This is a post that I received a few years ago. I don't know if the e-mail addresses are still good, but I still think it's an extremely useful source of info, so I'm including it here. Credit the nice man if you use his research! =)
Names in Barbour's Bruce
A collection of 13th and 14th century names.
Copyright © 1995 Bryan J. Maloney
Bruce, like all 'historical' epics (Barbour, himself, called it a 'Romance': "Lordingis, quha likis for till her,/The Romanys now begynnys her."), concentrates on the acts of the movers and shakers. Thus, this list gives a fairly good cross-section of names popular among the nobility and gentry of late 13th-century/early 14th-century England and Scotland (Robert the Bruce died in the 1320s). However, it would not be as good an indicator of Highland Scottish practices, nor necessarily of the lower classes. In addition, very, very few women's names appear. Nevertheless, Barbour's Bruce is a primary source, from a specifically verifiable period.
I have not bothered to attempt to deduce which names might be more common than others and simply produced a list of names. I have listed names that appear to be variations of each other together, separated by a comma. Modern readers of English appear to have a great deal of trouble with some spelling conventions. Specifically, the use of "I", and "V" to denote the modern letters "J" and "U". When this has occurred, I have put somewhat modernized spellings in parentheses.
There are several letters in Middle English that are no longer used by modern English. Two are important for our purposes. The "yogh" looks like a bold-face, subscripted "3". It was to be pronounced like a voiced version of the German "ch" found in "nach". I have transliterated this as "gh". The other letter is "wyn", which is a semivowel that has been transformed into "u" or "w" in modern usage. This is either rendered "u", "w", or "uu", depending on how the name was indexed in the EETS version.
The EETS edition already rendered "thorn" and "edh" as "th," so I'm not sure which would have been which.
I give "Christian" or "given" names first. The names are listed in alphabetical order, with variations given after each name. When several variants appear, the names are listed by the first to appear alphabetically. Thus, "Walter", appears under "Gawter". This isn't very convenient if you're looking for a modern name, but illustrating cute medieval variations of modern names was not my purpose. I have also not bothered to give the "modern versions" of the medieval names. If you want a modern name, just go buy a "name your baby" book. I presume that the names would be pronounced in appropriately "Middle English" fashion from the spellings. Unfortunately, I am not familiar with exactly how Barbour's dialect would be pronounced.
I then list "surnames," again in alphabetical order with variations upon a single name grouped together. I listed the names as they appeared to be used in Bruce.
It was not unusual for Barbour to use more than one spelling of a name to refer to the same person. Therefore, I would surmise that the practice of insisting upon a single spelling for a specific name has little place in SCA "period." Upon reading the book, it is also quite obvious that it was very possible to have to people with effectively identical names. For example, "Robert Bruce", the king-to-be of Scotland, had relatives named "Robert Bruce."
It should be noted that I did not list mythical or classical names that were invoked for literary allusions or effects. I tried to restrict this list to names of the supposed participants of the events of Barbour's Bruce.
--Bryan Maloney/Symon Freser.
I thought those playing realistic style games, especially ones based in Scotland, might like this article. Hope it's of use, be well.
James A Renn
Last Updated: Sat Jan 2 1999
Copyright © 1999 B. A. "Collie" Collier