Name for Gibbs Moryss

Gibbs is new to the SCA, but had done some other medieval-themed activities under that name and wanted to find a registrable equivalent that fit with their late-period English persona and paid homage to a grandfather named Morris.

Gibbs appears to have originally been a pet name or diminutive version of “Gilbert” before becoming established as a distinct name of its own. Morris seems to be an Anglicized version of the French “Maurice.” Both names came to England with the Norman invasion.

We spent some time looking at alternate spellings: Gibbs and Gibbes are both historically attested as English or Lowland Scots names, as are Morris, Moryis, Moryss, and Morrys.

When my first search only turned up documentation of Gibbs as a surname, we thought we might use Morris as a first name, perhaps with the spelling “Moryis Gibbs,” but then reconsidered when multiple people said this made them think of Maurice Gibb, a singer with the Bee Gees.

After turning up some additional sources, Gibbs Moryss emerged as the favorite.


Gibbs is a sixteenth-century English male given name, sometimes spelled “Gibbes.”

“Gibbs Wills” was the name of a man married on October 9, 1619 in Kent, England (Family Search, batch number M01596-5).

“Gibbs Hicksome” was the name of a boy christened on January 18, 1628 in Kent, England (Family Search, batch number C03656-1).

Moryss is a sixteenth-century English surname, sometimes spelled “Morrys.”

“John Moryss” was the name of a boy christened on February 13, 1562 in Langton by Wragby, Lincoln, England (Family Search, batch number C02972-2).

“John Moryss” was also the name of a boy christened on March 26, 1629 in Hereford, England (Family Search, batch number C13862-1).

Name and Device for Seònaid inghean mhic Aoidh

Seònaid is new to the society, but has thrown herself into it full throttle, and only a few weeks after her first event had designed a device and come up with an authentic name, making my job as herald relatively easy — with just a little fiddling around the edges we were able to get her ideas into registrable shape and submitted.


Per saltire azure and argent, four mullets counterchanged.

The design Seònaid came up with is nice and simple, as were the best period designs.

The fact that there were no conflicts was a pleasant reminder of how much available design space remains open in the society’s armorial.


Seonaid is a Scottish Gaelic female given name attested to the fifteenth century. It is discussed in Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 2120 (Judith Phillips, 2001) which cites Scottish Verse from the Book of the Dean of Lismore (William J., ed., 1937).

Some useful discussion of the interpretation of the source material for Seonaid may be found in the Oct. 2009 LoAR acceptance for Seonaid Upton.

inghean is the Gaelic marker for “daughter of”. It is listed in SENA Appendix A as a standard element of female names when combined with the genetive form of their father’s given name.

inghean is also in shown as a standard name element in “Quick and Easy Gaelic Names” (Sharon L. Krossa, 2007)

mhic Aoidh is the genetive form of Mac Aoidh, a Gaelic male name formed from “Mac” (son of) and “Aoidh” (a common male given name). It is discussed in Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 3038 (Aryanhwy merch Catmael, 2005) which cites Woulfe s.n. mac Aoidh.

The combined form inghean mhic Aoidh is mentioned in Academy of Saint Gabriel Report 1793 as a plausible byname for the daughter of a clan chieftain.


Pronunciation for Gaelic names often requires a bit of puzzling, and this one is no different.

On first glance, some folks might read Seonaid as “Shin-aid,” thanks to the fame of Sinead O’Connor, but the modern pronunciation seems to be “Shoh-nah”, like the name Shona.

The period pronunciation seems to have been similar, but with a soft “t” added to the end. One source describes it as “Shoh-na[tch]”, with the [tch] representing something like a ‘d’ sound but with your tongue against your front teeth instead of the roof of your mouth.

Those of us who aren’t great at making unusual sounds, myself included, can go for something half-way between Shoh-nah and Show-nat and they’ll be in the right ballpark.

In the sixteenth century, inghean mhic Aoidh might have been pronounced “Neek Eye”.

In the fifteenth, “inghean mhic” hadn’t yet gotten squashed together, so it would’ve been something more like “Nee-an week Eye” or even “Een-yan veek Eye”

(The h in “mh” is acting as a lenition marker, which softens the sound of the letter that comes before it; I think of “mhic” as trying to say “meek” except that when you say the “m” you’re not allowed to put your lips all the way together the way you normally would for an “m” sound, which leaves you with something closer to a “w” or “v” sound.)

Name and Arms for Josef von Ulm

I recently consulted with our provincial seneschal to prepare a submission for a member of his household.


Sable, an eagle Or, orbed, langued, and armed argent, and on a chief Or three lozenges ployé gules.

Josef knew he wanted his arms to include an eagle as a nod to the arms of his knight, and wanted a chief with a set of three charges that would reference his hometown football team, the Steelers, and their stadium, formerly known as Three Rivers. The lozenge ployé, sometimes blazoned an “Arabic napkin,” comes directly from the team’s logo.


Josef is a German masculine given name, appearing in the FamilySearch Historical Records as follows:
• Josef Hoecker, Male, Christening, 30 Aug 1626, Roman Catholic, Lichtenwalde Habelschwerdt, Schlesien, Prussia C99829-1.
• Josef Jakob Gutsweiler, Birth, 21 January 1634, Male, Degernau, Baden, Germany C39052-1.

SENA Appendix A states that German names may take an locative byname marked by “von <place>.”

Ulm is a city in the Baden-Württemberg area of Germany. Its name is attested to 854, where it is called “Hulma” in a document signed by King Louis the German. In Georg Braun and Franz Hogenberg’s Civitates Orbis Terrarum (Cologne, 1572), the woodcut map of Ulm is labeled both in Latin, as “Ulma,” and in German, as “Ulm” (written “VLM”).

Registration Basics Class Notes

At Whyt Whey’s recent Schola In The Solar event, I taught a heraldry class (my first!) covering the basics of registration for folks who were new to the society.

I put together a four-thousand-word writeup that outlined the process and covered some of the basic rules and jargon for both names and armory, which served both as an outline for my presentation and as a handout that people could take home with them for future reference.

I’ve posted it as a web page and as ten-page PDF file.

There’s definitely room for improvement, but I was pretty happy with how the session went, and look forward to teaching more classes in the future.

Name and Arms for Badr al-Abyārī

Badr is a rattan fighter in our province and had been working towards registering a name and device for some time. Along with with some of the other heralds on Facebook’s SCA Heraldry Chat group, I was glad to provide support as he worked through the process of selecting and combining name and armory elements.


Sable, the moon in her plenitude argent and on a chief Or a dragon passant gules.

Badr already had the outlines of his desired design worked out, and just needed a bit of support to find a combination of his favored elements that was registrable and clear of conflict.

The dragon image here comes from the Viking Answer Lady’s SVG Images for Heralds, while the moon image comes from Bruce Draconarius’ Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry.


Badr al-Abyārī is the name of an Arabic-speaking man living along the Silk Road in the 13-14th century.

Badr is an Arabic masculine given name, or “ism.” The name “Badr” appears in Juliana de Luna’s “Andalusian Names: Arabs in Spain” (2001) under “Men’s given names that were found at least twice in these name lists.”

SENA Appendix A states that Arabic names may take an locative byname, using al- and the adjectival form of a place name. This type of name element is known as a “nisba,” and is often of the form al-<place>i.

Al-Abyārī is a locative byname in Arabic, meaning “from the wells”. (Abyār is used as the name of many places in the Arabic world where wells are found.) The name “al-Abyārī” appears in Juliana de Luna’s “Arabic Names from al-Andalus: Nickbynames by type” (2008).

Names and Arms for Sara and Giuseppe Sala di Paruta

Sara and Giuseppe live in our neighboring barony of Dragonship Haven. Her name and arms had been registered but she wanted to tweak them, while his were being registered for the first time.


Per pale sable and vert, a poodle salient contourny Or, collared and langued gules, and in sinister canton a bezant.

Sara already had similar arms registered, but with a talbot sejant, which she wanted to swap for a poodle salient.

Poodles are documented as period, being known from at least the fifteenth century. The poodle illustration is adapted from the submissions of Briana Heron of Caid, using the period shearing for water dogs without ornamental pompoms.


Per pale sable and vert, two sprigs of rue and a covered salt-cellar shedding salt Or.

Giuseppe wanted his arms to share a common field with his wife’s, but wasn’t sure what charges it should bear.

After a bit of brainstorming, I came up with a cant on the household name “Salaparuta” or “Sala di Paruta” using the medieval name for a covered salt shaker, and the Italian/Latin word for common rue: “above a salte, a pair of rutas.”

Canting arms, using rebuses, puns, and alliteration, were very common in medieval heraldry, being well adapted to a society with low literacy but a taste for symbolism and wordplay.


Sara Sala di Paruta

Sara is an Italian form of the common female name Sarah, attested in Sicily in the 15th C.

S.n. Sara, “… Ma può risalire direttamente alla forma ebraica Sārāh; cfr. Sara mulier iudea uxor quondam Buxacce, a.1400.” Found in “Dizionario Onomastico della Sicilia”, Caracausi, G., 1994, Palermo. Translation by Maridonna Benvenuti: “But it can be directly traced to the Jewish Sārāh form; cfr. Sara mulier iudea uxor quondam Buxacce, year 1400.”

SENA Appendix A states that Italian names may take an unmarked locative byname. Sala di Paruta was the medieval name of a village and associated castle in Sicily that is currently known as Salaparuta.


Giuseppe Sala di Paruta

Giuseppe is an Italian form of the common male name Joseph, attested as the name of a Sicilian living in Rome during the 16th C.

“Giuseppe Sicilano” is one of many men named Giuseppe listed in “Names of Jews in Rome In the 1550’s” by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi, drawn from Nota Ebrei, a 16th C. rabbinical archive.

SENA Appendix A states that Italian names may take an unmarked locative byname. Sala di Paruta was the medieval name of a village and associated castle in Sicily that is currently known as Salaparuta.


Sala di Paruta

Sala di Paruta was the name of a village and an associated castle in medieval Sicily.

When the first tower of the castle was built in 1296, it and the village were known as “Sala Della Donna” (“Hall of the Lady”). The castle became the seat of a barony known as Baronia Sala Della Donna (“Barony of the Hall of the Lady”).

In 1462 it became the feudal lands of the Paruta family, and shortly after 1500 they renamed the castle and the associated barony “Sala di Paruta” (“Hall of the Parutas”).

In 1561, following the death of Giovanni Matteo Paruta, who had been Baron of Sala di Paruta, his daughter and only heir, Fiammetta Paruta, wed Giuseppe Alliata, who became Baron Sala di Paruta. (Their son was later named Duke Sala di Paruta.)

Throughout this period, the village that surrounded the castle was known by the same name, Sala di Paruta, but during the eighteenth century, the name was combined into a single word, “Salaparuta”, which is its modern name.

Below are three references in history books attesting to the existence of the territory, castle, and/or barony named Sala di Paruta.

Pervenuta veidesi finalmente questa gran Baronia in potere di Giolamo Paruta, il quale nel 1503, accrebbe di novelle fabbriche l’Abitato della vassalla Popolazione esistente in quella, che oltre più d’ un secolo traeva la fua forma (a: Amico Lexic. Topograph., Sic. Vol Mazar. V. Sala Paruta), e però ove fi disse nella mia Sicilia Nobile, essere stata ella edificata da Antonio Paruta nel 1507, fu uno de i sbagli, che mi fece prendere l’ autore genealogico, da cui ne fu cavata la notizia (b: Mugnos Fam. Paruta t. 3. f. 15. ma il millesimo citato del 1507, che volea dire 1503, fu error di stampa, poiché nel mio manuseritto originale 1503. cosi segnato leggesi.) Dalla Famiglia di Paruta cominició ad appellarsi la detta Terra col novello nome di Sala di Paruta, suppressovi l’antico di Sala di Madonna Alvira, e dalli Signori di Paruta fece passaggio ne i Signori Agliati.

— From “Della Sicilia Nobile“, by Francesco Maria Emanuele e Gaetani, 1775, p 263, citing “Lexicon Topographicum Siculum”, by Vito Amico, 1759.

English translation of key passage: “From [1503] the Paruta family began to call this land by the new name Paruta Hall, dropping the old name Hall of Lady Alvira…”

Alvira Giano Andrea suo primogenito, che a’investi Onofrio ed avo dell’ultima dei Paruta, la Fiammetta, con la quale passava di direitto nel 1561 nella casa Alliata la baronia sposando essa Fiammetta un Giuseppe Alliata: la quale baronia già sotto di Girolamo dopo il 1507 aveva preso nome di Sala di Paruta, o Salae Parutarum, sostituito al primo di Sala donne o Sala di Madona Alvira.

— From “Archivio Storico Siciliano“, published by “Scoieta Siciliana Per La Storia Patria” with “Scuola di paleografia di Palermo”, 1889, p 272.

English translation of key passage: “The barony had already under Girolomo from 1507 taken the name of Paruta Hall, or Salae Parutarum, replacing the earlier Hall of the Lady or Hall of Lady Alvira.”

Giuseppe Alliata… Sposó Donna Fiammetta Paruta, figlia di Giovanni Matteo, Barone della Sala di Paruta. Dotali in Notar Giacomo Scavuzzo di Palermo, li 6 maggio 1561; il matrimoni fu celebrato nela Parrocchia di San Giacomo la Marina di Palermo, li 8 successivo.

— From “The History of Feuds and Noble Titles of Sicily From Their Origins To Our Days, Volume Nine”, by Francesco San Martino De Spucches and Mario Gregorio, 1940, p. 292.

English translation: “Giuseppe Alliata… Wed Lady Fiammetta Paruta, daughter of Giovanni Matteo, Baron of Paruta Hall. Dowry recorded by Giacomo Scavuzzo of Palermo, May 6, 1561; the wedding was celebrated in the Parish of St. James the Mariner of Palermo on the 8th.”

Name and Arms for Lady Angelica di Nova Lipa

Lady Angelica is an established member of the society, serving as the chatelaine of the Canton of Whyt Whey, but had never registered her name or arms, an oversight I was pleased to help correct.


Gules, eight fleurs de lys in annulo Or.

In our first round of consultation, Angelica identified red and gold as her preferred colors, and the Florentine fleur de lys as her desired primary charge, but pinning down the optimum arrangement required multiple iterations before this design emerged as the favorite.


Angelica di Nova Lipa is the name of a Northern Italian woman during the Renaissance whose family hails from the Slavic village of “New Linden” on the other side of the Adriatic Sea.

Angelica appears as a woman’s name in many parts of Europe during the late medieval period, including in northern Italy and adjacent areas of central Europe.

“Angelica” is a Florentine woman’s name dated to 1427. (In “A Listing of all Women’s Given Names from the Condado Section of the Florence Catasto of 1427” by Juliana de Luna.)

“Angelica” is a Roman woman’s name dated to 1527. (On p. 87 in “Sac de Rome,” by Jacques Bonaparte, 1830. Image)

“Angelica” is a Venetian woman’s name dated to 1615. (In “Names from Sixteenth Century Venice” by Juliana de Luna.)

“Angelica” is a Hungarian woman’s name dated to 1230/1356. (In “Nıi neveink az Árpád-korban” by Edina V. Jurkó, at University of Debrecen’s Department of Hungarian Linguistics.)

di <placename> is a rare but attested form for northern Italian names. (SENA Appendix A states “Locative bynames in the northern and central areas normally take the form da X, but de X and di X are rarely found.”)

Italian and South Slavic name elements may be used together for the period of 1100-1600, according to SENA Appendix C.

Nova Lipa is a village between Vinica and Črnomelj in the White Carniola region, adjacent to the historic Venetian province of Istria, now part of modern Slovenia. In the Slovene language, the name means “new linden” (like the tree) and is distinguished from Stara Lipa (“old linden”), another village centered one mile to the north. (There are also paired adjacent villages named Nova Lipa and Stara Lipa a hundred miles to the east, in modern Croatia.)

While we haven’t been able to find a period source that refers to the village by this exact name prior to 1600, we believe it has been continuously occupied for more than a thousand years, and has been known by this name for more than four hundred years, as shown below.

The area of the village has been inhabited for thousands of years, and was previously the location of a Roman-era settlement. (Archeological site identified in 2006; Image.)

The area of Nova Lipa and Stara Lipa are listed together in fourteenth and fifteenth-century German-language texts as Linten, Linden, Lindenn, Lynden, or Lindenn, with references such as “dacz der Linten”, 1334, and “czu der Lindenn,” 1463, both found under the heading “Nova Lipa, pri Vinici v Beli krajini” (or in English, “Nova Lipa, near Vinica in White Carniola”), in “Historična topografija Kranjske (do 1500)” by Miha Kosi, Matjaž Bizjak, Miha Seručnik, and Jurij Šilc, at the Milka Kosa Historical Institute. (Image)

The linkage of these historical listings to the modern location of Nova Lipa is justified by an accompanying note: “Lokalizacija glede na [Urb. Nemškega viteškega reda, f. 216] iz 1490, kjer gre očitno za Staro in Novo Lipo” (or in English, “located via page 216 of the ‘Estate Records of the Teutonic Knights of 1490,’ where it is clearly for Stara Lipa and Nova Lipa”), citing “Urbar Nemškega viteškega reda za posest v okolici Ljubljane, Metlike, Črnomlja in Velike Nedelje 1490,” Codex 164 at the Central Archive of the Teutonic Knights in Vienna, which provides a listing of properties owned by Teutonic Knights in the vicinity of Črnomelj.

These listings of Linden are recorded in German, the language of the ruling Habsburg family and other elites, but local farmers in the fourteenth century would have spoken a Slavic language, a predecessor of modern Slovene, in which the village name would have been “Lipa.” For example “de Lipa” appears as a locative byname for numerous Czech men in 1310–1404. (Including “Heinrecus de Lipa 1383-1386” p. 43, and “Wenceslaus pernář de Lipa 1404” p.171 in “Registrik jmen osobnich”, a registry of personal names, by Wacslaw Wladiwoj Tomek, 1875; Image, Image.)

Although all of the residences in the area were originally considered to be a single village, some of the homes eventually formed a separate cluster on the southern side of the valley as residents shifted buildings to the hillsides to preserve open land for farming. (A sociological survey of patterns of town organization in the local area states that “Vas Nova Lipa (Bela krajina) je zato, da bi se ohranila rodovitna zemlja v bližnjem podolju, pomaknjena na višji, močno vrtačast svet, kjer hiše stojijo med vrtačami ali tik ob njih.” or in English, “New Lipa village (White Carniola), in order to maintain fertile soil in a nearby valley, moved higher, to an area of karst depressions where houses stand between sinkholes or adjacent to them.” In “Morfologija Vaških Naselij v Sloveniji” by Vladimir Drozg, 1995; Image.)

This southern group of buildings was soon recognized as a distinct place known as “Nova Lipa,” growing large enough by the 1600s to justify construction of its own church, the “Nova Lipa Church of the Holy Spirit.” (“Nova Lipa Cerkev sv. Duha,” dated to the 17th century by the Slovenian Cultural Ministry; Image.)

Although we do not have an exact date for the church’s construction, the village would have existed for a number of years prior to the building of the church, as churches were only erected in established population centers. Dr. Miha Kosi, a Slovenian historian with expertise in medieval geography of the region, believes the village was formed prior to 1600, during the Renaissance period: “When the village was divided, i.e. Nova Lipa was established, I don’t know, but obviously only after the middle ages, but before 17th c. (the building of the church of Holy Spirit).” (Personal communication, June 2017; Image.)

Name and Device for Alaxandair Mórda mac Matha

Alax is is my son, and wanted a name that reflected his mother’s Scottish ancestry, and a device suggestive of his primary interest in the society: youth combat.


Sable, an escutcheon within an orle Or.

Black and yellow are the colors of the martial offices, and after trying dozens of different designs he settled on these nested shield shapes.


Alaxandair is a Gaelic form of Alexander, first recorded as the name of a Scottish king born at the end of the 11th century (Alaxandair mac Mael Choluim), as well as two 13th century successors (Alaxandair mac Uilliam and Alaxandair mac Alaxandair), and then appearing more widely in records in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Pronounced “AH-lek-SAHN-dare.” Later variants include Alasdar, Alasdair, Alustar, and Alasdrann. The name comes from the Greek Ἀλέξανδρος (Aléxandros), which loosely translates to “defender of the people.”

Medieval Gaelic names could include both a descriptive and a patronymic byname. “Descriptive bynames were sometimes used in both Gaelic Scotland and Ireland. These bynames were usually adjectives describing concrete rather than fanciful characteristics… In Gaelic Scotland and Ireland, when descriptive adjective bynames were used they were often combined with simple patronymic bynames.” (Krossa)

Mórda is Gaelic for “great,” “exalted,” or “lofty.” Our original plan was to submit this as the related “Mórail,” which is modern Gaelic for “great,” “magnificent,” or “majestic,” but we were unable to document this to period, and a consulting herald at Pennsic helped us find Mórda instead.

mac is the standard Gaelic patronymic marker, meaning “son of.”

Matha is a Gaelic form of Matthew, his father’s given name. It appears in the Irish annals in 1258, and then repeatedly in the 1300s. (Mari) Pronounced “MA-tha” or perhaps “MA-ha.”

Thus, one can read Alaxandair Mórda mac Matha as “Alexander the Great, son of Matthew.” In addition to the obvious reference to Alexander the Great, the name is intended to allude to his size, as he’s exceptionally tall for his age.

My Name and Device

My SCA persona is of mixed post-Viking Irish and post-Roman Welsh descent, living in northern Wales one thousand years ago, so I tried to select a name and armory that felt appropriate for that context.


Per fess argent and vert, a bear passant gules.

The Irish and Welsh of 1017 did not have a concept of personal armorial designs, which arrived in the British Isles with the Normans fifty years later, but heraldry is such a pervasive element in the SCA that I was willing to be anachronistic about it.

However, I still wanted to use a very simple design that was reminiscent of the earliest period of heraldry — per-fess fields with a single central charge are found by the twelfth century.

I also wanted a design that was suggestive of Ireland and Wales — the Welsh flag is white and green with a red dragon, and bears are important symbols in early Celtic mythology.

And the red bear makes a good symbol for me — I am heavyset, bearded, and somewhat red of face.

The above emblazon uses a bear illustration by Graham Johnston from Fox-Davies’s heraldry book of 1909. The submitted image uses a much cuter bear inspired by the “bear cub” cant mentioned below.


Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin is a plausibly authentic Irish Gaelic name for the eleventh century. It’s pronounced Mah-(g)huv-ahñ Uh Roo(g)hañ, where the stress is on the underlined syllables and the parentheses indicate a softened guttural sound.

The word “Mathghamhain” is an old Gaelic word for bear cub, formed from the roots “matu” or “math” meaning bear, and “ghamhain” or “ghamhuin” meaning calf. In later usage this word shifted from meaning specifically a bear cub to referring to bears in general.

(A discussion of the importance of the bear in Celtic mythology and the derivation of the name Mathghamhain is provided by “Recherches sur l’origine de la propriété foncière et des noms de lieux habités en France”, Henri d’ Arbois de Jubainville, 1890, pp. 389-390, in French here, and translated to English here by Jeff McMahon.)

An old collection of Irish records known as the “Annals of the Four Masters” lists a dozen influential men named Mathghamhain in the years from the late 900s through the 1100s, including the older brother of Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig, aka Brian Boru, high king of Ireland.

Other period spellings of the name include Matgamain, Mathgamain, Mathghamain, Mathgamhain, Matghamhain, Matgamhain, Mathgamuin, and Mathgamhuin. (Much of this spelling diversity stems from the use of H as a marker for lenition — in Gaelic, a consonant followed by an H typically sounds quite different from that same consonant alone, generally being voiced more softly, or sometimes becoming totally silent. In early written Gaelic, lenition was originally indicated by putting a dot above the letter, so in the year 850 the name might have been written Maṫġaṁain, but later orthography switched to using an H after the letter instead. This transition happened unevenly in different times and places, with intermediate periods in which the lenition was implicit, or where the marker was applied only to certain consonants, or only when written in certain typefaces — and as old records were copied by later scribes, they would sometimes preserve the original spelling and other times would convert it to their contemporary usage, leaving an inconsistent mess.)

Mathghamhain can be pronounced Mah-hoo-an, although the period pronunciation may have been closer to Mah-(g)huv-ahñ. In modern Gaelic it’s pronounced something like Mah-hoon, and it’s typically Anglicized as Mahon, although in some cases it may have been converted to Matthew.

Ua is the marker for a clan affiliation byname; originally meaning “grandson of,” it later shifted to mean “descendent of” some notable ancestor, or more generally “member of a lineage.” This usage of Ua began in the late 900s in Ireland; by the 1200s, it was more generally written O’. It’s pronounced somewhere between “Oh” and “Uh.”

Ua Ruadháin was a family name in Ireland by the late 11th century, and was well established in western Ireland in the 12th and 13th century.

Spelling variations include Ua Ruadáin, Ua Ruadhán, and Ua Ruaidhín.

It is a genetive patronymic form of Ruadhán (“the red”, or “little red one”), which was in use as a first name centuries before that, including the 6th C. Saint Ruadhán and the 10th C. Bishop Ruadhan. (The personal name also appears as Ruadan and Ruadhan.)

There are a fair number of clergymen named Ua Ruadháin, including Aedh Ua Ruadhain (priest, north Ireland, –1105), Maol Ruanaidh Ua Ruadháin (bishop, Connacht, –1170), and Felix O’ Ruadhan (archbishop, Tuam, 1201–1235).

Ruadháin can be pronounced Roo-ahn, although the period pronunciation may have been closer to Roo-a(g)hañ. Modern Gaelic pronunciations seem to include Roo-ahn, Roo-awn, and Roh-an. It’s typically Anglicized as Ruane or sometimes Rowan, although in some cases it may have been converted to Ryan.


Thus, loosely translated, the name Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin can be read as something like “bear cub of the little red one” or “bear, descendent of the red,” meaning that the device shown above acts as a rebus, or “canting arms,” which was a common practice in the medieval period, using a picture that suggests elements of the name either literally or via puns.

While the name would probably be Anglicized as Mahon O’Rowan, it’s not completely out of the question for it to have become Matthew Ryan — my given name and my mother’s Irish family name.


The name and device were approved at the end of March, and I want to thank everyone who helped me as I worked through the process, including Alys Mackyntoich, who answered my EK “ask a herald” request early on in the process and helped me with Gaelic name elements; Seraphina Delfino, Rachael d’Amour, and Sigrith Vigdisardaater who checked my initial armory design in the Facebook SCA Heraldry Chat group and helped me figure out that turning the bear in my draft design would clear the only conflict; Frank Sloan and Brian Engler, who reviewed my Gaelic pronunciation; Gisela Vom Kreuzbach, who took my submission at Pennsic (as well as recruiting me to become a herald); Yehuda ben Moshe, who corrected a typo which I hadn’t noticed until much too late in the process; and the others whose names I’ve lost along the way — much appreciation to all.

Device and Name for Zoya the Orphan

Purpure, three Arabian lamps argentPurpure, three Arabian lamps argent.

I worked with a local member of Østgarðr to refine their device design and document their preferred name for submission to the College of Heralds.

“Zoya” is a female baptismal name found in Paul Goldschmidt’s “Dictionary of Period Russian Names” as “Zoia”, attested to 1356 in “Levin, Eve. Calendar of Saints—12th-15th Century Novgorod” p. 20. In the original Cyrillic, this name would have been spelled Зоя (three letters, Ze-O-Ya), the last letter of which may be transliterated as Ia, Ja, or Ya. (Confirmed in personal communication with Paul Goldschmidt, who reports “Zoia, Zoja, or Zoya are all the exact same name.”)

The construction “given-name descriptive-byname” is found as a period construction for Russian names in the same “Dictionary of Period Russian Names,” which states “there are numerous cases of simply adding a common adjective onto a given name,” and gives “the Unkissed”, “the Unpredictable”, and “the Long-Nosed” as examples.

“The Orphan” is a descriptive byname rendered in English under the Lingua Anglica Allowance.