Sixteenth-Century Turkish Names

Ursula Whitcher


This is a collection of Ottoman Turkish names found in sixteenth-century court records from the city of Istanbul. All of the people mentioned appeared in court between the years 1520 and 1530 CE. The original documents were written in Turkish using an Arabic script; my source (a historical article written in English) transliterated the names using the conventions of modern Turkish. Since I didn't work with the original names, I can't give precise information about forms or frequency. However, I hope this article will be useful to people interested in the history of names, especially those involved in historical reenactment.

Note on Special Characters

Until the twentieth century, Turkish was written in an Arabic script. The system of transliteration used here is based on modern Turkish, which uses certain special characters. In these lists of names, a comma represents a cedilla or small hook under the preceding letter, as in s, and a closing parenthesis represents a small u over the preceding letter, as in g). Furthermore, in this system the sound of the letter I depends on whether or not it is dotted. Here i stands for a dotted letter I, and I stands for the undotted letter. More information about the Turkish alphabet is available here or here.

Name Structure

Most of the names I found were patronymics, names that identify the bearer by his or her father. These used the Arabic words bin "son of" and bint "daughter of". For example, a man named Ahmed whose father was known as Abdullah would have been called Ahmed bin Abdullah. A woman named Fatima whose father was called Abdullah would have been known as Fatima bint Abdullah. I found one woman, Hadice bint Fatima, identified as her mother's daughter; she may have been identified this way because she was involved in a lawsuit with her half-brother.

Several people in this list were identified by titles such as Hatun, 'lady' or 'Mrs.', or Beg, 'provincial governor'. These titles appeared directly after a given name. For example, a woman might be known as either Emine Hatun or Emine Hatun bint Mehmed. Many descriptive and occupational bynames appeared before a name. For example, a butcher named Mehmed was known as Etci Mehmed, 'Butcher Mehmed'. A short list of other bynames and the ways they appear in my sources may be found in the collection of Titles and Bynames.

Name Lists

Men's Names
Women's Names
Full List
Complete names, with important information about the bearers.
Titles and Bynames


Main source:

Yvonne J. Seng, "Invisible Women: Residents of Early Sixteenth-Century Istanbul", Women in the Medieval Islamic World, ed. Gavin R.G. Hambly (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998)

Other sources:

Habibullah's Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire and her times,, accessed March 2004

Leslie Pierce, "'She is trouble . . . and I will divorce her': Orality, Honor, and Representation in the Ottoman Court of 'Aintab" in Women in the Medieval Islamic World

Farima Zarinebaf-Shahr, "Women and the Public Eye in Eighteenth-Century Istanbul" in Women in the Medieval Islamic World

Introduction and Notes - Men's Names - Women's Names - Full List - Titles and Bynames

Copyright 2002 by Ursula Whitcher, alias Ursula Georges