Constructing 13th Century Welsh Names
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A Simple Guide to Constructing 13th Century Welsh Names

by Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn
(Heather Rose Jones,
copyright © 1996, all rights reserved

The information in this guide is taken from a tax roll called The Merioneth Lay Subsidy Roll of 1292-3. The names are those of Welsh people living in north-western Wales, in an area that had experienced relatively little influx of English people at that point. The tax roll was written by people familiar with English and Latin, but not necessarily with Welsh, so names do not necessarily appear in "classic" Welsh spellings. For reference, I have provided the "standard" form of name elements in square brackets.

This guide will show you how to construct a "typical" name of this period. It gives you the common structures and elements, but not an exhaustive list of all the possibilities. If you are interested in a more detailed picture of the names and name patterns present in this document, it is available in my article Names and Naming Practices in the Merioneth Lay Subsidy Roll 1292-3.

Given Names

The names are arranged in order of frequency, from most popular to less popular. If more than one spelling was common, the most typical are listed, again in decreasing order of popularity. (If a letter is given in parentheses, then spellings with and without it are both used.)

Men's Names

The following 53 names had at least five examples in the list.

[Madog] Madoc, Madok [William] Wilim, Gwilim
[David] David, Deykin [Griffri] Griffri, Griffry, Gryffri, Gryffry
[Einion] Eynon [Ednowain] Edenowen, Edenewen, Edeneweyn
[Iorwerth] Iarward, Iarword, Ioreword [Moriddig] Moridic, Morydic
[Adam] Adaf, Ada, Adam [Cydifor] Kedivor
[Ieuan] Ieuan [Iago] Yagov, Yago, Iago, Iagov
[Gronw] Gronou, Groneu [Iocyn] Iockin, Iockyn
[Ithel] Ithel [John] Iohannes
[Gwyn] Win, Wyn, Gwin, Gwyn [Rhys] Reys, Reis, Res
[Cynwrig] Kenuric, Kenneric [Bleddyn] Blethin, Blethint
[Cadwgan] Cadugan [Cyfnerth] Kevenard
[Philip] Phelip [Maredudd] Mereduth
[Rhiryd] Ririd, Ryryd, Rerid, Ryrid [Thomas] Thomas
[Gruffydd] Griffid, Gryffid, Gryffyd [Ieuaf] Ieuaf
[Tegwared] Tegwaret [Ifor] Ivor
[Meilyr] Meiler, Meyler [Morfran] Morvran
[Ednyfed] Edenevet [Seisyll] Seysild
[Gwrgenau] Gurgenu, Gurgeneu [Deheuwynt] Dehewint
[Llywelyn] Lewelin, Lewelyn [Gwasdewi] Wasdewy
[Gwion] Wion, Wyon, Gwion, Gwyon [Llygad] Leget
[Hywel] Howel [Robert] Robert
[Tuder] Tuder [Hwfa] Hova
[Heilyn] Heylin, Heilin, Heylyn [Ynyr] Ener
[Cynddelw] Candalo, Candalou [Trahaearn] Trahaern
[Madyn] Madin, Madyn [Gwogan] Gogan
[Meurig] Meuric, Meurik, Meuryk [Idnerth] Idnerth, Idenerth
[Llywarch] Lowarch    

Women's Names

I have been more generous in which women's names to include as "typical", since there were far fewer in the list. These 30 names are all those about which there is no question of interpretation. Again, they are ordered in decreasing popularity with the most typical spelling(s) given.

[Angharad] Angharat [Myfanwy] Mevanou
[Gwenllian] Wentlian, Wentlyan, Wentliana, Wentlyana [Erdudfyl] Eduduwel, Erdiduwol
[Gwladus] Wladus, Wladusa [Gwerydd] Gwerith
[Dyddgu] Tudgech, Dudgech, Dugech [Madrun] Maderun
[Lleucu] Lewke, Leweke, Leuke [Margaret] Margareta, Marured
[Eve] Eva [Perweur] Perweur
[Tangwystl] Tangwistel [Alice] Alicia
[Generys] Generys, Generis [Genilles] Genithles
[Gwerfyl] Wervel, Wervill, Wervela, Wervilla [Geneth] Enith (or this may be a form of Enid)
[Morfudd] Morud, Morwid, Morwith [Gwir] Wir
[Nest] Nest [Helen] Elena
[Hunydd] Hunith [Iwerydd] Ewerich
[Gwen] Wen, Gwen [Mabel] Mabilia
[Gwledyr] Wledyr, Wledir, Wladur [Mary] Mary
[Morfyl] Morvel [Millicent] Milisandia

Name Structures

The most typical overall structure for names is a given name followed by a single byname -- either a patronym (about half the time), a descriptive nickname (about a quarter of the time), an occupation (about one-tenth of the time), or a place-name (only one percent of the time).

Women have an additional type of popular byname -- being identified as the wife of their husband (using Latin uxor in this document) -- which is similar in concept to a patronym. Women are also far less likely to have an occupational nickname or one based on a place-name. However for the most part women use the same descriptive nicknames that men do (with the notable absense of moel meaning bald!).

Actual examples of names of each pattern are provided from the original documents.

Bynames Based On Relationship

For the most common type of byname -- one indicating relationship -- the name is set up as follows:

<given name> <relationship word> <relative's given name>

The typical relationship given is to a father (or husband). The mother's name is used very rarely (less than 1% of the time).

The typical relationship words are as follow:

  • Son - ap or ab; a common convention is to use ap before consonants and ab before vowels, but in this document one scribe used ap all the time and the other ab all the time. Latin filius is also found.

      E.g.   Eynon ap Madoc
          Groneu ab Eynon
          Madoc filius Ithel

  • Daughter - In this document, Latin filia is the only word found for this, although Welsh verch can be found in documents of a similar period.

      E.g.   Generys filia Ioreword

  • Wife - In this document, Latin uxor is the only word found for this, although the expected Welsh at this time would be wreic.

      E.g.   Eva uxor Ithel
          Wladosa uxor Phelipi

After Latin relationship words, the following name is sometimes given a Latin posessive form -- usually -i at the end of the name. However many examples are found where the following name is unchanged.

Bynames Based On A Personal Nickname

The most common nicknames are based on the color of a person's hair or complexion, on size and shape, or on a notable physical defect. The following 22 nicknames each have three or more examples in the document. Again, they are arranged in descending order of popularity with the most typical spellings given.

Important Grammatical Note: For grammatical reasons, the initial sound of the nickname may be different from that of the "normal" form of the word. This is called mutation. Men will usually, but not always, use the mutated form of the word. Women will always use the mutated form of a nickname, and where I have no examples of this, I have supplied what it would be (marked with an asterisk). If only one form of the name is given, it is what would be used by both men and women.

[Du] black Duy
[Coch] red Goch
[Moel] bald Voyl, Voil
[Bychan] small, junior Vachan
[Llwyd] gray Loyt
[Chwith] left-handed, clumsy With, Whith, Wyth
[Crach] scabby Crak
    Grach (mutated)
[Cam] crooked, lame Cam
    Gam (mutated)
[Cryg] hoarse, stammering Crek
    Grek (mutated)
[Mawr] big, senior Maur
    Vaur (mutated)
[Hen] old Hen
[Cethin] swarthy Kethin
    *Gethin (mutated)
[Bongam] bandy-legged Bongam
    *Vongam (mutated)
[Cwtta] short, stingy Cutta, Coutta
    *Gutta (mutated)
[Rhwth] greedy, wide Ruth
[Bach] small Bach
    *Vach (mutated)
[Gwyn] white, fair Wyn (men only)
    Wen (women only)
[Hir] tall Hir
[Melyn] yellow Velin, Velyn
[Pen] head, chief Pen
    *Ben (mutated)
[Penbras] fat-head Penbras
    *Benbras (mutated)
[Pengrych] curly-head Pengrek
    *Bengrek (mutated)

  E.g.   Adaf Goch
      Ithel Bach
      Wentliana Vachan
      Angharad Duy

Bynames Based On An Occupation

Many of the occupational nicknames in the document are in Latin. In some cases, both Latin and Welsh versions of the same occupation appear. The following are occupations that appear in some form at least five times in the document. The Latin forms are followed by (L). As usual, the names are arranged in descending order of popularity.

English   Modern Welsh      13th c. forms
Shoemaker   Sutor (L)
Priest, Chaplain   Capellanus (L)
  [Offeiriad] Offeriot
Smith   Faber (L)
  [Gof] Gof, Of
Carpenter   Carpentarius (L)
  [Saer] Saer
Doctor   Medicus (L)
Goldsmith   Aurifaber (L)
Singer   Cantor (L), Corista (L)
Crwth-player [Crwthor] Crouthur (masc.)
    Crouthores (fem.)
Huntsman [Cynydd] Kennith, Kenith, Kynith
English-speaker [Sais] Seys, Seis
Tailor [Ysginydd] Skynith, Skinnith, Skinith
Miller [Mal] Mal
  [Melinydd] Velinith, Melinnith

  E.g.   Kenuric Faber
      Meuric Saer
      Wladusa Religiosa

Bynames Based On Location

The typical nickname based on location simply uses the proper name of a place after the given name. In this document, Latin de is sometimes placed before the place-name.

  E.g.   Tuder Glyne
      Alan de Ruthin


Jones, Heather Rose. Names and Naming Practices in the Merioneth Lay Subsidy Roll 1292-3 in Proceedings of the Known World Heraldic Symposium (1991). Washington D.C.: SCA College of Arms, 1991.

Williams-Jones, Keith. The Merioneth Lay Subsidy Roll 1292-3. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1976.