Wednesday, July 23, 2014

World-Wide Wednesday: Welsh Baby Names

Beaumaris Castle Anglesey Wales United Kingdom
Welsh baby names are very interesting. Traditional names have their own rules that may make the names complicated to pronounce for those who are not familiar with them.

I've found a website that studies Welsh names from medieval times and breaks down specific elements within the names. It was actually a bit over my head but I definitely want to share those links if you're interested in more of the etymology:  
Link #1  | Link #2   |  Link #3

Let's start with a bit of information about surnames in Wales. From the 15th century onward, families adopted a fixed family name. Before that, they used a patronymic naming system in which a "surname" was derived from the child's father's name. This kind of naming was especially telling for the male line throughout the generations. Typically, a person's baptismal name would be linked to their father's baptismal name by the letters ap or ab (son of) for a boy, and ferch (daughter of) for a girl. As an example, Evan son of Thomas would be known as Evan ap Thomas.

This naming method gave rise to boys whose surnames could be extremely long to incorporate the names of their fathers and grandfathers for several generations. For example, it was common to have a name that looked like this: Llewelyn ap Dafydd ab Ieuan ap Griffith ap Meredith. This was in place by Welsh law so that it was obvious to see how people descended from which ancestors. Later, these laws were abolished in the Middle Ages and replaced by a fixed family surname system that was easier to keep track of. However, there was still an element of patronymic names being used in varous forms until the early 19th century and especially in rural areas. Areas with strong English influence and wealth were the first the drop the patronymics system.

As this surname transition occurred, the new fixed surnames were morphed from the old system. For example, the surname Powell came from ap Hywel and Bowen came from ab Owen. Price comes from ap Rhys and Pritchard comes from ap Richard. The ap and ab were eventually dropped altogether in favor of simply adding an S to the end of a name like Jones, Roberts or Edwards. This was influenced by the English. It is also common that people with the same surname in an area are completely unrelated, having simply chosen the same surname. Jones, Williams and Thomas are among the most prevalent surnames. A survey estimated that about 9/10ths of the Welsh population have a total of just one hundred surnames.  
Source.

As for Welsh first names, they are on their own level. If you were to look up Welsh names and browse a list of them, you'll noticed that most of then end with -yn, -on, -en, or -in. There are many that have Y's and W's in them as well.  Here are some examples of traditional Welsh boy names that may be unfamiliar to the non-Welsh:

Boys:                                                      
Alwyn
Arwel
Bedwyr
Bleddyn
Braith
Brynmor
Cadfael
Cadoc
Cadwalader
Caerwyn
Caradoc
Cledwyn
Dafydd (David)
Deiniol
Delwyn
Drystan
Einion
Eirian
Emlyn
Emrys (Ambrose)
Ffransis
Gawain
Gethin
Glyndwr
Gruffudd
Gwillym (William)
Gwythyr (Victor)
Heddwyn
Heulog
Hywel
Iago (Jacob)
Idris
Ieuan (John)
Islwyn
Llewellyn
Macsen (Maximus)
Madog
Maredudd (Meredith)
Meurig (Maurice)
Neifion (Neptune)
Owain (Eugene)
Padrig (Patrick)
Pedr (Peter)
Rheinallt (Reynold)
Rhisiart (Richard)
Rhydderch
Sawyl (Samuel)
Siarl (Charles)
Sieffre (Geoffrey)
Siorus (George)
Talfryn
Tomos (Thomas)
Urien
Wynfor
Yorath
And here are some examples of girl names with a Welsh origin:


Aderyn                                                  
Aeronwen
Afanen
Alis (Alice)
Anwen
Bethan (Elizabeth)
Betrys (Beatrice)
Blodeuwedd
Briallen
Bronwen
Carys
Catrin (Katherine)
Ceridwen
Crystin (Christine)
Deryn
Disgleirio
Efa (Eva)
Eilwen
Eirlys
Elin (Helen)
Enfys
Esyllt (Isolde)
Ffraid (Bridget)
Gladys
Glynis
Gwen
Gwendolen
Gwyneth
Hefina
Heulwen
Hyledd
Lleucu (Lucia)
Llewella
Lowri (Laura)
Mair (Mary)
Marged (Margaret)
Megan
Meinwen
Morgan
Morwen
Myfanwy
Nesta (Agnes)
Nia (Niamh)
Olwen
Paderau
Rhiannon
Rhonwen
Rhosyn
Seren
Sian (Jeanne)
Sioned (Janet)
Siwan (Joan)
Tegan
Tiwlip (Tulip)
Winifred
Wynne
What do you think of these Welsh names? Have you ever known someone with a name like this? Source. 

Of course, in modern day Wales, the most popular baby names tend to match up more with English tastes than with old tradition. In fact, most of the time, England/Wales are categorized together just like that. This means that most of the names being given to Welsh babies are English favorites like Harry and Amelia. 

Let me know what your thoughts are about Welsh baby names! If you're from Wales, feel free to offer some insight or more information regarding names. Note: I am not Welsh nor have I ever been to Wales, so if any of the above information is incorrect or lacking, please let me know!  Thanks for reading!

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