina' or -'ota'.

Intermarriage for dynastic and political reasons was common amongst European medieval royalty, and the Plantagenet and Tudor monarchs of England followed this rule. As a result, further foreign names arrived with the royal brides and their retinues although many were anglicised rather than coming into common usage in their original form.

Common Names


These accounted for about 70% of the male population in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Adam Geoffrey Gilbert
Henry Hugh John
Nicholas Peter Ralf
Richard Robert Roger
Simon Thomas Walter


These names accounted for about 60% of the female population in the 13th/14th centuries.

Agnes Alice Avice
Beatrice Cecily Emma
Isabella Joan Juliana
Margery Matilda Rohesia

This collection of names was compiled by Kate Monk and is ©1997, Kate Monk.

Copies may be made for personal use only.

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