First names from King Henry III’s fine rolls (1200s)

Henry III of England
Henry III of England

I’ve got some 13th-century English names for you today!

They come from the fine rolls of Henry III of England (1216–1272).

“Fine rolls” were basically financial records. They kept track of money offered to the king in return for concessions and favors. King Henry III wasn’t the first to keep them, but they “expand[ed] considerably in size and content during Henry’s reign.”

For a time, the Henry III Fine Rolls Project — the aim of which was to “democratize the contents” of Henry III’s fine rolls “by making them freely available in English translation to everyone via a website” — hosted a sortable database of all the given names in the rolls. While that database was available, I used it to create lists of the most-mentioned male and female names. (All the names are still online, but they’re no longer sortable.)

The rankings below — which cover a wide range of birth years, and a small segment of society — aren’t the same as the single-year, society-wide baby name rankings we’re accustomed to. But they do give us a general idea of which names were the most popular during the 1200s.

Of the 8,423 male names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular:

  1. William (1,217 mentions)
  2. John (669)
  3. Richard (495)
  4. Robert (434)
  5. Henry (376)
  6. Ralph (365)
  7. Thomas (351)
  8. Walter (346)
  9. Roger (337)
  10. Hugh (297)
  11. Geoffrey (261)
  12. Simon (218)
  13. Adam (200)
  14. Nicholas, Peter (180 each)
  15. Gilbert (157)
  16. Alan (110)
  17. Phillip (109)
  18. Reginald (88)
  19. Stephen (83)
  20. Elias (66)
  21. Alexander (65)
  22. Osbert (52)
  23. Eustace (44)
  24. Andrew, Matthew (42 each)
  25. Ranulf (40)

Other names on the men’s list: Hamo, Fulk, Payn, Waleran, Drogo, Engeram, Amfrid, Ratikin, Walkelin, Bonefey, Fulcher, Hasculf, Herlewin, Joldwin, Lefsi, Marmaduke, Orm, Albizium, Cocky, Deulobene, Gwenwynwyn, Markewart.

Of the 1,314 female names in the fine rolls, these were the most popular:

  1. Alice (140 mentions)
  2. Matilda (138)
  3. Agnes (76)
  4. Margaret (69)
  5. Joan (62)
  6. Isabella (60)
  7. Emma (37)
  8. Beatrice (34)
  9. Mabel (33)
  10. Cecilia (32)
  11. Christiana (30)
  12. Hawise (29)
  13. Juliana (27)
  14. Sibyl (25)
  15. Rose (21)
  16. Sarra (16)
  17. Helewise (15)
  18. Avice, Eleanor, Eva, Lucy (14 each)
  19. Leticia (13)
  20. Felicia (12)
  21. Isolda, Margery, Petronilla (11 each)
  22. Ascelina, Edith (10 each)
  23. Phillippa (9)
  24. Amice, Elena, Katherine, Mary, Sabina (8 each)
  25. Basilia, Muriel (7 each)

Other names on the women’s list: Albrea, Amabilia, Eustachia, Idonea, Egidia, Millicent, Amphelisa, Avegaya, Barbata, Comitessa, Frethesenta, Wulveva, Alveva, Dervorguilla, Deulecresse, Elizabeth (just 1!), Flandrina, Oriolda.

A researcher working on the project reported that, of all the men mentioned in the rolls, 14.4% were named William and 7.9% were named John. She also noted that, just like today, the female names showed a greater amount of diversity:

Compared with 57.8 per cent of the men, only 51.8 per cent of the women had one of the top ten names. And 9.44 per cent of the women had names that occurred only once, whereas 3.38 per cent of the men had names that occurred only once.

See any names you like?

Sources: The Henry III Fine Rolls by David Carpenter, The Henry III Fine Rolls Project, ‘William’ most popular medieval name – King’s College London
Image: Henry III (13th-century illustration)

[Latest update: June 2023]

6 thoughts on “First names from King Henry III’s fine rolls (1200s)

  1. I think it’s fascinating how many of the girls’ names are popular today!

    I personally love Alice (prefer Alys – no lice), Muriel, Rose, Felicity (almost Felicia, right?) and Philippa.

  2. Have discovered several medieval women named Amphelise (e.g., Amphelise de Montferrand, mother of Pope Urban V). I’m guessing this is the French version of Amphelisa.

  3. Well, I am writing a book taking place during the Black Death, I’m not telling anymore about it because it might be offensive to some. Anywho, I just want to say that these names helped a lot. Especially how they put how popular the name was.

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