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Scottish Gaelic Given Names
Draft in Progress Edition

by Sharon L. Krossa
Last updated 29 Jun 2007  

This is a draft edition! It is very incomplete!

Currently most entries consist only of citations of raw evidence, with no discussion or evaluation of the nature and quality of that evidence -- extreme caution must be used when using this evidence. Direct quotes should be interpreted only as a reliable indication that the reference cited does say what is included in the quote -- not that what is quoted is necessarily historically accurate. Keep in mind that these quotes are taken from various different languages and sources of varying reliability, some of which are modern, and that many of the spellings cited are not appropriate for recreating pre-1600 Gaelic names. As it stands, the entries in this article are best used only as a starting point for further analysis! (The only exceptions are entries where the section "[Speculative] Pre-1600 Scottish Gaelic Form" contains text. For an example of what finished entries will eventually look like, see the entry for "Marsail? and/or Marsaili?" in the "For Women" section.)

If you cite this article, you must specify the "Last updated" date — the data in this article will change over time.

You have been warned!


For a variety of reasons, it can be difficult to discover what given names were used by medieval and late sixteenth century Scottish Gaels — men and especially women — and even more difficult to determine the Scottish Gaelic form/spelling of those names. This article seeks to document the evidence for the use of various names by Scottish Gaelic women and men prior to 1600 and discuss the quality and significance of that evidence.

However, this article does not address how given names were put together with bynames to form whole names. For information about complete Gaelic names, see the article Quick and Easy Gaelic Names.

This is a work in progress. As time allows, more names and evidence will be added. If you have specific evidence for the name of a pre-1600 Scottish Gaelic man or woman (and that evidence is not already included in this article), please contact the author with details and references.

Problems of Evidence

The best evidence for any medieval Scottish Gaelic name would be a medieval Scottish document written in Gaelic using standard Gaelic orthography that recorded the name of a Scottish Gael. Unfortunately, few Scottish documents written in Gaelic survive from the period before 1600, and only a limited number of men's names and very, very few women's names appear in those few documents that did survive.

More names of Scottish Gaels are recorded in documents written in other medieval Scottish languages, such as Latin and Scots. These can be used to help determine what Gaelic names were in use. However, this is not a straight forward exercise, as the form of a Gael's name in Scots or Latin may be very different from the form of his or her name in Gaelic. This problem is illustrated by the example of the name of one of the Earls of Argyll. In a Gaelic document from 1560, his given name is recorded as <Gillaescoib>; in a contemporary Scots language translation of the same document, the Earl's given name is recorded as <Archibald>.(Mackechnie; MacPhail)  Similarly, in the 15th century a son of one of the Lords of the Isles was known in Gaelic as <Gilla Espuic>, in Latin as <Celestinus>, and in Scots as <Archibald>.(Munro, p. 303; 1467 MS)  It was not unusual for medieval Scottish Gaelic names to be equated with such different Scots and Latin names. For example, Gaelic <Ruadhrí> was equated with Latin <Rodericus>, <Niall> with <Nigellus>, and <Lachlann> with <Rolandus>.(Munro, p. lxxxii; Bruce, p. 36; Duncan, p. 182; Barrow, p. 52)  Therefore it is not safe to assume the Gaelic form of a name based solely on the Latin and/or Scots language form of that name.

If there is a modern Scottish Gaelic form of a name, this can sometimes be helpful to triangulate speculation about a medieval Gaelic form. However, the existence of a modern Gaelic form is not conclusive evidence that a medieval form even existed, let alone that the modern form is the same as the medieval form. Even for modern Scottish Gaelic names where there was a medieval form, that medieval form was often somewhat different. For example, although there was a medieval form of the modern Gaelic name <Alasdair>, that medieval form was most usually spelled <Alaxandar> in Gaelic.(Morgan; SGGN)


Scottish Gaelic Given Names For Women ( 4 Mar 2003)

Scottish Gaelic Given Names For Men (29 Jun 2007)

Glossary (20 Mar 2002)


Bibliography ( 29 Jun 2007)


Various people have been of help with the preparation of this article, though of course any mistakes are my own and should not be laid at their door! I sincerely thank the members of The Academy of Saint Gabriel for their assistance, especially Kathleen O'Brien, Heather Rose Jones, Brian Scott, and Josh Mittleman.

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