Names and Naming Practices in the Red Book of Ormond (Ireland 14th Century)

by Heather Rose Jones
(Tangwystyl verch Morgant Glasvryn,

© 1999 by Heather Rose Jones; all rights reserved.


This is a 14th century manuscript (with some portions supplied from a 15th century transcript) of legal records pertaining to the Ormond family in Ireland. The text has been published as The Red Book of Ormond edited by Newport B. White (Dublin: Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1932). The text is in Latin, written by an English speaker, hence the forms of the names follow practices similar to those of Latin texts in England: Some names are entirely Latinized (e.g., Iohannes for vernacular John), others follow the usual English vernacular spelling but have Latin inflections added (e.g., de Radulfo), while others follow English spelling conventions and have no Latin inflections. "Function words" in names ("son of", "of", "wife of", etc.) appear in both Latin and Anglicized Irish. Differences in distribution of the linguistic forms are discussed below.

The names can be divided into three groups for comparison: those containing identifiable linguistically Irish elements; those containing identifiable linguistically Welsh elements; and those containing neither of the above, which I label (for convenience) "English". This is not to say that the third category necessarily contains only names of English people, as it is clear that many name elements had been adopted by Irish people in this region at this time. Separating out names using Welsh elements from the "English" names is, perhaps, not of major significance. Both groups would be "foreigners" and would tend to interact with the native Irish in similar ways. However for my own interest, it was interesting to consider them separately. Names where the only linguistically Irish element is a locative byname have still been classed in the "Irish" group.

No attempt has been made to guess whether Latin or English names may, occasionally, stand for some unrelated Irish original. The Latin declension has been mentioned only when it affects the form of the name. The header forms are for reference only and do not necessarily appear in the document. When the identification of the name is uncertain, the form in the text has been used for the header. If there is no context for the gender of a name, it has been assumed to be masculine.

Throughout this article, italics indicate citations from the manuscript and bold-face indicates normalized reference forms (when known), whether in English, Latin, or Modern Irish.

Given Names
Name Patterns
Glossary of Elements in Bynames


Dictionary of the Irish Language (Based Mainly on Old and Middle Irish Materials) - Compact Edition. Dublin: Royal Irish Academy, 1990. "DIL"

Hogan, Edmund. Onomasticon Goedelicum (An Index, with Identifications, to the Gaelic Names of Places and Tribes). Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1993.

O'Brien, M. A. Corpus Genealogiarum Hiberniae Vol 1. Dublin: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1976.

Ó Corráin, Donnchadh & Maguire, Fidelma. Irish Names. Dublin: The Lilliput Press, 1990. "OC&M"

Reaney, P. H. & Wilson, R. M. A Dictionary of English Surnames. New York: Routledge, 1991.

Richards, Melville. Welsh Administrative and Territorial Units, Medieval and Modern. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1969.

Woulfe, Patrick. Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall - Irish Names and Surnames. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 1967.

White, Newport B. The Red Book of Ormond. Dublin: The Stationery Office, 1932.

Layout, editting, and publishing Arval Benicoeur.