What's In A Name?, by Francesca de Onorati

How to decide who you want to be is not always an easy task! There are a number of people who have been in the Society that have gone through several name changes over a period of years. One individual that comes to mind is a friend of ours that lives in Atenveldt. He had been known for years as Lyrec the Black, but because he could not document the usage of his first name, he could not get his name passed. Since he and his Lady are trying to become Baron and Baroness, he needs a name that he can document. He has decided to pick something quite common that will correspond with his Lady's name and time period that will be easy to register.

It seems to me that trying to find a name that you can live with is the first criteria in choosing a name. In the earlier years of the Society names of "Elvish" or "Tolkien" origin were registered, but the practice has become frowned upon in recent years. My suggestions to those of you trying to find a name is to decide upon a period of time and a country of origin, and go from there. While it is possible to use your ancestors surname it is not always easy to document, and what may have been a common spelling in the 18th century, may not have even been in existence in the 9th century. Or if it did exist, are you willing to live with the correct spelling of the name for whatever time period you choose? These are just some of the minor considerations. The more major considerations are do you like the name that you have chosen? And are you willing to live with it for as long as you will be in this area, and associating with the people who you will see on a regular basis? While Katherine is appropriate for a good portion of our time frame, how many other Katherine's will you be dealing with because it is a popular name? I personally like the name Katherine and it's various diminutives, but it can get confusing. For example, Lady Katarina from Gwyntarian, called Katherine of Broken Waters to ask about the health of Baroness Catherine of the Misty Forest, can be more than a little confusing to someone who's not familiar with the people concerned!

A good place to start would be with experimenting with just a first name that you like. Some of us already have names that are considered "period." Hugh is one such example, and my own first name is also correct for my chosen time period. A lot of people use their own first names or a varied spelling of it, just so that there is less confusion for themselves and others. Then they go on to add a different surname or variation of their current name. Whether this is something that you would like to do is up to you.

If you choose to pick an entirely different name from your own a little more time and research will probably be required. A good place to start for a first name would be the book The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, by Elizabeth Gidley Withycombe. This is available at the Stark County District Library, and at the Coshocton Public Library. Other titles available from Stark County for British surnames are: Bain, Robert. The Clans and Tartans of Scotland.

Barber, Henry. British Family Names: Their Origin and Meaning, with Lists of Scandanavian, Frisian, Anglo-Saxon and Norman Names.

Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. English Surnames Their Sources and Significations.

Begley, Donal F. The ancestor Trail in Ireland: a Companion Guide

Black, George Fraser. The Surnames ofScotland: their Origin, Meaning, and History

Ewen, Cecil L'Estrange. A History of Surnames of the British Isles: a Concise Account of Their Origin, Evolution, Etymology, and Legal Status.

Farmer, David Hugh. The Oxford Dictionary of Saints

Kaganoff, Benzion C. A Dictionary of Jewish Names and their History.

Lower, Mark Antony. English Surnames: an Essay of Family Nomenclature, Historical, Etymological and Humorous; with Several Illustrative Appendices.

Lower, Mark Antony. Patronymica Britannica: a Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom.

MacLysaght, Edward. Irish Families: their Names, Arms and Origins.

MacLysaght, Edward. Supplement to Irish Families.

The one thing that I would strongly caution you on is the use of "Baby Names" books. While some of the names might be "period," a good portion of them will not be!!

If you have another country that you are interested in being from, you could ask someone whose persona is from that area, do you own research, or ask either Undewyn or myself to point you in the proper direction. Both of us have a listing of titles that would be helpful and that are available locally.