Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - Scots and Gaelic -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna and Lillia de Vaux

- Scots and Gaelic -

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August 2011 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

This month, we're turning our attention to other languages and naming pools in the British Isles. In Scotland, there are a variety of languages spoken across time and space. For the later Middle Ages and Renaissance, the two major languages are Gaelic and Scots.

Scots is a close relative of English, spoken in Scotland. The first Scots texts appear in the mid-14th century. The lack of earlier vernacular writing means that the exact relationship between ancestral forms of English and 14th-century Scots is a little unclear. But some form of English or Scots was spoken throughout this period. Most names that are written in ways that look familiar, like William Abernethy or Duncan Makneill are Scots (as opposed to the Gaelic Donnchadh mac Néill). Of course, some of the names recorded in Scots are not the names of individuals who were Scots speakers; some were Gaelic speakers.

Names in Scots are generally even simpler than English names. We have no evidence that anyone had two given names in Scots, and second bynames are exceedingly rare as well. When a second bynames is added, it's usually a literal description, like of Glasgow or elder. There are also examples of Gaelic names written in Scots with two bynames (two generations of patronymic or a descriptive byname followed by a Mac name).

The main source for Scots names is a print book: George Black's Surnames of Scotland. Not surprisingly, many masculine given names are used to create surnames, so that men's given names are reasonably well indexed. Feminine given names are found in Talan Gwynek's "A List of Feminine Personal Names Found in Scottish Records" (, which indexes women's names from that book.

In addition, there are a group of articles that give lists of Scots names. The one I find myself using the most is Aryanhwy merch Catmael's "Index of Scots names found in Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue" ( Other articles are found at the Academy of Saint Gabriel's section on Scottish names (, the section "Scoto-Norman, Scots-Language, and Lowland Names" is what you want).

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