Concerning the Names
Patrick, Pádraig, Patricia, and the Like

by Josh Mittleman, Steve Roylance, and Pedr Gurteen

known in the SCA as Arval Benicouer, Thorfinn Hrolfsson, and Padair Mac Pharlane na Chluine Beage respectively.
©1998 by Josh Mittleman, Steve Roylance, & Pedr Gurteen. All rights reserved.

Last updated 30 Nov 1998

This article discusses the use of Patrick and its various forms in the languages of the British Isles. The Latin root name Patricius produced names in various languages around Europe [1], but re-creators of the British Isles and particularly of Ireland commonly misuse the name.

The name Patrick and its Gaelic form Pádraig are extremely common in modern Ireland, but they were not used by Irish Gaels before the late 16th century and perhaps not until the 17th century. In the Middle Ages, the Gaels felt it inappropriate to name their children after the holiest saints. Instead, they used devotional names: Giolla Phádraig "servant of [Saint] Patrick" and Maol Phádraig "devotee (literally "tonsured one") of [Saint] Patrick". This veneration of the name faded a couple centuries earlier among the Gaels of Scotland: Although they too used Giolla Phádraig and other devotional forms, they began to use the plain Pádraig by the 15th century and carried their custom to Ulster in the late 17th century.

Patrick is found throughout the English world from 1200 onward. It was not adopted by the Welsh, but they did use Gwas Patrik, a form parallel to the Gaelic devotional compounds. Patricia and other feminine forms of the name did not appear in the British Isles until the 18th century.


The name Patricius first made its appearance in Ireland in the 5th century when the future saint arrived to evangelize the Irish. Throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Irish considered the saint's name too holy for normal use. In the early Middle Ages, starting in the 9th century, he was commemorated with devotional names like Gilla Pátraic "servant of St. Patrick" and Máel Pátraic "devotee of St. Patrick". In late medieval Gaelic spelling, the same names became Giolla Phádraig and Maol Phádraig. The former name was pronounced roughly \GILL-@ FAHD-rik\ in both spellings, where \@\ represents schwa, the last sound in sofa. The latter name was pronounced differently over the centuries. In the 9th and 10th centuries, Máel was \MILE\, but by c.1000 the vowel was closer to the one in cat or bell. From the 15th and 16th centuries to the present day, it has varied even more. In Scotland, Maol is pronounced \M#LL\, where \#\ represents a vowel similar to the one in moon, pronounced with unrounded lips, as if you were smiling broadly. In Ireland, the same word became \MALE\ or \MEEL\ in different dialects, and in modern Ulster it is \MOOIL\, with the diphthong \OOI\ as in wooing [24, 20, 21].

An Irishman named Máel Pátraic shows up in 10th or 11th century Icelandic sagas as Melpatrikr [10].

English and Scottish settlers in Ireland occasionally used the name in their own languages. The Anglo-Normans, arriving by the 13th century, imported their version of the name, which was rendered into Gaelic as Pádraigín, but was not adopted by the native Irish. Late 17th century Scots-speaking settlers carried the name to Ulster, and its modern popularity grew from that origin [24, 8, 13].

Early 17th century English records mention some Irish men named Patrick [9]:

These names are translations of Irish names into English, and could represent either Pádraig or the compound Giolla Phádraig. They may demonstrate occasional use of Pádraig among Irish Gaels in the late 16th century, but if so they are unusual early examples.

The surname FitzPatrick is an anglicization of mac Giolla Phádraig, not evidence of Patrick as a simple given name in Ireland. It has been used as a given name in modern times [22, 23]. Kilpatrick has also been used to anglicize mac Giolla Phádraig in Ireland [15].


Scotland was home to several languages and cultures. The use of Patrick among Scottish Normans in the 12th and 13th centuries and among Scots-speaking Lowlanders in subsequent centuries paralleled contemporary use in England. Patrick was one of the most popular names in the west of Scotland [13].

We find these examples of Patrick and many diminutives recorded in Latin and Scots-language records [13]:

Scottish Gaels apparently shared the taboo on the name Pádraig, but relaxed it by the 15th century. Evidence of Scottish Gaelic names is difficult to interpret, since Gaelic was rarely used as a written language in Scotland. However, enough evidence exists to suggest that the simple name Pádraig was in use at least from the 15th century and that devotional compounds like Giolla Phádraig were used somewhat earlier and continued in use to 1600 and beyond.

The simple name is recorded in late 15th and early 16th century records. We have found no example of the nominative form of the name, Pádraig, but the genitive (possessive) form appears as Padruic and Padruig in a document from 1467, one of these examples referring to man who lived at least one generation earlier [11, 12].

Giolla Phádraig occurs in Scotland much earlier. Gillepatric is recorded at least three times in the 12th century. Gillepatrik Macmalbride is mentioned in 1270, and Gilpatrick Mac Gilbeg in 1262 [13]. All these examples are taken from non-Gaelic records, so the spellings are only phonetic approximations of the Gaelic name. Similar examples of the name also appear in early 16th century records [12]. Several examples of the genitive form appear in a Gaelic document from 1467, in genealogies that place the name as much as eight generations earlier. These possessive forms include [11]:

Patronymics from this name appear in 16th century Scots-language records in a remarkable variety of spellings. Here are just a few [13]:

Maol Phádraig was also used in Scotland, and was generally more common in the early Middle Ages as opposed to later centuries. Two latinized examples are recorded in the early Middle Ages: Calvus Patricii "bald one of [Saint] Patrick" (9th C) and Malpatricius before 1173. An inscription in Iona reads Or do Mailfataraic "Pray for Mail Patric". Malcolm filius Malpatric is mentioned in 1199 [13].

An unusual name Cospatric is recorded in Scotland from the 11th century or perhaps earlier. The element Cos- is cognate to Welsh gwas "servant", and is thus equivalent to the Gaelic Giolla.  The name appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as Gospatric, in 10th to 12th century Latin documents as Cospatricius, Gospatlicus, Caius Patricius, and Gaius Patricius. Later we find Cospatric MacMadethyn 1220, also recorded as Cospatrick filius Madad 1224 [13].

In modern Scottish Gaelic, Patrick exists in several forms: Pádruig, Páruig, Para, and Pádair or Pátair. This last form led to confusion with English Peter, and the two names were often treated as equivalent in the 18th and 19th centuries [8, 13].

The Isle of Man

Little evidence exists of pre-1600 Manx names. What does exist is recorded in English documents after rulership over the island passed to the English in the 14th century. We believe that before that date, names on Man followed either Gaelic or Old Norse naming practices.

We find two forms of Patrick recorded in Man. Records from 1417-8 mention Marion wife of Patric souter, probably a family of English extraction. On the Gaelic side, we find the feminine name Calypatric in 1511-5, an English spelling of Cailleach Padraig, yet another devotional compound, but one that seems to be unique to Man. The word cailleach means "veiled woman, nun" [19].


The Welsh also appear to have avoided the simple name Patrick. There is one Patricius resident in the Welsh borough of Holt in 1315, but borough residents were overwhelmingly English rather than Welsh [16]. Similarly, there are a couple of men named Patrick in Pembrokeshire c.1600, but English influence on naming in this region was pervasive [17]. The Welsh themselves did not adopt the name.

Instead, they used a compound Gwas Patrik "servant of Patrick", probably in direct imitation of the Irish Giolla Phádraig. The name is recorded in the late 13th century as Waspateric, Was Patrik and Was Patric, and in the 15th century as Gwas Patryk and Gwas Badrig [18].


Various forms of Patrick were common in the north of England from the 12th century onward. Examples include [14, 15]:

As with most popular names, the English created a wide variety of pet forms of Patrick. They appear as early as the 13th century, including Pate, Patein, Paton, Pateman, and Patri. Examples include [15]:

Surnames Derived Indirectly

The surnames Kilpatrick and Kirkpatrick derive from places named after Saint Patrick. The two names were actually equivalent, derived from Scots and Gaelic names for the same places. Stevene de Kilpatric is recorded in Scotland in 1296, but the same family sealed as de Kirkpatrik. Both forms remained in use in Scots and were carried to Ireland by Lowland Scottish settlers, where Kilpatrick is also used as an anglicization of mac Giolla Phádraig [13, 23].

Feminine Forms

Patricia and other feminine forms of Patricius are found before 1600 in some languages elsewhere in Europe, particuarly in Italy where Santa Patrizia was patroness of Naples. However, this name is not found in the British Isles. In 13th to 15th century England, women were occasionally named Patrick and recorded in latinized records as Patricia, but the independent use of Patricia seems to have arisen in Scotland in the 18th century and to have become popular in the late 19th century in imitation of Princess Patricia of Connaught [14]. The Manx form mentioned above is the only feminine compound of Pádraig that we have found in any Gaelic culture before 1600.


Patrick and its Gaelic form Pádraig were used in English and Scots, but not in Gaelic until the 15th century in Scotland, and no earlier than the late 16th century in Ireland. It did not become common in Ireland until the late 17th century. Gaels in Scotland and Ireland more often used the compound names Giolla Phádraig and Maol Phádraig.

Notes and References

[1] Forms of Patricius appear in France from the 7th century onward, producing medieval forms Patrice, Patry, and Paris [2, 3], occasionally in Italy as Patricio and Patrizia from the early Middle Ages [4], in early medieval Byzantium [5], Russia [6], Poland [7], and no doubt elsewhere.

[2] Morlet, Marie-Therese, Les Noms de Personne sur le Territoire de l'Ancienne Gaule du VIe au XIIe Siecle, vol.2 (Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 1972), s.n. Patricius.

[3] Morlet, Marie-Thérèse, Dictionnaire Étymologique des Noms de Famille (Librairie Académique Perrin, 1997), s.n. Patrice.

[4] De Felice, Emidio, Dizionario dei Cognomi Italiani (Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, 1978), and Dizionario dei Nomi Italiani (Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, Milan, 1992).

[5] Bardas Xiphias, "Common Names of the Aristocracy in the Roman Empire During the 6th and 7th Centuries" (WWW: SCA, Inc., 1997).

[6] Paul Wickenden of Thanet, "A Dictionary of Period Russian Names" (WWW: SCA, Inc., 1996).

[7] Taszycki, Witold (ed.), S{l/}ownik Staropolskich Nazw Osobowych, vols. I-VII (Wroc{l/}aw: Zak{l/}ad Narodowy Imienia Ossoli{n'}skich, Polska Akademia Nauk, 1965-1987) s.nn. Patryk, Patricius, has examples in the 14th and 15th centuries.

[8] Morgan, Peadar, Ainmean Chloinne: Scottish Gaelic Names for Children (Scotland: Taigh na Teud Music Publishers, 1989), s.n. Pádraig.

[9] Ewen, C. L'Estrange, A History of Surnames of the British Isles (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, 1931; Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1968), examples from the Patent Rolls for 1 James I (1603-4).

[10] Fleck, G. (aka Geirr Bassi Haraldsson), The Old Norse Name, Studia Marklandica (series) (Olney, Maryland: Yggsalr Press, 1977). The name Melpatrikr occurs once in the Landnámabo/k.

[11] Skene, William F., "Genealogies of the Highland Clans, Extracted from Ancient Gaelic MSS.: 1. Gaelic MS. Written circa A.D. 1450, with a Translation,", pp 50-62, and "Genealogies of the Highland Clans, Extracted from Ancient Gaelic MSS.: 2. Gaelic MS. Written circa A.D. 1450, continued," pp. 357-60, Collectanea de Rebus Albanicis consisting of Original Papers and Documents Relating to the History of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland,  ed. The Iona Club (Edinburgh: Thomas G. Stevenson, 1847).

[12] Watson, William J., ed., Scottish Verse from the Book of the Dean of Lismore, Scottish Gaelic Texts, Volume 1. (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1937), pp. 106, 206-8, 212-4.

[13] Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History. New York: New York Public Library, 1986. Original edition, 1946.
s.nn. Gillepatric, Malpatric, MacPatrick, Cospatric, Pate, Paterson, Patison, Paton, Patonson, Patrick, Patrickson, Peden, Kilpatrick, Kirkpatrick.

[14] Withycombe, E.G., The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), s.nn. Patrick, Patricia and pp.xxxiv-xxxv.

[15] Reaney, P. H., & R. M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames (London: Routledge, 1991; Oxford University Press, 1995), s.nn. Pateman, Patey, Paton, Patrick, Patten, Patterson, Pattinson, Kilpatrick.

[16] Ellis, T. P., "The First Extent of Bromfield and Yale A.D. 1315", Cymmrodorion Record Series No. 11 (London: The Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1924).

[17] Jones, Heather Rose (aka Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn), "Names and Naming Practices in some North Pembrokeshire Toll Books 1599-1603)" in Known World Heraldic Symposium Proceedings (SCA: 1992).

[18] Morgan, T.J. and Prys Morgan, Welsh Surnames (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1985), p.107.

[19] Kneen, J.J., The Personal Names of the Isle of Man (London: Oxford University Press, 1937).

[20] Ó Cuív, Brian, "Aspects of Irish Personal Names" in Celtica, vol.18 (1986), pp.151-184.

[21] Woulfe, Patrick, Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish Names and Surnames (Kansas City: Irish Genealogical Foundation).

[22] Dunkling, Leslie and William Gosling, The New American Dictionary of First Names (New York: Signet Books, 1983), s.n. Fitz.

[23] MacLysaght, Edward, The Surnames of Ireland (Dublin: Irish Academic Press Ltd., 1985, ISBN 0-7165-2366-3), s.n. FitzPatrick, Kirkpatrick, Kilpatrick.

[24] Ó Corráin, Donnchadh and Fidelma Maguire, Irish Names (Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1990), s.nn. Pátraic, Gilla Pátriac.