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Tom, Dick and Leofric: The Transformation of English Personal Naming, c.800–c.1300

Chetwood, J A (2016) Tom, Dick and Leofric: The Transformation of English Personal Naming, c.800–c.1300. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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The personal naming system of England underwent a profound transformation during the medieval period. In the eighth century, a large number of unique, dithematic names of Old English origin were created for individuals. These names were rarely shared by people in the same family or community. By the fourteenth century, this system had changed into one where very few names, predominantly of continental or biblical origin, were shared unequally by the majority of the population, often combined with a byname or surname. The changes which took place have generally been examined through the prism of the Norman Conquest, and the change of system has often been seen to coincide with the imposition of Norman customs. This thesis reexamines the English case in the context of recent continental research. It carries out quantitive studies of 14 corpora of names collected from 11 different medieval English sources dating from c.800 to c.1300. These studies reveal a number of broad trends in the changes that took place to naming across the period. This quantitative analysis is combined with micro-analytical studies of naming decisions within specific families and communities. The results presented in this thesis suggest that the transformation to the English naming system was similar in many ways to that which took place across much of continental Europe during the same period, and it argues that the changes on both sides of the Channel had related systemic causes which had their roots in a fundamental reorganisation of the lived environments of the people of medieval Europe and the communities of which they were a part. As such, it has implications for the history of personal naming in both England and Europe, as well as the wider historiography of England during this period.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr J A Chetwood
Date Deposited: 29 Sep 2017 12:47
Last Modified: 29 Sep 2017 12:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18307

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