Category Archives: crowd-sourcing

Mystery Monday: Lifdenis

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is an odd one found in 11th C Belgium. The only instance we can find of this name on the internet is the single instance in the Dictionary, a witness to a charter. It could be an editorial error, or a scribal error, but if it is, it’s not clear what it is an error for.

Lifdenis

Is the fact that the substring denis, an actual, identifiable name, relevant? What if we interpret that f as s? We’re clutching at straws here — if you’ve got any thoughts, please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Kyustyal

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Any Swedish experts in the house? We’ve got a name for you!

Kyustyal

The Ky- is probably a variant of Kj-, but the rest? We have no idea what name is being represented here. If you have any suggestion, please pitch in in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Jey(e)s

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is a super exciting mystery, because we came across our first instance of it only a week or two ago, and since then we’ve found numerous other examples, all in the same immediate context. The name is Jeys or Jeyes, and it appears a number of times in the marriage and baptismal registers of Stratford-upon-Avon, in Warwickshire.

Jeys

We’ve not found this name in any other context, and the first example we found, the temptation was strong to say “it’s a misreading of/variant of Joys“, a name which was never popular but never entirely absent in 16th C England. But swapping e for o is very strange.

The parish registers are a mixture of English and Latin, but Jey(e)s only occurs in English contexts. This gives us a route of inquiry because we can compare the given names found in the Latin to see if there is a similarly obscure name that Jeys could be the vernacular of. The Latin names give us an immediate clue, in that the both registers also includes examples of the name Jodoca — the very name which is the Latin root of Joys. So, here we have a vernacular name that is one letter off from Joys, a vernacular form of Latin Jodoca, which is also found in the register.

The temptation to say that Jey(e)s is a Warwickshire vernacular of Jodoca is now even stronger…but gut feelings and temptations do not good scholarship make. We would love to have some clear evidence, either within Warwickshire or elsewhere, that Jey(e)s is a vernacular of Jodoca, and hence a variant of Joys. Do you have any evidence? Or other data that would support this hypothesis? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Irsut

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is a masculine name found in Latin records from early 13th-century Germany. It isn’t obviously dithematic in nature, nor does it bear any resemblance to any other name we’ve come across so far. So it is a true mystery:

Irsut

Have you come across this name before, or have any ideas what its origin might be? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Hanwetta

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

If anyone ever thought the penchant for Anglo-American parents to randomly make up names for their children was a modern one, then they’ve never looked at medieval names. There are some times when you’ve got a hapax legomenon where you wonder if you’ll ever be able to do anything more than shrug your shoulders and write “Obscure” for the etymology.

Today’s name is definitely one of those. So obscure, it doesn’t look or sound like anything else that we have in our data; so obscure, if you google four it, you get five hits, of which one is a false positive (googlebooks has misread some 17th C German fraktur), two are 18th C London newspapers that you have to create an account to log in to see, one is a login website, and the final one actually contains the name but in an entirely obscure way. (At least, this is what happens when we google: Maybe you’ll find something else! If you do! Please share with us!

The name is Hanwetta, and it’s a 14th C name found in an English poll tax. There’s always the possibility that the name has been mistakenly transcribed from the original manuscript, but it’s hard to even think of what it might possibly be an error for.

Hanwetta

So what do you think? Are we doomed to obscurity? Or do you have any light to shed? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Gignosa/Ginnosa

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is from 12th C France, and was one that, before we wrote this post, was utterly opaque to us:
Ginnosa
Researching it for this post, though, led us to two more examples. One is a woman named “Barisia, cognomento Ginnosa”, wife of Rainald cognomento Barbatus, who gave money to a monastery in 1139, and another is a Gignosa, one of three daughters of Petrus Simonis (the entire family has lovely names; his wife is Helisabeth, Gignosa’s sisters are Laurentia and Aldeburgis, and their brother is Aimericus), who made a donation around 1120.

Two other relevant pieces of information that we turned up: First is the Greek word ιννος or γιννος ‘mule’, found in Chambers’s Etymological Dictionary of the English Language. The other is the occurrence of the word ginnosa in 13th-century Provencal literature, in the Romance of Flamenca, and in the Cort D’Amor. So! Do we have any southern French scholars amongst our readers? Do you recognise this word? Know what it means? Know what its root might be? Please share in the comments!

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Mystery Monday: Faburn/Faburr

Every Monday we will post an entry that hasn’t yet been published with a view towards harnessing the collective onomastic power of the internet. If you have any thoughts about the name’s origin, other variants it might be related to, other examples of its use, etc., please share them in the comments! If you wish to browse other Mystery Monday names, there is an index.

Today’s name is found in late 13th C Italy (Bergamo, to be precise), and we have two instances of it, each in a different spelling.

Faburn

Now, Faburn and Faburr are not within the range of the usual sorts of spelling variants that you see — changing \n\ for \r\ doesn’t follow ordinary linguistic rules. However, in certain medieval scripts, r and n can be easily misread for each other. So there is a good chance that the editor of the edition we used for this source misread one of the instances — or even that the scribe who originally copied the manuscript misread one of the instances! Of the two forms, Faburn strikes us as more likely to be the non-corrupted form, which is why we have selected it as our header spelling. That being said, we don’t actually have any idea what the etymological origin of the name might be, which makes our choice of Faburn over Faburr purely guesswork. We’d love to have some more data one way or the other — other examples of the name, thought about its etymology, etc. Please share in the comments if you have anything to add!

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