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Scottish Names 101
Draft 3rd Edition

by Sharon L. Krossa
Last updated 29 Jun 2007  

This is a draft edition! Text in black has been revised. Text in gray is still awaiting further revision and may be in error. Although this draft edition is still incomplete, it has a reached a stage where it is of more use than the 2nd edition.


This article addresses the question "What's a good name for a Scottish medieval persona/character?". The purpose is not to give specific names that could be used, but rather to outline the issues concerned, and to indicate the resources that can be used to re-create appropriate Scottish names.

"What's a good name for a Scottish medieval person?" is not a question to which there is a simple answer, because naming practices changed over the thousand years of the Middle Ages in Scotland just as they did elsewhere in Europe. In addition, at no time in the medieval period was there a single, unified culture covering the entire area of what is now Scotland, and as a result, how people named themselves and others depended very much on which culture the people in question belonged to and, to a certain extent, on what class they were in that culture. However, one thing that is simple and clear is that over these thousand years and in these many Scottish cultures, at no time did normal people use the typical modern naming pattern of a given name (that is, a first name), one or more middle names, and a surname. In other words, medieval Scottish names were very different from modern North American and European names.


The point about culture bears emphasizing and further discussion. Many people are aware of a concept of Scotland being culturally divided into Highlands and Lowlands, with Highlanders speaking Gaelic (in the Middle Ages, the same language as spoken in Ireland) and Lowlanders speaking Scots (a cousin language of English [1]). Although this picture is not wholly inaccurate, it is only really applicable from about the end of 14th century at earliest. The further back in Scottish history you go, the less relevant and useful a simple cultural division into Gaelic-speaking Highlands and Scots-speaking Lowlands becomes.

For example, in the 9th century the area that is now Scotland had almost half a dozen different cultures speaking as many different languages divided up into even more different kingdoms. In the southwest they were speaking Cumbric (a Brythonic language closely related to Welsh), in the southeast they were speaking Old English, in the northeast they were speaking Pictish, in the far north they were speaking Norse, and in the west they were speaking Gaelic.

By the 12th century, Pictish and Cumbric had disappeared, but Norse, Gaelic, and English were still being spoken —except not in the same regional permutations as three centuries earlier— and had been joined by Anglo-Norman French along with a smattering of other northern European languages. The number of kingdoms had lessened, but the Kingdom of Scotland still did not have the borders of modern Scotland. Norway held the Northern Isles and most of the Western Isles, and the border with England was still being hammered out.

Even in the 16th century, with her modern borders nearly set, there were still at least three languages spoken in Scotland; in addition to Scots, spoken primarily in the Lowlands, and Gaelic, spoken primarily in the Highlands[2] and Western Isles, Norn (a flavor of Norse) as well as Scots was spoken in the Northern Isles.

Keep in mind that the examples given above are only part of the story! The situations in the 5th century and in the 14th, as well as various centuries in between, were different again. The lines and divisions between the different cultures and language areas were constantly shifting, expanding and receding (even overlapping) under many complex influences.

All of these different cultures and languages had different ways of naming people, and the name forms and naming practices of one culture or language were generally not freely mixed with any other. To further complicate matters, some Scots functioned in more than one Scottish language and culture. Yet another complication was that often a person's name was used and recorded by people from a different Scottish culture using a different language from that person's native culture and language. All of which resulted in an individual sometimes having several very different names or name forms that they could use and/or that could be used for them by others, depending on whose name it was, who was using the name, and in what language and context the name was being used.

It is therefore necessary to do some research into basic Scottish history, particularly the history of the specific time and area a person is from, in order to determine what sort of cultural influences they would have had, what language(s) they would have spoken, and therefore what sort of name(s) and byname(s) a person might have used to identify themself — or had used for them by others. Although they do not address the question of names, suggestions for good, reliable histories of Scotland can be found in the Scottish Medieval Bibliography.

So, before you can answer "What's a good name for a medieval Scottish person?" you must answer six questions about the person who is being named:

  1. What gender is the person? [3]
  2. Exactly when does the person live?
  3. Exactly where in Scotland does the person live?
  4. To which class or social grouping does the person belong?
  5. To which Scottish culture does the person belong?
  6. What Scottish language(s) does the person speak?

And in order to determine the forms someone's name could take in particular circumstances, three more questions must be answered:

  1. In what language is the name being used?
  2. In what context is the name being used?
  3. Who is using the name? (Usually a different person from the one who is being named.)

What follows are some very general observations about Scottish medieval naming practices, but it is beyond the scope of this article to exhaustively explain any given specific naming culture or practice.

Name Patterns

Most of us today think of a person's name as being made up of a given name (that is, a first name), one or more middle names, and a surname. It can be pretty safely said that this pattern was not practiced in medieval Scotland.

This is for two main reasons. First, it seems that none of the medieval Scottish cultures used middle names or multiple given names. Second, for most of the Middle Ages, none of the Scottish cultures had surnames as we think of them today (that is, as fixed, inherited family surnames such that the surname a child uses is the same surname used by their father, their father's father, their father's father's father, etc., as is most common in Europe and North America today).

The pattern of most medieval names was a single given name and a single personal byname. A byname is an additional name used with a person's given name (first name) to distinguish exactly which person with that given name they are. (So a fixed, inherited family surname is a type of byname.) A personal byname is a byname that pertains to and describes that specific individual for whom it is used — for example, by describing their appearance or where they come from or which individual was their father, etc.. So, if Thomas Walterson's father is Robert Walterson, the byname "Walterson" is a fixed, inherited family surname. But if Thomas Walterson's father is Walter Androwson, the byname "Walterson" is a personal byname.

The differences between the common name patterns of modern and medieval times are summarized below:

      Modern <Given Name> <Middle Name> <Fixed, Inherited Family Surname> e.g., Ralph Waldo Emerson
      Medieval <Given Name> <Personal Byname> e.g., Thom of Marr

Not all pre-1600 Scottish names followed the <Given Name> <Personal Byname> pattern. For example, in some periods in some Scottish cultures some people used a given name and two personal bynames and in some periods in some Scottish cultures people normally used a given name and a fixed, inherited family surname. But one given name plus one personal byname was the most common name pattern in most Scottish cultures before 1600 and the modern name pattern was simply not used.[4]

Given Names

As mentioned above, medieval Scots (from all Scottish naming cultures) used only one given name (first name). Middle names or second given names do not appear to have been used in Scotland until after the 16th century.[4]

Medieval Scots, like modern parents today, didn't choose just any random word or combination of sounds when naming their children. There were definite, if unconscious, rules about what could be used as a name and what could not. In each time and naming culture in Scotland there was a pool of special words that were considered acceptable for names, and children were given names from that name pool only. (There were no medieval Scottish equivalents of "Moon Unit" or "Dweezil"![5])

Some of these names were also regular words still in use in the language with meanings that were still known and recognized, just as modernly "Heather" and "Victor" are names and "heather" and "victor" are regular words. Other names were used only as names with their original meanings often completely unknown, just as modernly "George" and "Jennifer" are only names with no other use or meaning. (There were no baby name books in medieval Scotland!) But even when the original meanings of given names were known, it appears to have been no more significant regarding the person bearing the name than it would be modernly. We don't expect women named "Heather" to be particularly heathery, nor every man named "Thomas" to be a twin.[6]

The name pool from which names were chosen was different for each naming culture and varied over time. Scottish Gaels in the 10th century gave children 10th century Scottish Gaelic names, which were not the same as the 16th century Scottish Gaelic names 16th century Scottish Gaels gave to children. Likewise, Scoto-Normans in the 12th century gave children 12th century Scoto-Norman names, Scottish Lowlanders in the 15th century gave children 15th century Scottish Lowland names, and so on.

Like elsewhere in Europe, the various Scottish naming cultures each had one set of given names that were considered appropriate for men, a different set of given names that were considered appropriate for women, and a smaller set of given names that could be used for either men or women. Apart from this smaller set of gender neutral names, women were not given men's names nor were men given women's names. For example, just as today people do not name girls "Robert" nor name boys "Elizabeth", 12th century Scottish Gaels did not name their girls "Morgan" nor their boys "Muirgel".

So, medieval Scots each had a single given name chosen from a pool of names that depended on gender, time period, and naming culture.


Just as given names depended on time period, naming culture, and gender, so too did bynames.

As discussed briefly above, there are two general classes of bynames: personal bynames and fixed, inherited family surnames. To recap, a byname is an additional name used with a person's given name to distinguish exactly which person with that given name they are. A personal byname is a byname that pertains to and describes that specific individual for whom it is used — for example, by describing their appearance or where they come from or which individual was their father, etc.. A fixed, inherited family surname is a byname that is passed down from parent to child generation after generation so that the surname a child uses is the same surname used by their father, their father's father, their father's father's father, and so on, as is most common in Europe and North America today. For example, if Thomas Walterson's father is Robert Walterson, the byname "Walterson" is a fixed, inherited family surname. But if Thomas Walterson's father is Walter Androwson, the byname "Walterson" is a personal byname.

The general class of personal bynames can be further divided into various types, which will be discussed and illustrated further below.

Time period, naming culture, and gender determined not only how these various classes and types of bynames were formed, but even whether or not any particular kind was used. Some naming cultures did not use some byname types. For example, Scottish Gaels don't seem to have used fixed, inherited family surnames in Gaelic until more modern times.

Personal Bynames

There are various general categories or types of personal bynames, and different Scottish cultures had preferences for using different ones, as indeed did different classes of people. Bynames were variously:

Personal bynames are not always quite as neatly categorized as the above outline implies; there is sometimes overlap and ambiguity between the different categories. But in general it holds true.

Locative Bynames

A locative byname indicates a location or place. This may be the name of a place, such as the name of a farm, town, region, or country, or it may be a description of a place based on some topographical feature, such as a mill, bridge, or the like. Locative bynames using the names of places are toponymic while locative bynames using descriptions of places are topographic. While some Scottish naming cultures regularly used locative bynames (for example, Scoto-Norman), others usually did not (for example, Scottish Gaelic).

Toponymic Bynames

A toponymic byname indicates a named place. This may be the name of the place a person comes from, the place they live now, or the land they hold. When it is the land they (or their family) hold, it is a territorial byname.

Examples of toponymic bynames:

Territorial Bynames

A territorial byname is a toponymic byname that indicates the name of the land or territory, or lordship, a person or their family holds. Note that what makes a byname territorial is the significance of the byname with regard to the individual bearing it, not the form; the form is the same as for other toponymic bynames. So the same toponymic byname might be territorial for one person (who holds or whose family holds that land) but not for another (who merely lives in or comes from that land).

Examples of territorial bynames:

Topographic Bynames

A topographic byname indicates a place by describing it by some topographical feature (rather than using its name, if it has one). This seems to usually have been a description of the place where the person lived or worked at the time.

Examples of topographic bynames:

Relational Bynames

A relational byname indicates a relative of the person with the byname. The most common kind of relational byname is the patronymic byname, which names the person's father. Most, but not all, Scottish naming cultures used patronymic bynames. Another kind of relational byname is the metronymic (also known as the matronymic) byname, which names the person's mother. Some, but not all, Scottish naming cultures occasionally used metronymic bynames. Occasionally some Scottish naming cultures used relational bynames that indicated other kinds of relatives, such as uncles or spouses.

Examples of relational bynames:

Patronymic Bynames

Examples of patronymic bynames:

Metronymic/Matronymic Bynames

Examples of metronymic bynames:

Other Relational Bynames

Examples of other (non-patronymic, non-metronymic) relational bynames:

Official Bynames

Examples of official bynames:

Occupational Bynames

Examples of occupational bynames:

Descriptive Bynames

Examples of descriptive bynames:

Fixed, Inherited Family Surnames

Fixed, inherited family surnames developed in some (but not all) Scottish naming cultures in the late medieval period out of earlier personal bynames. In which time period fixed, inherited family surnames developed varied not only by the naming culture but also by social class and type of originating personal bynames within that naming culture.

What appear to be fixed inherited family surnames (that is, surnames inherited unchanged from father to child) first show up in Scottish charters in the 12th century, among some Scoto-Norman nobles. They were of territorial origin, and were not particularly common. Use of fixed inherited family surnames spread fairly slowly, and even among those families that used such inherited family surnames their use was not always consistent or continuous. More generally, in the 15th century personal bynames of all sorts among most classes in the Scots-speaking Lowlands were becoming fixed inherited family surnames, a process that had started in the 14th century. By the sixteenth century, most bynames in the Lowlands appear to be fixed inherited family surnames, although some variation is found. This pattern was not followed in the Gaelic-speaking Highlands, where personal bynames, usually patronymics, continued to be used into the 17th century and beyond.

Married Women's Bynames

Modernly, in most English speaking cultures, a woman usually changes her surname to that of her husband when she marries. It is only a very recent development for modern women to either keep their own surnames or else combine their surnames with that of their husbands, and these practices are still not the norm. However, in Scotland the practice of a married woman using her husband's surname only began among certain classes in the 17th century, and only became the general norm in the late 19th or early 20th century. Even today, in Scottish law, a married woman is identified primarily by her original name, with any married name treated as an alias. So, for example, modernly if Elspeth Buchan marries Alexander Elphinstone and thereafter normally uses his surname, in the eyes of the Scottish law courts she is "Elspeth Buchan or Elphinstone".

In the middle ages, since most people did not have fixed, inherited family surnames anyway, there was no question of a woman changing her personal byname (which described her) to that of her husband (which, after all, described not her but him). Even among those times, cultures, and classes which did use fixed, inherited family surnames in Scotland, women did not normally change their surnames to that of their husbands on marriage.

As a consequence, in contrast to the modern English speaking world where we are used to thinking of a family as a group sharing the same surname, in medieval Scotland a family all using the same byname would have been an unusual coincidence. There were many families where each individual family member had a different byname. In the Scottish cultures where patronymic bynames were the norm (such as Gaelic culture), only children of the same gender who shared the same father would share the same byname, while their father and mother would each have a different one. Even in Scottish families from times and naming cultures that used fixed, inherited family surnames, only the father and his children would share the same surname. The mother's surname would be different. (Note that in such naming cultures, even bastard children would normally use their father's surname.)

Name Transformation or "Translation"

The final consideration when it comes to Scottish names is that medieval Scots, like other medieval Europeans, did "translate", or more accurately, transform names & bynames, to varying degrees, when writing (and presumably speaking) in a different language. So, while (in the 14th century) a man's name & byname might be "Eoin mac Donnchaidh" at home in the isles, when he was speaking/writing Scots his name was "John Duncanson", and when he was speaking/writing Latin, his name was "Johannes filius Duncani".

That names could be radically different in different languages and cultural contexts is illustrated by the very different ways two mid-16th century Earls of Argyll appeared in documents recorded in different languages and in different cultural contexts. In a 1560 treaty written in Gaelic, the elder is recorded as <Gillaescoib Iarrla Errghaodheal .I. Maccalin> ("Gille Escoib Earl of Argyll, that is, Mac Cailin") and the younger is recorded as <Gille Escoib mac an Iarrla adubhrammar .I. Maccalin> ("Gille Eascoib son of the Earl aforesaid, that is, Mac Cailin"). In the contemporary translation of that treaty into Scots the elder appears as <Archibald Earl of Argyll to wit McCalen> and the younger appears as <Archibald sone to the said Earle to wit McAllen>. In the Irish Annals of the Four Masters the elder appears in 1555 as <Mac Cailín (.i. Giolla Espaig Donn)> ("Mac Cailin (that is, Brown Gille Eascoib)") and the younger appears in 1573 as <Mac Ailin .i. Giolla Epscoip mac Giolla Epscoip> ("Mac Cailin, that is, Gille Eascoib son of Gille Eascoib").[CELT, M1555.5, M1573.2] In 1558 the elder was recorded in a Latin document (written by a Gael) as <Archibaldus Dominus Campbell de Ergyll et Dominus de Lorne> ("Archibald Lord Campbell of Argyll and Lord of Lorne). And in contemporary Scots language documents, both elder and younger are recorded as <Archibald Campbell>.

How much of a name or byname got transformed depended on various complex factors, including precise period and familiarity with the original name's language. In mid period, you will find "James Brewster" in Latin documents as "Jacobus Braciator", while in late period, you would find him in Latin as "Jacobus Brewster". Similarly, while in mid period "Androw Johnson" would appear in Latin documents as "Andreas filius Johannis", in late period he may appear in Latin as "Andreas Johnson". While the mid period the Gaelic patronymic byname "mac Eoin" may appear in Latin as "filius Johannis" and in Scots as "Johnson", in very late period it may appear in both Latin and Scots as "Macane", because the clerks then were not treating "Mac Eoin" a patronymic to be translated into "Johnson", but as a "surname" that sounded like "Macane".

Although in some instances these transformations were true translations, that is, literally translating a given name or byname from one language into its cognate in another (e.g., "Johannes" = "John" = "Eoin" or "Donnchadh" = "Duncan" = "Duncanus"), in other instances the name was not actually translated, but rather an unrelated name which had become associated with it was substituted. For example, the late period Gaelic given name "Gille Easpaig" (which derives from the Early Gaelic "gilla", meaning "servant", and "epscop", meaning "bishop") was usually transformed in Scots language contexts to the completely unrelated Scots language name "Archibald" (which derives from Old German "ercan", meaning "genuine" or "simple", and "bald", meaning "bold"). In some cases, the association was due to a false etymology, in others the association was because the names sounded similar to one another. And sometimes the reason for an association is simply unfathomable to modern minds. Finally, some transformations only involved rendering the sound of a name or byname from one language into the orthography (spelling system) of another, as in the case of Gaelic "Mac Eoin" appearing as "Macane" (and variants) in Scots language documents.

Given this tendency to transform names & bynames, it becomes significant, when examining the available period examples of Gaelic names & bynames, that the vast majority of documents in medieval Scotland were written in Latin and Scots, not in Gaelic. Most of the Gaelic name & byname examples we have are from Scots and Latin documents, and so were written using Scots and Latin spelling rules, not Gaelic spelling rules. Especially the later you get in period, the clerks writing these names & bynames were rarely Gaelic speakers themselves, and so were writing down what they thought they heard, as opposed to what the actual name & byname may have been. This is very like what happened to people's names when they arrived on Ellis Island from Europe, and ended up with Anglicized surnames based on how the clerks there mangled up the original surname. This means how the actual owners of these names & bynames pronounced them may not be how they appear in the Scots and Latin documents. It also means that this is not how a person literate in Gaelic would have spelled them when writing a document in Gaelic (though it may or may not be close to how such a Gaelic literate person would have spelled them when writing in Scots or Latin). This is something to keep in mind for those with Gaelic-speaking personas, as most of the time they will be using their name & byname in an English (related to Scots) context, or a Latin one, but only rarely in a Gaelic one.

Therefore, for all Scottish personas or characters, because of this transformation habit, we should think of the task at hand as not to choose simply a given name and byname, but rather to work out an appropriate form of a name to match the language in which it is being used, the context in which it is being used, and who is using the name (in contrast to who is being named).

So, a thirteenth century Aberdonian brewer would be recorded in Latin as "Johannes braciator", but when speaking Scots he would be called "Johne the brewster". A 16th century Scottish Highland lass might have her name written in Scots as "Effric neyn Kenyeoch vc Ralte", but when speaking Gaelic would say "Affraig inghean Coinnich mhic Arailt".

While we're at it, let's get rid of the idea that there is one and only one way to spell the written form of a name! Effric was just as likely to show up in a Scots language document as "Africk niin Cain3e vc Herrald" or "Euphrick neyn Kannych vic Harrald" or any of a large number of variations. She might even have shown up as both Effric and Africk in the very same document!

Documentation Sources

Paper Published

The best single, comprehensive paper published source for period Scottish personal names & bynames is

Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 1993. Original edition, The New York Public Library, 1946. NYPublic Library 1999 hardback at Amazon.com - Birlinn 1996 hardback at Amazon.co.uk

This is because he cites, from period documents, specific examples of names & bynames, with dates and original spellings (and references!). Black's is really the best and most suitable paper source for documenting a good period written form of a Scottish name & byname (particularly for registration with the heralds in the SCA). However, excellent as it is, it does still need to be used carefully. It was not, alas, designed with the needs of historical re-creation in mind. Black often does not explicitly indicate which language and culture each person named & designated comes from, and this can be further disguised when, as so often, the document and thus the written form of their name & byname are in a different language than that of their usual spoken form. So you must carefully consider whether any specific name or byname is appropriate for your persona. You cannot simply pick a name and a byname randomly and expect them to match! Luckily, Black does usually indicate the place where the person or document was from, and this information, combined with the date and source, can be used to help tease out which language and culture were likely that of the person named & designated, and thus whether their name and/or byname would be appropriate for your persona. Unfortunately, since Surnames of Scotland was designed to explore modern surnames, not personal names, and it is some 800 pages long, trying to find any particular personal name can be somewhat, shall we say, challenging. This is especially true for women's personal names (although Brian Scott's article A List of Feminine Personal Names Found in Scottish Records helps locate some of them) and Gaelic personal names. But, whatever its difficulties, it remains the best single paper published source for most period Scottish names.


Even better than Black, however, are many of the various online articles and name lists for Scottish names listed at Scottish Names Resources and the "Scottish, Irish, and Manx Names" section of The Medieval Names Archive. These articles are specifically focused on individual Scottish naming cultures and/or periods, and so are more useful for recreating a name from a particular naming culture and period than the problematic and unfocused Black. (Yes, when it comes to onomastics, some what is available on the web is actually better than what is available in books! Note, however, that there is still a great deal of nonsense out there on the web — if a web article is not listed in Scottish Names Resources or The Medieval Names Archive, it is unlikely to be reliable.) (Krossa SNR; Mittleman SIM)


You should now have more than enough information to get you started, and especially to let you know what information people who may be able to help you need to know before they can give you any specific suggestions.

To recap: First, answer six questions about the person who is being named:

  1. What gender is the person? [3]
  2. Exactly when does the person live?
  3. Exactly where in Scotland does the person live?
  4. To which class or social grouping does the person belong?
  5. To which Scottish culture does the person belong?
  6. What Scottish language(s) does the person speak?

Then, in order to determine the forms the name could take in particular circumstances, answer three more questions:

  1. In what language is the name being used?
  2. In what context is the name being used?
  3. Who is using the name? (Usually a different person from the one who is being named.)


[1] There are many terms, some more respected than others, used for the modern Scots language and/or specific dialects of Modern Scots, including "Broad Scots", "Lallans", "Lowland Scots", "Aberdonian", "Doric", "Glaswegian", and many others. In the 14th and 15th centuries, Scots speakers themselves called their language "Inglis", while in the 16th century they took to calling it "Scottis".

Some linguists consider Scots to be a separate language from English, others consider it a dialect of English. Since the categorization of independent language vs. dialect is a subjective one, there is no "one true answer". I choose to refer to Scots as a language for several reasons, including that I find it makes it easier to talk about and explain the linguistic situation in both modern and medieval Scotland.

Note that "Scots" has several other, more common, meanings in addition to referring to the Scots language, including, as an adjective, the meaning "Scottish" and, as a noun, the meaning "more than one Scottish person".

[2] The border between Highland and Lowland Scotland was not a simple north-south or east-west division. Parts of the Lowlands were further north and/or further west than most of the Highlands; similarly, parts of the Highlands were further south and/or further east than most of the Lowlands. The shape of the linguistic border is better appreciated by looking for the geographic distinction between the mountains (Highlands) and the lower elevations (Lowlands). However, even this is not a perfect definition; for example, some of the mountainous areas in the south were no longer Gaelic speaking by the advent of the "Highlands" concept and the border between the cultural Highlands and Lowlands was on the move throughout the 15th and 16th century.

Also, the border between Highland and Lowland regions was not a sharp divide -- there was no line painted across the heather, two feet this side everyone spoke only Gaelic and two feet that side everyone spoke only Scots. Bilingualism was probably not uncommon.

[3] This is not as silly a question as one might assume. Not only is it often difficult to determine someone's real life gender when all you have to go on is their modern name, or worse, just an e-mail address, as is often the case when communicating on the internet, but some are looking for names for people whose gender, or pretended gender, is different from their real life gender. And gender does make a very big difference when it comes to naming!

[4] There is one or possibly two known exceptions to this. The eldest son of King James VI, born in 1594, had a double given name and fixed, inherited family surname: Henry Frederick Stewart (Withycombe, xliii-xliv; Bingham, 125). Camden's 1605 edition of Remains Concerning Britain also claims that King James VI himself had a double given name, Charles James (Withycombe, xliii-xliv). However, Camden was writing nearly 40 years after James became King of Scotland as a year old infant, and during all of that time he appears to have been known only as "King James". I have found no references to King James having had a double given name other than those citing Camden.

Regardless, kings and their eldest sons and heirs are not normal people and their names are not evidence that anyone but royals (and only one or two royals at that) used double given names in Scotland before 1600.

[5] These are the names of two of the children of modern rock star Frank Zappa. Even in the late 20th century, when our unconscious naming rules accept (though perhaps with a raised eyebrow) names such as "Rainbow", "River", and "Shaquiel", our reaction to "Moon Unit" and "Dweezil" demonstrates that even today, in our own culture, any random word or combination of sounds are not considered well formed names. And in the Middle Ages there were no rock stars...

[6] Thomas is the English form of a name derived from an Aramaic word meaning 'twin' (Withycombe, s.n. "Thomas").


Barbour Barbour, John. The Bruce. Edited with translation and notes by A. A. M. Duncan. Edinburgh: Canongate Classics, 1997. Original edition, written circa 1375, surviving manuscript from 1489. Amazon.com - Amazon.co.uk
Bingham Bingham, Caroline. James VI of Scotland. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979. Amazon.com
Black Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland: Their Origin, Meaning, and History. Edinburgh: Birlinn, 1993. Original edition, The New York Public Library, 1946. NYPublic Library 1999 hardback at Amazon.com - Birlinn 1996 hardback at Amazon.co.uk
Gouldesbrough Gouldesbrough, Peter, compiler. Formulary of Old Scots Legal Documents. Vol. 36, Stair Society Publications. Edinburgh: The Stair Society, 1985.
Ragman Instrumenta Publica Sive Processus super Fidelitatibus et Homagis Scotorum Domino Regi Angliæ Factis A. D. MCCXCI-MCCXCVI. (Title on spine: The Ragman Rolls, 1291-6.) Edited by Thomas Thomson. Bannatyne Club Publications, vol. 50. Edinburgh: Bannatyne Club, 1834. Full text available at Google Books at <http://books.google.com/books?id=JlgJAAAAIAAJ>.
Jackson Jackson, Kenneth. The Gaelic Notes in the Book of Deer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972.
Krossa SNR Krossa, Sharon L., editor. "Scottish Names Resources" [WWW]. Medieval Scotland, 3 Nov 2001 [cited 3 Nov 2001]. Available from http://MedievalScotland.org/scotnames/.
Simple Guide Krossa, Sharon L. "A Simple Guide to Constructing 12th Century Scottish Gaelic Names" [WWW]. Medieval Scotland, 18 Jun 1997 [cited 14 Aug 2000]. Available from http://MedievalScotland.org/scotnames/simplescotgaelicnames12.shtml.
Mittleman SIM Mittleman, Joshua, editor. "Scottish, Irish, and Manx Names" [WWW]. The Medieval Names Archive, 2001 [cited 4 Nov 2001]. Available from http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/qceltic.shtml.
Withycombe Withycombe, E.G. The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names. 3rd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.


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 various members of The Academy of Saint Gabriel.

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