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.