Naming Practices in 16th Century Gloucestershire

by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada (Kathleen M. O’Brien)

© 2000 by Kathleen M. O'Brien. All rights reserved.
Version 1.1, updated 14 December 2000



I would like to take this opportunity to thank Aryanhwy merch Catmael for most generously allowing me to use the statistics which she has compiled online for several sets of parish registers in Gloucestershire. I would also like to thank many members of the Academy of Saint Gabriel for offering opinions when I ran into confusing information.


This analysis is based on information from the following parishes in Gloucestershire:

Charlton KingsMarriage 1538-1600
King’s StanleyMarriage1573-1600
MinchinhamptonMarriage 1566-1600
Quedgeley Marriage1559-1836
St. Mary’s, Dymock Birth, Marriage, & Death1538-1600/01

Note: Since the new year used to begin on March 25th, notations of the style "1600/1" indicates the portion of the year that we know as 1601, but was considered 1600 at that time that these registers were recorded.

About Parish Registers in England

Beginning in 1538, parish registers in England were recorded on loose sheets. These sheets are referred to as the paper register. In 1598, the parishes were required to copy the entries from their paper registers into a bound book. These books are referred to as the parchment register. Very few paper registers survive today.

There was also a requirement for the parishes to send a copy of the new entries in their register to their bishop on a periodic basis. These are called the bishop's transcript.

Over time, the paper registers for most parishes have been lost or destroyed. At the time of the writing of The Registers of the Church of St. Mary's, Dymock, 1538-1790, the editors note that paper and parchment registers are known to exist for only 4 parishes in Gloucestershire, but in only in Dymock and Winchcombe are they virtually complete from 1538 to 1597.

The reason this fact is important, is that when the paper registers were copied into the parchment registers, spellings seem to have been "modernized" or "standardized" at that time. Since the first page of the paper register is missing for Dymock, the editors of the book noted above used the parchment register to stand in for those entries. The spelling difference between those entries for 1538-1539 are dramatically different from the rest of the entries for 1538-1539 (which were taken from the paper register).

Medieval Scotland | Medieval Names Archive | Names in Chesham, 1538-1600/1

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