Manx Names in the Early 16th Century
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Manx Names in the Early 16th Century

by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
(Heather Rose Jones,

1998 by Heather Rose Jones. All rights reserved.

Last updated 30 Oct 1998

J.J. Kneen's The Personal Names of the Isle of Man (Oxford University Press, 1937) provides a useful collection of the small amount of information that is known about the names used on the Isle of Man in the pre-modern period. Probably the most extensive survey comes from a manorial roll collected in 1511-15, known as the "Liber Assedationis", which appears to be the sort of survey of landholders common in English records of the medieval period and later. While Kneen's method of presenting the data has certain flaws -- surnames and given names are presented in separate lists without showing examples of whole names, and frequency statistics are not given for surnames -- on the whole, it is useful for the purpose.

The names used in Man at this time reflect the multifaceted cultural background of the island. In addition to the original Gaelic-speaking inhabitants, there was a strong Norse infusion beginning in the 9th century, followed by an overlay of Anglo-Norman culture that predated any official English control of the island. By the early 16th century, Norse influence was mostly confined to a handful of fixed surnames. Gaelic influence is strongest among surnames -- indeed, the majority of surnames either use a Gaelic patronymic format or contain Gaelic-origin elements or both. The majority of given names, however, are of Anglo-Norman origin.

As is usual in documents of this sort, men far outnumber women. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 2000 men's names appear, while only about 140 women's names do. One of the largest problems inherent in presenting the given names and surnames separately comes in trying to analyze gender differences in surnames, which I discuss further below.

Given Names

Kneen presents the given names in lists according to popularity (with general groupings for the men and specific numbers for the women). From this, I've calculated approximate percentages. Kneen has listed what I would consider to be variants of the same name as different entries and I have mostly kept to his format, even though it means treating "Katerina" and "Kateryn" as different names! Given that minor variants such as this are given in his data, we can be fairly confident in assuming that he has not normalized name spellings.

In general, the popularity patterns for men's given names are very similar to those in England proper at the same period. The 15 most popular names represent about 85% of the total, and "John" represents fully a fifth of all men's names, with "William" and "Thomas" also very high in the running (all similar to contemporary name statistics for England). The Gaelic and Norse heritages of the island remain to varying extents. About a sixth of the men bore names of linguistically Gaelic origin (representing about a quarter of the different names in use), while maybe around 3% bore names of Norse origin (only three different names represented). In the 15 most popular names, three are Gaelic and one Norse, while in the 17 names appearing only once, half are Gaelic and two Norse.

Women's names in the available sample are even more concentrated among the most popular (with the top 15 representing 88%) although the most popular name (Cristian) is slightly less popular (17%) than the most popular male name. Gaelic-origin names have similar popularity to that found in men, with slightly over a sixth of the women bearing them (and about a quarter of the 30 different names represented). No women bore names of identifiable Norse origin. A significant majority of the feminine Gaelic names (5 of 7) are "devotional names" of the format "Caly-<saint's name>", in parallel to the male formula "Gil-<saint's name>", although the latter make up only half of the different male Gaelic names used.

Given Names -- Frequency Lists

Male      Female
%Name % Name   %Name
~20%John <1% (cont.) Fergus   17%Cristen, Cristian
~10%William Galfrid   10-12%Calyhony
5-10%Donald Geffry Johnet
Fynlo George Marion
Gibbon Germot   1-5%Agnes
Patrick Gilander, Gilandrew Alice
Thomas Gilcolm Calibrid
1-5%Gilbert Gilmartin Calycrist
Gilchrist Gilmere Calyvorri
Henry Gilmurry Ibot, Ibott
James Gilno Isabell
Jenkyn Hane Kateryn
Michael Huan Margaret
Mold Huchon Mariot
Morris Hugen Mawde
Richard Hugh More
Robert Laurence Sessott, Sissott
Roger Mark   <1%Aedyt
<1%Abel Murdagh Bahee
Adam Murghad Blaunch
Aleyn Nele Calypatric
Allow Nichol Cecilia
Andrew Otes Edith
Bertrem Otnel Elena
Brice Paton Isott
Christopher Paul Johna
Cristen Peter Katerina
David Ranlyn Lucy
Denis Reginald Matilda
Dolyn Robyn Vorgell
Doncan Rory
Edmund Stephen
Edward Thomlyn
Elisha Thormot

Given Names -- Alphabetical Lists

Abel Huan Aedyt
Adam Huchon Agnes
Aleyn Hugen Alice
Allow Hugh Bahee
Andrew James Blaunch
Bertrem Jenkyn Calibrid
Brice John Calycrist
Christopher Laurence Calyhony
Cristen Mark Calypatric
David Michael Calyvorri
Denis Mold Cecilia
Dolyn Morris Cristen
Donald Murdagh Cristian
Doncan Murghad Edith
Edmund Nele Elena
Edward Nichol Ibot
Elisha Otes Ibott
Fergus Otnel Isabell
Fynlo Paton Isott
Galfrid Patrick Johna
Geffry Paul Johnet
George Peter Katerina
Germot Ranlyn Kateryn
Gibbon Reginald Lucy
Gilander Richard Margaret
Gilandrew Robert Marion
Gilbert Robyn Mariot
Gilchrist Roger Matilda
Gilcolm Rory Mawde
Gilmartin Stephen More
Gilmere Thomas Sessott, Sissott
Gilmurry Thomlyn Vorgell
Gilno Thormot
Hane Urmen
Henry William


The surnames are listed by parish, but actual counts for each are not given, only representative spellings. So it is impossible to tell which surnames were the most common in absolute terms, but some approximation may be made of how widespread they were.

There are 764 surname listings (in 17 parishes) representing 319 name groupings (where all patronymic-origin surnames using a particular form of the root name are grouped together, but surnames based on different variants of the root are not). Of these, about 80% are patronymic in origin, while the others are divided roughly equally between surnames of locative origin, those of occupational origin, and those derived from personal nicknames.

Of the patronymic-origin surnames, 75% are formed with prefixed "Mac", 16% consist only of the root name, 7% are formed with suffixed "son", and the remaining handful of names include a few prefixed with "O" and one with "Ap".

There is no particular correlation between the more common surnames and the more common given names, and there are many patronymic-origin surnames whose roots do not occur as given name at all. This is strong evidence that surnames were, for the most part, fixed and inherited rather than being true patronyms. However, since no information is available about either whole names or the relationships of the people named, we cannot know for certain that none of the patronymic surnames were true patronyms.

One aspect of the patronym system, however, had not entirely been converted to English-style fixed surnames, and that is the treatment of women's surnames. While Kneen's main lists of surnames according to parish give only masculine forms of patronyms (i.e., ones using "mac"), his more detailed alphabetical listings provide a surprising number of feminine variants where "Ine" (equivalent to Irish "inghean") appears. We have no idea whether women also bore surnames using "Mac" or whether they always used "Ine" forms, or whether the use of "Ine" indicated a true patronym rather than simply a feminine form of a fixed surname (although this seems unlikely for the same reasons given above).

58 surnames have "Ine"-feminines listed. 50 of these simply substitute "Ine" for "Mac". For five "Ine" forms, no equivalent "Mac" form is cited, however for three of these, the roots are the sort you would expect to find in patronyms. In three cases, the masculine name involves "O". In two of these, "Ine" is added before the "O" (including one where "Mac" is also used this way) and in the third "Ine" is substituted for "O". In general, names for which "Ine" forms are available correspond to the more popular names, suggesting that the option is freely available for any patronymic-style surname.

Two of the "Ine" names, however, are rather startling: "Ine Goldesmyth" and "Ine Skylycorne", the first based on an English occupational name and the second on a name of locative origin. The first could be considered in the same class as Gaelic patronyms based on borrowed occupational terms, e.g., "MacPhearson" (from "parson"), however the second is without precedent that I am aware of. If we are not simply dealing with a scribal error or misinterpretation (which cannot be ruled out, given the small sample involved), this may suggest that "Ine" had been generalized as a feminine surname-prefix for names of all types, not simply patronyms (since neither of these elements ever appears prefixed by "Mac") or that the women are being identified as "daughter of <surname>" rather than it being considered appropriate to use the surname proper.

Another clue to the fossilized nature of the patronym-derived surnames is the number of feminine forms where the root has been reanalyzed in the "Mac" form. For example, the masculine patronym "Mac Comas" derives from the given name "Thomas" -- the "C" at the beginning of the root has migrated from the final sound of "Mac", after lenition caused the initial "T" to become essentially silent. If the patronym were still understood as "Mac + Thomas" (with "Mac Comas" simply being a written variant), we would expect the feminine form to be constructed from "Ine + Thomas" with appropriate grammatical rules applying. However, the corresponding feminine form is "Ine Comas", showing that the understanding of the name's origin has been lost. Twenty of the "Ine" patronyms use roots that show this sort of reanalysis. As before, this is strong evidence that these surnames are fixed and are not functioning as true patronyms. Kneen gives examples of feminine surnames using "Ine" as late as the early 19th century.

Surname Lists

As noted above, in the frequency lists the patronymic-origin names are grouped by root, e.g., Faile, Mac Fayle, O Fayle, and Ine Fayle are grouped together, but Thomasson and Thomson are not. The frequency number is based on the number of different forms of the name (e.g., William, Mac William, and Williamson count as three forms) and the number of different districts they appear in. Frequency numbers do not include feminine forms of patronyms. While this is not as useful as absolute numbers, it's better than nothing.

The frequency lists give surnames of patronymic, locative, occupational, and other origin separately. I want to emphasize that few, if any, of them would be functioning in this capacity at this time. I have not attempted to provide origins or "meanings" for any of the surnames, as this would have increased the amount of work involved in the article beyond what I am able to devote to it at this time.

In addition to the frequency lists, there is an alphabetical list of all the names that appear, with "Mac", "O", and "Ine" omitted from the alphabeticization.

Frequency Lists

Patronymic-Origin Surnames

13MacQuyn(e), Mac Quene, Mac Quaine, Mac Quane 7; Quyn 3; Ine Quane, Ine Quene
11MacFayle 8; O Fayle 1; Mac Faylo 1; Faile 1; Ine Fayle
11MacMarten, Mac Martyn 7; Martyn 2; Martynson 2
10MacNele, Mac Knele 8; Neleson 2; Ine Nele, Ine Knele
9MacWilliam 6; William 1; Williamson 2; Ine William
8MacCane; Ine Cane
8MacCorleot; Ine Corleot
8MacHugen 2; Hugen 6
8MacOtter, Mac Cotter; Ine Cotter
8MacStephan 3; Stephenson 5; Ine Stephan
7MacComais 2; Mac Comas 4; Mac Comis 1; Ine Comas
7MacCorkell; Ine Corkell
7MacGibbon 5; Gibbon 1; Gibbonson 1; Ine Gibbon
7MacKae, Mac Ke, Mac Kye, Mac Kie; Ine Kay
7MacRobin, Mac Robyn 4; Robyn 2; Robynson 1; Ine Robyn
6MacConylt, Mac Honylt; Ine Conylt, Ine Honylt
6MacCristen; Ine Cristen
6MacCurry; Ine Curry
6MacKerd, Mac Kerrad, Mac Kerad 5; Kerd 1
5Abell; Abelson
5MacAleyn 1; Aleyn 4
5MacBrew; Ine Brew
5MacCraine, Mac Crayn(e); Ine Crayne
5MacCray(e); Ine Cray
5MacCreer, Mac Crere
5Cristall 1; Cristalson 4
5MacGilrea 4; Gilrea 1; Ine Gilrea
5MacKeg, Mac Kyeg 4; Mac Mac Keg 1; Ine Keg, Ine Kyeg
5MacPerson 3; Person 2
5MacQuyrke 4; Quyrke 1; Ine Quyrke
5MacReynold, Mac Reynylt 3; Reynylt 1; Reynoldson 1
5MacWater 3; Water 1; Waterson 1; Ine Water
4MacAlexander; Ine Alexander
4MacCaly; Ine Caly
4MacClewag, Mac Cluag, Mac Cluage, Mac Clewage
4MacCorran, Mac Corryn, Mac Coryn; Ine Corine, Ine Coryn
4MacDoncan 1; Doncan 2; Doncanson 1
4MacFynlo 2; Mac Fynloe 1; Fynlo 1
4MacGell 2; Gell 2
4MacKewne; Ine Kewne
4Mores, Moris 1; Moresson 3
4MacOboy, Mac Oboye; Ine Oboy
4MacQuarres; Ine Quarres
4MacSkerff; Ine Skarff
4MacSto(i)le 3; Stoile 1; Ine Stole
3MacBane 1; Bane 2; Ine Bane
3MacCannon; Ine Cannon
3MacColyn 1; Colyn 2; Ine Colyn
3MacCormot; Ine Cormot
3MacCurghy; Ine Curghy
3MacDik 1; Dik 2
3Huchen 1; Huchon 2
3MacHym, Mac Kym; Ine Kym
3MacJoghen; Ine Joghen
3John 2; Johnson 1
3MacKenag; Ine Kenag
3MacKillip; Ine Killip
3Michel, Mychel 2; Mac Mychel 1
3MacNa(i)kell, Mac Naykell
3MacNicholl 2; Nychol 1
3MacNiven, Mac Nyven; Ine Nyven
3MacQuark(e); Ine Mark
2OBarron; Ine O Barron
2MacCaw, Mac Hawe
2MacCoile, Mac Cole
2MacGilcrist; Ine Gilchrist
2MacGill; Ine Gill
2MacGilleon, Mac Gillewne
2Hik, Hyk
2MacKerrous; Ine Kerrous
2MacKill; Ine Kill
2MacQuartag; Ine Quartag
2MacQuayes; Ine Quayes
2MacQuelen 1; O Quyllan 1; Ine Quelen
2MacRory 1; Rory 1
2MacSale 1; Sale 1; Ine Sale
2MacSymond 1; Symyn 1
1MacCrawe; Ine Crawe
1MacGilmere, Emere
1MacJohn Beg (not actually "John + Beg" but probably a misunderstanding of "Mac Con-Bhig")
1MacKynrede, Mac John Rede (mis-interpretation); Ine Kynrede
1MacQuarrag; Ine Crayge
1MacWhaken; Ine Whacken

Surnames of Locative Origin

3Baily, Baly, Bayly 1 Fryssington
3Crosse 1 Hogell
2Alcar 1 Holt
2Burscogh 1 Ince
2Lathom 1 Lake
2Shakelady, Shakerley 1 Litherland
2Skylycorn(e); Ine Skylycorne 1 Lyst
2Ughtyngton 1 Marsden
1Aghton 1 Matton
1Aystogh 1 Orme
1Baye 1 Prescote
1Birmingham 1 Preston
1Bradshagh 1 Pulley
1Byrch 1 Rushton
1Carre 1 Sammesbury
1Caterall 1 Standysh
1Corbett 1 Tatlok
1Cotynghin 1 Vause
1Cowpeland 1 Wode, Wodde
1Crag 1 Worthyngton

Surnames of Occupational Origin

6Clerke 1 Flecher
4Goldesmyth; Ine Goldesmyth 1 Forbor
3Genor 1; Geonor 2 1 Hayward
3Kerdar 1 Marshall
3Tailor 1 Mylner
2Maderel, Maderer 1 Piper
2Mason 1 Sclator
2Smyth 1 Seer
1Brewer 1 Spakeman
1Bullor 1 Swyneherd
1Butler 1 Webster
1Carter 1 Wright

Surnames of Other or Unknown Origin

9More 1 Borwan
3Calcote 1 Brech
3Duke 1 Browne
3Gall 2; Gale 1 1 Causey
3Norres, Norris 1 Coke
3Rede 1 Elenagh
2Gretehed(e) 1 Erenagh
2Ireshman 1 Gragh
2Owle 1 Homlyn
1Aspallan 1 Portok
1Ballard 1 Scott
1Bell 1 Sharpe
1Blakman 1 Shirlok
1Bodagh; Ine Body 1 Walsh

Alphabetic Index of All Surnames

Abell Dicon Mac Lymean
Abelson Dik O- lyn
MacAdam Mac Dik Lyst
MacAdde Doncan Mac Mac Keg
Aghton Mac Doncan Maderel
Alcar Doncanson Maderer
IneAlexander Dugan Ine Mark
MacAlexander Duke Mac Marke
Aleyn Elenagh Marsden
MacAleyn Mac Emere Marshall
MacAndrew Mac Emere Mac Marten
MacArthure Erenagh Martyn
Aspallan Mac Faden Martyn
Atkyn Faile Martynson
MacAuley Faraund Mason
MacAusteyn Fargher Matton
Avelson Ine Fayle Mac Mere
Aystogh Mac Fayle Michel
Baily O Fayle Mac Moleyn
Ballard Mac Faylo More
Baly Mac Felis Mores
Bane Flecher Moresson
IneBane Forbor O Morgan
MacBane Mac Frost Moris
Barrett Fryssington Mychel
Ine OBarron Fynlo Mac Mychel
OBarron Mac Fynlo Mylner
Baye Mac Fynloe Mac Na(i)kell
Bayly Gale Mac Naykell
Begson Gall Mac Nedragh
Bell Gawe Ine Nele
Birmingham Mac Gawne Mac Nele
Blakman Gell Neleson
Bodagh Mac Gell Mac Nellen
IneBody Gellen Mac Nicholl
Borwan Genor Mac Niven
Bowge Geonor Norres
Ine O-boy Gerard Norris
Mac O-boy Mac Germot(t) Nychol
Mac O-boye Gibbon Ine Nyven
Bradshagh Ine Gibbon Mac Nyven
MacBrash Mac Gibbon Orme
Brech Gibbonson Mac Otter
Breden Mac Gil(l)owny Owle
Breen Mac Gilander Parre
MacBretny Mac Gilandrew Person
IneBrew Mac Gilbrid Mac Person
MacBrew Mac Gilcalm Piper
Brewer Ine Gilchrist Portok
Brice Mac Gilcobraght Prescote
Browne Mac Gilcowle Preston
Bullor Mac Gilcrist Pulley
Burscogh Mac Gilhast Mac Qua
Butler Mac Gilhonylt Mac Quaine
Byrch Ine Gill Ine Quane
MacCaball Mac Gill Mac Quane
MacCaghen Mac Gillanny Mac Quanty
Calcote Mac Gilleon Mac Quark(e)
MacCalo Mac Gillewne Mac Quarrag
IneCaly Mac Gillowey Ine Quarres
MacCaly Mac Gilmere Mac Quarres
IneCane Gilno Ine Quartag
MacCane Mac Gilpeder Mac Quartag
IneCannon Gilrea Mac Quate
MacCannon Ine Gilrea Ine Quayes
MacCargher Mac Gilrea Mac Quayes
MacCaroly Mac Gilroy Ine Quelen
Carre Mac Gilveall Mac Quelen
Carter Mac Gilvorr Ine Quene
MacCash Mac Gilvorra Mac Quene
MacCashen Goldesmyth Mac Querkus
MacCaskell Ine Goldesmyth Mac Quyll
MacCasmund Mac Grady O Quyllan
Caterall Gragh Quyn
MacCaure Gretehed(e) Mac Quyn(e)
Causey Hane Quyrke
MacCaven Mac Hawe Ine Quyrke
MacCaw Hayward Mac Quyrke
MacClaghlen Mac Helly Rede
MacClement Hendull Mac Reynold
Clerke Mac Henry Reynoldson
MacCletter Heresson Reynylt
MacClewag Hik Mac Reynylt
MacClewage Hogell Mac Robin
Closse Hogeson Robyn
MacCluag Holt Ine Robyn
MacCluage Homlyn Mac Robyn
MacCo(i)sten Ine Honylt Robynson
MacCoag Mac Honylt Mac Roger
MacCoile Hubart Rory
Coke Huchen Mac Rory
MacColby Huchon Rushton
MacCole Hugen Sale
Colyn Mac Hugen Ine Sale
IneColyn Hyk Mac Sale
MacColyn Mac Hym Sammesbury
MacComais Hymyn Mac Scaly
IneComas Mac Inay Sclator
MacComas Ince Scott
MacComis Mac Inesh Seer
MacConky Ireshman Shakelady
MacConoly Mac Issak Shakerley
IneConylt Ap Ithell Sharpe
MacConylt Jakson Mac Sharry
Corbett Ine Joghen Shirlok
Corcan Mac Joghen Ine Skarff
IneCorine John Mac Skerff
IneCorkell Mac John Beg Skylycorn(e)
MacCorkell Mac John Rede Ine Skylycorne
IneCorleot Johnson Mac Skynner
MacCorleot Mac Kae Smyth
IneCormot Ine Kay Spakeman
MacCormot Mac Ke Mac Staly
MacCorran Ine Keg Standysh
MacCorryn Mac Keg Ine Stephan
MacCorsten Mac Kegan Mac Stephan
IneCoryn Mac Kellag Stephenson
MacCoryn Mac Kemayn Mac Sto(i)le
MacCostein Ine Kenag Stoile
Cotter Mac Kenag Ine Stole
IneCotter Keneagh Swyneherd
MacCotter Kent Mac Symond
Cotynghin Mac Kerad Symyn
MacCowle Kerd Mac Tagart
MacCowne Mac Kerd Tailor
Cowpeland Kerdar Tatlok
Cowper Mac Kerrad Mac Tere
Crag Mac Kerron Mac Tereboy
MacCraghen Ine Kerrous Thomasson
MacCraine Mac Kerrous Thomson
IneCrawe Mac Kewe Ughtyngton
MacCrawe Mac Kewley Mac Urmen
IneCray Ine Kewne Vause
MacCray(e) Mac Kewne Vessy
IneCrayge Mac Kie Walsh
MacCrayn(e) Ine Kill Water
IneCrayne Mac Kill Ine Water
MacCreer Ine Killip Mac Water
MacCrere Mac Killip Waterson
Cristall Knele Webster
Cristalson Ine Knele Ine Whacken
IneCristen Mac Kye Mac Whaken
MacCristen Ine Kyeg Mac Whaltragh
Crosse Mac Kyeg Mac Whanty
MacCundre Ine Kym Mac Will
MacCure Mac Kym William
IneCurghy Ine Kynrede Ine William
MacCurghy Mac Kynrede Mac William
IneCurry Lake Williamson
MacCurry Lathom Wilson
Danell Laurence Wilye
Daniell Litherland   Wodde
David Mac Lolan   Wode
Deyne Mac Lucas   Worthyngton