Names and Naming Practices in the Fitzwilliam Accounts from 16th Century Ireland

by Heather Rose Jones
(Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn,

© 1999 by Heather Rose Jones; all rights reserved.


The following study is based on the Fitzwilliam family account books for the years 1560-65. This is an Anglo-Irish family and the names are thus of individuals living within Anglo-Irish society. (As a footnote, I discuss names appearing in the document that have at least one element of Welsh origin.)

The records are kept partly in Latin and partly in English, and certain trends can be seen that distinguish the two (beyond the use of Latin grammatical endings), so I have treated them separately.

Throughout this article, I have used italics to indicate actual manuscript forms, and boldface to indicate standardized forms for reference. When standardized Gaelic forms are used, they are standard modern (pre-spelling reform) Irish. I have attempted to use the word "Gaelic" to refer to linguistic origin (i.e., names and words derived from Irish Gaelic and not borrowed from other cultures or languages), "Gaelicized" to refer to non-Gaelic elements that have undergone characteristic changes due to the Gaelic sound-system that are reflected even in English written forms, and "Irish" to refer to constructions, practices, etc. associated with Ireland, whether or not they are of Irish Gaelic linguistic origin. "Anglo-Irish" refers to the people and culture of English origin resident in Ireland. Note that some of these families had been resident in Ireland for several centuries at the time of this manuscript, however both linguistic and cultural distinctions make it worth keeping them distinct from the "native" Irish living in English-controlled society. These distinctions can be tricky to interpret. Some native Irish families that threw their lot in with England took on English- style surnames. Some Anglo-Irish families "went native" and took on Irish-style clan-names.

Because of the small size of the data, and to give readers a better feel for what these names look like, I have included a full form for each unique individual in the discussion on name patterns.

The Latin-Context Names

As the entries in which the names appear primarily concern payments by the individuals in question, they all occur in the ablative, following the preposition de (from). Women's names that are Latinized as first-declension (ending in "-a") have an ablative identical to the nominative. Mens names that are latinized as second-declension (ending in "-us") have an ablative in "-o". A few names appear as third declension, with ablative in "-e". This seems confined to names that came into English use via Latin forms (e.g., Johannes, Michaelis) that normally take this declension. Occasionally, a name is treated as indeclinable (e.g., Salemon).

Only given names are Latinized in the document, and patronyms are not "translated" into a Latin form. Names follow English spelling practices with the exception of Latin-origin or Biblical names that follow the traditional Latin form, even when different from the expected spoken English form (e.g., Johannes).

Given Names

The following given names appear in the Latin section. I have given the corresponding Latinized nominative as the heading, rather than the English version -- which should be readily identifiable. The heading is followed by an asterisk if no example of the name appears in combination with a linguistically Gaelic (or clearly Gaelicized) element.


Davidus Davido (1)
Edmoundus Edmoundo (2)
Edwardus Edwardo (3) Probably all the same man.
Failghe? Phallie (2) Probably all the same man.
Iacobus Iacobo (3) All different.
Iohannes Iohanne (3), Johanne (1) All different.
Lucas Luca (2) Probably all the same man.
Michaelis Michaele (1), Michele (1) Probably all the same man.
Murchadh Morgho (1)
Oliverus* Olivero (1)
Patricius Patricio (4) All the same man, the Baron of Galtrym.
Remoundus Remoundo (3) Probably all the same man.
Ricardus Ricardo (4) Probably representing three men.
Robertus Roberto (3) Probably all the same man.
Solomon Salemon (1)
Thadeus Thadeo (5) Probably all the same man.
Walterus* Waltero (2) Probably all the same man.
Willelmus Willelmo (1)

For a total of 18 different names, representing at best estimate 26 men. The most popular is Johannes (4), followed by Iacobus and Ricardus (3), then Edmoundus (2), with the rest at one each. Only two names appear to be of Gaelic linguistic origin. Morgho almost certainly represents Gaelic Murchadh (note that in this case the final "-o" is not a Latinate ablative ending), and Phallie, based on O'Corrain & Maguire's discussion, is likely to represent Gaelic Failghe. Some of the other entries may be substitutions for Gaelic names, or for Gaelicized borrowings. Thadeus is known to have been substituted for the unrelated Gaelic Tadhg, and Johannes in the Latin records may stand for either English John or Gaelicized Seán, as both are clearly present in the English- context records (see below).


Elionora* Elionora (1)
Janeta* Janeta (1)
Katerina* Katerina (1)
Margareta Margareta (2) Probably both the same woman.

For a total of four different names, most likely representing four women. All the names are of non-Gaelic origin. It is impossible to tell whether the Latin forms might represent Gaelicized versions of the names in question (assuming even that the names have distinct Gaelicized pronunciations).


In the Latin records, names include only a single byname (whether a personal nickname or a patronym), unless one counts the title Barone de Galtrym as a byname. The bynames are not Latinized, and names that appear in both the Latin and English records have identical or highly similar spellings. Since a number of the derivations are uncertain, I have listed the entries by the manuscript form, rather than by a standardized form. Standardized forms of the origin, or possible origins, are given in the text.

Bynames of Irish Patronymic Origin

Note that by "patronym" I am including both the mac form (indicating one's father) and the ó form (indicating clan/family descent) as these are largely indistinguishable when the patronymic marker is stripped away, as it is in many of the citations. Also included here are patronyms based on given names of non-Gaelic origin, but using Irish formats.

Brenan (1) Patronym from Gaelic Bréanainn.
Brian (1) Patronym from Gaelic Brian.
Connell (1) Patronym with two possible origins. It may be a reanalysis of mac Dhomhnaill, or it may derive from ó Conaill.
Doughan (1) Patronym from Gaelic Dubhchú (genitive Dubhchon).
Kellie (1) Patronym from Gaelic Ceallach (genitive Ceallaigh).
McKegan (1) Patronym from Gaelic Aodhagán (genitive Aodhagáin).
McWilliam (1) Patronym from English William.
Odempsie (2 - probably both the same man) Patronym from Gaelic Díomasach (genitive Díomasaigh). (Note that although MacLysaght gives the origin as the adjective "proud", O'Brien gives several examples as a given name, in the form Diummasach.)
Odoyne (1) Patronym from Gaelic Donn (genitive Doinn).
Othole (2 - probably both the same man) Patronym, most likely from Gaelic Tuathal (genitive Tuathail). Note that the the manuscript elsewhere has "th" where the sound is clearly English "t", so the spelling does not necessarily indicate a "th" pronunciation.
Shane (2), shene (3 - probably representing one man and one woman in all) Patronym from Seán, Gaelicized borrowing of John.
She (3 - probably the same man) Patronym from Gaelic Séaghdha (genitive identical).

Gaelic Descriptive Bynames

Bretenaugh (1) The Gaelic ethnic byname Breatnach meaning "British", usually specifically meaning Welsh.
Duf (5 - probably all the same man) Probably the descriptive byname Dubh (black), although it could theoretically be a patronym from the identical given name.
Fian (2 - probably both the same man) Possibly the descriptive byname Fionn (white, fair) or a patronym from the identical given name, however this is not normally represented as being disyllabic as here (nor could this represent a palatalized "f" with "a" as the main vowel, as the opposite is the case in fionn -- "i" is the main vowel, and "o" marks the non-palatalization of the final consonant).
More (2 - probably both the same man) Gaelic descriptive byname Mór (big, great).
Oge (3 - probably all the same man) Gaelic descriptive nickname Óg (young, sometimes "junior").
Roe (1) Gaelic descriptive byname Ruadh (red).

Gaelic Locative Bynames

Fynglas (1) MacLysaght (Finglas) identifies this as an Gaelic locative byname, from Gaelic Fionnghlas. The name could also be interpreted simply as a compound of fionn (white, fair) and glas (blue, green, gray), both of which occur as descriptive nicknames in Gaelic.
Galtrim (1), Galtrym (2 - in title "Baron of Galtrim") Locative byname from Gaelic Calatruim (Hogan) (possibly modern Trim, ca. 25 miles NW of Dublin?). Note that the Patrick Hussey appearing in the manuscript is identified as "Baron of Galtrim".

Surnames of English Origin

Brandon (1) This name may be either a patronym, from Gaelic Bréanainn, or an English surname of locative origin, Brandon. (MacLysaght)
Buttler (1) English surname of occupational origin. The Butlers were an important Anglo-Irish family, and the one in this manuscript is identified as domina (lady).
Dowdall (1) From the English locative byname Dowdall (see Reaney & Wilson's entry for this name).
Fitzgerald (1) An Anglo-Norman patronym from Gerald. In English records of Irish patronyms, fitz is sometimes substituted for mac, however it was also used in surnames of purely English origin.
Fitzwilliams (1) An Anglo-Norman surname of patronymic origin from William (see previous). The final "-s" is commonly found in patronyms of this construction and is probably simply an English genitive ending. This is the surname of the family whose accounts these are.
Lumberte (1) Probably the English surname Lombard of locative origin.
Plouncket (1) English surname, originally of French locative origin. (See Reaney & Wilson under Plucknett.) The Plunketts were an important Anglo-Irish family.


Aphoell (2 - both the same man) A Welsh patronym from ap Hywel.

Note on the women's bynames

Three of the four women bear surnames of English origin, two of them the names of prominent Anglo-Irish families (Butler and Plunkett), one of whom is identified as domina (lady). The fourth bears a patronym taken from an Irishized form of an English given name. (She is also the only one mentioned more than once.)

Names in the English Records

Given Names


None of the English-language records mention women.

Artt Art (1), Arte (3). All four probably the same man.
Barnaby Barnabee (1)
Brian Brian (2), Bryan (6). Probably representing only three men.
Ceallach Calloghe (1)
Conn Con (1)
Donnchad Donnawghe (1)
Eoghan Owen (7), Owin (1), Owyn (1). Probably representing three men. Despite the Anglicized forms, this is probably not the Welsh-origin Owein.
Henry Henry (1)
Hugh Hewgh (1)
James James (3). All possibly the same man, although one is bynamed More, which may conceivably identify a father and son).
John John (2 - different men); Shane (2), Shene (1). Two of these may be identical to one of the Johns.
Laoighseach Leyso (1)
Maredudd Meredethe (1)
Michael Michaell (1), Mighell (1), Myhell (1). The two latter are probably the same man.
Niall Nele (1)
Patrick Patrick (1)
Feidhlim Phelim (1)
Richard Richard (1), Richarde (1). Two different men.
Toirdhealbhach Tirrillawghe (1), Tyrrillawgh (1). Probably both the same man.


Patronymic Bynames

Artt Mc Art (1)
Baron Mc Baron (1), Mac Baron (1). Representing a single individual. Based on MacLysaght's entry for "Barron", this is most likely part of a compound clan-name "O Neill Mac Baron", deriving originally from the English title "baron".
Conchobhar o Conner (1)
Díomasach Odempsie (1)
Feidhlim Mc Felym (1), Mac Felyme (1), Mc Phelim (1), Mac Phelym (1), Mc. Phelym (1). All probably a single individual.
Henry Mc Henry (3). Representing 2 individuals.
Hugh Mac Hughe (1), Mc Hewgh (2), Mc Hewghe (1), Mc Hugh (1), Mc Hughe (1). Representing a single individual.
John/Seán Mc Shane (1)
Laoighseach Mac Leyshe (1)
Mór O More (1)
Murchad Mc. Moroughe (1)
Niall o Nele (1), Onele (1), O Nele (2), O neile (1), Oneyle (5), Neale (1). Representing 4 or 5 individuals.
Odhar Mc Guyre (1), Mac Guyre (1). Possibly only one individual.
Patrick Fytz Patrycke (1)
Randolph Mac Randolphe (1), Mc Randolphe (2) Representing a single individual.
Rhys Apprice (1)
Súileabhán O Sullevan (1)
Tadhg Mac Thighe (1)
William Fitzwilliams (1), Fitzwylliams (1), Mc Gwilliam (1), Wylliams (1) Representing 4 individuals. See note in the Latin section.

Non-Patronymic Bynames of Gaelic Origin

Beare Beer (1) Part of a compound clan-name "O Sullivan Beare", derived from a place-name.
Buidhe Boye (2), Boyes (1 - Eng. genitive). Representing a single individual. "Yellow", but here likely part of a compound clan-name "Mac Randolph Boye".
Gallda Galte (1) "Foreign" (see MacLysaght under "Gault"), but possibly English "Galt" (see Reaney & Wilson) instead.
Fionnghlas Finglas (1) See in the Latin section, although this is a different individual.
Mór More (1) See in the Latin section.
Ruadh Roe (3) Representing 2 individuals. See reference in the Latin section.

English Surnames

Dowdall Dowdale (2), Dowdall (2) Representing 2 or possibly 3 individuals. See reference in the Latin section.
Miller Myller (1)
Pentheny Pentenye (1), Pentney (1) Representing a single individual. Derived originally from a location in France (see MacLysaght under "Pentheny").

Continue to second part.

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