Names in the 1319 Subsidy Roll of London

by Sara L. Uckelman
known in the SCA as Aryanhwy merch Catmael

© 2006-2007 Sara L. Uckelman; all rights reserved
last updated 17Feb07


In 1319, the city of London was subjected to a subsidy taxation, based on personal property values. Specially appointed taxmen surveyed the property of potential taxpayers, who were generally only laymen, and assessed taxes based on the assigned value. This type of taxation was not yearly, but happened with varying frequency over the years. I have extracted the names from the Lay Subsidy Roll, which lists, ward by ward, the individuals taxed and the amount of taxation. Around 1850 people are listed in this roll. I have created list of men's given names arranged by frequency and women's given names arranged by frequency, as well as a list of the bynames, with variant forms collected together, arranged alphabetically.

Concerning the given names

All of the given names were recorded in Latin, in the ablative case. In the lists of given names, I have given the standard Latin nominative form of the given names as their header; names which I am not sure what the nominative form is are marked with an asterisk (*). These Latin nominative forms are appropriate for Latin contexs only, such as written documents, or legal or educational settings where Latin was spoken. With few exceptions, these do not represent the every day spoken forms of the names. For vernacular forms, see the Index of Names in the 1292 Subsidy Roll of London.

The five most popular masculine names make up a total of 57.6% of all the names (men and women combined). The names which make up the five most popular man's names are the expected ones:


On the other end of the spectrum, there is an incredibly large number of men's names which occur only once: 42. The entire set of names shows surprising diversity, ranging from names with Old English roots (Osbertus, Sewallus), to names introduced by the Normans (Reynerus, Guido), to the traditional Biblical names (Johannes, Simon, Adam).

Substantially fewer women were listed in the roll, unsurprisingly. Much the same can be said of their names. The four most popular names are significantly more popular than the rest:


The women's names are also quite diverse, with 12 out of the 40 names occurring just once.

Concerning the bynames

By far the most common type of byname was the locative byname, e.g. one based on a specific city name. There are probably more locative bynames than all the other types of bynames combined; however, the particular bynames which individually show up most frequently are all occupational. The following bynames are all the ones which occur 14 or more times (these are just the standard modern forms; for the variant spellings found in the subsidy roll, see the entries on the bynames page):

Chandler32occ. from OFr chandelier, candelier 'maker or seller of candles'.
Barber19occ. from OFr barbeor, barbier 'barber'.
Taylor17occ. from OFr tailleor, tailleur 'tailor'.
Brewer14occ. from ME brewere 'brewer'.
Cordner14occ. from OFr cordoanier 'shoemaker'.

Everyone needs clothes and shoes, light to see by, a good haircut, and beer. What more do you need out of life?

Concerning patterns of names

Everyone had just one byname, with the following exceptions:


"Two Early London Subsidy Rolls" (WWW: British History Online),

Hjertstedt, Ingrid, Middle English Nicknames in the Lay Subsidy Rolls for Warwickshire (Uppsala: Alqvist & Wiksell, 1987).

Reaney, P. H., & R. M. Wilson, A Dictionary of English Surnames (London: Routledge, 1991; Oxford University Press, 1995).

Watts, Victor, ed., Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names, Based on the Collections of the English Place-Name Society, edited in association with John Insley, Margaret Gelling (Cambridge University Press: January 2004)

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