Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present): - Households -
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Collected Name Resources from LoARs (2010-present)

Articles from Juliana de Luna, Lillia de Vaux, and Alys Mackyntoich

- Households -

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December 2012 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

Household name patterns are something that many people, including many commenters, find confusing. Essentially, a household name is a name that refers to a group of people instead of a single individual (order names also do this, of course). It may be a family group, a guild, a military unit, or something else. As such, we allow household names to be created from a variety of models.

We have been relatively flexible about models for registration. For example, we have allowed the registration of names derived from the name of a building in which a household might be located (like a name derived from an inn-sign or house name). However, we require that any given household name submission follow a pattern specific to a given time and place. A great resource in getting started with patterns is Sharon Krossa's "A Brief, Incomplete, and Rather Stopgap Article about European Household and Other Group Names Before 1600" ( Next month we'll talk about some of those patterns in more detail.

January 2013 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

Household names fall into a variety of categories. This month, we're going to talk about the names used for groups of people in Gaelic. As Sharon Krossa's "Medieval Gaelic Clan, Household, and Other Group Names" ( points out, Gaelic groups of people were inevitably named after an individual. We have no evidence in Gaelic of groups named after animals or items. Inn signs, as are found in English, seem not to have existed in Gaelic, and thus cannot be registered. So, what kinds of groups can be found in Gaelic?

Clans, one common type of group, were named after a single male ancestor. Grammar requires that his name be in the genitive (possessive) case, because it's the clan of that person. The most common pattern is to use simply the given name, making names like Clann Domhnaill or Clann Ghriogair. Occasionally we find more complex constructions, using a man's simple patronymic byname (as in Clann Mhic Dhuibhne) or a given name and descriptive byname (as in Clann Eoin Duibh).

Scots forms of these names exist as well. Some documentary forms include the 1384 Clenmcduffe, 1617 Clangregour, and 1633 Clane Eane (all from the Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707 at These appear to be simple transliterations of the Gaelic Clann Mhic Dhuibhne, Clann Ghriogair, and Clann Eoin, and are not evidence that clan names were created from names found in Scots but not Gaelic.

Krossa's article also describes Gaelic household names, using the terms luchd taighe (literally "house-people") or teaghlach ("household") followed by the full name or the patronymic byname of the household head in the genitive case. The article has several examples following this pattern. This pattern is quite rare in the SCA; it would be great to see some submissions following this pattern!

February 2013 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

One popular kind of household names are the so called inn-sign names, derived from the names of charges used on signs found on inns and other buildings. These names take forms like House of the White Horse, Haus zum Wolf, or Hostel du Croissant. These types of names are found only in certain parts of Europe, and thus are only registerable in those places where this pattern is found. The pattern is known in English, French, Italian, and German. As of the moment, it is not known in Spain or Eastern Europe.

Information about inn-sign names in English can be found in Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada's "English Sign Names" ( and Margaret Makafee's "Comparison of Inn/Shop/House names found London 1473-1600 with those found in the ten shires surrounding London in 1636" ( Latinized inn-sign names can be found in English context as well.

Information about inn-sign names in French can be found in Juliana de Luna's "Inn Signs and House Names in 15th Century Paris" ( Examples of these names in bynames can be found in Aryanhwy merch Catmael's "French Names from Paris, 1421, 1423, & 1438" (; they use a or aux instead of de.

Information about inn-sign names in Italian can be found in Aryanhwy merch Catmael's "Names from an Early 16th C Census of Rome: Household Names" (, third grouping). Larger groups of people, equivalent to neighborhoods, also sometimes use inn-sign style names; see Nicholas Eckstein's book The district of the Green Dragon: neighbourhood life and social change in Renaissance Florence (gonfalone del Dragho Verde). A list of Florentine gonfalone is forthcoming, as soon as Pelican can get it done.

Information on German house names has not been put together by an SCA source in English. However, examples of them have been found in a variety of sources and included in Letters of Acceptances and Returns as well as OSCAR. I'm going to summarize the data here to put it in one place.

From December 2009:

Die Hausnamen und Hauszeichen im mittelalterlichen Freiburg, by Karl Schmidt, published 1930 (The housenames and housesigns of medieval Freiburg)... P 32 considers names based on Bńr (bear), including ze dem Bern 1326, zum schwarzen Beren 1565, hus zum guldin Bern der schuchmacher trigstuben 1394, zem roten beren 1390, haus zum weissen Beren in der Vitschivisgasse 1444, zum blawen Beren 1565.

From the February 2011 Letter of Acceptances and Returns, " Commenters were able to find a 1590s byname zum schwarzen Schild (among other places, in Ernst Grohne's Die Hausnamen und Hauszeichen)."

Bahlow dates Cunrad zum Grifen to 1297 s.n. Greif(f), a Haus zum Eichhorn to 1460 s.n. Eichhorn, J. van deme Drachin to 1363 s.n. Draa(c)k, Walther zem Sterne to 1255 s.n. Stern, and Vren zergigen (=zur Geige) to 1357 s.n. Geiger.

Brechenmacher dates Burchart zem Rosin to 1295 and Wernher zum Rosen to 1311 s.n. Rose. He also dates Jacobus dictus zum Hirze to 1304 and N. dictus zem Hirtze to 1300 s.n. Hirsch.

Thanks to Aryanhwy Sans Repose and Lillia Diademe, who tracked down many of these citations (taken from commentary on various items over the years).

March 2013 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

English household names are often derived from personal names. As with other household patterns in English, the pattern is X('s) House or House of X, not House X. Household names derived from people's names in English take a couple of forms. The most common household name uses the individual's full name, like ■e hous of Julyane huxster or sir Henry Percy house (both period examples from Sharon Krossa's "A Brief, Incomplete, and Rather Stopgap Article about European Household and Other Group Names Before 1600" ( The same pattern is found using household as the designator.

Examples that use only given names, only surnames, or only titles are used in limited contexts. Examples of X's House with given names are found only for saint's names and legendary names, like King Arthur. For surnames, X's House or X House are mostly found in references to actual buildings rather than to people, though they may sometimes be used to refer to the people living in such a building. House of X seems to have been used largely to refer to noble dynasties (like the House of Lancaster and House of York. All of these patterns are registerable.

April 2013 - Juliana de Luna Link to LoAR Cover Letter

For the last few months, we've been discussing models for household names. We've talked about inn-sign names across Europe and other household names in Gaelic and English. This month, we're going to bring together information about household names in Welsh.

The best starting point for household names in Welsh is Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn's "Period Welsh Models for SCA Households and the Nomenclature Thereof" ( You should definitely start there.

In Welsh, groups of people are most frequently named after the personal name of a common ancestor (most frequently the given name but sometimes a combination of elements):

Especially in genealogical texts, it's moderately common to find "Plant personal name" as a term describing the common descendents of personal name. It doesn't have the same legalistic sense as Irish "clann", although you can find something vaguely resembling that sense for "wyrion personal name" (literally "grandsons of personal name"). But these would always be used with a personal name of the common ancestor, not with an abstract totem or symbol. [Zara the Quiet, 05/04, R-Ăthelmearc]

Gwely (and later gafael) refers to a group of descendants of an individual who share land. In 2003, Harpy (Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn's heraldic title) gave some examples of this type of group from the mid 14th century (in the Black Book of St. Davids), including gwele Cradoc ap Duryn~, gwele Ieuan ap Kediuor, gwele Gwylbrid', and gwele redwyth' (from [Mat of Forth Castle and Adekin Caradoc, 08/2003 LoAR, A-Caid]). This source uses the moderately unusual spelling gwele instead of the more common gwely.

We have no evidence of names of groups of people in Welsh formed from the names of charges or other inn-sign elements. We likewise have no evidence of fanciful or legendary names. Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn suggests that a few types of household names may use place names or regional ones, such as those using Teulu "warband" or Llys "court." However, the evidence for these is relatively limited. See the article for more details.

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