Concerning the Name

by Josh Mittleman and Heather Rose Jones
known in the SCA as Arval Benicoeur and Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn

©1998 by Josh Mittleman and Heather Rose Jones. All rights reserved

Last updated 16 June 1998

There is only very shaky, circumstantial evidence that Tegan was used as a feminine name before modern times. It is not an implausible Welsh name: Teg- is a relatively common first element in Welsh names, and -an is a very common second element in masculine names and is occasionally found in feminine names. Examples of Teg- include masculine Tegwared, Tegfan, Tegno, Tegonwy, and possibly feminine Tegfedd [3]; examples of -an include Ananan, Lleian, Sanan [3], Bethan, Gwennan, Lluan [4]. However, we find no example of a combination of these two elements.

Tegan is found as an error for Tegau, the name of a female character appearing in Arthurian literature [1, 5]. Tegau can also be found in a non-literary source in the 15th century, when it appears in a patronym, Deikws ap Tegau. Here it is probably a masculine name [2].

There is a place Llandegan in Pembrokeshire, which can be translated as "Tegan's church", and which some writers have interpretted to imply that there was an early Saint Tegan [1]. But we can find no other evidence that Saint Tegan existed and no indication of whether the saint was a man or woman. When the Welsh word Llan- "church" appears in place name, it is usually combined with given names; but not always. The Tegan in question could be the stream by that name in Ceredigion [1], and Llandegan could actually mean church on the Tegan.

The use of Tegan as a feminine given name appears to be a modern innovation. Although it is composed of elements found in other medieval Welsh names, and it may be incorporated into one Welsh place name, it seems more likely that the name originated as a scribal error and was popularized in modern usage.

For more information on Welsh names, we suggest the references listed in note 6.

Notes and References

[1] Gruffudd, Heini, Enwau i'r Cymry/Welsh Personal Names (Talybont: Y Lolfa, 1984).

[2] Roberts, Glyn, "The Anglesey Submissions of 1406" in Bulletin of the Board of Celtic Studies, vol. XV pp.39-60.

[3] Bartrum, P.C., Early Welsh Genealogical Tracts (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1966).

[4] Jones, Heather Rose, "A Welsh Miscellany", The Compleat Anachronist #66 (Milpitas, CA: SCA, 1993).

[5] Bromwich, Rachel, The Welsh Triads (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1978), p.512ff.

[6] Some good references on pre-1600 Welsh names can be found on the web:

Others can be found in print: