dear reference desk how does one go about officially registering their name with the sca? do you have to provide documentation no matter the name or only if it’s “uncommon”? how do you define an uncommon name?

Dear Anonymous,

Officially registering a name is super awesome, so first of all – rock on you for doing it.

To register a name, you will go through your Kingdom’s College of Heralds. You can usually find it on your kingdom’s website, or by searching “<kingdom name> heralds” in Google. There is a form you fill out with basic information, the name you want, and your documentation.

So yes. Yes you have to have documentation. Even if your name is John or Katherine.

A lot of documentation for “common” names can be found on the SCA College of Arms website.

Heraldry/name registration isn’t really a magical, lost art form that requires animal sacrifice and perfectly drawn chalk diagrams. It’s just rule-following, forms, and documentation.

Happy registering! <3

Names of Jews in Medieval Navarre (13th–14th centuries)

Names of Jews in Medieval Navarre (13th–14th centuries)

Hi, do you have any references for Japanese names? I’m looking at doing a Japanese persona from around the Heian time period. Also, do you know any references for garb for that time period? I’m looking at a lower noble/ high-ish merchant class. Thank you for your time. This helps a lot!

My mother used to say “I don’t know the answer to that, but I know where to find it!”

(She was a librarian.)

So, no, I don’t have any references for Japanese names – but I know where to find them! 😀

The lovely heralds over on Facebook’s SCA Heraldry Chat group reccommend the following:

Name Construction in Medieval Japan

From the vendor: Written by “Solveig Throndardottir” (aka Dr. Barbara Nostrand), a large compilation of historical Japanese names – forenames, surnames, nicknames, their meanings, and the appropriate Japanese ideographs.


I also found some web resources which might be helpful.

”Japanese Names” on An Online Japanese Miscellany, by Nihon Zatsuroku


A list of pre-1600 Japanese name resources
by Issendai (who appears to be a SCAdian…)

A Long History of Japanese Names, Part II: [Link]

For clothing….

The Costume Museum (Kyoto) – Heian Period: [Link]

History of the Kimono, Part II, Nara and Heian: [Link]

Chinese Onomastics

What are the go to documentation sources for Chinese names?


One thing to consider when doing research regarding China in an SCA context is that you’re one of a relatively small number.

I wasn’t able to find any traditional “books” for Chinese onomastics (fancy word for first names), but I did find some relevant resources.

Introduction to Pre-16th Century Chinese Onomastics
by Ii Katsumori
SCA Heraldry Website [Link]

The Onomastics of Medieval South China: Patterned Naming in the Lang-Yeh and T’ai-Yüan Wang
by Dennis Grafflin
Journal of the American Oriental Society [JSTOR Link]

What IS a Name? Reflections on Onomastics
by William Bright, University of Colorado 
Language and Linguistics [Link]

What’s in an early Chinese name, again? [In German]by Wolfgang Behr [Link]

Hope this helps!

Update for Maria Marschall

From my Heraldry Buddy, for @sca-nerd

Some Early Middle High German Bynames
with Emphasis on Names from the Bavarian Dialect Area


MARSCHALC: ‘a farrier, a groom’, later a high official; NHG Marschall.

Wernherus probus Marschalcus 1233
Heythenricus qui dicitur Marescalcus 1172 (MARSCHALL)

Medieval German Given Names from Silesia: Women’s Names [Link]

Marie   1   1346

(Guys, you know I’m not a herald right? I’m just a librarian. <3)

OKAY! So, I have tried to do some research on my own for a name so that I wouldn’t be obnoxious to Heralds when I was ready, but I am hoping that you can give me some other assistance. I am going for 13th Century German and the name would be Marie Marschall of Seareach (because I’m original like that). I found documentation for Marschall, but I’m not sure it is one the Heralds will accept. Do you have any resources or direction for me?

I consulted with a Herald Buddy about Marschall (because everything else should be fine – Maria is well documented and SCA groups as locative bynames are cool) and found some things.

First of all “Marschall” has been registered before, so we have that documentation from the Online System of Commentary and Response:

<Marschall> – R&W, p. 300, lists a <John Marschal> in 1296 and a <Rainald le mareschal> in 1140. “Surnames in 15th Century York”, URL:, lists Mareshall and Marshall. “An Index to the 1296 Lay Subsidy Rolls for Rutland, England”, under the Bynames section, URL:, lists Mareschall. Based on these examples, we believe <Marschall> to be a reasonable spelling variant. 

Unfortunately, this documents the name to Germany, not England, and German and English aren’t compatible languages.

Truth is, Maria Marschall of Seareach is totally documentable for England. I can find some Marschalls in Germany via FamilySearch, but they’re all super late period. Like, born-in-1599-late-period.

Recommendation from Herald-Buddy? register it as English and play German. 😉

(Herald Buddy blogs over here: [Link] You should go read it. <3)

Hello! I was wondering if you might be able to help with some name documentation. I’m an Anglo-Saxon from the Kingdom of Mercia in 910 AD, and the name I want to go with is Hardwin Godricsson. Thank you in advance!!

Hi, @spunky-punk-raven​!

Hardwin was the harder of these (har har) to find, at least within 100 years of your 910 AD date.

There wasn’t an entry for it in St. Gabriel, which is my go-to source for name stuff, but they do point to this nifty resource for Anglo Saxon names: the PASE Database, part of the Prosopography of Anglo-Saxon England.

A database of individuals mentioned in pre-Conquest English documents. Alphabetized by modern standard form; the “recorded forms” heading gives original spellings. The database is also indexed by status, possessions, occupations, relationships, and more. This database replaces an olderlist of Anglo-Saxon people recorded in selected reference works.

When searching PASE for Hardwin using PASE – 1066 seems to be the earliest, though there are some alternative spellings in the Domesday source.

PASE resource’s results for Godirc: earliest here is 970.

Hardwin has been registered before, [Link], but I can’t see the documentation to know what they used.

I can’t find Godricsson (with two s’s), but I did find Godricson, registered relatively recently (it passed in 2012): [Link]
I’m not a herald, so I totally recommend reaching out to the SCA Heraldry Chat Facebook Group with this (or ask your local herald to do so), because they’re way better at this than I am. But I would say that this is possible, if you aren’t super tied-down to the 910 date and need exact documentation for that year.

Good luck! 😀

EDIT: Apparently my PASE links didn’t work, because PASE is weird. But under Database > Persons > Name, you can sort by letter and then name to see all the entries. Thank you to SCA Heraldry Chat for pointing out my error! [Permalink to that FB thread. <3]

Coming up with my SCA persona


So I’m working on figuring out my SCA name and have narrowed it down. I’m definitely using Anne as my first name, but I’m having a harder time pinning down a byname/surname. I’m going to be mainly playing Norman Conquest through the Anarchies England, so am thinking of using a French name.

I’ve got 3 names that I really like:

Beaumont (I like the way it sounds)
D’arcy (Yes, I’m a giant Jane Austen P&P nerd.)
LeRoux (I’m usually a redhead so I kinda want to incorporate that into my persona)

But decisions, decisions, decisions.

Beaumont: 1292 Census of Paris [Link]

D’arcy (de Arcy, Darcy): 12/13th Century England/France [Link]

LeRoux: Couldn’t locate a St. Gabriel or SCA Heralds article, but it looks like it has been registered before as a 15/16th century name.

So the good news is that all of these should be documentable. Search through OSCAR to see what documentation others (who got the name passed) used.

I like LeRoux, honestly. 😀

Norse Names


Okay so I’m looking at old Norse names for my SCA persona, and I’m thinking I like Sigrdrífa. The trouble is, I can’t find much at all on the origin/mythology of the name. I know she was a valkyrie, that’s all. Anyone got more? I’d appreciate any help…

My go-to for name stuff is the Academy of St. Gabriel. They have…

A list of links related to Scandinavian Names, including A Simple Guide to Creating Old Norse Names.

It appears that Sigrdrifa is more a title than a name itself.

According to Wikipedia:

The name Sigrdrífa means “victory-urger” or “inciter to victory”,[2][3]) and is in an epithet of the valkyrie Brynhildr. It occurs in Fafnismal (stanza 44), and the prose following stanza 4 of the Sigrdrifumal glosses it as the valkyrie’s name. Early editors of the text have followed this lead and given the title of Sigrdrifumal to this section of the Codex Regius text.[4]

In the ASG, I have found these variants of Sigrdrifa:

* Sigri/{dh}r

In this list, {dh} represents the letter "edh", pronounced like the
<th> in <this> [...] [Link]

Sigridis in a list of Sweedish female names from the 14th century [here].

  Sigri, Sigrid, in a document from 1583, from Norbotten, the northernmost Swedish province: [Link]

A longer discussion of Sigri/{dh}r: [Link]

I hope these help!

Hey there! First off, let me say that I adore this resource – absolutely fantastic! Anyways, I’m looking for a bit of information as to names and heraldry in 14th century England – the heraldry specifically seems to be a bit spotty as far as information goes, as the whole movement doesn’t seem to have kicked off until a century or two later. Do you have any resources that I could reference?

I can certainly try to find some! 😀

First of all, as with any heraldry/name related question, I highly suggest consulting heralds either at an event’s Herald Consultation Table or on the SCA Heraldry Chat Facebook group. Heralds don’t bite. Promise!

The SCA Heraldy page has a some article on 14th Century names for England, but they are specific to the county:

Other websites:

The Academy of St. Gabriel has some naming guides for 14th century English names, but it only goes to 1450. It looks like they have a lot of good stuff here – plenty to help you narrow down and make a choice.

You could also search their past reports for “14th century England,” but I would suggest narrowing your location to a county/region first, because it pulls up a LOT. You can use the search on their front page, or look at all the reports here: [Link]

Books: Consult with your local heralds to see if someone already has a copy of one of these on hand, otherwise, you should be able to Interlibrary Loan them at your local library. For those that have a Google Books preview (at least), I’ve included that link as well.

A Dictionary of English Surnames (1991), by Percy Hide Reaney.
Publisher’s Description: This classic dictionary answers questions such as these and explains the origins of over 16,000 names in current English use. It will be a source of fascination to everyone with an interest in names and their history.
Worldcat (See what libraries near you have it) [Link]Google Books [Link]

The Oxford Dictionary of English Christian Names (1977), by Elizabeth Gidley Withycombe.
Publisher’s Description: Presents the early forms of common names, their equivalents in other languages, pet forms, and etymologies together with historical backgrounds.
Worldcat: [Link]

You’re right – this is harder than names. London’s civic arms date back to about 1380, and the earliest reference to the officer of arms at the College of Arms is 1334. You can read more on the Wikipedia page: [Link]

In the 1390s, Johannes de Bado Aureo published Tactatus de Armis, but the only versions of it I can locate are outside the 14th century window. It’s unlikely the text changed much, since it took so long to make a book.
De arte heraldica, by de Bado Aureo, c. 1440-1450
Bodleian Library Images: [Link]

Powell’s Roll (MS Ashmole 804), which dates c. 1345-1351 has been digitized by the Bodleian Library – you can view those images here: [Link]

If we look to non-period sources, there are plenty of English Armorials that list not only the Royal arms, but civic arms, and the arms of the general nobility.

The General Armory of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales (1884), by Sir Bernard Burke.
Internet Archive: [Link]Supplement that begins the general armorial: [Link]

If you compare a source like Burke’s General Armory to something like this list of the Knights of the Garter [Link] in order to date items. Burke’s doesn’t include images – just blazons – but it has a whole section in the front about how heraldry works. And there are other online resources to understand how to decipher a blazon, such as this one on the SCA Heraldry site: [Link]  There is also the official Burke’s Peerage website, which has images – but again, no dates.

The 107th edition of Burke’s appears to maybe have dates associated with each entry, but it is difficult for me to tell given the inability to zoom in on the few preview pages available. The book is VERY expensive, so check your library – [Worldcat Link] It may be that it won’t circulate (given it’s replacement cost), which means it probably won’t be allowed to go out on ILL. But you could see where the closest copy to you is and then have a field trip!


You might also try:

Anglo-Norman armory two: an ordinary of thirteenth-century armorials (1984), by Cecil R. Humphery-Smith
Worldcat [Link]

This apparently goes from 1250-1315 and has 3,000 coats of arms in it, though the artwork is modern.

Good luck!