[ANSTHRLD] Anglo-Saxon name specialist

doug bell magnus77840 at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 19 13:34:43 PST 2011

The August 2010 Cover Letter has a message from Pelican about
Old English.  All pay heed and draw neigh.

I also have Tengvik and The Pre-Conquest Personal Names of Domesday Book.


>From Pelican: Some Name Resources (a series)There
are an enormous (and growing) number of resources online that can be
useful to heralds and to submitters. Each month, I'm going to post
information about some that I think might be useful. If I miss some
interesting ones, let me know, because I don't know everything.
This month's topic is documenting Anglo-Saxon names. The traditional main source for Anglo-Saxon names was Searle's Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum. However, in August 2008, Searle was ruled unreliable, making three main criticisms:
all of the headwords that Searle uses have been standardized to a
normalized Old English form... Second, and connected to the first
issue, Searle included many non-Old English names, including
Continental Germanic and Old Norse names that were found in the English
documents that he was using as sources, even when the bearer is known
not to have been English... Third, Searle gives many variant spellings
of the individual themes, and these variant spellings should be used
with care. Some of the variants that he lists are very rare, perhaps
even scribal errors... Given these issues, Searle in general should not
be relied upon as the sole source of documentation for an Old English
So, given this ruling, what should you use?
First, note that while the spellings of the names in Searle aren't
necessarily appropriate, the people really did exist. So sending a name
up to Laurel with documentation from Searle is not cause for return; it
just means we have to search to determine if the spelling is
appropriate. Here's how I do it.
I start with PASE, the
Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England
(http://www.pase.ac.uk/index.html). It's recently been revamped, which
has added all the data I'd been missing (like names from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle).
But it's just a little harder to use. Click on "Database" and then
click on the little plus sign on the "Persons" bar at the left. That
will give you a list of options; click on the plus next to "Name." This
will bring up a list of the names starting with A. You can
select another letter or search for a name. The standardized names are
registerable, as are documentary forms. To find documentary forms, as
well as determine the dates associated with the individuals, click on
the name of the individual. In the central window, all individuals with
that name are listed. Click on one to open a window to the right with
more data about that individual. The documentary forms are listed under
"Recorded Name." To look at another individual with the same name, just
click on their name. To bring up another name, close the center window
by clicking on the X or on "Reset Constraints."
Tengvik's Old English Bynames has significant numbers of given names and bynames. Ekwall's The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names
has some Anglo-Saxon placenames as well as later placenames. A few
additional articles are found at the Academy of Saint Gabriel library
(the relevant page is

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