(or anthroponomastics) is the study of the names of human beings. Linguists and researchers in many other fields take part in anthroponymic studies, including anthropologists, historians, political geographers and genealogists.

I am a genealogist in my normal every day life. Names and their origins have always fascinated me. It makes sense I share with you here what I have found in my studies of medieval names.

A handful of Nuns in Flanders 1558-1593

Convents have a wealth of information if you know where to look. I found a lovely entry in the monastery profession book of the Black Sisters in Mechelen.

Between 1558 and 1593 5 sisters entered the order of the Black Sisters, which was a lay congregation, and followed the rule of St. Augustine.

These are their names:

  • 1558 Gertrudis Wellens, passed away on 18 Oct 1622 at the age of 90
  • 1574 Maria Cauwelier, passed away in 1603
  • 1578 Anna Schreuens, passed away 21 Feb 1623 at the age of 77
  • 1588 Maria van Hoeght, passed away 13 Sep 1629
  • 1593 Elisabetha Pallets, passed away 19 Nov 1622 at the age of 69

Sheldon Tapestries

The other day, I got the opportunity to help someone create a name for her persona. This lady had been in the SCA for a while now, and, now that she had become her shire’s minister of Arts & Sciences, it was time for a proper name.

We made some brilliant discoveries that I would like to share with you!

We have all heard of the Bayeux tapestry. But have you heard of the Sheldon Tapestries?

The Sheldon Tapestries are the four tapestry-woven maps commissioned in the late 1580s by Ralph Sheldon (1537–1613), based on the county surveys of Christopher Saxton.

The tapestries illustrated the counties of Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, with each tapestry portraying one county. Designed to hang together in Ralph Sheldon’s home in Weston, near Long Compton, Warwickshire, they would have presented a view across central England, from the Bristol Channel to London, covering the counties where Sheldon’s family and friends held land. The maps are important in showing the landscape of central England in the 16th century, at a time when modern map making was in early development.

In 1570 Ralph Sheldon’s father, William, laid out plans which would,if successful,set up a new tapestry weaving business in his manor house at Barcheston, Warwickshire. A Flemish tapestry maker, Richard Hyckes, lived there rent-free on condition that he organised the weaving of tapestries and textiles.

This piece depicts the tapestry map Warwickshire (c. 4 x 5 metres)  in the late Elizabethan period  and is the only complete tapestry of the four Sheldon Tapestry Maps to survive.  It is made of wool, with highlights in silk, it provides information on rivers, towns, and geographical features such as woods and forests

It is Shakespeare’s Warwickshire! That alone makes it a fabulous source for a persona’s place of origin. On the Sheldon Tapestry from Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon is spelled with an E: STRETFORD. Coventry is CONVENTRIE and so on! Go check out this wealth of information!


Amsterdam marriage banns 1565

During the Council of Trent (1545-1563), Roman Catholic churces were obligated to document married couples. Parishes were already obligated to document baptisms. Documenting the weddings and the official announcement, called banns, was an attempt to rule out bigamy and give children born out of wedlock an official status with the couple, and so the soul of the child would be saved.

After the first proclamation of the banns, it would take three weeks for the marriage to take place. During those three weeks, anyone against the planned marriage could object.

In Amsterdam, in the year 1565, about 180 couples are about to take the plunge. This is the registration of their marriage banns.

If you want to have a copy of these original documents in your mailbox, please drop me a line.

Source: Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Ondertrouwregister.


Poorter is an historical term for a type of Dutch, or Flemish burgher who had acquired the right to live & work within the walls of a city.

These rights or citizenship, could be gained by paying a sum of money to, and registering, with the magistrate of the city. The payment of money was to prove that you weren’t poor, and that you could maintain a household. Sometimes there were also religious restrictions. An oath was also taken and it was customary to have sponsor who publicly supported you and gave witness of your excellent behaviour.

It happened on more than one occassion that women were Poorters. They were either the daughter or a poorter or the widow of a poorter, trying to continue the business.

The book you see here is the Poorter book of the city of Leiden, dated 1400-1459. I have studied and listed the names of women who were accepted as poorters between 1450 and 1459. The women could also be sponsor! Look for the names in Green.

Naturally, this is a work in progress! Watch this space for updates.

Source: Erfgoed Leiden en Omstreken, Poorterboeken,

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