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.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Busy, busy, busy (as usual)

Well, it has been a while since my last post, but I have not been slacking off (much).  Mostly, I’ve kept busy (SCA-wise, that is) with several local events, a bit of book heraldry, and a few other miscellaneous matters.

September 2012
·         Taught a class at the Shire of Midhaven’s monthly A&S / Social Night (see my previous post).

October 2012
·         Midhaven’s Fall Ithra and Revel (a great success):  I taught one class, and took three others.  I also had opportunity to provide crash space for two senior heralds, and therefore, to pick their brains on a variety of issues.  They were very helpful with a few of my heraldic consultation clients.
·         Shire herald’s quarterly report to the Kingdom
·         Working with the Ursulmas event team to prepare for event pre-registrations
·         Taking pre-registrations for Midhaven’s Harvest Feast
·         Began my first scarlet-work project

November 2012
·         In November, Midhaven will have its annual Harvest Feast, including a court held by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess ofAn Tir, for which I anticipate that I will either be the herald or will coach a new herald.
·         I’m also going to meet with my student, Cailin Cobb, and his wife, Fujioka no Kaorime, as well as my wife, Lady Avelyn de Mowbray to help them make good quality pages for themselves on the An Tir wiki.
·         Also, Lady Avelyn and I have been invited to a “persona dinner”.

In addition…
·         My Pelican (Duchess Angharad) has assigned her protégés to provide her an SCA résumé and a list of what we have done in 2012, sometime in January 2013.
·         Sometime soon, I want to get started on my heraldic tabard

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Currently working on...

I’m preparing to give two presentations to the Shire of Midhaven for its A&S/Social nights in September and October 2012.  In September, I’m presenting an overview of what awards are bestowed by the Kingdom of An Tir.  In October, Duchess Angharad Banadaspus Drakenhefd and I are team teaching on how to write effective award recommendations.

Also, I’m preparing to teach an Ithra class on “What Can Your Herald Do for You?”

At September Crown, Duchess Angharad put me into contact with Mistress Gulenay Khazari, OL so that I could (hopefully) help her to get her name and armory registered with the SCA College of Arms.

I also have been asked by Lord Bryson MacLachlan and by Martha at Gore to help them develop and register badges.

I continue looking, from time to time, for documentary evidence to support a name submission for Libuše Makovička.

Today, I agreed/volunteered to help with this upcoming January’s Ursulmas, by tracking pre-registrations with a spreadsheet.

I’m also occasionally working on a belt favor, bearing my badge, for my student, Cailin Cobb.