Odd Domesday Name: Roger God-Save-Ladies

There are many odd names in the Domesday Book, but I’d say the most peculiar is actually a surname.

The surname is God-Save-Ladies, and it belonged to one Roger God-Save-Ladies (Rogerus Deus Salvæt Dominas), who was a Norman living in Essex. I’ve seen his name translated elsewhere as God-Save-the-Ladies and God-Save-Our-Ladies.

Here’s one possible explanation:

GODLOVEMILADY. This remarkable name really existed not many years since. The similar designation Rogerus Deus-salvet-dominas (Roger God-save-the-Ladies) occurs in the Domesd. of Essex. It was probably the sobriquet of some admirer of the fair sex, who frequently employed the phrase.

And here’s a holier explanation:

One of the rare bynames is that of Roger Deus Salvet Dominas, a 1086 tenant in Essex, who seems to have had some link with the nunnery of the Holy Trinity at Caen, so that the Dominas figuring in his byname were probably nuns of that house.

The Norman-French version of the name, “De Salt Les Dames,” was passed down to Roger’s descendants.

Sources:

  • Craig, F. N. “The Glanvilles and Roger God-Save-the-Ladies.” The American Genealogist 71.4 (1996): 200-4.
  • Lowe, Mark Antony. Patronymica Britannica: A Dictionary of the Family Names of the United Kingdom. London: John Russell Smith, 1860.
  • McKinley, Richard. “Medieval Latin translations of English personal bynames: their value for surname history.” Nomina 14 (1990-91): 1-6.

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