For any family historian, Medieval names hold a particular fascination.
There was no standardized English in Medieval Britain and so names appear in many different for that period. Trying to trace the origins of a surname can therefore be a very complicated affair. Family historians know only too well the problems encountered in tracking a name back through the centuries.
If the name is unusual and centred around a particular location then there is some possibility of seeing the variants in names and therefore suggesting family clusters. Where the name is more common a clue can sometimes be found in the family use of certain forenames. Given naming patterns in families are sometimes one of the only clues as to possible family groupings and in the case of unusual given names can certainly illuminate a certain path.
We bring to your attention this website that is a fascinating compilation of Medieval English names and is worth a visit for interests sake alone.
It lists name by origin, for example Medieval English names of Norman, Saxon, Latin or Greek origin are listed.
Medieval names of a biblical nature.
What is particularly interesting is that although Biblical names were sometimes used during the Middle Ages, they did not become really popular in England until after the Reformation and is likely that at least some of the occurrences in written records were the names of Jewish people. That seems a strange thing. Did people in Medieval times not choose a favourite saints name to name their child after? Where are all the Andrews, Nicholas’s or James’s? Old Testament names are common on the Continent than they were in England. Whilst some Issacs and Solomons pop up in family trees, they are not by any means common in the naming patterns in English families.
Medieval names on brass memorials in churches
Often the most obvious Medieval names are found on brass memorials in churches. They have stood the test of time unlike so many of their stone counterparts. Sometimes they can be tricky to read but a great project for the local or family historian.