Episode 117: What’s In a Name?

The origin of modern naming conventions can be traced to the period immediately following the Norman Conquest. Prior to the Conquest, almost all people in England had a single Anglo-Saxon name.  After 1066, parents gave their children names borrowed from French and from the Bible.  People also started to acquire second names based on their landholdings, place of origin, parent’s name, or some personal characteristic.  These were the beginning of many modern surnames. In this episode, we explore the history of English names, and we examine how naming conventions reflect the evolving culture of England in the Middle Ages.