Thursday, April 24, 2014

Family Heraldry Update

Well, the names of both of my sons were registered, as Jaren FitzMichael and Edwin FitzMichael, respectively.  Jaren’s device is still in process, but looks good.  Edwin’s was registered with a remark of “nice device”.
Azure mulletty argent, on a sun Or, eight hearts conjoined in annulo points to center gules.
Submitted device of Jaren FitzMichael
Paly gules and ermine, a chevron azure.
Registered device of Edwin FitzMichael

In addition, my daughter has submitted her name and device.  The name is Emily of Midhaven, and the device is:  Argent, a pegasus segreant and on a chief purpure, three roses argent, barbed vert, seeded azure.
Argent, a pegasus segreant and on a chief purpure, three roses argent, barbed vert, seeded azure.
Submitted device of Emily of Midhaven

An Explanation of Heraldic Titles as Used in An Tir



In the Society for Creative Anachronism, we use a variety of titles and styles to refer to people in varying degress of formality.  Perhaps the most prominent of these titles are those that result from receiving honors, such as king, queen, baron, baroness, lord, and lady.  Others include descriptive titles, describing a relationship between the person and someone else, such as squire to Sir [William] or sergeant to Baroness [Matilda].  Some titles describe a job or role that the person has, such as Bardic Champion of [Wales], Minister of the Lists, Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Master of Stables.

In general, while kingdoms vary somewhat in the way they use titles, some basic guidelines are established in the SCA’s Governing Documents, (primarily Corpora), with more detail from the SCA’s College of Arms.  As a result, heralds are the administrators of the SCA’s titles, according to the rules from the Board of Directors and the various kingdoms.

Unusual among the titles used for people in the SCA, are heraldic titles.  This article will address the structure, meaning, and use of heraldic titles, with emphasis on and examples from the Kingdom of An Tir.

What Is a Heraldic Title?

A heraldic title consists of two elements:
  1. The unique name (technically called a “substantive element”)
  2. A designator
    1. Rank within the heraldic community
    2. Whether the rank is “in ordinary” or “extraordinary”
The substantive element of a heraldic title is unique to a particular office.  Since there are heraldic offices for a variety of responsibilities and jurisdictions, this part of the title serves as a quick identifier to tell one herald from another.  The following table illustrates this point, emphasizing the name portion.

The designator identifies the heraldic rank and (when included) whether the title applies to an office or belongs personally to the individual.  The Kingdom of An Tir counts three grades or ranks of herald, and only assigns them in connection with a title.  The three ranks are (from highest to lowest):  Sovereign-of-Arms, Herald (with a capital “H”), and Pursuivant.  In An Tir, the rank pertains to the office, rather than to the person (except when it is part of a personal heraldic title).

The rank of Sovereign-of-Arms is used only at the Society level.  The chief (or “principal” heraldic officer of the entire Society is given the title “Laurel Principal [King/Queen]-of-Arms”.  Laurel’s deputy over names is the “Pelican [King/Queen]-of-Arms".  Laurel’s deputy over armory (devices, badges, seals, and flags) is the “Wreath [King/Queen]-of-Arms”.  When referring to the office in general, and irrespective of the incumbent occupant, you may encounter the designation “Sovereign-of-Arms”.  This is acceptable under generic circumstances, but should never be used to refer to a particular person.  Whether the appropriate title is “King-of-Arms” or “Queen-of-Arms” depends on the sex of the particular herald’s persona.

The rank of Herald (with a capital “H”) is used for certain members of the staff of the Laurel Principal Sovereign-of-Arms, for certain deputies to the Black Lion Principal Herald, and for the chief herald of each of An Tir’s principalities.

The rank of Pursuivant is used for certain members of the staff of the Laurel Principal Sovereign-of-Arms, certain members of the staff of the Black Lion Principal Herald, deputies to heralds having the rank of <I>Herald</i>, members of the staff of each of the principality heralds, and to the branch heralds of baronies, shire, cantons, and so forth.  The established practice of the An Tir College of Heralds is tha ttitles are only registered for kingdom-level and principality-level heralds, and for the branch herald of baronies.  In the case of branches smaller than a barony, the unique name portion (the “substantive element”) of the title is simply the name of the branch.  For example, Midhaven, being a shire, doesn’t have a registered heraldic title, and so the branch herald of the Shire of Midhaven is titled, “Midhaven Pursuivant”.

Sometimes the designator also includes the word “Principal”.  This indicates that that herald is the head of the College of Arms of the Society or the head of a College of Heralds for a particular kingdom.

Heraldic titles that pertain to an office (one that could be passed down from the incumbent to the successor) are said to be “in ordinary”.  Usually, this distinction is implied.  Heraldic titles that belong to a specific person, regardless of current office, are said to be “extraordinary”, and this distinction is usually explicit in the title.  So, Doña Juliana de Luna, OL, is also the Siren Herald Extraordinary, because the title is her personal title, regardless of any office she may hold.

What If the Herald Has No Title or Multiple Titles?

It also happens, in our volunteer-administered organization, that a person may hold more than one heraldic title concurrently.  In this case, the choice of which title to use in a given situation depends on the role in which the herald is acting at the moment.  For example, I currently hold the offices (and titles) of Argent Scroll Herald and Midhaven Pursuivant.  At a Midhaven event, it would make more sense to refer to me as the Midhaven Pursuivant, but at a kingdom event, especially one where I was actively engaged in heraldic education, Argent Scroll Herald would be more appropriate.  In cases where the role is irrelevant, generally the senior title is preferred.

Furthermore, a person who is fulfilling the duties of a herald doesn’t necessarily have a particular title.  In this case, the person is called a “herald at large”.  Also, in many cases, a titled herald may have untitled deputies.  In this case, they may be referred to as “deputy to” and the title of the herald under whose direction they serve.

How Can I Use Heralds’ Titles in Addressing Them?

Depending on the degree of formality in a given situation, the manner of referring to a title herald can vary considerably.

In the least formal settings where heraldic titles are used, such as when working among other heralds at a consult table or in online settings such as email lists, the Online System for Commentary And Response (OSCAR), or at heralds’ meetings/symposia, it is common to refer to other heralds by nothing more than the substantive element of their titles (regardless of their rank in the SCA).  For example, if I make a comment on someone’s submission, and another herald wants to respond to that comment, they would likely refer to me simply as Argent Scroll.

When I am participating in a conversation on the An Tir Heralds email list, I often sign my email as “Michael Argent Scroll”.  This is an example of how the substantive element of the title acts as an informal substitute for my surname — a very common practice.

When it comes to heraldic titles, it is improper (with the sole exception of Lord Lyon King-of-Arms in Scotland) to combine other titles with the heraldic title.  Titles like “Lord” and “Lady” may be used with the <i>name</i> of a herald, but not with the heraldic title.  For example, an even more formal manner of addressing a herald is Lady Anne Rose Smythe, GdS, Lions Blood Herald.

If you want to get ridiculously formal, you can call her Lady Anne Rose Smythe, Companion of the Goutte de Sang, Lions Blood Herald of Arms in Ordinary.

Some Heraldic Titles Worth Knowing

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Mediæval English Pet Names

The information behind this article comes primarily from Charles Wareing Bardsley’s English Surnames:  Their Sources and Significations, seventh edition, published in London in 1901.  This book is available for free download in Acrobat PDF format from Google Books at
What do I mean when I say, “pet names”?  The technical word is “diminutive”.  In other words, a more intimately familiar, often shortened version of a name, for example:  Billy from William, or Betty from Elizabeth.  The word pet, in reference to pet names, is a shortened version of the French word petite, meaning little one.  This article does not cover the kind of nicknames that are often unrelated to their bearer’s actual name, such as a person whose name is John being called Lefty, due to his being left-handed.
Interestingly, many mediæval pet names are preserved even until current times in the hereditary surnames that fill our telephone directories.  Many English surnames started out as patronyms and metronyms.  (A patronym tells who a person’s father is.  A metronym tells who his or her mother is.)  Also, the patterns by which pet names were formed came from both Anglo-Saxon English and Norman French.
In some cases a pet name was formed by literally shortening the name, and often substituting a different first letter, to make a rhyme.  A few examples are:
Christopher > Kit, Kitt, or Kitte       Anne > Nan
David > Dawe                                    Cecilia or Cecily > Cis, Cesse, Sis, Siss, or Sys
Gilbert > Gib, Gibbe, or Gyb            Eleanor, Elinor, Leonora, or Alianor
Nicholas > Cole or Col                               > Annora, Ellen, Lina, Lyna, or Nel
Richard > Dick or Hick                     Etheldreda > Ethel
Robert > Dob, Dobbe, Hob, or          Isabel > Ib or Bell
Hobbe                                        Matilda > Maud
Roger > Hodge or Dodge                   Petronilla > Parnel or Pernel
Walter > Watte                                  Theophania > Tiffany
In many other cases, a pet name was formed by adding a suffix to either the proper name or very often to a shortened version of it.  Often, the resulting pet name was even longer than the name from which it came.  These suffixes were of four principal varieties:
(1) Kin from the Anglo-Saxon.
Adam > Adkin, Adekin, or Atkin
Anthony > Tonkin
Baldwin > Bodkin
Bartholomew > Badkin or Batkin
Daniel > Dankin
David > Dawkin or Dakin
Elias > Alkin or Allkin
Jane > Janekyn
John > Jenkin, Hankin (from the Latin Iohannes)
Henry > Hawkin or Halkin
Hugh > Hughkin or Huckin
Geoffrey > Jeffkin
Lambert > Labmekyn, Lambekin, or Lambkin
Laurence or Lawrence > Larkin
Luke > Luckin
Mark > Markin
Matilda > Mawdkin, Meakin, Mekin, Malkin, or Makin
Peter > Peterkin, Perkin, or Parkin
Radulf or Ralph > Rapkin or Rawkin
Reginald, Ragenald, Rainald, Reynold, Renaud, Reinaud, or Renard
> Rankin, Reynkin, or Reynkyn
Robert > Hopkin
Roger > Hotchkin or Hoskin
Simon > Simkin, Simpkin, or Symkyn
Theobald, Thibault, or Thibaud > Tipkin
Thomas > Tomkin or Thompkin
Walter > Watekyn or Watkin
William > Wilekyn or Wilkin
(2) Cock also from the Anglo-Saxon.
Adam > Adcock
Alexander or Alisaundre > Saundercock (via Saunder) or
Sandercock (via Sander)
Baldwin > Balcock
Barbara > Babcock
Bartholomew > Badcock or Batcock
Daniel > Dancock
Elias > Elcock, Ellcock, Alcock, or Allcock
Geoffrey > Jeffcock
John > Johncock, Hancock, or Handcock (both via Latin Iohannes)
Laurence or Lawrence > Laycock
Luke > Locock, Luckock, or Lucock
Mark > Marcock
Philip > Philcock
Richard > Hitchcock
Simon > Simcock
Timothy > Timcock
William > Wilcock or Wilcoc
(3) Ot or et from the Norman French.
Abel > Abelot, Ablett, or Ablott
Arnold > Arnott, Arnet, or Arnyet
Brice > Briccot
Cecilia or Cecily > Cissota, Sissot, Syssot, or Syssott
Douce, Duce, Dulce, or Dulcia > Dowsett, Doucett, or Duckett
Charles > Charlat, Charlot (fem. > Charlotte)
Constance > Cussot
Cuthbert > Cowbeyt or Cobbet
Daniel > Danett or Dannett
Dionisius > Dyott, Dyot, Diot, or Denot (via Dennis)
Drew or Drogo (not Andrew) > Drewett or Druett
Eleanor, Elinor, Leonora, or Alianor
> Annot, Alinot, Alnot, Anota, Linot, or Linota
Elias > Elliot, Eliot, Allot, Alecot, Alyott, or Elicot
Emeric or Emery > Emelot
Emma > Emmett or Emmot (both fem.)
Eve > Evett or Evitt (both fem.)
Gerald or Gerard > Garret, Jarret, Jarratt
Gilbert > Gibbett
Giles > Gillet or Gillot
Guy > Guyot, Gyot, Wyot, Wyott, or Wyatt
Hamon > Hamnet, Hammet, or Hamonet
Henry > Hallet, Halket, Henriot, Heriot, or Haryott (fem. Harriet or Harriot)
Hugh > Huet, Hewet, Hewett, or Howett
Isaac > Higgott or Higgett
Isabel > Bellet or Bellot (via Bell); Ibbot, Ibbit, Ibbet, Isotte, Ebot, Ezota, Isot, Izott, Ibote, or Ibotta (via Ib)
Ivar, Iver, Ive, or Ives > Ivett
John > Jackett (via French Jacques; fem. > Jacquetta)
Juliana > Gilot, Gillot, Juet, Juetta, Jewit, Jewitt, Jowet, Jowett, or Juliet
Laurence or Lawrence > Larrett
Luke > Luckett or Lockett
Margaret > Margot, Marget, Merget, Margett, Maggot, Magot
Mary > Marriot or Mariot
Matilda > Tillot or Tyllott
Miles or Milo > Millot, Millet, or Mylett
Nicholas > Colet, Colett, or Collett (fem. Collette; via Col)
Pagan, Payne, Paye, Paine, or Pain > Paynett or Paynot
Paul > Paulett, Poulett, Powlett, or Pollitt
Peter > Perot, Perret, Perrett, Parrot, or Parret
Phillip > Phillot, Phillipot, Philpott, Philpot, Fillpot, Fylpot, Phillot, Philipot, or Phylypotte
Robert > Robynet (via Robin)
Roland > Rowlett, Rowlet
Simon > Simonet, Simnet, or Symonet
Stephen > Stevenet, Stevenot, Stennet, or Stennett
Theobald, Thibault, or Thibaud > Tibbot, Tebbott, Tibbat, Tibbet, or Tebbutt
William > Guillemot, Gwillot, Gillot, Gillott, Gillett, Williamot, Willmot, Wilmot, Willot, Willet, Willert, or Willimote
Sometimes the -ot/-et form was rendered instead as -elot or -elet.
Bartholomew > Bartelot, Bartlett, Bertelot, or Burlet
Cecilia or Cecily > Cesselot
Christian > Crestolot or Crestelot
Hamon > Hamlet or Hamelot
Hugh > Hughelot, Huelot, Hulot, Hullet, Hullett, Howlett, or Hewlett
Richard > Richelot or Rickelot
Robert > Hobelot (via Hob)
Theobald, Thibault, or Thibaud > Tebbelot
(4) On or en also from the Norman-French.
Alice or Alys > Alison
Beatrice or Beatrix > Beton, Betten, Betin, Betyn, Betan, or Beaton
Catherine > Catlin, Cattlin, Catlyn, or Katlyn
Gilbert > Gilpin, Gibbin, or Gibbon
Guy > Guyon
Hamon > Hamlyn or Hamelyn
Hugh > Huon, Hugon, Huguon, Hugyn, or Huggin
Isaac > Higgin
John > Jacklin (via French Jacques; fem. Jacqueline)
Mary > Marion
Nicholas > Colin (via Col), Collin, or Nixon
Peter > Perrin
Radulf or Ralph > Rawlin or Rollin
Richard > Diccon, Dicken, or Diggon (via Dick) or Hitchin
Robert > Robin, Dobbin, or Hobin
Thomas > Tomlin
William > Wicken


Some updates since the last time I posted...


It sure has been a while since I've posted anything here, and I have a few things to report.  After that I'll probably do a couple more posts of things I've been thinking about lately.

1)  I have taken on a new student in the SCA, Lady Sigga kausi Geiradotter.  She is one of my two deputies as Midhaven Pursuivant, and also serving as Chronicler for the Shire of Midhaven.  I am very eager to see where her efforts will take her.

She has recently designed a device and badge to submit:

2)  I have recently been working with Duchess Angharad on her augmentation of arms, and this is what Her Grace seems to have settled on.  The crown is the addition to her already-registered device.

3) I recently accepted appointment as the Argent Scroll Herald for the Kingdom of An Tir.  This is the office within the College of Heralds responsible for heraldic education generally, and specifically responsible for the content of the annual An Tir Heraldic & Scribal Symposium.  I was invested with this office and title in the court of King Eirik and Queen Driffina at Ursulmas, January 25th, 2014.  You can watch my investiture at

4) I was the event steward for Midhaven’s Harvest Feast last November.  It went spectacularly, and a lot of the credit is due to good fortune.  I also served as camp coordinator for July Coronation, and pre-registration coordinator (again) for Ursulmas in January.

5) In September, I got to go with my daughter to the investiture of the Prince and Princess of Tir Righ.  Just before stepping up, the Prince-to-be became a fellow protégé of my Pelican, Duchess Angharad.  He just stepped down last weekend.

6) My sons have both submitted names and devices for registration by the SCA College of Arms.  We’re still awaiting the results.
Edwin FitzMichael
Jaren FitzMichael

7) Also, Lady Avelyn and I put together a reversible herald’s tabard to be regalia for the Midhaven Pursuivant.  The tabard has the arms of the Kingdom of An Tir on the front, back, and sleeves, but when you flip it over (inside out?) then it displays the arms of the Shire of Midhaven on front, back, and sleeves.  You can see the King and Queen putting it on me in the YouTube video of my investiture.  Here is a snapshot of me wearing it later in the same court, but with the Midhaven side showing, for when the Shire presented the King and Queen with $250 toward the purchase of new crowns.

8) Midhaven had a session of the University of Ithra in February.  In it, I taught a class in basic heraldry and took a few other classes.  I have also written an article for the Midhaven quarterly newletter, and the Murmurs (the newsletter for the Barony of Aquaterra) — same article.  I’ll post the article here, too.  It is entitled “Mediæval English Pet Names”, and refers to diminutives of personal names, not to names that people in mediæval England gave to their animal companions.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Results of Recent Heraldic Submissions

I am thrilled to report that the SCA College of Arms has registered a populace badge for the Shire of Midhaven, a personal badge for my lady wife, and my heraldic will.

A populace badge is an armorial device marking members of the populace of a particular branch, in this case, the Shire of Midhaven (Kingdom of An Tir, Society for Creative Anachronism).  This particular badge is blazoned:  Argent, on a pale azure cotised sable, a tulip slipped and leaved argent.

The newly registered badge of my lady wife, Lady Avelyn de Mowbray, JdL, is blazoned:  (Fieldless) A cinquefoil pierced per pale purpure and vert.

My heraldic will designates my will regarding the disposition upon my death of the items which I currently have registered with the SCA College of Arms.  These include my name, Michael FitzGeoffrey, which I designated to be released, but the College of Arms (rightly) says cannot take place as long as my armory is registered under it, and must therefore remain until my other items are transferred, as stipulated.  Secondly, it designates my older son as my heir for my device, (Vert, a Latin cross and on a chief potenty argent, three mullets of eight points pierced gules).  Thirdly, my badge [(Fieldless)  On a cross potent vert, another argent] is bequeathed to Lady Avelyn.
 Arms/Device | Badge

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A New Year of Events on the Horizon

Greetings & salutations, gentle reader.

’Tis now the middle of February, and my SCA event itinerary for the year ahead looks something like this:

This is an annual event (although it may be taking a hiatus after this year) for the children and youth of the SCA.  As the dad to three small children, I will be attending principally as a parent.

Although this event isn’t actually an SCA event, per se, the Shire of Midhaven (with a little support from the Barony of Aquaterra, the Shire of Earnrokke, and the Shire of Shittimwoode) typically puts on a demo of heavy fighting, rapier combat, and various arts & sciences.  If I do get to go this year, I don’t know quite in what capacity I will participate.

This is the semi-annual coronation of the new King & Queen of An Tir.  Leading up to the event, I will be coordinating pre-registration, reservations for RV camping, and reservations for large group camping.
I also designed a logo for the event, to be used on the site tokens.  (A “site token” is a little souvenir that one received when one checks in for the event.  It is ostensibly used to prove that one has paid the required admission fee, but does also serve as a memento of the event.)  The design features a tulip with a crown superimposed upon it (as if the tulip is poking up through the middle of the crown, but seen in profile).   The tulip is for the Shire of Midhaven, where the event is being held, and the crown is because it is the coronation of the new monarchs of An Tir.
While at the event, I expect I’ll probably do some voice heraldry (town cry, field heraldry, court heraldry), and will try to get in a shift or two on King UlfR’s guard.  Apart from that, I mostly plan to take it easy & spend time with family & friends.

This is the Ithra session sponsored by the Shire of Midhaven.  Again, I may or may not attend, and if I do, I may teach or merely take a class or two.

This is Midhaven’s annual holiday feast.  This year, I will be the event steward, which is to say, the project manager for the whole event.  This will be the first SCA event for which I have been event steward.  So far, I’ve had plenty of ideas with respect to it, and plan to devote an entire blog post just to these ideas.

Seeing as how this event is so close to home (South King County, Washington), Lady Avelyn & I will be taking this opportunity to get away for the weekend, and play in fancy new costumes.  We’re planning to dress in 15th Century Burgundian garb.

  •  Friday, 24 January - Sunday, 26 January, 2014 - Ursulmas
This is the large annual public demonstration & off-season fighting event hosted by the Barony of Aquaterra at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, Washington.  Once again, I will be handling pre-registration for the event, and may possibly be handling RV camping reservations as well.  IF I actually end up attending, it may be that I will mostly help out with heralding the tourneys.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Back again

Well, I started my last post (October 25, 2012) saying how it had been so long since my previous post.  Well, I just beat that record into the dust.  (Sorry folks.)

Since then, a fair amount has happened:

  1. Between the end of August and the beginning of September, I submitted a heraldic will, Lady Avelyn submitted a badge, and the Shire of Midhaven re-submitted both a populace badge and a badge for the Company of the Tulip.  As of now (February 2013), all of these items, except the badge for the Company of the Tulip passed at the Kingdom level and are being considered at Laurel.  I have proposed some more designs to the Shire for yet another resub of the Co. of the Tulip badge, and will probably submit next month.
  2. The Shire of Midhaven held its annual Harvest Feast, wherein my lady wife was awarded membership in the Order of the Jambe de Lion (and her Grant of Arms), and several others were given Awards of Arms, including Lady Martha at Gore, Lady Elizabeth at Gore, Lady Libuše Makovička, Lord Cailin Cobb, and Lady Fujioka no Kaorime.  For these last two, the court ceremonies for their Award presentations were written by me.  Also at this event, we met a new friend, Baroness Stephania von Graz, OC, OD, OHA.  She is an accomplished scribe.
  3. After Harvest Feast, I was invited to serve on the retinue of the next King and Queen of An Tir.
  4. In December, we attended the Barony of Aquaterra’s annual Good Yule.  Lady Martha was there made aware of her Award of Arms, a great secret that we had kept since she was unable to attend Harvest Feast.  After about 30 years playing in the SCA, it was about time, and she is still basking in the appreciation.  Also we sat with Baroness Stephania during the feast.
  5. Over the holidays, we took some time and visited family in Arizona and California.  One of the gifts I received was a large brass hand bell -- perfect for doing town cry!
  6. Then in January, we were unable to go to Twelfth Night, but heard report that the Towne of KeyPoynt (a confederation of small households, mostly within Midhaven) was made an armigerous group by King Vik and Queen Astrid.  Huzzah to KeyPoynt!
  7. Later in January, all the work that Lady Avelyn and I had been putting in toward Ursulmas came to fruition.  That is, Ursulmas happened.  Originally, I had not intended to attend, but being on royal retinue, I wanted to come so that I could actually get a chance to serve while Their Majesties still reigned.  It was a success.  Lady Avelyn had a successful time demonstrating period garb with her friend and teacher, Lady Elewys, and while I was on guard duty with the King, I got to see a surprise knighting on the field.  I also got to assist in heralding royal court in the evening, and Duchess Angharad added Baroness Stephania to the family as a fellow protégé.  Also, one of my heraldic consultation clients, Mistress Gulenay, finally submitted her name, device, and badge to the College of Heralds.
  8. Now, looking forward, I'm accepting pre-registration for Youth Allthing, which has been postponed until April, and beginning work on July Coronation, for which I am in charge of pre-registration for gate and RVs, coordinating camping reservations, and helping with site layout and created the artwork for the site tokens.  I want to see if we can get a web form posted online for pre-registration, so as not to have to deal with illegible handwriting and postal delays.